How PortoBay Hotels & Resorts got 22,000 of “yes” with a single email campaign

by | Mar 13, 2021 | Hospitality Copywriting

Personalization was always a THING of hospitality. I always thought it was an obvious must-do treating each person as a person and not another number in the check-in line. 

But the more you travel, the more you see some are doing it better while the others… completely fail.

Small details: a dedicated welcome letter I’ve found on my pillow, inviting me to take part in the events happening in the hostel during my stay. The certificate of completing my stay… these (and the staff!) converted We Love F****** Tourists (note: they do!) hostel in my favorite hostel in Lisbon. 

Seriously, I was stoked by the treatment I’ve got there, tho I spend there few hours, only to sleep (and missed their events on the way). 

How about turning a boring GDPR policy-related question into something…interesting?

PortoBay Hotels & Resorts, a chain of 13 luxury hotels turned a GDPR permission question into an irresistible (and personalized) video email campaign.

Remember that time back in 2018, when your inbox was flooded by the companies and brands’ emails (some you might even don’t remember to subscribe to), asking you to give your “yes” to receiving information from them.

That was, well…boring.

(at least most of them)

“Say I do”

Knowing that they will compete for attention with thousands of others, PortoBay gave a twist into its mailing campaign and created an (almost) irresistible email. Under the oh-so-romantic title “Say I do”.

Watch the video:

Source: Vidyard

And 22,000 individuals said “yes”. (out of 90,000).

They have received pretty cool feedback too.

And if you’re curious- Vidyard is the video tool they’ve used.

Do you think about personalization in the right way?

Maybe, as a host or hotelier you’re nodding your head each time you hear, the “personalize more” talk. “I’ve been doing this for over a decade”. 

Always trying to remember guest’s names, chat with them a bit, recommend a place to see or a restaurant they might like because they just said they love Chinese food.

The personalization talk has been an integral part of marketing too. You NEED to personalize. Otherwise, people won’t book or buy. 

In the end, why buy something you’re not slightly interested in?

“Personalization works”- marketers swear by it.

But can you even believe that only 31% of marketers think that they’re using personalization right

What?!

As it turns out personalization is more than remembering a guest’s name.

More than adding a name into emails you send…or recommending products they might be interested in.

You see…it’s about being authentic. And not sounding like a robot filling in the blank space.

So here are few ways you can personalize (or depersonalize as Neil Patel calls it) your messaging and your approach in your hospitality and travel brand marketing.

  • Write as you would speak with another person
  • Be you: share your stories, experiences, your customers’ stories
  • Glorify writing content for humans rather than SEO (just look at this blog, I don’t have much traffic or a great SEO but you still are here, and you’re reading this: you’re my right person in the right place…should we go on a date?)
  • Give more than asking for: serve more value content over asking to book or buy
  • Tag and welcome new followers on Instagram (great to spark some conversations)
  • Segment your email list if you do email marketing (Revinate has a free email marketing certification- a good place to start with hotel email marketing)  
  • And yes, use the videos in the emails when you can (how about just saying quickly your message over the video instead of writing? You never know how it will work, unless you will try it. Vidyard or Loom are perfect for that!)

Keep cool and depersonalize personalization

Personalization in the online world is more than putting the client’s or guest’s name in the email. While it’s easier once you have a client in front of you, things change online. 

You see, now we’re more online with each other than in person…so it’s good you remember these:

Write as you talk in your content, depersonalize- be more authentic and sound less like a robot. 

And enjoy connecting with your clients/guests as much online as you do offline.


Tired of hearing the same stories? Do you want to have a fresh, creative look at doing things in hospitality? I scroll through the internet zen den for the stories and ideas that spark…ideas. 

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Posted by Ewa Gabara

Posted by Ewa Gabara

Founder of Don’t Mess With The Receptionist. I geek out on hostels and I’m a long-time receptionist turned into a copywriter. I help the hospitality and travel brands conquer the world with words.

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