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The Marketing Secrets of Great Hotel Management Companies

May 2, 2017 • By

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Most hotel management companies are created by proven hotel executives who have cut their teeth leading profitable properties and now want to monetize their expertise with hotel owners and asset managers.

But what truly distinguishes a top HMC from a mediocre one?

How are the best HMCs deploying marketing tactics to attract more hotel owners, asset managers and investors?

We spoke with two industry leaders to find out:

W. Chris Green, COO and Principal of Chesapeake Hospitality

Jeff Spaccio, former Regional Director of Sales for The Procaccianti Group and Pyramid Hotel Group (and currently our own DOSM-in-Residence at Tambourine)

Here’s what they had to say about the marketing practices of the most successful hotel management companies:

1. They Hold Their Marketing Teams Accountable

Asset managers and property owners no longer want to hear about “branding initiatives” or logo colors… they expect their hotel management firm’s marketing team to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results.

This includes revenue management execs, whose compensation programs prioritize gross revenues over profitability. Innovative hotel management firms are now motivating revenue managers to understand true channel costs and gravitate to lower cost sources of bookings.

“They should be well aware of the cost per booking,” Spaccio reiterated.

“Smart HMCs are rewarding revenue managers for generating revenues beyond the forecasted targets, but in the end, incentives are primarily driven by their ability to exceed profitability.”

But accountability also requires empowerment. Which is why Green believes you have to invest in the strength of the marketing team’s skills to optimize both profitability and performance.

“We over-index on sales/revenue management and e-commerce corporate support,” Green shared. “To be relentlessly granular you have to have the people and the time to dig deep.”

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2. They Know Their Products and Markets

The best hotel management teams shun the one-size-fits all mentality. Instead, they analyze each property and its market dynamics to come up with creative solutions tailored to address the unique challenges that the property faces.

“Here, (at Chesapeake Hospitality) we always question the norm. Why does a hotel have to perform a certain way in a certain segment?“ Green said.

Spaccio also stressed the importance of understanding the property’s position in the marketplace compared to its comp set.

He recommends leveraging advanced business intelligence tools that allow you to analyze your competition and future demand.

Truly understanding what your competition is doing at the ground level and focusing on your competitive advantages should remain a core mandatory.”

3. They Correlate Investments to Targets

The most successful HMCs take the time to get to know all of a hotel’s customer segments and provide innovative solutions to address each type of audience. Spaccio insists that smart hotel management firms always have a roadmap with a breakdown of exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. This enables the firm to correlate its separate investments in marketing for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B.

The top HMCs understand that generic, aimless and ‘pretty’ marketing won’t cut it. Every marketing activity they create is built with the intention of drawing direct business from one or more of a hotel’s pre-defined guest segments.

4. They Work With Proven Vendors

If you want to be a trustworthy partner that drives profitability, you have to surround yourself with quality marketing partners as well.

“Partner with the best of the best in the hotel industry and hold them to your standards,“ Spaccio suggested. “You’ll only be successful if you set a high bar during your vetting process, whether you’re looking for a PMS, CRM or a hotel website design firm.”

Smart hotel management firms only work with hospitality marketing vendors and partners who have smart systems in place, proven successful in yielding above-market returns and a relentless determination for ROI that matches their own. 

5. They Confront Owners About the Product

Profitable hotel ventures start with a good product. If a property is lacking in amenities, room quality or decor, smart HMCs are upfront with hotel owners about investing in improvements. 

Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle against all the other hotels that are investing in their properties and their future. 

Plus, be prepared to fight for your share of that investment when hotel owners consider cutting costs in vital areas. 

Spaccio explained: “Understand how to manage owners and guest expectations. There are two ways to be profitable at a hotel: driving top line revenue and cutting expenses at the bottom line. The top hotel management have the ability to push back on owners and effectively manage them if an owner is looking to cut an expense that will ultimately hurt the property.”

6. They Hire the Right People

The most successful hotel management companies are made up of visionary and exemplary staff at all levels, from the marketing coordinator to the DOSM. Ultimately, the talent in all of your ranks is what can set you apart from other hotel management companies.

Hire the right energy,” Green recommended. “To differentiate among other hotel managers, you better have a very strong framework for success. This includes top talent – people who engage and inspire.”

“Then, consistently train them to win.”

There also needs to be a good balance of experience and innovation, Spaccio added. “Look for people who have the ability to multitask, analyze data and adopt ever-evolving new software platforms.”

“As hotel marketing moves more and more into the digital world, smart HMCs are hiring sophisticated hotel ecommerce managers and revenue managers to support their revenue projections,” Spaccio explained.


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

How Can a WWII Scientist Help Your Hotel Survive?

April 18, 2017 • By

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In WWII, Allied planes would often return to their bases with hundreds of holes from enemy guns. This inspired crafty ground crews to bolt on metal plating over the holes to strengthen the planes and prevent future losses. They assumed that the evidence clearly indicated where they should place the extra protection.

But one American scientist wasn’t so sure…  Abraham Wald, a brilliant mathematician and statistician, intervened and pointed out that while the surviving planes had been hit severely, they were still able to fly safely home.

He urged the military commanders to add more armor to the parts of the plane where there was NO DAMAGE. Wald theorized that the planes that didn’t make it back must have been hit in different places than the planes that did make it back.

In other words, it was the other parts of the plane that needed reinforcements – not the parts with obvious holes.

Enlightened commanders adopted Wald’s recommendation and his brilliant intervention would end up saving the lives of thousands of Allied airmen.

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Survivorship Bias: A Universal Human Error

Wald’s mind-blowing theory about the bombers’ weak spots is a classic example of survivorship bias. This is actually a common human error that leads us to pay more attention to survivors and “winners” instead of trying to understand the failures.

Almost everyone has survivorship bias without realizing it. Our entire global culture is about celebrating winners and forgetting the losers.

As author David McRaney writes in his amazing article on Survivorship Bias: If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact that only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view.” As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.”

Think about these other examples of how you (and millions of others) focus solely on “survivors:”

Celebrities

Many children grow up wanting to be famous. After all, the rock stars and TV stars they see everyday are all famous. So, there is plenty of opportunity, right? The truth is that famous actors, musicians, comedians, etc. are only the ones who ‘made it.’ They survived the auditions, the competition and let’s face it – had some good luck or God-given talent. But, what about the millions of others who tried and failed to win the audition, to get that starring role in a sitcom, to even make it past a casting agent? This is a prime example of how we tend to obsess on and worship the winners, rather than the losers. If you understand survivorship bias and you truly want to be a rock star, then you would be better off interviewing failed musicians to understand how they veered off the road to success.

Senior Citizens

The most common question that people who live past their 90’s receive: “How did you do it?” One senior citizen could say they never smoked or drank one drop of alcohol in their life. Another might answer that they drank often, smoked everyday and ate whatever they wanted.

Whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter.

Because, we really should be looking at the millions of other senior citizens who DIDN’T make it past 90. What did they do that prevented them from reaching 90? What could you learn from them to stretch your own lifespan?

Fitness Gurus/Products

The fitness and health industry is notorious for profiting from people’s survivorship bias’. Consider how many weight loss success stories you see promoting a certain workout, diet, or even the advice of a fitness guru. It’s easy to fall for these testimonials and believe that these extraordinary claims produce consistent results.

Reality Check: These commercials not only show the survivors, but the super-survivors. The extreme and rare positive outcomes, like the person who lost 50 lbs in just a month. At the same time, they hide the failures and even the normal results, like the participant who lost a more stable 5 lbs in a month.

Survivorship Bias is Also Rampant in the Hotel Industry

Think about it.

We have survivorship bias thinking about our own guests and our own hospitality marketing efforts. Most, if not all, of your present data come from the guests or group business clients that successfully made a reservation.

But, what about the people who didn’t?

What about the people who visited your hotel’s website, clicked on a couple of pages, then decided to stop looking and left?

Here’s the truth: The guest intelligence you have right now is most likely misleading, over-optimistic data that only focuses on the people who actually made it to your hotel PMS. Most hotel’s guest data leaves out those people who didn’t ‘survive’ the buying journey. You’re overly focused on your known audience, instead of studying the business you lose.

To thoroughly optimize your hotel’s most successful conversion paths, you need to consider the entire audience, not just those who actually converted. In other words, you need to consider not just what’s working, but what’s not working, to drive bookings.

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7 Ways to Prevent Survivorship Bias from Hurting Your Hotel’s Revenue:

1. Stop Copying Successful Hotels
It’s easy to look at successful hotels and think their strategy can be replicated in your market. But also take time to consider the other properties that failed in that same location, especially within the same chain scale level. Find out what went wrong, instead of only focusing on what went right for the survivors.

2. Conduct Loss Analysis on Failed Group Business Bids
Hotels often focus their sales efforts on seeking repeat business from specific groups, their “best customers.” Then, they proudly proclaim their venue is a ‘favorite’ of medical meeting planners, for example. Or, that their business is made up of mostly annual tech conferences. Instead, ask why other groups haven’t booked your hotel? What other industries are you missing out on?

Whenever you lose a piece of group business, the sales person needs to ask the meeting planner, “What went wrong? Why didn’t our hotel win your event?” This simple move could dramatically alter your sales efforts, sending your sales numbers skyrocketing in the future.

3. Discover Which Companies are Visiting Your Hotel Site
You can find out if meeting planners are visiting your website, even if they don’t send a message or fill out an RFP. We at Tambourine (and many other firms) have the ability to identify inbound website visitors by company, enabling our clients’ sales teams to find out which companies are visiting your meetings and event pages. For example, you can find out if someone from Ford or Microsoft started clicking around on your site.

This now-warm lead can act like a trigger for the sales person on your team (in this case, the sales person who is in charge of the Pacific Northwest market since Microsoft is headquartered near Seattle) to reach out to the meeting planning department at that company.

4. Conduct User Testing
Don’t fall in the trap of assuming what customers think about your hotel website. The only way to know how potential guests are interacting with your website and booking engine is to engage random, unbiased users to test it. (Shameless Plug: As part of our hotel marketing services, we implement random user testing for clients, and even provide videotape footage of tester’s live feedback.)

5. Monitor Points of Abandonment
Use your analytics to find out where you start losing potential guests on your website. Do you lose them right on the homepage? Or, when they encounter inconsistency moving from your website to the booking engine? Fixing whatever the problem is means you’re helping more visitors ‘survive’ the purchase journey to book a room.

6. Add More Languages
Your hotel is a global product. Or, at least it could be if you allowed your website to ‘speak’ to global audiences. Right now, too many American hotels only use English on their website. So, what if a family from Spain wanted to book a stay? Or, a group of business people from Dubai? You may think your hotel only attracts American travelers (or that virtually everyone speaks English), but that is survivorship bias at work… you only see English-speaking guests! If your website is only written in English, then only English-speaking travelers book your hotel, which leads you to assume that only English speakers want to stay with you. Consider what adding other language translations could do to attract global travelers.

7. Don’t Put Your Marketing on Repeat
It may seem like a smart strategy to repeat what worked for you last year, but again, this is survivorship bias at work. It’s even smarter to figure out why certain marketing tactics and campaigns failed. Did you have enough resources? Did the campaigns have enough time to flourish? Or, did you back down and just grab the lowest hanging fruit (relying on OTAs)?

It’s vital to know about ALL of your hotel’s online visitors and potential customers – not just those who successfully booked. This gives you more insight into how potential guests and group business clients engage with your hotel in their research phase. Plus, it will help you identify what to fix and where to make improvements. Examining your losses and avoiding survivorship bias can be the pivotal move that will lead to quicker buying cycles and higher conversion rates.


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: Outsmart New Compset Properties With Creativity

February 10, 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: Celebrate Your USPs to stand out from new compset properties.

Let’s face it.

New properties steal not just the spotlight, but potentially your market share as well… They are poised perfectly to siphon your business with their sparkling technology, modern amenities, and exciting new guest experiences that travelers are clamoring for…  Unless, you rebuff their arrival with an arsenal of smart marketing of your own.

But don’t fall back on flash sales in a last-minute bid to entice bookings away from them. This will only hurt your reputation and your bottom line.

Instead, leverage the one thing you have that they don’t: past guests.

While the new hotel must target new guests, create compelling reasons for past guests to plan a return stay.

Examine how your guest experience outshines theirs and leverage every unique aspect of your hotel to craft targeted marketing campaigns and creative promotions to your current email list of past guests (another thing new properties don’t have).

Segment your email list and consider the USPs that will pertain to them. Offer free Wifi while they charge $12/day? Are you located right in the heart of a cool neighborhood, while they’re on the outskirts? Do you host a complimentary happy hour of local wines?

Creatively packaging what makes you unique is one of the simplest ways to outshine your competition and sustain market share.

Get more: 4 Ways to Compete Against New Properties In Your Market


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

10 Secrets of Luxury Hotel Websites (Part 2)

January 31, 2017 • By

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Last week we covered the first five secrets of luxury hotel websites … Here’s Part 2 and the final five tips for luxury hotels and resorts:

6) Luxury Hotel Websites Synthesize Design and E-Commerce

Clearly, luxury hotels need to be vigilant about their online presentation and perception, but the savviest upscale properties understand that e-commerce tactics and visually arresting design CAN coexist beautifully … and profitably.

A few elements to keep in mind:

• There is nothing inelegant about a clear and consistent call to action. A “Check Availability” button in a prominent location at all times can be designed in an understated manner and regardless of your booking engine partner, the front end booking widget experience can be custom designed in a refined manner rather than using the standard default widget.

• Templates and do-it-yourself content management systems can hinder your ability to extend your brand tone into the e-commerce realm. Make sure your website developer has the ability to implement all aspects of your branding including colors, patterns, textures, fonts and photographic and copywriting tone.

• Mapping the location of the hotel and its surrounding attractions are critical to e-commerce conversions. However, you don’t have to use canned/default map features and colors. Google Maps can be customized to display only the information relevant to your brand, as well as its brand colors and tones.

• The mantra of luxury branding is: “Less is more.” A more understated, “clean” layout not only harkens backs to luxury print design and branding campaigns of the past, but it also leads to faster page load speeds and better SEO results. Google is now indexing mobile site structures first. This means, fewer mobile pages and more succinct and efficient websites.

• With increases in Internet speeds and pervasive wifi, video (the ultimate branding and storytelling medium) has become a powerful inspirational tool for luxury hotel websites. A good inspirational video extends user engagement and increases entrances into the booking engine.

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7) Luxury Hotel Websites Welcome Global Visitors

Just within the past decade, the U.S. hotel industry has seen a significant uplift in wealthy international travelers. This growth in global guests and the ease of digital marketing across borders has given luxury hotels massive opportunities to expand into new markets and succeed internationally.

However, when it comes to your hotel going global, it doesn’t make sense to stick with a one-size-fits-all hotel web design or booking engine. Every culture has its own assumptions, ideals and values. What works in one country may flop in another. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

• Get a Real Translation

If international visitors go to your hotel’s website and just see English, it sends a message that their business isn’t important or that you don’t care to make their online experience an inviting one. And don’t make the lazy mistake of Google translating all of your website copy, then calling it a day. Reaching international travelers will take much more than a lazy word-for-word replacement. It requires taking into account the nuances, the cliché phrases and the style of language of your specific target.

Currency and Payment Options

Once you have overseas visitors hooked with a successfully localized hotel website, don’t lose them to an all-American, all-English booking engine that displays room rates only in U.S. dollars. The same principle goes for guest room and suite measurements. Most of the world uses the metric system, so don’t describe rooms with feet and inches.

  Dates and Times

Avoid confusion by displaying the times and dates in the preferred local format. This also guarantees a seamless user experience for international guests who are accustomed to different formats than what your American guests are acquainted with. Surprisingly, the format of MM/DD/YY is unique to the U.S. (and oftentimes used in Canada too, adding to the confusion). While Japan uses YY/MM/DD and most of Europe uses DD/MM/YY.

  Enable Language Toggle

We can’t always assume a guest’s native language based on where they live. So, it makes sense to enable guests to specify and easily toggle the language that suits them best. 

8) Luxury Hotel Websites Convey a Luxury Service Culture

Wealthy travelers expect VIP treatment and the highest caliber of hospitality from start to finish. Not only do luxury hotel brands invest heavily in service training and empowering their staff, they showcase that dedication to service and genuine hospitality directly on their website itself. Ritz Carlton’s staff lives by their Gold Standard credo to “fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”

This commitment must extend to the first touch many potential guests have with your hotel, through the phone and chat agents made available via your website. These operators must understand the details of your luxury service experience and be able to convey it via chat and phone.

9) Luxury Hotel Websites Enable Personalization

Shoppers who visit luxury stores expect and appreciate a personalized experience. Luxury hotel e-commerce is no different. Smart hoteliers in the upscale and luxury categories have built-in personalization features in their e-commerce experiences, including:

Detection of the website user’s search engine query or location and instant presentation of dynamic content (or offers) that match the user’s interest (ex: “adjoining rooms on the beach”).

• Smarter presentation of room categories that enables guests to select rooms based on their personal preferences (ex: “quiet, away from elevators, low-floor or ocean-view).

• Digital tracking of loyal past guests (and their past booking behavior) and instant dynamic presentation of offers, content and images that match their profile (ex: past guests can instantly be recognized and offered a “loyal guest” discount which creates kinship and reduces potential abandonment to OTAs).

10) Luxury Hotel Websites Respect Users’ Time

High-end guests often have more money than time … So they seek amenities and services that reduce friction and allow them to get what they want quickly. Smart luxury properties feature these capabilities right on their website, such as mobile check-in, 24/7 service butlers, on-site activities and rentals, service requests by SMS, children programs, or airport transfers.

Further, high-end customers want to know they can reach a real person at any time. So, luxury properties lower the barriers to staff by making it simple to chat, call or email directly from their property’s website and by promising quick response times (some even offer a convenient “call-back service”). The idea is to make their affluent customers feel like a part of an exclusive community and to give them multiple direct lines of communication to your staff.


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: Tell Guests WHY They Should Book Direct

January 20, 2017 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

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: Constantly remind guests that booking direct is better by prominently displaying your direct booking benefits on all of your marketing channels.

One of the simplest and most impactful ways you can convince your guests to book direct is to tell them WHY they should.

After all, once a customer finds you on an OTA, the first place they usually go is to your hotel’s direct website. And, this is where the ball is squarely in your court.

You need to offer legitimate benefits for guests to ditch their OTA habit and book with you instead. But there’s no need to give away additional costly amenities to generate direct bookings and create parity arguments with your OTA “partners.” Instead, simply remind viewers that direct booking includes things you already offer: these can include free wifi, free breakfast, airport transfers, or discounts off the restaurant and spa. OTAs are often unaware of these core inclusions and unable to showcase them on your OTA listing page.

Most hotels are smart enough to offer guests convincing reasons like these to book direct, however they hide these reasons deep inside their website. Or, only display them once the guests make it to the booking engine. Or, forget to arm their call center reps with these reminders of value.

Your direct booking benefits need to be obvious, shared often and displayed in areas where online visitors can’t miss them. Such as right on your homepage, in your social media pages, in a prominent place on all of your marketing emails, in your employees’ email signature, retargeting ads, etc.

Bring out your direct booking benefits front and center to amplify your chances of guests booking direct.

Get More: Three Ways to Overcome the Perception That OTAs are Cheaper


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 Do Meeting Planners Actually Want? Here’s the Surprising Survey Results…

January 17, 2017 • By

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Looking for the ultimate tip to booking more group business this year?

Get inside the planner’s mind to find out what marketing they prefer, respond to, and act upon.

So, we decided to do just that. 

To help hotel sales managers win at various phases of the sourcing process, we partnered with EproDirect to collect insights from more than 83,000 meeting planners to find out what promos and incentives peak their interest, what marketing strategies actually influence them and what impacts their booking decisions.

After analyzing the data, we discovered some things you might expect along with some surprises. Use this data to shape your sales efforts, bring more value to your planner relationships and invest in the right marketing strategies to drive group business.

Click here to view the full report:

Survey Participants Profile:

31% – 3rd Party/Independent
29% – Association
25% – Corporate
5% – Government
10% – Other

Key Findings

What to Improve in 2017?

Meeting planners want to see quicker response times from hotels, an improvement in the quality of facilities and stronger customer service in 2017. While last year, planners said hotels could improve by offering better onsite technology, more competitive packages, along with quicker response times and stronger customer service.

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Double Down on Email Marketing

Despite all the attention given to social media today, 59% of the meeting planners surveyed said email marketing is still their preferred method of receiving information, special offers or updates. Trade shows/events trailed at 15% , while only 2% of planners surveyed preferred social media. One planner noted, “FAM tour opportunities and new hotels/venues and destinations are able to catch my eye.” While another planner said that he/she values emails that include unique ideas and articles.

Email still reigns as a meeting planner’s favorite method of contact. An overwhelming majority surveyed prefer to be solicited via email (87%), over phone calls (7%) and LinkedIn messages (2%).

Offer Relevant Venue Videos

Videos allow planners (especially part-time or non-traditional meeting planners, who carry out other responsibilities besides organizing events) to inspect a venue right from their office. When viewing videos, meeting planners consider facility views (72%) and self-guided virtual tours (69%) as being most helpful to their sourcing journey. Last year, planners also saw endorsements and ideas from meeting peers as most helpful (63%).

Provide the Right Tools on Your Website

Meeting planners rely on hotels to provide all the relevant sourcing tools directly on their website. The top five items that planners find the most valuable on your hotel’s meetings site include capacity charts, floor diagrams, room measurements, virtual/video venue tours and photos of actual events.

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Enhance Your Presence on eRFP Sites

When submitting RFPs, 33% of meeting planners preferred using RFP portals such as Cvent and Elite Meetings. A second preferred method, contacting the hotel sales rep directly, was liked by 29% of the meeting planners we surveyed.

Make an even bigger effort to make your proposals remarkable and compelling when receiving an RFP from a site like Cvent, since it is likely the planner sent the RFP to several properties. Plus, make your hotel sales reps’ direct contact information (extra points for also including a headshot) easy to access on your website, instead of simply providing a generic 1-800 number that’s routed to a sales coordinator. Don’t make the meeting planner dig around to find out how to contact the proper person on your team.

Offer the Right Meeting Incentives and Promo Offers

While meeting incentives and promotional offers only moderately impact a meeting planner’s site selection, food and beverage discounts (53%) and complimentary meeting space promos (71%) are considered the most attractive types of promo offers. Last year, incentives and promo offers had more impact, with 57% of planner participants saying that these could largely influence their site decisions.

Mingle With the Right Social Channels

Out of all the social media platforms used regularly for planning meetings, 42% of planners use Facebook and 60% say they prefer LinkedIn. Provide value on both channels by sharing unique event-related ideas and resources, answering planner’s questions and participating in groups.


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: Build Product Experiences for Each Key Segment

January 13, 2017 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

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: Once you know exactly who your guests are, create experiences specifically for each segment.

Last week, we showed you how to get clear on who your guests are to make your marketing more impactful. Here, we’ll talk about the next step:

Create specific packages, promos, and experiences for each of those target audiences. A common mistake hotels make is creating packages they hope will have universal appeal, then promoting them to all audiences.

Instead, think deeply about the needs and wants of each specific guest segment and build compelling product experiences (remember: product = physical + experiential) that truly differentiates your property. For example: Couples Resorts in Jamaica has built a package that appeals to adventurous couples, one of their key segments. The package includes a trip to Jamaica’s famous luminous lagoon with a magical evening boat excursion.

Then, narrowcast your marketing campaigns to specific niche audiences and build campaigns that are relevant to them and their needs. In other words, don’t send wedding promos to corporate planners, or family packages to couples looking to get away for a romantic weekend.

Get More: Three ways hoteliers can tap into the authenticity trend


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

DOSM Checklist for 2017

January 3, 2017 • By

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2017 is going to be a game changer for hotel DOSMs.

This year, you need to maximize every advantage you have to meet your revenue targets and outperform your comp set. It’s easy to start off the year with a burst of explosive energy, like a sprinter at the start line. But staying in front of the pack throughout the year requires you to maintain a disciplined daily routine of revenue-centric tasks.

That’s why we’re bringing back our annual Tambourine DOSM Checklist, which suggests daily activities that will make it easier for you to achieve your revenue goals.

Here are the 10 things we recommend to hotel DOSMs for 2017:

1. Assess Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

Successful DOSMs scrutinize their monthly and yearly group business goals and know where they stand on any given day. Leave the fluffy weekly sales meeting to the other hotels. Keep track of the progress towards your group sales goals by meeting with your team everyday. Review top opportunities, get a no BS status on critical deals and determine what the sales person can do that day to edge them closer to winning that piece of business.

Do you know your current closing percentage? And how long the average deal takes to close? You should! A daily check-in is paramount to hitting your room night goals each month and the rest of the year.

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2. Improve Your Product

With all the sales and marketing strategies and technology you have in place, at the end of the day, it’s an exceptional guest experience that will attract bookings again and again. So, it makes sense to get your head out of the computer and leave your office to simply walk your property at least once a day. Be mindful and try to see the property with fresh eyes. TALK TO GUESTS! Scrutinize any flaws or opportunities for improvement. Notice what’s missing or what is possibly holding your property back. The restaurant’s uninspiring menu? Cluttered spa entrance? Dismal hallway lighting? Outdated staff uniforms or procedures? No amount of brilliant marketing can cover or compensate for property shortcomings, so it’s up to you to start there first. Submit a report to ownership at least once a year detailing the product shortcomings that are affecting results.

3. Review the Metrics Owners Care About the Most

Every day, you should be checking key performance indicators that hotel owners and asset managers consider high priority, such as MCPB (marketing cost per booking), DRR (direct revenue ratio), and your STR index vs the comp set. Monitoring these KPIs will help you and your owner understand how your sales and marketing team is actually contributing to the hotel’s revenue targets.  Plus, these numbers will ultimately drive performance each day. Most hoteliers tend to wait until a slow season to pay attention to these metrics, then scramble to frantically catch up when the numbers reveal how behind they are in reaching the hotel’s goals.

4. Check In On Guest Sentiment

In addition to speaking to real life human guests, online guest reviews are another direct link to your hotel’s future success. They tell you what went wrong (and right) in the past, and what you need to do moving forward. Even if it is someone else’s job to read and respond to guest reviews, successful DOSMs need to know what guests are saying as well. Do the same with mentions of the hotel on social media, such as photos taken by guests and posted to Instagram or Facebook. These posts can be extremely revealing and can show you what guests consider the highlight of their stay and in some cases, what they were disappointed by. Notice what comes up most often, then outline how you and other management staff can make improvements.

5. Empower and Encourage Your Team’s Creativity

Today’s travelers are drawn to what is different and remarkable. This requires your team to come up with fresh and innovative ways to market your property and wow guests. Brilliant brings bookings. Encourage your marketing and sales staff to bring a new idea to the table everyday. Then, actually give them the freedom and permission to run with the concepts that seem the most feasible. The key is to not belittle or reject ideas, no matter how outlandish or lousy they may seem at first. That will only discourage innovation. It may take many tries before uncovering an idea that could lead to a breakthrough idea. Empowering your staff goes a long way in boosting job performance and team morale, which will undoubtedly reflect on hotel revenues.

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6. Speak to Meeting Attendees and Guests

Pardon us for repeating ourselves: Resist the urge to stay glued to your computer or attend your own meetings all day. Get out and talk to guests, especially attendees of groups and events! You are a host, first and foremost. So, talk and mingle with the people who really matter — your guests. Chat with guests in the lobby or walk the meeting space and chat with attendees during their downtime. Start a conversation and see how things are going. Ask what could make their stay or meeting experience even better?

Discover what really matters to them. Jot down and collect their responses and use that as inspiration to drive your sales and marketing efforts. All of this intelligence can be used to attract more bookings or group business in the future.

7. Meet With Your Revenue Manager

The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager each day, not simply once per week. Just like your top sales opportunities, you need to stay on top of your hotel’s pace reports, upcoming low periods, performance vs budget and the strategies to drive more revenue from ancillary products. The days of sales/marketing operating in separate silos from revenue management are firmly over… check out this brief article on how to connect all the departments that affect your property’s revenue.

8. Wrap your property in local color

The desire for unforgettable and authentic travel experiences isn’t going away anytime soon. Modern travelers want to experience a destination like a local and are replacing trips to major attractions with visits to mom-and-pop shops, farmers markets, art walks and hidden local spots. And, they’re looking to pick a hotel at the epicenter of all those things. Don’t sit back and simply rely on your concierge to stay abreast of all the local activities that are possible. Stay on top of it by skimming the publications that locals tend to read, such as weeklies like San Diego Reader or city magazines like Seattle Met. This will give you ideas for possible partnerships, room packages, or unique off-site group options.

9. Study Your Comp Set

In the battle for bookings, never take your eyes off the competition.  In addition to monitoring rate, checking in on your comp set gives you insight into the smart moves they’re making to draw more direct bookings and more group business. One of the easiest ways to keep up with competition is to follow their social media accounts, not just for the property itself, but of each sales person, too. (Each sales person at your property should follow their counterparts at competing hotels.) What is getting the most engagement? What are they bragging about? What value are they bringing to LinkedIn? Then, read their latest guest reviews and find out what their guests love and hate about their experience. Use this data to gauge what their customers and guests respond to and determine if you can use their successes to inspire change at your property, as well.

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10. Stress balance and reduce stress

Smart DOSMs also find ways to reduce stress at work. They hire positive, high achieving staff and fire negative, poor performers. They set expectations clearly with those below AND above them. They eliminate vendor fatigue by consolidating their needs with as few vendors as possible. They surround themselves with people who can get things done with little to no hand holding.

And most importantly, they know that despite their non-stop, 24/7 job, work should never be their only source of pride and enjoyment. The most successful DOSMs have vibrant, fulfilling lives outside of work, balancing the demands of their work life with family, friends, exercise and travel.


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

Finally…Our Top 3 Hotel Marketing Stories of the Year

December 29, 2016 • By

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Want good advice?

Ask a crowd….

So that’s exactly what we did this week when we measured the number of readers of each of our hotel marketing blog posts in 2016.

And the results are in… here are the top 3 stories of the year, based on the readership of thousands of hotel marketers just like you!

#3: 10 things successful hotel Sales and Marketing Directors do every day

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#2: Six sales & marketing metrics every hotel owner cares about

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#1: Hotel marketing: 10 things that worked in 2016

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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 Every Hotelier Should Be Doing Before 2016 Ends

September 13, 2016 • By

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Newsflash: There are just four months left of 2016!  

With Labor Day behind us, the dust has settled from your summer season and you’re just now beginning to think of the rest of the year ahead. Before you get swept up in end-of-year chaos and coming up with holiday hotel marketing campaigns, September is the opportune time to set the foundation for your success in 2017.   

Get smart about planning ahead.

Here are five must-do tasks to ramp up for your 2017 revenue goals:

1. Evaluate the True Needs of Your Hotel’s Business Mix

We often see hotels that invest too much of their marketing focus and resources on attracting leisure business. Meanwhile, their corporate sales and group sales teams are left having to hastily create disjointed lead campaigns on their own. The biggest irony of this common situation is that a single corporate or group business contract promises hundreds of bookings and larger ancillary spending, while leisure marketing campaigns drive reservations one-by-one. Don’t ignore the biggest spenders. Instead, look at what your corporate sales’ and group sales’ goals are and create an integrated marketing strategy that aims to help them achieve those numbers, in addition to your leisure campaigns.

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2. Prepare a Hotel Marketing Budget That Aligns to Your 2017 Revenue Goals

By now, your management or ownership team have met and begun to map out their revenue targetsfor 2017. If you haven’t already, ask them specifically what part of that revenue pie you and your hotel marketing team are responsible for. Don’t move forward on a budget without knowing exactly what goals your team is beholden to. Get as much clarification as you can, including how many room nights, booked meetings, corporate bookings, etc. should be attributed to your marketing efforts.

A common mistake hotel marketers make when creating a marketing budget is they simply just ask for the same amount as the current year. Here’s the problem: Your hotel owners will likely have an expectation for your team to do even better and to produce even more than this year. So, it makes no sense to ask for the same amount when now, you are being held accountable for achieving so much more!

3. Recruit New Salespeople to Replace Poor Performers

Now that we’re at the end of Q3 and heading into Q4, there’s less doubt as to which salespeople are your top players and which team members are not achieving their goals. If you’ve already invested in training and sales coaching but you’re still not seeing any gains in the amount of groups booked by these poor performers, now’s the time to start looking at other potential sales people to take their place.

Competition for group business is fierce and you could possibly be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in group revenue if some of your precious salespeople are missing their numbers. You need an ambitious, creative and smart sales team to drive your goals. And, everyone has to carry his/her weight – period.

4. Gather Guest Reviews to Support Your Budget Requests for Hotel Upgrades

Even the most brilliant hotel marketers can’t get away with putting lipstick on a pig. Despite your consistent and creative marketing efforts, your insightful decisions and your perfectly executed marketing campaigns, you won’t ever be as successful as you deserve if your hotel is crumbling, aging, and showing signs of decay and disarray. Fresh, new properties are popping over everywhere and delivering the exact experience that modern guests are looking for. So, your hotel owners can’t sit back on their past investments and expect to drive the same business with the same ol’ product. Upgrades are necessary, you just have to prove it.

Leverage past guest reviews to convince ownership and management that investments are urgent and imperative to effectively compete. Comb through your guest reviews and highlight complaints that come up most often and will most likely drive potential guests away (mold in the bathrooms, shades aren’t dark enough, ratty carpets, aged décor, etc).

5. Have an Open Dialogue With All Stakeholders About What’s Worked and Not Worked YTD

Marketing success doesn’t occur in a vacuum or behind closed doors of your marketing meetings. You need to have open discussions with your other departments of the property team to analyze the year with you and review where you saw your biggest success, where you tanked, what was the best use of marketing funds and where you can save.

And, don’t overlook your own front desk staff as a key source of information about your customers. They often have insightful direct feedback that could impact your marketing campaigns for the future.


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