One sure way to measure the importance of email to a particular industry? Google a quick search for “[INSERT INDUSTRY NAME] Email Templates” and check the results.

Try that for the travel industry and it becomes pretty obvious how travel agencies, travel apps, airlines, hotels, auto rental firms, and every other cog and wheel of the worldwide travel business all depend on email.

Triggered emails make up a huge share of that.  That’s because a customer’s journey with your brand begins the very instant they engage with you, and the first email you send them is a big step along that path. Just as you want to be delivering a seamless travel experience that’ll keep them coming back for their next jaunt, you want email engagement to be just as flawlessly consistent.

So emails that are automatically triggered by customer actions and behaviors allow a travel-centric marketer to build that consistent experience both on the 1:1 basis and at scale across their customer base. 

Now onboarding all passengers…

What’s a good example to start with? Well, right at the start. Virgin America does a solid job of welcoming customers into the fold by including some subtle rock-and-rolla swagger in their trigger “welcome” messages, which give recipients a quick orientation on what’s to come, and links to fare deals they might be interested in.

It still has a certain plumminess and upscale frisson, though, in keeping with the brand.  JetBlue covers a lot of the same ground with its welcome emails, though they tend toward the punny and fun-loving in their copy – which seems like mandatory positioning for a discount airline nowadays, right?

Celebrating their loyalty

The classic triggered email tactic of recognizing red-letter dates holds for travel services marketers, too. As long as we’re looking at JetBlue, here’s an example of how they do it for customers who’ve been engaged with them for an entire year.  Tongue planted firmly in cheek, right down to the sassy final paragraph.


Knowing where they want to go

Tracking visitor behaviors at a website can give the marketer good hints at where a travel services consumer might like to go. So a triggered email like the example from Eurostar below includes deals on the very destinations they were just browsing. 

Plus, it looks like they may have identified their target as a bit of a foodie, so they’re able to add even more personalization to the message.

Keeping them on track

Cart abandonment emails are just as important in the travel industry as they are in any other area of eCommerce. Here’s a case in point from Virgin Trains that’s instructive on two levels: A) It shows how you can cleverly re-engage with a customer who may follow through just because they like your sheer cheek, and B) did anybody even know there was a Virgin Trains brand? 

Fostering their feedback 

Once they’ve had that dream trip of a lifetime to exotic destinations – or just took a short hop to Passaic for their second cousin’s wedding – it’s an opportunity to deepen engagement with the customer by soliciting their feedback with a triggered email.

Airbnb has never been a slouch at this and has actually been a bellwether for others in how to do it right, as you can see from the survey email below.  One way to go even further than they do? Attach a targeted discount or premium offer to encourage them to participate…and, as importantly, be incentivized to use you again.

Keep them on top of their travel

One of the reasons people enjoy frequent flyer programs? Beyond the savings, it’s the sense of achievement; there’s an element of competitive gameplay in building up miles or capturing discounts.

JetBlue (yet again!) understands that, and this example of its points program recap lets its loyalists have some data-driven insights into how and others have been using their points.

Another way to help them out? Simply by reminding them they’ve got a trip coming up and making sure they’re set to go – and also driving them to use your app (and downloading it if they haven’t got it installed yet).

Surprising and delighting

By delivering unexpected good news – and evidence of their superior service to users – Kayak scores points with triggered emails like this that recognize how some customers might be eligible for compensation for that all-too-common annoyance, a delayed or canceled flight.


Any marketer’s engagement campaign should include some calculated moments of surprise-and-delight for customers because that helps go a long way toward personalizing the relationship you’re trying to build with them.

Delaying their departure

What’s the one good time to keep a traveler from taking flight? When they’ve decided to unsubscribe from your emails, or otherwise shown evidence of moving on. 

A triggered message will remind them of why they signed up in the first place, and what they’ll miss after the breakup. And once more, JetBlue shows us how to go about it with good humor and just the right amount of insistence that they really, really ought to stick around. 

~ Casey