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5 Things Hotel Marketers Are Thankful for This Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing pros are counting their blessings…
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For most, Thanksgiving is a time for football, traveling to see relatives and diet-busting feasts.

It’s also the time of year we ask clients, colleagues and industry experts what they are feeling good about. And once again, we heard that the economy, industry dynamics and hotel consumer behavior are working in our favor like never before.

Based on our informal survey, here are 5 things hoteliers are feeling thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. Evidence That Direct Booking Campaigns Are Working 

In 2016, major hotel brands and smaller hotels went after OTAs with a fervor and pushed aggressive campaigns to convince travelers that booking direct was best. Now, we finally have proof that the preaching paid off. Kalibri Labs compiled data from more than 12,000 U.S. hotels and 52 million transactions during the run of these highly publicized campaigns.

In their recent report “Book Direct Campaigns: The Cost & Benefits of Loyalty,” Kalibri measured a significant net revenue benefit due to a shift in bookings from OTAs to Brand.com. While this certainly calls for a massive celebration, the momentum shouldn’t stop here. Experts agree that discounting to create loyalty can’t be the end-all, be-all of your book direct strategy; creating online and on-property experiences that the OTAs cannot must be the neverending quest for hotel marketers seeking to reduce OTA dependence and improve bottom line profitability.

2. Owners’ Willingness to Invest in the Product

Hotel marketers know this best: No amount of brilliant marketing, guest data, or up-to-the-minute technology can compensate for an aging and run-down hotel property. Now, with property values on the rise and an overall healthy real estate market, hotel owners have the renewed confidence in investing in upgrades, redesigns and renovations that will help hotel sales and marketing teams compete with the new supply entrants in their market.

And with so many major hotel brands launching new or re-imagined brands, it’s more vital than ever to keep up and hold onto your market share by offering compelling amenities, aesthetics and experiences. 

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3. Demand and RevPar Still Going Strong

Despite the threat of Airbnb’s climbing success (especially with their new focus on offering a complete travel experience, both in and outside of their hosts’ homes) and a ballooning hotel supply, RevPAR and demand are still holding steady.

Based on a strong economy, hotel occupancies are still at an all-time high and the hotel industry is still experiencing an unprecedented string of record results. To date, RevPAR has increased year-over-year consecutively for 92 months, according to STR.

4. Social Evangelism

Over the last few years, storytelling and “content marketing” has become one of the most popular (and cost-effective) ways for hotel marketers to win guests’ hearts and wallets.

Why?

Because consumers no longer trust advertising… they trust each other. As an article in Ad Age so aptly put it: “Your brand is defined by the interactions people have with it.”

User-generated content (UGC), especially photos, videos and posts about on-property experiences are more authentic, less sales focused… and let’s face it, more creative than anything you could ever dream up yourself.

Hotel marketers are feeling blessed to have guests who gush and brag about their stay on Facebook and post foodie pics to Instagram. Not only have they made marketing travel engagingly personal and authentic, they come at no cost to the hotelier.

5. Metasearch: An Attractive and Less Expensive Option

It’s easy to see why travelers love metasearch, such as Google and TripAdvisor: They receive all the key details needed to research and book their stays all in one place, like real-time pricing, availability, hotel information, guest reviews and location.

But, hotel marketers are loving metasearch too.

They are using these sites to boost direct bookings instead of relying on OTAs and paying high commissions. You can pay-per-click or pay booking commissions (still less expensive than traditional OTA fees) – all while getting brand exposure and access to travelers who are just entering the consideration and booking funnel.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: A Creative Way to Offset Shorter Booking Windows

November 17, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This Week’s Freebie:  Counteract shrinking booking windows with a smart (and simple) reservation recovery campaign. 

Smartphones, deal-hungry consumers, last-minute booking apps and penalty-free reservations.

These are just some of the reasons why people are now booking hotels closer and closer to their check-in date. In fact, according to most experts, booking lead times have shortened dramatically, with last-minute U.S. travel consumers making up 13% of all bookings in their recent study.

If your hotel constantly leans on these last-minute bookings, especially those booked on OTAs, you’re sacrificing revenue and losing even more (fast!) by paying expensive third-party commissions.

Here’s one way to deal with this new reality of the rapidly shrinking booking window:

Put Intelligent Reservation Recovery to Work…

Rather than fretting about shrinking booking windows, focus on converting your best prospects SOONER with a dynamic reservation recovery campaign.

Every day, hotels ignore millions of consumers WITH LONG BOOKING WINDOWS at the very edge of converting to real revenue. Prospects who have already visited your website and searched the booking engine for travel dates that coincide with your traditional periods of weakness.

There is a massive opportunity to re-engage those lost visitors, convert them to bookings and ameliorate the periods that suffer from extremely short booking windows!

Here’s How You Can Use Reservation Recovery to Mitigate the Effects of Short Booking Windows: 

1. Know the Booking Window for Every Day of the Year

Your booking engine, CRS or PMS provider can easily provide you with book-to-arrival data for every day of the year. Armed with this, you can identify the days/weeks that cause internal panic and low ADRs

2. Use Reservation Recovery Tech That Immediately Captures Email Addresses

Once an online visitor searches for their dates and chooses a room type, smart reservation recovery technology will require their email address as the first field in the booking process. That way, you now have the contact info necessary to retarget them if they abandon their booking.

3. Create a Custom Campaign for the Periods with the Shortest Booking Window (and Lowest ADR)

After a visitor abandons a booking that falls in your target low period, your reservation recovery system should send out a specific email with a personalized greeting that thanks them for considering your property and offers a limited-time incentive for booking with you directly. Sure, these incentives eat into net room revenue, but they are still far less than the commissions on OTA bookings or other sources of last minute bookings.

By Incentivizing the Visitors Who Have Already:

  1. Demonstrated their willingness to book farther out
  2. Nearly completed a booking in a target period

You can close more bookings sooner… alleviating “short-booking window anxiety” for everyone on the revenue management and marketing teams! Studies have proven that reservation recovery systems can recapture millions of dollars in lost revenue… in some cases, up to 30% of abandoned bookings were reactivated!


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

The Big Squeeze: Why Hotel Owners Are So Concerned About Marketing Costs

November 14, 2017 • By

And why hotel marketers are feeling the pinch…

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Hotel owners are feeling the squeeze from rising operating costs, at a time when the U.S. hotel industry is posting record revenues.

Debt service, brand fees, management fees, credit card and intermediary fees and capital improvement programs are all costly contributors that have many fearing that when the next downturn comes, things could get ugly.

Owners can’t really control debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at variable marketing costs—particularly the cost of guest acquisition—which are also rising fast. According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset.

There are a number of reasons why the cost of acquisition continues to spike (along with the blood pressure of some owners) including:

1. Lack of Differentiation and Low Conversion Rates

One of the reasons that marketing costs are rising so quickly is because hotel marketers are often unable to create perceived value in their product, which ends up being treated like a commodity, and bought by consumers on price alone. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become largely homogenous and difficult to distinguish from one another, further prompting travelers to book solely based on price.

But blame also falls on the shoulders of hotel marketers themselves, who often fail to highlight the unique and compelling aspects of their properties. Instead of just listing amenities like an indoor pool and free Wi-Fi, it’s far more effective to focus on unique differentiators like popular or noteworthy foods and services at the hotel, proximity to favorite attractions and neighborhoods, packages that incorporate local products/services and any other aspects that make one’s hotel different from the rest.

If hotel marketers could create a more powerful story in the minds of potential guests and convert lookers to bookers at a higher percentage, their marketing costs would decrease.

2. Fighting the Neighborhood Bullies

One of the main reasons marketing costs are out of control is that (despite the proliferation of tech and channels) there are actually a limited number of places from which hotels can attract significant traffic. Sure, the internet is a big place, but other than the OTAs, the vast majority of relevant traffic and bookings for hotels emanate from metasearch portals, Google and Facebook… where hotels find themselves in a David vs Goliath battle against the mega-budgets of the OTAs yet again!

The deep-pocketed OTAs spend more on marketing than most hoteliers can keep up with. This problem is particularly pronounced in the Google AdWords/pay-per-click (PPC) world, where the OTAs can easily outspend the competition. Therefore, it’s essential to spend wisely, choosing times and places when either the OTA marketing spend is lower, or the payback from outspending the OTAs is high enough to justify the short-term expense.

That philosophy also applies to controlling how much, and when, OTAs are used for bookings, depending on the time of year and the demand factors in the local market. The ideal percentages for third-party distribution can vary widely, and need to be closely monitored either internally or through a manager with acute revenue management skills.

3. OTA Commissions Are Not Viewed as Expenses

Yet another reason marketing costs are running rampant is the apathy of many hotel marketers, who refuse to ditch their OTA crutch and invest more in driving direct revenue through their own proprietary activities. A core reason for this lack of action is the vague at best sense that many operators have as to exactly how much OTA bookings cost, and the impact of that cost on the property’s P&L.

There are other marketing expenses, unfortunately, which are much more tangible on financial statements, including hotel digital marketing, hotel SEO, online media and retargeting, email marketing, advertising, social media and reservation abandonment programs. All of those expenditures can greatly help a hotel drive its own direct revenue, yet since these expenses are more visible on paper, they are generally cut first by owners, rather than OTA expenses, which are largely invisible. In many cases, the reverse tactic would be significantly more profitable.

4. A Focus on Flipping

Ultimately, many owners themselves are partly to blame.

By having short-term goals of flipping the property, many tolerate their property’s dependence on costly OTAs and ignore the long-term benefits of investing in building a healthier inflow of direct revenue. Having such a direct revenue stream only increases the value of the property, by boosting its prominence in the marketplace and fostering a more profitable bottom line.

According to a recent AHLA report, entitled: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace, “revenue retained by US hotels after paying all customer acquisition costs declined by almost .4% or $600 million… That $600M in additional cost would have contributed directly to net operating income. Using an 8% capitalization rate (which most investors require), these additional acquisition costs of $600 million reduced the asset value of the overall hotel industry by at least $7.5 billion.”


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Why Hotel Sales Teams Need to Up Their Digital Game

November 7, 2017 • By

Hotel group sales teams need better digital skills to capture more deals.

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Advances in digital have dramatically altered the ways group planners/buyers do business.

Today, B2B customers are doing 80% of their pre-purchase research in the digital world. Meeting planners/buyers are relying far less on hotel salespeople for information, instead choosing to educate themselves on potential venues via the web and peer referrals.

These clients no longer want cold calls, or even emails; 90% of C-level executives claim to never respond to these tactics, according to Salesforce.

Quite simply, hotel salespeople have to adapt… and quickly.

Traditionally, hotel sales teams use classic old-school textbook techniques, relying heavily on relationship selling and cold calls to book business. At branded hotels, sales teams often receive very little digital help or “air cover” from their corporate parents (other than lead flow). While Independents tend to be a bit more resourceful, since they’re wholly responsible for leads. But both hotel types need to enhance their digital skills, to keep up with the latest evolution of B2B buyers.

Here are the three most effective ways hotel salespeople can elevate their digital game:

1. Get Data

The first step of a digital sales effort starts with conducting digital research, to obtain key information about both your customers and competition. Discovering where to go on the web and various databases to research potential clients and do your homework on prospects’ needs should be done before you engage with those prospects. Take some time to read their blogs, LinkedIn pages, website and other “digital footprints.”

You can also employ affordable, easy-to-use tools to better understand prospects’ profiles and behavior. Helpful tools include:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator LinkedIn’s subscription-based sales tool helps sales reps target buyers and companies, with features to save leads and create various contact lists. The system contains an algorithm that helps find the best potential leads for each user, while sales research and insight tools help reps study their prospective clients. Communication tools are also built into the software, and it seamlessly logs and imports sales activity to and from CRM systems.
  • Knowland Group DataKnowland Group’s market intelligence products help sales reps find targets that meet their group revenue maximization goals, understand trends in the market and tap into undiscovered opportunities. Their data includes planner buying behavior, group booking patterns and market benchmarking, as well as actionable leads, educational resources and an archive of lead contact data.

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2. Get in Sync with the Marketing Team

Hotel sales leaders need to work closely with their marketing and IT colleagues to create an ideal digital workflow and lead flow. A proven method is to implement a CRM system to track activity, append clean targeting data and track lead behavior. There’s a huge payoff from the approach: An App Data Room and Marketo study found that sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67%.

Both sales and marketing departments should also cooperate on marketing automation, which can send the right message, at the right time, to the right meeting planner or group lead, while keeping teams informed as target prospects engage with company websites and marketing materials. In addition, sales teams should provide marketing with guidance and feedback on which digital channels, social media, etc., that sales prospects are currently using.

3. Get Social

Embracing digital doesn’t mean the longstanding practice of relationship-based selling no longer applies; it’s just moved into a different medium. According to LinkedIn, three out of four B2B buyers now rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. More than three-quarters (82%) of B2B buyers say vendor content shared on social channels (like LinkedIn) has a significant impact on their buying decision, while B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry, according to LinkedIn research.

With that in mind, today’s sales teams should be using digital to enable “social selling,” which essentially means building relationships and nudging leads along through the sales process via savvy, helpful, UNSELFISH social media interaction, rather than outdated and ineffective methods like phone calls and email.

This is primarily done by providing content that solves the problems and answers the questions of customers, as well as by interacting one-on-one with leads through social media. It’s different from wide-swath “shotgun marketing” on social, where branding-related content is shared everywhere in hopes of going viral and building awareness; social selling, rather, makes the customer the key dictator of the type of content shared, based on their specific wants and needs.

And remember, social interaction doesn’t end with that sale, either.

Social platforms are also employed post-sale to retain and upsell customers, especially by creating a channel for customers to share feedback and vent frustration. Referrals are now essential to lead generation, with 84% of B2B buyers beginning the buying process with a referral and more than 90% of purchase decisions influenced by peer recommendations, according to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article.

So now, more than ever, the time you spend on digital sales efforts—especially building and maintaining your social media network and reputation—will have a direct and meaningful impact on your sales pipeline. This is one game you want to be sure you’re playing to win.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: The First Thing DOSMs Should Do Every Morning

November 3, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one, FREE impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This Week’s Freebie: DOSMs need to stay focused on what really matters… we suggest doing these three critical things EVERY DAY. 

Hotel DOSMs run hectic, crazy schedules.

From managing sales teams, executing marketing campaigns and pulling endless reports from multiple systems.

With all of this riding on your shoulders, it’s easy to succumb to a day that pulls you in all different directions. That’s why we suggest DOSMs start each morning only focused on these three most significant tasks that impact the hotel’s and the department’s bottom line:

1. Review Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

The most successful hotel DOSMs never take their eyes off projected room nights. The best way to accomplish this is to assess your top pieces of business each and every day. Most hotels rely on irregular meetings to review each sales manager’s goals and progress. Instead, we suggest you keep a handy list of your Top 20 most lucrative and important prospective group targets.

Ask for no BS updates from each salesperson about their top opportunities. Find out how they plan to assist the prospective meeting planner that day and move them closer to a decision. Which hotels are still in the running? How can you get an edge? What else could turn the tide in your favor?

2. Pow Wow With Your Revenue Manager

The days of keeping sales/marketing and revenue management separated in silos is over. Just as with your top sales opportunities, DOSMs must stay on top of upcoming low periods, pace reports and budget vs. performance by segment.

Plus, revenue managers should know about upcoming contract negotiations, rates the meeting planners are seeking and possible concessions to offset the room rates. Set a standing meeting with your revenue manager to discuss these updates and to brainstorm how to drive more revenue from ancillary means.

3. Obsess About the Metrics Hotel Owners Care About the Most

Today’s hotel marketers are drowning in metrics.

And, most are irrelevant to your hotel owners. Skip trying to impress owners with your website views and hotel social media likes. There are certain key performance indicators that hotel owners and asset managers truly care about, simply because they prove how well your marketing team is contributing to the property’s revenue targets.

You should ALWAYS know your DRR (direct revenue ratio), which compares the revenue from direct bookings versus third-party bookings;  MCPB (marketing cost per booking), which tracks the costs of each marketing channel and the variance of actual results versus revenue goals by segment.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

What’s Scaring Hotel Marketers This Halloween?

October 30, 2017 • By

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Back by popular demand… for Halloween, we once again asked hotel marketers from coast to coast, representing properties of all sizes, what they’re most spooked about right now.

Here is what they said:

1. Unrealistic Goals on Tight Budgets

(This one tops the list two years in a row!) Hotel marketers’ plates aren’t just full – they’re stacked sky-high with multiple marketing priorities to oversee, manage and implement. This upcoming year, the number of channels, campaigns, audiences, assets and tools will only get bigger and wider. This obviously calls for more marketing dollars, more staff and more assistance, right?

Not exactly.

More and more hotel owners are holding their managers and marketers accountable for driving measurable conversions… and demand they somehow top last year’s results. Yet, those same owners are not opening their wallets any wider to fund the needed resources to reach those higher revenue targets. This leaves hotel marketers under an avalanche of pressure to produce more with less.


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2. Product Deterioration vs The Compset

What really scares hotel marketers we spoke to… are things that are out of their control.

Boundless creativity, clever marketing concepts and even a robust marketing budget are essentially useless if your hotel is crap. Great marketing can only begin with a great product. If your hotel is showing its frayed edges and providing lackluster experiences (or no real experience at all), no amount of brilliant marketing will save you from a downward spiral.

(Our advice: scour your hotel reviews and find out what guests complain about the most. Then, present this to your owners and champion the improvements your hotel needs to turn the tide and rise above the comp set.)

3. The Cost of Guest Acquisition

Hotel owners are feeling the squeeze from debt service, brand fees, management fees, credit card fees, intermediary fees and capital improvement programs. And many are squeezing their marketing and management teams to step up.

Owners can’t control many of their rising costs, particularly debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at marketing costs—particularly the cost of guest acquisition—which are also rising fast. According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset.

And one of the reasons that marketing costs are rising so quickly is because hotel marketers are often unable to create perceived value in their product, which ends up being treated like a commodity, instead. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become redundant, overdone and difficult to distinguish from one another, prompting travelers to book solely based on price.

4. The Pace of Change

Keeping up with all the changes in the digital world continues to challenge the hotel marketers we spoke to… The hotel industry has long been a fertile market for new whiz-bang technologies and amenities, all purporting to revolutionize the guest experience and become the must-have asset you need to attract more guests. The constant barrage of hyperbole from tech vendors, media reps and industry press about the latest and greatest stuff has caused tremendous stress and anxiety in hotel marketers who increasingly suffer from “FOMO” (fear of missing out).

(Our advice: be sure any time and/or money invested is truly in line with your marketing goals and guest profile. Sure, travel-related virtual reality content generally sparks high-interest levels in the media. And yes, Snapchat is tops among 12- to 24-year-olds. But if it’s not specifically bringing sales to your door, devote your attention elsewhere.)

5. Lack of Integration

The ever-growing array of hotel tech/vendors continues to frustrate hotel marketers. Most have a legacy hodge-podge of different providers for each critical marketing technology need (ie: CRS, website, hotel booking engine, PMS, and CRM).  This jumbled mix of disparate systems prevents seamless integration and simplified reporting.

Worse, it often causes stress, job dissatisfaction and premature job departures.

6. Shaky Job Security

Hotel marketers are once again expected to know more, do more and react faster than ever before. Hotel owners are mounting more pressure on hotel marketers to contribute their share of the revenue pie. This continued stress on marketers has resulted in an all-time high turnover rate averaging 23 months. Owners now expect bigger payoffs, with a shorter amount of time and funding. Meanwhile, hotel marketers have to fight to stay relevant by mastering rapidly evolving marketing technology, leaving them struggling to keep up, flustered and overwhelmed with an avalanche of marketing channels and tools.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: Win More Group Business by Being a Good Loser

October 27, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one, FREE impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This Week’s Freebie: Win more meeting and event business by conducting a loss analysis and figuring out what went wrong with your failed bids.

Winning is easy.

Get the deal, pop the champagne.

When you win, you think every move you made in the sales process was genius.

And then you replicate that winning formula on future deals.

But what happens when you lose deals?

A majority of hotel sales teams fail to ponder why certain groups chose another property.

Whenever one of your sales managers loses a piece of business, they need to ask the meeting planner, “Why did we not win this business? What went wrong? How are we not the best fit for your group? How could we have done better?”

This simple follow-up to all lost bids could dramatically empower, alter, and inform your future sales efforts, sending your sales skyrocketing in the future.

Get More: How a WWII Scientist Can Help Your Hotel Survive


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: It’s a Mobile Phone, Where’s Your Number?

October 20, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This Week’s Freebie:  Don’t forget the importance of the PHONE component of mobile phones.   

The number of people who own and depend on their smartphones continues to skyrocket, with no signs of slowing. Today, 75 percent of Americans own a smartphone, says The Pew Research Center.

We all know travelers use their smartphones to research, text and post to social media. But, don’t forget a smartphone’s primary purpose: To make calls!

Every hotel mobile site should include a telephone number that is embedded in a “click-to-call” button. Think about it: why make your website mobile user hunt for a phone number when the number can be embedded in a prominent “Call Now” feature?

Further, sites with phone numbers are perceived as more trustworthy and transparent as well. Prominent number/calling features suggest that you WANT to talk to your guests!

Best of all, calls initiated from your hotel mobile website are easily trackable… giving hotel marketers another way to quantify their contribution to bookings.

And one more tip from almighty Google itself: “Always embed the phone number using the international dialing format: the plus sign (+), country code, area code, and number. While not absolutely necessary, it’s a good idea to separate each segment of the number with a hyphen (-) for easier reading and better auto-detection.

Using a hyphenated international dialing format ensures that no matter where the user is calling from, whether a few hundred meters away or thousands of kilometers, their call will be connected.”

Get More: Is the iPhone Killing Your Hotel Revenue?


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: One Way Hotel Marketers Can Be Sales Heroes

October 13, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This Week’s Freebie: Beef up your website with the tools and content that attracts and assists meeting planners. 

Revenue from group business can make or break your hotel’s annual performance. So, why does your hotel marketing team spend the majority of their efforts on marketing mostly to leisure travelers, while your sales team is left to generate their own leads?

Let’s change that. There are several ways hotel marketers can drive more group business, contribute to group business revenue, and champion their sales managers’ efforts. All it takes is using the hotel marketing strategies you already know, and customizing them to the meetings market.

Here’s one smart and simple method:

Optimize your website for meeting planners, not just leisure guests. This is your central marketing vehicle, so pack your meetings and event page with all the resources and tools meeting planners need, including floor diagrams, room measurements, 360-degree venue tours, attendee destination guides, photos of past events and detailed testimonials.

A vital step to winning a meeting planner’s contract is making their life easier, so give them what they need upfront so they don’t have to waste time chasing after this themselves.

Get More: 6 Ways Hotel Marketing Can Generate More Leads for the Sales Teams


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs

October 10, 2017 • By

Have hotel marketers squandered their primary weapon?
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Looks like we might have been going about this all wrong.

The thought that a guest’s primary travel concern is saving money is an assumption that needs to be reexamined.

According to JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, guests are more likely to be dissatisfied with their hotel experience and come across more problems (like canceled reservations or last-minute changes) if they book through a third-party, such as Travelocity or Expedia.

So, what does this mean for you?

It’s time to change the overarching hotel industry strategy from emphasizing price parity to tapping into consumer fears of OTAs.

Instead of obsessing about Best Rate Guarantees, we all need to start focusing instead on how reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds are perceived by consumers when they book direct vs indirect.

Many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could unravel their travel plans in seconds.

Meanwhile, hotels offer two vital things that OTAs do not: a secure, direct reservation and a dedicated staff that truly cares. (Smart marketers like Hilton have taken this dynamic to another level by enabling loyalty members to select their own rooms. This is a powerful differentiator, which adds even more peace of mind and diminishes OTA value.)

Trust Issues: Many Consumers Don’t Like OTAs

It doesn’t take much to prove how unhappy customers are with OTAs.

Both Expedia and Priceline have consistent and dismal 1-star ratings on a popular review site: Consumer Affairs. There are legions of horror stories by guests left in a lurch when they arrive to their hotel with an OTA reservation in hand, only to discover their hotel is sold out and there are no more rooms available. Or, even worse, that the hotel has no record of the reservation at all!

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The internet is flooded with examples of angry OTA customers, such as this family who spent almost 7 hours on the phone with Expedia customer service reps to get a partial refund when their reservation was canceled due to overbooking at the hotel.

Or, this traveler who booked a room in New Orleans on Priceline, only to have Priceline switch his reservation to a hotel of lesser standards, without an option to cancel.

How to Take Advantage:

The best hotel marketers have learned how to appeal to guests’ emotions, rather than rationale. Emotional messaging resonates more than simply selling physical amenities.

One way to leverage emotional messaging is to reposition OTAs in a guest’s mind. In Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, marketing gurus Jack Trout and Al Ries teach businesses to build messaging around their competitor’s weaknesses.

For example, Tylenol went after the aspirin business by adopting this message: “Aspirin can irritate the stomach lining, trigger asthmatic or allergic reactions and cause small amounts of hidden gastrointestinal bleeding… Fortunately, there is Tylenol.”

In the case of hotels vs OTAs, we should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play. That your family vacation, business trip or long-awaited romantic weekend is too important to risk in any way!

Hotel marketers should communicate this critical message in key touchpoints with prospective guests during the research phase of their purchase journey:

  1. On your direct hotel website home page
  2. In your search/PPC ads
  3. In your retargeting display ads that follow consumers after they visit your website
  4. In social media posts
  5. In call/reservations center training
  6. Inside your booking engine, where more than 95%+ of date searchers will abandon before booking

The Bottomline: 

Price parity is important, but tapping into consumer fears of booking with OTAs provides smart hoteliers with ample opportunity to migrate bookings back to the hotel direct.

Hotels should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that their direct websites and call centers are 100% dedicated to handling the needs of their property… While OTA booking engines and call centers are servicing tens of thousands of properties (including your compset’s)!

 


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com