First impressions are the most important. Likewise, the first email you send to potential guests is extremely important. If you don’t get a response from your first email the chances are good that you have lost the potential sale. At Touristlink.com, we frequently see tour operators making the same mistakes and sending poorly formatted emails with little thought to the content. Here are some tips that will help you put together and format your emails to guests.
There is an example template at the bottom of the post that you are free to make use of and tailor to your own needs (see the sample template).
Responding quickly to emails is probably the most important thing you can do to build trust with a guest. We suggest that you try to have an average response time of less than 3 hours. Its best to check your emails first thing in the morning and before you sleep as well as throughout the day. I know some tour operators that will get up once during the night to clear out the inbox.
Timeliness and hard work have their dividends. Responding fast not only builds trust it fosters dialogue that will lead to a sale. The more time a potential customer invests in sending emails to you the more likely they will book.
There is absolutely no need to have an auto-responder if you’re answering emails on time. A poorly crafted auto-response makes for a poor first impression. The only exception I might make is if being offline is unavoidable such as while you are on a long flight. I would include that information in my auto-response and also provide alternate contact details so guests know they can reach someone at all times.
Most tour operators send emails that are too long. Emails should contain only the relevant information that is required but no more and no less. If in doubt, it’s better to have less content. If it takes longer than a minute or two to read it’s too long. That means you can share a brief day by day itinerary but having lots of details for each day of the trip will make your email too long. It’s better to send these types of details as an attachment and keep your emails short and to the point.
Extremely short responses are not desirable either. If the guest has yet to book and asks a question that requires just a short response I suggest answering the question and then adding some other additional information or posing a question back to the guest in order to keep the dialogue moving.
Templates are great but no one wants to respond to something that feels like a template. If the guests have asked additional questions in their initial query make sure you answer those near the front of the email so that the customer knows right away you are addressing their concerns. Make sure to spell the guest’s name properly.
Another great tool to use is Rapportive which shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. Probably the most useful information that Rapportive pulls is the Linkedin profile which you can use to learn about your potentials clients’ job and position. If you see that your guest has a high profile job you probably should not be suggesting your most basic budget package. Customize your responses based on what you learn from the individual’s profile and you will get a better response.
Average rates of email opens are around 15% so even if your email is perfect, chances are that no one will ever look at it. According to Yesware an email tracking service 70% of businesses never send a follow-up email. Many of the tour operators that I have spoken with are hesitant to send follow-ups because they feel they are pressuring the customer. The truth is that most customers appreciate timely follow-ups as it shows your dedication to them. If you don’t get a response to your email after a few days then by all means follow-up.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling mistakes, grammar errors and poor formatting are unacceptable and show a lack of professionalism. How can you manage a trip for someone if you can’t manage to check your own spelling and grammar? Seriously, not everyone will be put off by your mistakes but a lot of people will.
The solution is to read each email after you write it and correct any errors that you might see. Make sure to use spell check and correct all the misspelled words. I also suggest the free plug-in grammarly.com which works with all Gmail accounts and can be downloaded as an extension for Word documents as well. Underestimate the importance of these items at your own peril.
Here is a good read: 15 Common Grammar Mistakes That Kill Your Writing Credibility
A recent study by Hubspot showed that nothing boosts opens and clicks as well as an old-school, plain-text email. The take-home message here is to keep it simple. That said I have seen lots of poorly formatted plain text emails that go overboard with different colors of text, bolding and different fonts. Keep it clean and simple to read. If you do make lists use simple bullets and numbers and make sure that everything lines up correctly and that your email looks visually organized.
Have a Great Footer
The footer is the last part of your email and should include information about your company website, contact details, LinkedIn or Tripadvisor, Safaribooking, Touristlink profile. If you are writing simple text emails you don’t want to have a footer that is so graphic heavy that it is more attention catching than your actual email. Spend some time creating a template for your footer in Gmail. You can also use a tool like that at newoldstamp.com to manage and design your email footers.
Are your emails getting opened? One of the best ways to track this is to use a service like Yesware or Toutapp. They both offer free trials and limited-use accounts which are probably ok for most travel providers who don’t send a lot of emails. Both of these apps will notify you when emails get opened which can help you decide when how to send your follow-up. In addition, they let you set up easy to use templates and track response rates. You can replace or improve templates with poor response rates.
“you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Peter Drucker, Management Expert.
Here is a sample email that you can use as a template for your first email. Here are few points to consider.
- • If you don’t have reviews you might reference how long you have been in business and how you are licensed.
- • If you’re interested in using a call scheduler I suggest calendly.com which allows you to set up a free account and does a good job of letting guests schedule calls when you’re available.
- • An e-book is mentioned at the end of the email as an attachment. I highly suggest you develop professional supplementary material that you can include with emails or send on request.
All of our Ethiopia Tours include visits to Gonder and Addis as well as accommodation and transfers when you arrive from and depart Addis Ababa. We use quality 4-star accommodation throughout and make use of new air-conditioned 4-wheel drive vehicles. You’re in good hands with our certified English speaking guides all of whom work for us full time.
We guarantee every tour and are committed to making sure you have a great experience. Please check out our reviews on TripAdvisor (click here). You can see the various tours we offer here:
Our tour pricing starts at $999 for 6 days and we require a deposit of $449 upfront. The remaining balance should be paid on arrival in a major currency.
If you have 10 minutes, I would be happy to have a quick call and answer any questions you have. Click here to see my schedule and set up a time.
I am providing our new E-book below with great information about what to expect when travelling in Ethiopia. Having made the trek a number of times, I will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Attachment: Ethiopia Tour Guide.pdf
Suggested Blog Posts for Further Reading:
11 Effective Email Marketing Strategies for Tour Operators
10 Effective Email Strategies to Increase Travel Sales