Travel companies poor at email promotions, report claims

Travel companies risk losing some of their customer base because they are poor at sending out personalised emails when promoting products to subscribers, according to research by email specialists Return Path.

The company researched 69 companies, ten of which were travel businesses and the rest of which were publishing, retail, non-profit, and social networking organisations. They were surveyed over a five week period in January and February this year.

The travel companies surveyed were: Opodo, Thomson, Kuoni, Virgin Holidays, British Airways, EasyJet, Thomas Cook, Lastminute.com, Expedia.co.uk, TravelSupermarket.com.

Margaret Farmakis, senior director of response consulting at Return Path, said travel companies were missing opportunities to tailor e-mails to holidaymakers’ needs and gain follow-up business.

She said: “They are collecting the data, like which airport you would like to fly from, creating the assumption that the offers they send out will be tailored. But they are not using the information and it’s a huge missed opportunity.”

Not one of the travel companies sent out personalised messages on their first marketing email, even though 70% of them required more than just an email address to complete the sign-up process. Other industries fared little better, with only 14% of the first marketing messages personalised.

Thomson was the only company that used personalised information, in a welcome message, to direct customers to their local agency branch by using their postcode details. In total, 55% of the companies studied did not send a welcome message at all.

Meanwhile, Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays both sent confirmation messages after researchers subscribed but neither sent any email in the five-week study period. Farmakis admitted this could be linked to deliverability problems.

The report said consumers wanted relevant emails with specific reference to their own interests and that companies risked their emails becoming spam. “First impressions are especially important..If you wait too long, subscribers can forget about your brand and the reasons they subscribed,” it said.

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