The Recipe for a Successful Booking Abandonment Recovery Campaign

January 19, 2023

If you’re looking to run the most successful booking abandonment campaign you’ve ever had, this is going to be the best checklist you’ve ever checked.

Booking abandonment is a big problem for the travel industry, no doubt about it, but after reading this guide your campaign stats could look like this:

Not only is this a real result from a real hotel’s real successful recovery campaign with RezRecover, but it could also be your reality in as little as a month. 

How can we be so sure of your results? It may be due to our record of helping hotels recover over $500 million in lost bookings. Or perhaps it stems from our roots, as the email marketing duo that ran Best Buy’s highest revenue-generating cart recovery campaign ever. 

Whatever the reason, what we know is this: your booking recovery campaign could result in as high as a 40:1 ROI when you implement every single strategy  from the following checklist. We’re revealing all our trade secrets here, so, to achieve the best results we recommend following along within RezRecover itself. 

Our goal is to have you walking away from this checklist with the creme de la creme of recovery campaigns, and waste no more time with the terrible revenue drain that is booking abandonment. 

Your 10-Step Booking Recovery Campaign Checklist

A successful booking abandonment campaign relies heavily on email marketing to re-engage and recover lost online bookings. However, booking recovery is more than just emails – it is a carefully orchestrated multichannel marketing effort.

For this reason, we recommend investing in a multichannel booking abandonment recovery solution with features designed specifically for hotels. Marketers that utilize multiple channels to reach guests with their campaigns earn a 494% higher order rate than single-channel campaigns. 

What should be included in a multichannel booking abandonment tool? Look for the following features to reduce your abandonment rate and save time and money: 

  • Extensive booking engine integration: collect booking information & guest data on auto-pilot
  • Dynamic data insertion: the ability to dynamically add the abandoned booking details to your reminders to maximize personalization
  • Conditional content blocks: customize campaign content at light-speed and create highly personalized emails 
  • On-site retargeting: prevent abandonment at the source with exit-intent pop ups and other on-site messaging
  • Multi-channel messaging options: increase campaign touchpoints through email, SMS, and push notifications

If your current booking abandonment tool is missing the above features, or you don’t yet have one, sign-up for RezRecover’s free trial. We guarantee $1000 in recovered sales during your 14 day trial. You don’t even need a credit card to get started! 

Now you’re ready to optimize your campaign – and it all starts with email. 

Follow along with each step below to replicate the process our most successful users follow to recover thousands in bookings every month. 

1. Real-Time Tracking (Integration with Booking Engine)

If you’re not using RezRecover’s real-time tracking feature, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to capture booking data and contact information. This feature is a game changer for hotel booking abandonment campaigns, allowing you to track visitors and capture data in real-time. 

With Real-Time Tracking you can: 

  • Collect customer data before the checkout process
  • Capture email inputs as they’re typed into your site
  • Export collected data for use in marketing campaigns

RezRecover integrates real-time tracking to your site or booking engine, allowing you to collect booking data and contact information as it’s typed. This makes it possible to collect email inputs and booking data from any page of your website or booking engine. 

With real-time data capture, your hotel can record customer data before they begin the booking process. Never miss out on a hot lead again with real-time data capture. All you need is the tracking code on your site and booking engine, and you’re good to go!

This “invisible lead generation” tool  increases your ability to tailor booking abandonment campaigns to each specific guest. As an added bonus, this data is exportable and can be used with any marketing software you’d like. 

To export your data, simply download the .csv file or use RezRecover’s integrations with Zapier and Webhooks to easily export your new contacts.

2. Creating a Booking Abandonment Email 

Your email campaign is the beating heart of your booking recovery efforts. Booking abandoners are the hottest leads on your site, as they’ve come the closest to booking a stay, and booking abandonment emails are the top revenue driver for 99% of all hotels on RezRecover. 

Number of Emails 

We’ve sent over 50 million abandoned cart emails in our time, and we’ve learned that multi-email campaigns improve performance by 25-30%. This can also be referred to as a drip campaign.

RezRecover campaigns can be optimized to send up to three emails per abandonment. We believe “the magic is in the follow-up”  and you should always send more than one reminder. 

Often, you’ll find the first email has the highest conversion rate, and that rate is cut in half with each subsequent reminder sent. So, if your first email recovers 8% of abandoned users, the second will normally convert at 4%, and the third at 2%, giving you a combined conversion rate of 14%.

The Average Order Value (AOV) of purchases from booking abandonment emails is 14.2% higher than typical purchases. 

Inside RezRecover, navigate to Campaigns > Booking Abandonment. Once there, select the “Add Email” button at the bottom of the page. Each email in your campaign must be customized separately, but adding a second & third reminder can double the conversion rate of your campaign.

Typical booking abandonment drip campaigns are constructed as follows:

  • Email #1 – Friendly reminder. Contains images of room selection and travel dates.
  • Email #2 – Follow-up email. Builds a sense of urgency for travelers to return to their booking.
  • Email #3 – Final follow-up. Often contains a discount or deal to entice travelers on the fence.


A common myth is that booking abandonment emails are just spam – but that is far from the truth. Booking abandonment emails are beneficial to both travelers and hotels, but you must send your emails carefully. 

Timing plays a large part in how “spammy” your recovery campaign feels. A  quick response is necessary to recover interested travelers, but an email sent too soon will have the opposite effect.

The optimal timing for a three-email campaign is as follows: 

  • Email #1 – 20-30 minutes after abandonment.
  • Email #2 – 1-2 days after abandonment.
  • Email #3 – 2-4 days after abandonment.

Subject Lines

Your email subject line is your first opportunity to make a good impression and persuade travelers to open your email. In fact, 64% of people say that the subject line is what influences their decision whether to open an email or not.

Due to the importance of your subject line, it is one of the first steps to crafting an effective email in RezRecover. After selecting the number of emails in your campaign and their frequency, you will be prompted to input the subject line for your email.

The top performing subject lines for three-email RezRecover campaigns include:

  • “Oops, did something go wrong with your booking”
    • Best for the first abandonment email
    • Helpful, support-based tone 
  • “Availability is limited. Book today!”
    • Performs well for second abandonment email
    • Creates a sense of urgency
  • “Your booking is almost complete (and now includes 20% off) 💰”
    • 71.7% open-rate as final abandonment email
    • Uses discount to entice stubborn travelers

For an in-depth look at why these subject lines deliver high open-rates, and 11 more subject line examples to inspire you, read through our guide 10+ Booking Abandonment Email Subject Line Examples with High Open-Rates.

Choosing an Email Template

To make the creation of your booking recovery emails as easy as possible, it’s best to start with an email template. An email template is a predefined email design and layout, which includes content blocks for images, headers, messaging and more.

RezRecover comes packed with a library of email templates for every type of business, so you’re sure to find one that’s a perfect fit for your hotel.

To access the template gallery from inside the campaign builder, you must (like the previous step) click “Add Email” and then  “Create Email Content”. Before you can select a template you must configure your email settings, including your timing (send delay) and subject line. Did you skip this step? Jump to: Number of Emails, Timers, or Subject Lines.

RezRecover templates are divided into three categories for easy access: 

  • eCommerce
  • Hotels & Hospitality
  • Other. 

Select “Hotels & Hospitality” and browse our selection for the perfect template for your campaign.

Customize it for your brand

Once you’ve chosen a template, it’s time to customize it for your brand. This includes adding your logo, colors, and messaging. 

RezRecover’s email builder makes this process quick and simple, with fully customizable drag-and-drop content blocks. For more advanced customizations an HTML editor is also available.

How to Use The Drag & Drop Email Builder:

When editing your template, be sure to design for both desktop and mobile devices, as more and more people are using their phones to book travel. 

How to Edit Your Emails for Mobile:

Set CTAs (call-to-action) to return users back to your booking engine

Perhaps the single most important piece of written content in your email, the call-to-action (CTA), is responsible for driving booking abandoners back to your site. In fact, a single call-to-action has the ability to increase clicks by 371% and sales by 1617%. 

Everything from your font size to background color can impact whether your CTA is successful.. This is why it is important to edit your call-to-action button for each email in your campaign. All RezRecover email templates include a call-to-action button that can be edited to suit your needs. 

To edit your call-to-action, select the CTA button in your email template. When using RezRecover’s drag-and-drop editor, a full menu of customizations will become available to the right of the screen. 

Test the email before launching it

All successful abandoned booking campaigns have something in common: they contain zero mistakes. The performance of your campaign will suffer if an email design error or broken link is overlooked, or worse – your emails land directly in spam folders. 

To save yourself the headache and wasted time of running a shoddy campaign with poor results, it is crucial to test every email. 

RezRecover’s “test mode” allows you to test your campaign without sending emails to live customers. Once test mode is enabled, abandon a booking on your site with your personal email to test the automated response that should follow. 

All emails should be tested prior to being sent out to ensure any mistakes or errors are caught and corrected.

What to look for when testing your booking recovery emails: 

  1. Broken links – Do all of the links work?
  2. Spam errors – Any emails flagged as spam? Any “red flags” in the copy?
  3. Design errors – Are graphics and images optimized and rendering correctly? 
  4. Spelling mistakes – Double check all written content 

To learn more about how to enable test mode in RezRecover, click here.

Launch it

Once your email has been designed, tested and optimized, it’s time to launch it by disabling Test Mode! To view the results of your campaign in real-time, head to your RezRecover dashboard. Metrics from your campaign, such as total revenue recovered, can be viewed at a glance. 

3a. Booking Engine Data Sync – aka BEDS

Did you know that personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates on average? In fact, personalized email subject lines result in 26% higher open rates. 

The most common personalized elements of a booking abandonment email include guest names and travel dates. However, to maximize your results and improve guest relationships, more in-depth customer data may be required. 

Imagine how specific your recovery emails could be if you had access to the following booking data: 

  • Property Name 
  • Room Image 
  • Booking Total
  • Arrival Date 
  • Departure Date
  • Number of Nights
  • Special Offers 

With RezRecover’s Booking Engine Data Sync (BEDS) this data is pulled directly from your visitors’ session in real-time, as they begin and abandon a booking. RezRecover will track and store customer booking data by default, creating an arsenal of personalized information available for your campaigns. 

3b. Conditional Content

Conditional Content takes BEDS a step further, by using abandoned booking data captured by BEDS to swap out & display relevant offers and content in real-time! 

Conditional Content can be used to:

  • Offer a discount to visitors who abandon bookings during your off-season.
  • Display seasonal banners, based on the abandoned dates. 
  • Upsell & cross-sell based on the total cost of the abandoned booking.
  • Update logos & branding to reflect the property abandoned for multi-brand groups
  • Offer a coupon to high-value abandoned bookings
  • Offer upgrades, based on the type of room abandoned

The possibilities are unlimited!

For more information on Conditional Content, feel free to get in touch with our support team:

4. Browse Abandonment 

Booking a vacation is no small task for travelers, as most trips require a large commitment of time and money. That is why 39% of consumers surveyed said they abandoned their online travel booking because they were “just looking.”

That said, a prospective traveler browsing your site is still an opportunity that should be acted upon. With a browse abandonment campaign, you’ll retarget visitors that showed interest in visiting your hotel, but didn’t quite begin booking their stay. 

Consider it like this: booking abandoners are your hottest leads, while browse abandoners are warm leads. Another way to think of it is “shoppers vs window shoppers”.

While the primary goal of a booking abandonment campaign is recovery, the goal of browse abandonment is re-engagement first, and then recovery. By sending browse abandonment emails, you’re reminding potential customers of their interest in your property. You want to stay top-of-mind (and top-of-inbox) so that, when they’re ready to book their hotel, yours is the first one they think of. . 

Browse abandonment emails should take a softer, less “salesy” approach than booking reminders, because we don’t want to make any assumptions about the visitors’ intent. This can rub recipients the wrong way, and actually work against you in the long run. By taking a casual tone, you’re more likely to re-engage the shopper and ultimately lead to a recovered booking. 

5. On-Site Retargeting  

With a multichannel booking recovery approach, your goal is to re-engage customers across several communication channels to recover lost revenue and increase direct bookings. 

The goal of on-site retargeting is to feed your booking recovery campaigns with leads, usually in the form of guest emails. 

Exit Intent Pop-Ups

Exit intent pop-ups are a last resort for capturing customer information before they leave, but when done right, pop-ups have an average conversion rate of 43%. On-site targeting through exit intent pop-ups can help hotels recover 20-80% more emails and information from interested travelers.

Five popular use cases for exit-intent pop-ups on hotel websites include: 

  1. Discounts and special offers
  2. Newsletter and loyalty club sign-ups 
  3. Contests and giveaways 
  4. Payment and financing options
  5. Direct booking price guarantees 

With on-site targeting, your hotel can also improve on-site conversion rates by 5-10% by preventing abandonment in the first place. Travelers that receive a last minute discount or offer are more likely to complete their booking, thus mitigating the need for further recovery efforts.

RezRecover’s on-site targeting triggers when a visitor’s cursor moves to exit the booking page. This prompts an exit-intent pop-up to display, either with a last minute deal or lead magnet offer. 

Welcome Offers

Welcome offers are similar to exit intent pop-ups, though they are sent to all website visitors, as opposed to only guest intent on leaving your site. Welcome offers are triggered by time spent on the website, with the goal of increasing engagement and capturing new leads. 

Welcome offers are perfect for:

  • Gaining newsletter subscribers, 
  • Sweepstakes entries, and 
  • Promoting current deals or coupon codes. 

A welcome offer captures attention right away, and leads potential customers deeper into your website to learn more about your property, rooms and other unique offerings. Not to mention… the leads you capture will amplify the results of any revenue recovery campaigns you are running, by feeding them with high-intent leads.

6. Multi-Channel Messaging

As mentioned above, a multi-channel digital marketing strategy improves booking recovery efforts and conversions. But which channels are the most effective at improving your bottom line? 

SMS Notifications 

Did you know, over 50% of bookings are abandoned on mobile phones? Including an SMS campaign in your booking recovery efforts targets abandoners on the exact device they abandoned from. 

Emails may result in the highest rate of recovered revenue, but according to a study by the Mobile Marketing Association, SMS has a 98% open rate. This is primarily due to the instant and personal nature of text messaging, making SMS one of the most effective channels to re-engage abandoned bookings. 

RezRecover’s advanced automations allow you to trigger SMS reminders as part of a multichannel recovery effort. This makes it easy for you to send the perfect message at the perfect time, helping you recover more abandoned booking revenue. 

Web Push Notifications

Website push notifications, or browser push notifications, are similar to the push messages you receive on your mobile devices, but they are instead sent through a browser like Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

While notifications on smartphones need to be sent from a downloaded app, that is not the case with web push notifications. With RezRecover’s browser push notifications, you can send alerts to your website visitors even when they’re not on your site.

That’s why push notification campaigns have an ROI of 3500%!

Push notifications have an average click rate of around 12%, thanks to how easy it is for visitors to engage with them. Web push notifications also have a much higher opt-in rate than emails, because unlike emails they can be set up in a single click. 

Web push notifications are an important aspect of RezRecover booking abandonment campaigns. When combined with SMS reminders and on-site retargeting, web push notifications complete our “land, sea and air” approach to booking recovery. By connecting with booking abandoners across multiple channels you are sure to see an increase in direct bookings and recovered revenue. 

7. Phone Call Tracking 

RezRecover’s phone call tracking feature is a great way to keep track of how many new calls are being generated by your on-site sales staff. With this feature, you can append a custom phone number to your reminders, so that you can see how many people are calling in to speak with someone on your team. 

This is especially useful for hotel bookings, as travelers oftentimes have questions that they would prefer to speak to someone about prior to making a decision. With RezRecover’s phone call tracking, you can provide this personal touch and recover more bookings for your hotel.

8. Real-Time Notifications 

If you’ve ever lost a booking worth thousands due to an abandoned cart, you know how frustrating it can be. RezRecover’s real-time notification feature notifies you of an abandoned booking as it happens, increasing your response time and improving your potential for a recovery.

Our system will send an email to someone on staff every time a booking worth over $__ amount (you specify the threshold) is abandoned, so you can track abandoned booking activity and quickly reach out to hot leads with a more personal touch, if you’d like. 

Real-time notifications provide two primary benefits: 

  • In-depth tracking of abandoned booking activity 
  • Increased leads for your sales team to act on immediately 

9. Sync Contacts with Other Marketing Software

Syncing your RezRecover-captured leads with your other marketing tools is a great way to keep your leads and customers organized and up-to-date. By connecting RezRecover to your hotel’s email service provider, you can make sure that every lead we capture gets added to your main distribution list.

This allows you to continue marketing to abandoners in the future through email, adding leads to custom retargeting audiences, or other means. 

Syncing contacts can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Webhooks
  2. Zapier

To activate webhooks, just get in touch with our support team: We’ll provide documentation & assistance to connect your marketing software to RezRecover..

To activate Zapier, head to Settings >Zapier Integration. 

Once there, select “Generate Zapier API Key.” Then, open Zapier and create a new Zap with triggers for cart abandonment. Input your custom API key and site ID into Zapier to allow RezRecover to seamlessly transfer booking abandonment data!

Need help setting up your Zapier Integrations? Follow the 9 easy steps in our set-up guide

10. A/B Testing 

Conducting an A/B split test involves sending two different versions of your email to a sample group of customers. The only difference between the two emails is whichever factor you’re testing for (eg. subject line, call to action, etc). 

Traffic is split between the two versions of the email, with Version A being sent to half of the sample group and Version B sent to the other half. Real-time metrics for each email are then compared side-by-side for conversion rates, open rates and other important metrics. 

To begin a split test for your email campaign, first select one clear factor to test. There are many possible factors that can be tested, including: 

  • Subject Line 
  • CTA Copy 
  • Email Copy 
  • CTA Button Placement & Color
  • Discount Codes and Offers
  • Personalization (BEDS)
  • Images and Design 

To see more examples and best practices on structuring your A/B tests, check out our guide on How Hotels Recover More Direct Booking Revenue with A/B Split Tests.

Recover more revenue with help from the experts – head to our blog to read more guides on booking recovery!