Browsing Tag

booking engine

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

Friday Freebie: Cut the Fat to Fast Track Mobile Bookings

October 6, 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: Cut out all unnecessary fields, steps, content, graphics, and clutter that stand in the way of streamlined mobile bookings.

There’s no denying that mobile bookings are rapidly rising in many segments of the hotel chain scale. (Urban/city hotels, are you listening?) In fact, an eMarketer study shows that by 2021, 50 percent of all online travel sales will be made from tablets and smartphones.

So, why are your mobile bookings languishing, while everywhere else they are exploding?

One glaring reason is that your hotel’s mobile experience doesn’t match up to the online habits and expectations of modern travelers.

Here’s a simple tweak to fix this: Cut the fat. 

Real estate on a smartphone or tablet screen is minimal, so instead of adding features, erase them. Streamline your hotel’s mobile booking funnel as much as possible. Get rid of the extra elements that aren’t vital to making a reservation. This includes extra fields, upsell features, navigational elements, ads, and superfluous links.

Remember, mobile bookings are being made on-the-go. Travelers don’t have time, nor the patience, for lengthy procedures. So, whittle down the booking process to 3 steps or less.

And don’t forget to pare down the content inside the mobile booking environment too. Only include copy that is necessary or a clear next step. Feature just one hotel image, versus a full gallery or video, which can slow down mobile load times even more.

Get More: Mobile Bookings are Up. Why Aren’t Yours?


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

Budgets Are Coming: 7 Lessons from Game of Thrones

August 22, 2017 • By

Hotel marketers are sharpening their pencils for battle.

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Just as winter (and a terrifying army of the dead) descends on Westeros in Game of Thrones, budget season is looming in the real world and hotel marketers all across the kingdom are arming themselves for battle.

To help hoteliers prepare, we turn to the lessons, themes and quotes we’ve learned while watching the battle for the Iron Throne between power-hungry lords and ladies:

1. GoT QUOTE: “When you play the game of thrones, you live or die.” 

LESSON: Your budget is your armory. Ask for everything you need to survive.

Hoteliers usually only think dollar amounts when working on their budget. How much will this marketing technology cost? How much should we dedicate to advertising spend? How much will our hotel website design cost?

But, here’s the surprise: you are not restricted to only asking for marketing funds during budget time! If you need more marketing staff or outsourced vendors to help you achieve your hotel’s revenue goals, then ask for them!

If your hotel is in dire need of upgrades and updates in order to effectively compete with newer properties and win market share, then ask for them. If you depend on another department’s performance to help you reach your targets, then ask to oversee them.

Here’s an example of what that request could look like:

“For me to achieve the revenue targets set forth by ownership… I need $_______ in funding, specific hotel upgrades to be made, and _______ new staff (contractors). Plus, I would like the ________ department to report to me.”

The road to achieving your property’s revenue goals begins with your ability to ask for what you need. Show your management team that without these items, you won’t be able to deliver the results they’re looking for.

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2. GoT THEME: Three Dragons versus Everyone Else

LESSON: Focus on quality, not quantity.

Forget the mass of Lannister soldiers that Queen Cersei has under her belt or the thousands of eerie wights brought back to life by the White Walkers. All it takes are three massive, fire-breathing dragons to wipe them out completely.

This year, vow to keep your budget uncluttered and uncomplicated. Your 2018 hotel marketing plan should be built on a few powerful initiatives, not on a mess of disjointed marketing tactics that just produce small bursts of wins and revenue. Build a strong budget that includes only marketing tactics that will have a measurable impact on your audience and the bottom line.

3. GoT QUOTE: “Words are wind, my friend…”

LESSON: Getting what you want takes proof.

Asset managers, hotel management firms and GMs are under more pressure than ever to deliver real bottom line results. However, many hotel marketers still shy away from being accountable for any revenue responsibilities. Instead, they lavishly tout their “rebranding initiatives,” number of social media followers or new hotel photography. This continued disregard for numerical evaluation will put you in a difficult position next year, when you attempt to request a larger marketing budget. Without measuring your success, owners and managers will be more apt to cut back on marketing expenses and staff, believing that your intangible branding results can be achieved with less.

So it’s important to have complete fluency in the KPIs that affect the bottom line. For example, if you know last year’s marketing cost-per-sale (CPS), you should be able to extrapolate that against future revenue targets to determine the budget required and make statements like this:

“Last year, we achieved a marketing CPS of X.
To achieve next year’s budget, I need $_______ .”

But remember, you will also be expected to reduce your CPS over time as you learn and tweak your programs.

4. GoT QUOTE: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” 

LESSON: You have data. Use it. 

This catchphrase, originally spoken by the red-haired Wildling Ygritte as she aggressively flirted with Jon Snow, has become one of the show’s most popular. But, don’t let it become your catchphrase. You should know everything about your marketing program results and not be guided by assumptions or gut feelings.

You should rely on data culled from the right sources to guide all future hotel marketing decisions.

And again, data is your ally when you need to ask for more marketing funds! Some data that you should always have on hand include key performance indicators, like DRR (direct revenue ratio), MCPB (marketing cost per booking) and your STR index versus the compset. All of these numbers will show you, and your hotel’s executive team, how much your marketing team is actually contributing to your hotel’s revenue.

5. GoT QUOTE: “Winter is coming.”

LESSON: Apathy about 3rd party costs is dangerous.

For a while, it seemed like winter would never come to GoT, despite numerous warnings with this ominous phrase. Yet, it was still on everyone’s minds. In hotel marketing, this means: Don’t ever be too comfortable in the here and now. For example, if more than 15-20% of your revenue is coming from OTAs, you need to prepare for the eventual downturn and start investing in programs, campaigns and assets that will deliver higher margin bookings.

When “winter comes” to the hotel industry and AOR goes from 75% to 50%, you don’t want to have the majority of your bookings incurring a 20% OTA commission!

6. GoT Quote: “A Lannister always pays his debts.”

Lesson: Ask hotel owners exactly what they expect from you.

Before you determine what marketing resources you’ll need for 2018, you need to find out the exact amount your hotel owner (or hotel management company) expects your marketing team to contribute to the hotel’s revenue.

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. Ask management/ownership early on in the budget process, because this one question will give you clarity and insight to build out any other projected expenses.

Don’t waste time or make costly guesses, nor should you allow your hotel owner to determine how much they want to give you. Don’t place your hotel marketing in a dangerous position of always being underfunded, but tasked with lofty goals. Instead, use your hotel owner’s revenue goals to correlate the assets you need to achieve them.

7. GoT QUOTE: “I may be small, but I won’t be knitting by the fire while others fight for me.” 

LESSON: Don’t surrender your property’s destiny to 3rd parties.

Spoken by everyone’s favorite young spitfire, Lady Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island, this empowering quote hits at the heart of every hotelier. OTAs have had their moment, but now it’s time to take back control of your booking destiny. So, stop depending on third-party sites to fill the house. Instead of paying commission fees of 15-30 percent, invest in the right tools and technology for your hotel to pull in your own reservations. One place where hotels will see big ROI is by investing in their hotel’s mobile experience. Offer a mobile-compatible booking engine. Have a responsive website and hotel marketing emails. Offer immediate online chat. Investing in mobile is paramount to your success in 2018.


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

Mobile Bookings Are Up. Why Aren’t Yours?

August 15, 2017 • By

Hotel booking engines need to look and feel more like apps.

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Everybody is talking about the rise of mobile bookings.

In fact, a study by eMarketer estimates that by 2021, half of all digital travel sales will be made from smartphones or tablets.

Chris Bendtsen, an eMarketer forecasting analyst, told Travel Weekly that consumers are booking more travel plans on their smartphones and tablets for a variety of reasons:

  1. Easier methods of online payment.
  2. Larger smartphone screens.
  3. A desire to react quickly to last-minute travel deals. 

So why aren’t your mobile bookings growing as rapidly as the rest of the world?

Too many hoteliers may think a mobile version of their website & booking engine will suffice. However, today’s consumers are not just looking for your website to ‘come up’ on their phones. Your mobile experience has to match today’s modern consumer habits and expectations.

Mobile bookings are the present and the future of the hotel industry. Here are the three mobile booking tweaks you need to adjust to this new reality and outperform your compset:

1. Cut it Down

Real estate on a mobile screen is limited.

The first – and most important – step to maximizing the mobile guest experience is to cut out, not add, features. Examine your hotel’s mobile booking funnel and streamline it as much as possible. Strip your mobile site of any clutter, including links, ads, navigation elements, menu options etc. Pare down the booking process to 3 screens or less.

Mobile is meant for the consumer-on-the-go… they have no patience for long-winded, self-indulgent purchase processes! Since mobile screens are smaller than desktops or laptops, minimize the amount of text on the screen. Trim content down to only what’s necessary to convey (like calls to action or clear next steps), then use a single big visual per page to guide guests through the process.

Multiple photos, videos, and pages of copy will not only make your mobile hotel booking engine load slower, but possibly anger and turn away guests who are accustomed to faster uploads from other sites.

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2. Design for Thumbs

Call it modern intuition: smartphone users navigate mobile sites using one hand. Most often with just their thumb. This is why the best mobile hotel ecommerce experiences are built like apps, which allow guests to tap, swipe, scroll, and click using just one hand or thumb. Stay clear of requiring guests to ‘pinch’ the screen to zoom in and out for content. This means your graphics and text are not optimized for mobile users and are too small.

3. Simplify Payment Options

You pride yourself on giving consumers choices in room types, F&B venues, and other add-ons. Your flexibility should extend to the most important element in the customer-acquisition process: the checkout!

Yet, sometimes the simple reason shoppers don’t complete a purchase is that their preferred credit card wasn’t accepted in your booking engine!

Smart hotels offer multiple payment options, going beyond Amex, Visa and Mastercard to include as many forms of payment as possible, including third-party online payment services like PayPal. Some even take it a step further like Couples Resorts, who offer a “loveaway” payment plan. A complicated hotel booking engine process is often the reason guests abandon their reservations, so provide a simple and speedy credit card experience.


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

Are Google and Apple Blocking Your Hotel Ads?

July 25, 2017 • By

Hotel digital marketers will now have even more technology to deal with.

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Major Takeaways:

  • Hotels need to understand the affects of new tech restrictions on their digital advertising
  • The announced updates to Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari will not block ALL advertising, just the most worst offending, spammy and intrusive ads
  • Google is taking a collaborative approach and letting publishers know ahead of time what type of ad content will be allowed and which will be blocked. Apple, on the other hand, is taking a harder stance against ads they deem irritating. They have yet to release more details.

Last month, digital advertisers (including most hotels) and their media partners were treated to a serious surprise.

Google announced plans to block intrusive and annoying digital ads in the newest version of Chrome, the world’s most popular web browser commanding 44 percent of the audience. This default ad-blocker will soon block certain digital ads – including those that take up too much of the computer screen, force readers to wait to view content they really want to see, or auto play videos and audio.

Apple soon followed with their own announcement: They are updating their Safari browser with radical new features aimed at protecting their users’ privacy and providing a friendlier web experience. These include:

  • VIDEO ADS: Preventing video or audio autoplay without the user’s permission. Online video advertising is generally seen as more valuable to advertisers since they attract higher engagement than static banner ads. This is especially noteworthy to resorts, who often use vide-enabled ads to showcase the compelling sights, sounds, colors and majesty of their properties.
  • RETARGETING ADS: Disabling ad tracking from 3rd party ad networks, which hotels would normally use to track people’s visits across different websites. This is how ad networks can tell if someone looked at your hotel and can serve up retargeting ads to keep your hotel top-of-mind.
  • BARE MINIMUM CONTENT: Giving online visitors the option to only view the main content of any website without any ‘extras’ like advertising, list of ‘suggested reading’,  and even design features like colors and fonts.

Some media experts and (let’s face it, virtually all) consumers are applauding Google and Apple’s moves to protect and enhance the online user experience by weeding out obnoxious ad interruptions.

People are fed up with crappy web experiences. They’re tired of companies tracking their behavior. They’re tired of obtrusive ads getting in their way. And, they’re tired of worrying about the possibility of hackers delivering malware through fake ads.

However, Google and Apple aren’t the first to intervene and block dreaded advertising experiences. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, about 26 percent of web visitors have already handled this on their own by installing plugins that block trackers and ads. And, about 10 percent have installed ad and tracking blockers on their smartphones.

So, what does this mean for hoteliers who depend on digital advertising for reaching new audiences and recapturing abandoned reservations with retargeting ads?

It’s time to adjust.

These ad blockers will definitely have a rippling impact on the hotel industry, but your advertising can still succeed if you follow these guidelines:

1. Understand your ad formats…. and where they run

Reach out to your media buying team and make sure you understand the type of ads that will run for your property and which networks/sites they run on. According to Google’s announcement, the type of ads they will block in the next version of Chrome are autoplay videos, pop-up ads and ads that cover most of the page.

In recent years, Apple has become more and more concerned with their consumers and privacy. In fact, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has lashed out at internet companies that collect user data, calling it an attack on privacy. The upcoming version of Safari will not block ads. Instead, it will block a user’s browsing data from third-party tracking tools that specialize in sharing audience data with other parties. This will make it harder for hotels to access audience data and leverage the intelligence to shape future marketing campaigns, create retargeting ads, and personalize marketing campaigns. From here on… essentially, any company that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the consumer will be at a disadvantage.

2. Are you paying for blocked ads?

Work with your media buying team to track the success of your PPC and digital ad campaigns.

Are your hotel ads published and actually seen? Or, are they being published (incurring costs), then blocked by the end user’s browser?

This will require testing and having the ability to pivot and replace these blocked ads with replacements that are more user-friendly. Plus, if you find that many of your ads are being blocked within Chrome and Safari, it’s time to up your game and think of new ways to grab your hotel audience’s attention.

3. Commit to quality

These radical moves by Google and Apple are meant to keep out the worst of the worst, while giving quality ads more screen time and less noise to cut through. Hotels now have to be accountable for creating advertising campaigns that are helpful, entertaining and stimulate dialogue with consumers… rather than just self-indulgently interrupting them.


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: Briefcases to Suitcases, Compel Business Travelers to Stretch Their Stays

June 30, 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: Compel corporate guests to extend their stay by creating a targeted ‘bleisure’ offer.

Out of a hotel’s three primary market segments, corporate clients often produce the steadiest stream of room nights AND add-on revenue throughout the year. And better yet…. free-spending corporate travelers alo tend to spend more on dining and other ancillary products (since they are reimbursed by their companies).

Amplify your revenue opportunities with corporate travelers by compelling them to add on leisure days to their stay.

Here’s One Way to Encourage Them to Stay Longer:

Create an exclusive offer only for corporate guests that extends the corporate rate a few days pre- and post-reservation. Add perks during those extra days, such as complimentary bike rentals, late check-out, discounted passes to a family-friendly attraction, free parking or complimentary breakfast. Include a link to a calendar of fun local events happening before, during, and after their original stay.

Share this offer with corporate guests a few times leading up to their stay. Include it in the pre-stay email, at check-in… or leave a note during their stay.

Get More: Turning Business Into Pleasure


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

Are Siri and Alexa Interrupting Hotel Search Marketing?

June 27, 2017 • By

Hotel search engine marketing is changing… are you ready?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Voice search and voice assistants are gaining popularity with no signs of slowing down.
  • This fundamental shift in search behavior impacts your current SEO strategy and will influence conversions and content discovery.
  • People using voice search tend to ask questions using long-tail keyword phrases, driving the need for relevant content addressing those questions.

“Siri, what is the biggest marketing trend that impacts my hotel’s search rankings?”

Just within the past few years, voice-driven search and virtual assistants (also referred to as ‘digital assistants’) have experienced a meteoric rise as more and more people turn to Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Google Home or Amazon’s Echo to research information.

In fact, the Echo and the Echo Dot were Amazon’s best selling products in 2016. Now, with Apple’s recently announced Apple HomePod (to be released December 2017), virtual assistants will be making their way into more homes and into our daily lives, routines and reality.

According to Google, 20% percent of searches are completed by voice. With 11 billion daily searches being conducted on Google, that equates to 2.75 million Google voice searches each day.  And, that number is expected to rise exponentially over the next few years.

Virtual assistants and voice searches are actively shaping the future of hotel SEO and changing how hotel marketers view their keywords and content. Plus, they are already poised to play a bigger role in driving conversions.

Voice Search Strategies to Implement Now 

This increasingly vocal world and continual evolution of search engine results will present challenges for hotels and will force hotel marketers to rewrite their content and SEO playbook.

Fortunately, changes have been gradual and we’re not seeing a full-blown disruption just yet. This buys hoteliers more time to prepare for changes in hotel search that are on the horizon.

Here’s what hotels can do right now to address this fundamental shift in how consumers are conducting hotel searches:

  1. Study Your Hotel’s Keyword Trends
    The fundamental rules of SEO still apply: hotels must understand how guests are finding them via voice search and the type of phrases they use. The clearest trend driven by voice search is the rise of long-tail keyword phrases. Unlike a typed Google search, people tend to ask virtual assistants questions (“What’s a good business hotel in the Gold Coast in Chicago?” vs “gold coast business hotel”). What are guests asking about hotels in your area and your hotel specifically? What are guests asking about travel to your destination? Optimize for these long-tail keyword phrases.
  2. Create a FAQ Page Addressing These Long-Tail Questions
    Hotels should set up FAQ pages on their websites that match the voice queries people use to find them online. Address these voice queries with mobile-friendly property and destination guides that give guests the information they are asking for. Hotel brands that address the ‘who, what, when, where and how’ questions and provide relevant answers will outrank their compset.
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  3. Extend FAQ Strategy to Other Content
    Build valuable content around your audience’s voice search keywords and build in answers to those phrases and questions in your hotel’s web pages, social media posts, and blog posts.
  4. Stay on Top of Evolving Search Trends
    Monitor and stay up-to-date on your hotel’s real-time search insights. Which search phrases are being asked more or less often? What is happening in your destination or hotel that impacts what people are asking? Frequent monitoring allows you to be nimble and often gives you an edge.
  5. Write Conversationally
    Not only will your guests enjoy your brand more with a natural voice, but this is the language spoken by voice search. Content won’t rate with Google Now or Siri if it’s not written in a natural voice. People are likely to ask Siri, ‘What hotel offers a free shuttle to the Miami airport?’ versus ‘free shuttle airport Miami.’ Google has been trying to minimize the relevance of keywords in search, with so many marketers over-optimizing and stuffing in keywords anywhere and everywhere they can. Voice search offers an opportunity to focus more on the language and tone we use naturally.
  6. Brace for Future Google Algorithm Updates
    Google has a history of driving SEO professionals crazy by constantly changing the set of rules that prioritize search rankings. While Google hasn’t announced any penalties for hotel websites that don’t cater to voice searches, there is always the possibility of that changing in the near future.
  7. Don’t Dismiss Traditional Search
    Consider voice search as a vital supplement to your SEO strategy, not a replacement. For now, despite the rise of voice assistants, the majority of search is conducted through typed queries on a mobile device or desktop. Both text searches and voice searches have a place in hotel marketing, so cater to talkers and typers alike.

Also see: The Painful Truth About Hotel SEO 


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

Stop the Noise: The 10 Things That Matter to Hotel Marketers Right Now

May 23, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing has never been so cluttered and noisy.

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Every week it seems as if there is something new and important competing for your attention and causing FOMO (fear of missing out) stress.

With all this marketing overload, it’s easy to forget what is really important and which marketing assets actually have the biggest impact on results.

We’re here to help…

Of course every property has unique demands and market conditions, but we want to try and free your mind from all the nonsense, hype and clutter and review the 10 things that should TRULY matter (in our humble opinion) to the majority of hotel marketers right now:

1. Having a Remarkable Product

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. 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.

2. Telling a Compelling Story 

There is a reason why “storytelling” has become a hotel marketing buzzword over the last several years. Storytelling captivates your audience, draws them in emotionally and entices them to want more.

Travelers – both leisure and business – don’t need to be sold on your thread count, the hours of your fitness center or the square footage of your ballroom. When they research hotel options, they are really looking for how your hotel will impact their lives during and after their stay. Follow these steps to use storytelling to win over the hearts and wallets of your target hotel audience.

 

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3. Integrating Systems and Technology

Using different providers for each of your critical marketing technology needs (i.e. CRS, website, hotel booking engine, PMS, and CRM) is a recipe for disaster. Many hotels are missing out on countless reservations because of one simple reason: they don’t have integrated technology.

The key is to work with as few providers as possible to make sure each component of your marketing can seamlessly speak to each other and simplify reporting for stressed-out hotel revenue, marketing and sales execs who are tired of system incompatibility and reporting nightmares.

4. Measuring Cost-per-Booking 

Think you’re impressing your hotel owners with news about your social media followers, your cool new marketing videos or your rebranding initiatives?

Think again.

Today, hotel owners expect their hotel marketing departments to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be measured. Without tracking and showing numerical evaluation of your marketing efforts, you’re going to face a difficult time later in the year when you need to request next year’s marketing dollars.

To prove how your marketing efforts are adding to the hotel’s revenue, you’ll need to calculate your marketing cost-per-booking (MCPB). Use this number to show your marketing team’s value and to ensure you’re given the proper amount of marketing dollars to continue bringing in business for the hotel. Be especially vigilant to know your cost-per-booking from OTAs as well. Avoid the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition.

5. Consolidating Vendors

The more hotel marketing vendors you work with, the more chaos and confusion you should expect.  Hiring multiple, disconnected vendors to handle separate hotel marketing tasks, like hotel website design, hotel email marketing, hotel social media and hotel PPC campaigns, will halt your property’s success in so many ways. First, you’re paying way too much for vendors handling only one function. Second, you’ll spend most of your day relaying messages from one vendor to the next. And, lastly, no one vendor can ever be held accountable for your marketing success or failure, since they can easily point fingers at each other.

Smart hotel marketers avoid juggling vendors… thereby reducing stress and gaining time to spend on proactive campaigns.

6. Sticking to a Plan

Marketing to everyone will get you nowhere fast.

Smart hotel marketers 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 best hotel marketers 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.

This will allow you to delegate the proper amount of investments to market to group, corporate, leisure/transient or F&B business. Every marketing activity you craft should be built with the intention of pulling in direct business from one or more of your target guest segments.

7. Consistency Across All Channels 

Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining rate, image and promo parity is vital to your hotel’s bottom line.

Smart hotel marketers also know that their USP (unique selling proposition) has to be consistent across all brand touchpoints and channels. If consumers see your property described as “urban chic” in one place and “a traditional business hotel” in another… dissonance occurs, causing erosion and attrition.

Consistency matters.

Whether it’s sending out email offers on a steady cadence, updating your hotel’s social media accounts or communicating with your group clients, it’s critical to set schedules and maintain consistency regardless of season or current results.

Your core marketing activities need to be sacred and deserve to be given the attention, resources and budget required.

8. Stunning Photography 

Awe-inspiring photos are worth a thousand bookings. Evocative images provoke an emotional response and directly contribute to booking decisions. Your images prepare potential guests for what’s to come. Along with your hotel’s website design, they convey your experience with a single glance.

So, be ruthless and replace all bland property images, including those that are old, grainy, dark or fail to convey a remarkable guest experience. Hire a hotel photographer trained in shooting real estate or architecture. Even better, complement those professional images with authentic and free photos taken by your hotel’s best photographers – your own guests.

9.  Simultaneous Promotions Across All Channels 

Filling periods of need is not easy… which is why smart hotel marketers launch promotions across all channels simultaneously. (See #7: Consistency, above.) Imagine you are the general of all your forces, you’d want them to coordinate operations and move in unison!

Launching the promo on every channel AT THE SAME TIME gives consumers comfort and avoids confusion. If guests see different special offers for your hotel on a 3rd party channel than what is shown on your own direct hotel website, they will get uncomfortable with the inconsistency and find another hotel that gives them greater mental comfort.

10. Continuing to Boost Online Guest Sentiment

Guests will always trust other guests more than you. This is why past guest reviews are one of the most influential factors impacting your hotel’s future success. Whether glowing or scathing, every review is an opportunity to stumble or shine. Get rid of the canned corporate responses and strive to always answer genuinely and authentically. Graciously own up to any mistakes and correct mistaken guests with grace. Even offer solutions for problems you can’t control, like the noisy nightclub across the street or the construction next door.

Keep all of your responses thoughtful and they’ll have a greater chance of turning negative reviews into shining moments that make your hotel even more likable and worthy of a visit.


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: How One Simple Email Can Reduce Abandoned Bookings

May 5, 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: Win back abandoned bookings with simple reservation recovery automation.

Every day, hotels ignore millions of relevant consumers at the very edge of converting to real revenue. Prospects who have already visited the website and searched the booking engine for their travel dates.

There is a massive opportunity to regain those lost visitors and reservations. After all, it’s always easier to win business from a previous visitor who has nearly purchased, than from a new consumer who has never heard of you before.

Here’s How to Do it:

After a visitor abandons your hotel’s booking engine, your booking engine should automatically send out a specific email with a personalized greeting that thanks them for visiting your website and a reminder to book. This is where you can offer a limited-time incentive and sell them even more on the experience of staying with you and booking with you directly.

But remember, in order to send these emails, your booking engine will need to capture email addresses as the first field in the booking process. That way, you now have the data necessary to email them if they abandon.

Get more: How to recapture abandoned bookings


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

20 Surprising Digital Marketing Stats Every Hotel Marketer Should Know

April 11, 2017 • By

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We dug up these 20 digital marketing nuggets (across all industries) to help you benchmark your efforts and determine which efforts are worth while.

Hotel Email Marketing

Despite all the attention given to social media marketing and mobile marketing, email marketing still holds a place as one of the most successful online marketing platforms.

  1. Targeted emails sent to segmented lists generate 58% of all digital revenue (The Direct Marketing Association, 2015).
  2. 86% of consumers prefer companies that send promotional emails monthly, while only 15% would like to receive them daily (Statista, 2015).
  3. 48% of emails are opened using a smartphone (Movable Ink, 2015).

Learn More:
3 Quick Ways to Drive More Bookings from Hotel Email Campaigns

Hotel Digital Display Advertising

Display ads are one of the oldest forms of online hotel advertising. However, today’s audiences have a much different opinion and level of patience with certain digital ads. Here’s what you should know before putting together a plan for online advertising.

  1. 91% of consumers believe ads are more intrusive today than a couple of years ago (HubSpot, 2016).
  2. The average CTR of display ads is 0.06% (HubSpot).
  3. Retargeting campaigns can result in a high ROI (Retargeter). People subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to convert (Digital Information World).
  4. WPP’s GroupM, a huge international ad buyer, forecasted that digital will likely account for 77% of total spend in 2017.
  5. Asked to name their number-one challenge, 15% of digital marketers said “meeting the expectations of the always-connected customer,” 14% chose “executing consistent campaigns that drive desired business outcomes” (i.e. leads or revenue) and 13% cited the proliferation of channels across paid, owned and earned media (B2B Marketing Insider).

Learn More:
How Smart Are Your Hotel Ads?
Hotels Squander Millions by Ignoring Their Best Prospects

Hotel Social Media Marketing

According to Hootsuite, 83% of Americans have a social media account. Social media has drastically changed how hotel brands interact and get in front of their target audiences. Here are some stats to keep in mind when putting together your hotel’s social media strategy:

  1. When social media is part of their buyer’s journey, customers tend to convert at a 129% higher rate. They are also four times as likely to spend significantly more than those without a social component (Deloitte).
  2. 61% of companies that invested at least six hours each week in social media marketing saw an increase in their search engine rankings (Social Media Examiner, 2015).
  3. 59% of Instagram’s 500 million monthly users visit the app each day, including 35% who visit their accounts multiple times (Pew Research Center, 2015).

Learn More:
How Guests’ Social Media Can Amplify Your Hotel Marketing Budget

Hotel Mobile Marketing

Consumers’ reliance on mobile devices increases each day, with smart phones seeping into almost each moment of their lives. So, optimizing your hotel marketing efforts for mobile should be one of your hotel’s top priorities.

  1. One-third of people say their smartphone is the primary device to access the internet (HubSpot, 2016).
  2. 61% of people are unlikely to return to a brand’s mobile site if they experienced a problem accessing it. On top of that, 40% will visit a competitor instead (McKinsey & Company).
  3. 31% of people say they open and read half of their emails on their mobile device (2015 State of Marketing Report). Meanwhile, about 80% of the time spent on social media sites happen on mobile devices (Marketing Land).
  4.   48% of people start any mobile research with a search engine, instead of an online app (Smart Insights, 2016).
  5.   More Google searches are made on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan (Google, 2015).

Learn More:
Is the iPhone Killing Your Hotel Revenue?

Hotel SEO

As the rules for search engine optimization continue to morph each year, it’s more important than ever for hotels to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and techniques to increase their placement in an online search.

  1. According to 72% of marketers, the most effective SEO tactic is creating relevant content (Ascend2, 2015).

Learn More:
The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO
The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO Part 2

Hotel Content Marketing

Creating compelling destination and hotel content (blogs, videos, fun visitor guides, etc.) has the power to attract, engage and inform travelers and meeting planners, while also establishing your property as a unique experience provider.

  1. B2C companies that published more than 11 blog posts a month receive 4 times more leads than companies that only blogged 4-5 times a month (HubSpot, 2015).
  2. 43% of people say they skim, not thoroughly read, blog posts (HubSpot, 2016).
  3. Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3 times more than any other type of content (Mass Planner, 2015). (Source: HubSpot)

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