Consent to send emails

With the exception of confirmation, modification and cancellation emails that are triggered immediately by PMS updates, all other email types sent through Guestfolio are considered Commercial Electronic Messages or CEMs and are subject to email sending and spam laws around the world. Consent is normally implied via the business relationship of booking a reservation, but it is important to understand the details.

To send a CEM, your property must obtain and maintain consent from the recipient. Without consent you are not allowed to send marketing emails to your subscribers and doing so could result in fines and penalties. Regardless of the laws surrounding email sending, maintaining a healthy list of subscribers that want to receive your emails has a host of positive benefits.  If someone receives an email from your property who hasn't given you their consent, they will likely mark the email as spam which will affect your sending reputation and they are also unlikely to engage with the campaign or make a future reservation at your property.  

How to obtain and maintain consent

Consent is divided into two categories - Express and Implied.  

Express - When a subscriber gives your their express permission for you to send them emails. They can give you this express consent in person, over the phone or via a double opt-in email. This consent remains valid indefinitely unless the subscriber selects to be unsubscribed from future email communications.  

Implied - Implied consent is granted when a guest makes a reservation at your hotel, or otherwise willingly gives you their email address via other means such as entering a contest. 

  • For "transactions" (reservations), implied consent is valid for two years from the date you received it. 
  • For "inquiries" (other contact sources, such as clicking an email link), implied consent is valid for six months.

Guestfolio gives you several ways to add new email addresses or "subscribers" as we call them into your database. These are outlined below along with how consent would be handled in each case. Important! For any new emails being uploaded via CSV or created manually, the proof of consent must be recorded and maintained by your property indefinitely. Listed below are the various ways an email address can enter Guestfolio and how the consent would be handled in each case.

Subscriber source Content obtained Length of validity
Reservation from PMS Implied 2 years
CSV file upload Implied or Express 2 years/Indefinite
Manual Creation Implied 2 years
Web sign up form Express Indefinite (unless subscriber opts out)
Clicked marketing email Implied (extended) 6 months

Cancelled reservations - If a guest makes a reservation and then cancels, this still counts as a business transaction and you still have their implied consent to email them for 2 years.

Marketing campaigns - if you send someone a marketing email and they click a link in that email (this counts as an "inquiry" for your business), your implied consent for that subscriber will be extended for 6 months from the date clicked on your marketing message.

Consent ownership 

Proof of consent to send emails must be maintained for every recipient in your database. Without this, Guestfolio will not allow you to send unsolicited marketing emails to your marketing lists. Outlined below are the various ways consent must be stored depending on how the subscriber was entered into your Guestfolio database.

Reservations from PMS - These constitute a business transaction and count as implied consent, valid for two years. Guestfolio will automatically track this when the reservation gets imported from your PMS so you don't need to do anything manually to be able to send marketing emails to these guests. This includes pre-arrival up-sell, bring-back and marketing campaigns.

CSV file upload - Guestfolio will give you the option to specify which type of consent you have for each subscriber when importing a CSV file.  It is up to you to keep a record of the proof of this consent at your property, and also keep it up to date in Guestfolio if it changes outside of our software. For example, if you use a separate software to send marketing campaigns and someone unsubscribes, you need to unsubscribe them in Guestfolio so they don't receive further marketing messages via Guestfolio. More information on CSV uploads.

Manual Creation - Guestfolio gives you the ability to manually create reservations directly in our application. Email addresses entered into Guestfolio in this way count as having implied consent. A record of this reservation transaction must be maintained by your property if it is audited for marketing consent.

Web sign up form - Anytime a guest enters their email address via a web sign up form on your website, Guestfolio will automatically send the guest what is known as a double opt-in email. This email will ask the guest to confirm that they wish to receive CEMs from your property. If the guest then clicks to confirm this, Guestfolio will mark the guest as giving you express consent. Guestfolio will also keep a record of this proof of consent and this can be exported for your records or importing to other software. More information on using our web sign up form.

Double opt in - Guestfolio gives you the ability to send what is known as a double opt-in email.  If you send this to your guests and they respond you will have their express consent to send emails. For more information on sending double opt-in emails visit http://help.guestfolio.com/article/442-double-opt-in-email

Clicked marketing email - Anytime a subscriber clicks a link in a marketing email you send them, their consent is automatically extended for six months. Guestfolio will track and record this proof of consent so no record of proof needs to be stored at your property for this. So long as you're keeping your subscribers engaged such that they either click a link or book another stay with you periodically, your consent to market to them will never expire.

Country-specific requirements

Not all countries have the same email marketing laws, some have no laws concerning email sending and others have laws that don't require you to have a recipient's consent. To account for this, Guestfolio does not require you to have consent to send emails if the recipient is from a country that doesn't require consent to send email marketing. For more information on country-specific laws click here. If Guestfolio does not know the country of origin for a recipient, we will apply the settings as if they were living in a country with the most strict email sending laws, which would require consent. As such, adding in a recipient's country of residence may be important if you want to email that recipient and you don't have a record of their consent. A recipient's country of residence can be added using our CSV upload feature, for more information click here.

Further reading:

Blog post:  International Email Marketing Laws Explained

Webinar:  Email Marketing Laws: All you need to know

Canada's anti spam legislation

U.S.A. CAN-SPAM act