Browsing Tag

booking engine

The Incredible OTA Stat That Everyone Has Forgotten About…

August 29, 2016 • By

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Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of just how much we’re throwing away by leaning too heavily on OTAs as a primary source of online bookings. Everyone knows that OTA bookings cost more, but very little is ever made of the amazing fact that OTA bookings are usually much lower in total value than direct bookings.

Siteminder, which is a unique position to see booking flow from both OTAs and direct websites, recently stated: The average booking value hotels are realizing on their direct website is nearly double the value they are receiving from third-party booking channels. (The finding is based on the 43.5 million reservations).”

And Kalibri Labs, which helps hotels evaluate revenue performance, analyzed the daily stay and cost history from 25,000 U.S. hotels from 2011 through present. They found that bookings made directly on your hotel brand’s site were 9 percent higher than OTA bookings. Plus, when you factor in ancillary on-property spending, direct bookings brought in up to 18 percent more revenue than OTA reservations!

Here are the reasons behind this surprising stat:

1. OTAs Are for Brand Atheists and Price-Conscious Shoppers

The picture of an OTA customer is clear. They don’t care about your hotel brand (or any other property’s brand for that matter), what makes your experience unique, or any of your updates and renovations. 

You are a commodity to them. They’re looking solely at price and where they feel they’ll receive more bang for their buck.

OTAs are not only your least valuable booking sources, they are also your costliest. To make matters worse, many hotels attempt to out-do their competition on OTA channels by offering even lower rates than what is listed on their own hotel website (via opaque offers). It’s the hotel industry’s version of self-sabotage. Not only is this short-sighted, it unnecessarily undercuts and cheapens any other efforts you make to drive profitability at your property. Lowering already-discounted room rates will ultimately leave potential guests no reason to book direct.

2. Direct Bookers Are Loyal Guests Who Tend to Stay Longer

Guests who book direct care about so much more than price. They want something unique that only your hotel can offer. They’ve done the research, looked at your comp set, read your reviews and have deemed your hotel worth their time and money. 

These invested guests tend to book longer stays and spend more money on ancillary products during their visit. Plus, the value of these directly booked guests only multiply because there is a large possibility that they’ll come back for a return stay, meaning more room nights and even more ancillary spend.

The Big Takeaway:

The major lesson behind this incredible stat is this: 3rd party bookings not only cost more, they also bring less total revenue.

Instead of lowering your rates and paying hefty commissions for low-value OTA bookings, get smart about investing in marketing tools This includes retargeting tools, personalized and targeted email marketing, live chat to engage visitors, a booking engine with automatic best rate guarantee, reservation recovery, and a stunning responsive website and mobile site.

This will ensure a more balanced approach to your distribution and give your hotel the full benefit of higher value 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

Friday Freebie: Convert Business Travelers to Bleisure Guests

August 19, 2016 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

Welcome to the Friday Freebie! Each week we share one free, impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more direct bookings.

This week’s freebie: How to convince business travelers to stay longer with a targeted bleisure offer:

Of all three travel segments that bring dollars to your property, the corporate market holds the most year-round promise. Corporate travel is often the most dependable year after year, and business guests tend to spend more at your property since they get reimbursed for most of their costs. 

Want more corporate business? Convince your business travelers to extend their stay even longer, and even invite their family!

Here’s one way to do it:

Create an offer solely for business travelers that extends the corporate rate a few days before and after their reservation. Then, consider adding on simple perks during those extra days that address “bleisure needs such as complimentary breakfast, a late check-out, passes to a nearby gym (if your property doesn’t offer a fitness center) and a calendar of unique/authentic local events happening nearby.

Once the offer is created, use your CRM system to share the offer with all guests marked with corporate rate codes in your PMS before their stay. Include the offer in their pre-stay email, remind them at check-in and if possible… leave them a note during their stay.

Get more tips on how to urge business travelers to extend their stay: 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

Want More Bookings? Give Consumers Less To Choose From

August 15, 2016 • By

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Your guests live in a world overloaded with content, chaos and way too many choices.

Just think of the last time you shopped on Amazon.com. Your seemingly simple search for a “red jacket” no doubt led to hundreds of results. Faced with a barrage of options, you most likely examined a few before resolving to think more about it later. Or, perhaps you left Amazon.com altogether and opted just to go to Macys.com since they made it so much easier to buy with only four red jackets to choose from.

Now, you can see the dilemma facing travelers today when deciding on a hotel room. Many hotels – with all the best intentions – go out of their way to help guests customize their experience once they are inside your hotel booking engine. Do you want a city view king, city view double queen, or city view double queen deluxe, deluxe king with balcony? Want to enhance your stay with a bottle of champagne, flowers, attraction tickets, daily breakfast, or an e-bundle package?

While you may think all of these options are benefiting the guest by giving them exactly what they want, research proves the opposite:

The Psychology of Choice

Studies show that consumers are most often overwhelmed when faced with too many choices. This can lead to action paralysis, meaning they will delay making a decision, or worse, not make one at all.

If you offer too many options (such as room types, add-ons, possible upgrades) that guests are required to choose before moving forward with the reservation, they may get so confounded that they end up abandoning the booking all together!

Frustration and Buyer Remorse

After a reservation has been made, the last thing you want your guests to feel is frustration. However, an abundance of room choices can do just that. Not only can too many options delay or block decision making, they can also make your guests feel WORSE after they finally book a room. Why? Because by presenting too many possibilities, you’ve raised their standards and they will mull over how much more desirable the other choices are. No matter which room type, which enhancement or which upgrade they chose, they will always wonder what else they are missing out on.

More choices require increased effort and time. This can lead to excessively high expectations, anxiety, self-blame and regret if the choices don’t work out.

– Harvard Business Review

Here’s our advice: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.

Not only will this make it easier for guests to complete the booking process, it will leave them feeling empowered and satisfied with their purchase and decision to stay with you.

Here are several other ways to increase revenue from your hotel booking engine:

• Choose what you put in your booking engine wisely.

• Pare down on all unnecessary content, including copy and photos.

• Use reformatting to simplify the look of your booking options. Go from four columns to three. Or, use one color, not five.

• Rename almost-identical room types. Give room types distinct names so it is easier to choose and identify.

• Reduce the number of room types as much as possible.

• Always be testing. In some cases, more options can be better than less. It’s your responsibility to find that sweet spot for your target audience.


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

3 Things Revenue Managers Can Learn From Psychologists

August 9, 2016 • By

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For most hoteliers, establishing rates is a rational, practical task based on analysis of the market and historical trends. But, your hotel’s bottom line could be missing a key dimension when deciding on room rates: price psychology

Every hotelier must understand the psychological pricing factors that influence travelers when making purchase decisions. Getting smart about buyer behavior means healthy revenue and robust profit margins.

A lot of research has been done on hotel pricing psychology and how it affects sales. This isn’t about manipulating travelers into booking, but rather understanding how and why they book so you can adjust your room rates accordingly.

Here are three fascinating and simple tactics to use when pricing your rooms using the psychology of pricing:

1. Use the Power of 9

People tend to read numbers quickly from left to right. By using one of the “charm prices” – room rates that end in 9,99 or 95 – travelers will normally just see the first number of the amount and will associate the price with just the first number, something called the left digit effect. 

For instance, consider a nightly rate of $199/night versus a $200/night rate. While they only differ by a mere dollar, people will associate $199 to be closer to $100 than with $200 simply because of the first digit they see. Plus, consumers have been conditioned to associate prices ending in 9 to be a better value overall.

Many luxury items use this strategy, including Apple, which has priced all of their products to end with 99. So, instead of rounding up your room rates to $400/night, experiment with using $399/night.

2. Add Perceived Value to Your Standard Guest Room Pricing 

The mistake most hotels make is selecting room rates that are too close together in value, which can actually make people indecisive since going with any choice doesn’t offer any considerable value or savings. 

Experiment with tiered pricing with a wide, but reasonable, differential price point between each room type. This can help you sell the most in your middle (and largest) inventory category. Use your smallest rooms as your value option and put a premium price tag on suites. Your suite rate should be considerably more expensive than your average room rate for standard guest rooms.

While most of your guests – depending on your average demographic – may not choose a suite, simply having it as an option will add “perceived value” to your other room rates, thereby increasing reservations for those guest room types. Plus, there will always be travelers who always opt for the most expensive option. Offering distinct tiers of pricing gives those guests the pricier option to book.

3. Watch Out for Visual Negatives

Online visitors have short attention spans! We’re loaded with information to process and every second matters, especially when it comes to direct hotel website bookings.

According to a study by Cornell University, people were less likely to purchase items that have dollar signs in their prices. While the “$”symbol might seems like a minor detail, it is giving us just one more thing to process when reading prices online. Same idea for commas and cents.  When you’re already dealing with so much content online, your mind doesn’t have time to process decimal places and commas.

For example, see how the two numbers below can be visually perceived as more expensive, even if they are all the same price.

$1,999.00/night

$1,999/night

1999/night

So, take the minimalist approach when publishing room rates on your booking engine to make your room rates easier to digest.


 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

3 Ways To Overcome The Perception That OTAs Are Cheaper

August 2, 2016 • By


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It’s all too easy to blame OTAs for your hotel’s shrinking profits by pointing fingers at their costly commissions and frustrating policy of withholding customer contact information. But, in reality, the biggest battle you face isn’t so much against the OTAs, but rather the mindset of OTA customers.

The truth is, your profit margins are being squeezed because of the general public’s assumption that OTAs offer the cheapest rates! According to a Tnooz survey, 75 percent of travelers between the ages of 18-64 believe that they can find the best hotel prices on an OTA. It’s time to poke holes through this OTA myth and sway customer perception with the truth.

Here are 3 tips on how to convince your audience that booking direct is best:

1. Reinforce Best Price Guarantee

Consumers usually aren’t aware that your hotel offers the exact same price as OTAs for the same rooms. So, it’s up to you to continuously reinforce the message that booking direct is in their best interest. You’d be amazed how much your conversion rate can go up by simply placing a prominent reminder to consumers on your booking widgets that booking direct is better!

Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to simply have a Best Rate Guarantee on your website. That has very little impact on the average consumer (and often requires them to go through the hassle of completing a form just to take advantage of it). Today’s guests are all about convenience, so the smartest tactic is to build your BRG into your booking engine itself, where OTA rates are displayed next to your own rate, proving to the visitor that only booking direct gets them the best prices. This type of feature will also automatically match the OTA’s cheaper rate if they are out of parity.

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2. Simpler Design and Booking Process

Because OTAs cover so many aspects of the travel experience – hotels, airfare, car rentals, activities, cruises and bundle packages – their websites are naturally complicated, cluttered and overrun with content. You can use that to your advantage by ensuring that your hotel website design is  easy on the eyes and simple to navigate. Create a visually arresting story. Select only your most stunning images, cut down on unnecessary text and reformat current text so it is easier to digest.

Most importantly, don’t make it complicated to book a room with you. There are plenty of antiquated booking engines that are littered with small text, redundant buttons, complicated design and too many fields to fill out. All of these elements can frustrate a traveler and irritate them enough to give up, abandon their reservation and find a better hotel that is easier to book with.

3. Highlight Direct Booking Benefits

Go beyond the standard Best Rate Guarantee and showcase the perks that only guests who book direct can enjoy. Is it complimentary WiFi? A complimentary upgrade (if available)? More loyalty points? Free daily breakfast? It’s about highlighting the value of booking direct and getting that message across in as many channels as needed. The first place a traveler goes after seeing a hotel that interests them on an OTA site is to the hotel’s website itself. So, publish your direct booking benefits visibly and prominently on your homepage, add it to your retargeting ad copy, include it in every post-stay email and remind your followers of it occasionally on social media.


 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: Use FOMO To Sell More Rooms

July 29, 2016 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

Welcome to the Friday Freebie! Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement – for free – immediately to drive more direct bookings.

This week’s freebie: Reel in more bookings by tapping into FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Nothing can make a prospective guest book a room faster than having limits placed on them. Knowing that the number of rooms or time remaining to take advantage of a certain price is a powerful motivator.

Brilliant marketers across all industries use this “scarcity principle” often, especially OTAs! Just think of a big sale that ends on a specific date. Or, an online store that is down to the last two of an item you’ve had your eye on. The premise is to urge guests to not delay in reserving a room with you and inciting a “fear of missing out” (FOMO in millennial speak).

Ask your hotel booking engine if they can tag certain room categories with urgency and FOMO messages when inventory reaches predefined levels. Use copy that creates perceived immediacy and stimulates guests to act now:

  • “Only 4 rooms of this room type remain.“
  • “Only 2 rooms on this date still available.“
  • “Only available to the first 15 guests.”
  • “Included in XYZ Package.”

Get more brilliant methods of using psychology principles to drive bookings here: The Surprising Psychology Behind Successful Hotel Websites – Part One


 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 to Write Hotel Website Copy That Sells

July 22, 2016 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one free impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more direct bookings.

This week’s freebie: Get more people to read your hotel website with these simple changes. 

Attention spans are shorter than ever. Studies have shown that the age of smartphones and endless streaming content have lowered the average attention span to eight seconds. EIGHT SECONDS. This puts a lot of pressure on hotel marketers to entice, engage and convince all within that tiny time frame.

So, what’s a hotel marketer to do to drive their website visitor closer to making a reservation? How can you maximize the mere seconds someone is on your hotel website, your ultimate highest margin channel?

People now scan online content, instead of thoroughly reading each and every amazing detail of your property. The secret to holding a visitor’s attention and making an impact is simplicity. Mainly writing less, making each word count, and making the copy easy on the eyes.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Break up content in quick-and-easy chunks, instead of using long paragraphs.
  • Get to the point and cut the fluff.
  • Determine which copy can be replaced by a stunning image or video instead.
  • Use headers and subheading to separate distinct categories.

Get the rest of our hotel website copy tips here: Want People to Actually Read Your Hotel Website? Here’s How.


 About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: One Simple Way To Reduce Booking Abandonment

July 8, 2016 • 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 direct bookings. This week’s freebie: Increase your chances of converting online visitors by allowing them to contact you when and how it’s convenient for them, not you.

Those of us in hospitality know that customer service is gold. Every hotelier’s guest experience relies on their staff pulling off remarkable service from arrival to departure. However, most hotels fail to offer customer service in two vital, revenue-producing areas: when customers are on your hotel website and within your hotel’s direct booking engine.

In an age of instantaneous communication, it’s an aging practice to simply tell your online visitors to “call us with any questions” or “have a question? Email us.” Modern consumers are multitaskers and don’t have the time or patience to call and talk with your reservation agent. Nor do they want a response to their email a day later.

The best solution is to offer online chat on your website and in your booking engine for any questions they have in real-time. And, trust us, they DO have questions and probably plenty of them. Don’t make them search for answers on your website or inconvenience them by asking them to stop what they’re doing to call you. Most likely, guests will make their own assumptions, create their own reasons not to stay with you, and just move on to your compset.

Online chat allows you to address their needs right away, clearing away any uncertainty they may have about booking. Plus, it establishes a trusting relationship, which allows them to feel more comfortable about any purchase decisions with your hotel.   

Get More: Want More Bookings? Get Chatty


 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

Three Secrets Your Hotel Booking Engine is Dying To Tell You

July 6, 2016 • By

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Your booking engine is more than a place of transaction or a page for your guests to check prices, room types and availability. Your hotel’s booking environment also holds a goldmine of free data, but only if you take the time to unearth it.

Sadly, most hotels aren’t doing so. By taking the time to dig deeper to find this smart data, you’ll take massive strides to outpace your comp set in the battle for bookings and profits.

Here are three pieces of revenue-generating data trapped inside your hotel booking engine:


 

1. Unconstrained Demand

Your revenue management team uses this term to describe the quantity of rooms that could be sold if there were no inventory or pricing constraints for a specific date in the future. (Don’t take this definition literally, since obviously it is impossible to imagine any day where you have unlimited guest rooms at a zero price tag).

Do you know which dates in the future have extraordinary demand? Your booking engine does. The idea is to identify when unconstrained demand is high. This way, you can determine which low paying business to deny by raising rates or creating stay restrictions for the dates in high demand.

2. “No Availability” Displays

Do you unknowingly block bookings on your own direct hotel website because you have too much inventory locked up with more expensive 3rd party channels? It’s surprisingly common for hoteliers to be in the dark about how many times potential guests are essentially turned away because they are shown a “Sorry, no availability” screen for their preferred dates.

Of course, you want to earn the most revenue from any of your available rooms. And, of course you would rather sell your rooms through the most profitable channel – your own hotel booking engine.  But, the only way to know is to harvest your booking engine data to reveal how many times you are actually blocking direct business on a particular date.

3. Demand For Different Room Types

Normally, revenue managers examine the highs and lows of your bookings by date. But on an industry standard, that single-focused method means you’re missing the opportunity to fine tune your prices based on different room types.

Your booking engine can reveal searches vs. actual bookings for each room type. You may find that your double rooms are in higher demand on the weekends, and they can justify a higher rate than your standard rooms over in-demand dates. By focusing your revenue management activities only on your entry-level rooms, you’re essentially only revenue managing a small fraction of your whole inventory. 


 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: Use Your Past Guests To Outperform New Properties

June 17, 2016 • 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 direct bookings. This week’s freebie: one easy way to outperform new hotel properties in your market.

It’s never easy battling for bookings, especially when you’re surrounded in every direction by exciting, new properties that are stealing all the attention and all the dollars. New hotels are poised perfectly to steal your business with their sparkling technology, modern amenities, and exciting new guest experiences that travelers are clamoring for.

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. Formulate an exciting offer exclusively for them or your loyalty program members. Follow the developments of new properties, and time your marketing efforts to start months ahead of their opening and lasting well into their first year. This gives past guests an irresistible reason to ignore the hype surrounding the new kid on the block. 

Get more: Discover more ways to compete with new hotel properties.


 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