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Q: They’re growing in popularity, but do resort pre-arrival emails actually work?

Sometimes we look at overall trends or performance to see the big picture. This time, however, we drilled down a bit to look at a specific tactic and find out if it actually works. The focus this week: pre-arrival emails. Many of our clients use them and they’re clearly growing in popularity, but do they actually work?

The Goods
The first hurdle to answering this question is measuring success: what defines whether a campaign is “working” or not? In the case of pre-arrivals (emails sent to a soon-to-be-arriving guest within roughly 3-14 days of their arrival), the goals vary quite differently. Some are focused on upselling to drive incremental sales, others provide tips and information to make a guest’s experience as smooth as possible.

So instead of looking at revenue, we looked solely at how well pre-arrivals move these guests from Point A (their email inbox) to Point B (a resort’s website). We took the performance for all our clients who used an automated pre-arrival message during the 2011-12 season and here’s what we found:

The difference is obvious, but let’s look at little closer at these numbers. The newsletters in our sample averaged a little under 20% open rates and about 11% click rates. Combined, for every 100 people who received an email, 2 of them clicked through.

For pre-arrivals, open rates were just over 60% and clicks a hair shy of 45%. Combined, for every 100 people who received these emails, 27 of them clicked on a link: 13.5x more than a typical newsletter.

What This Means
Evaluated just on the merits of getting guests from Point A to Point B, pre-arrival emails accomplish this task extremely efficiently. If you have information – sales or otherwise – that you want a guest to see before they arrive, a well-timed pre-arrival email appears to be a very smart solution.

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