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email marketing

What Would You Do With $5,000 Extra In Marketing Budget?

June 21, 2016 • By


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Even after crafting a well-thought out marketing strategy, getting creative with resources and watching obsessively over every marketing dollar, it’s still common to wish your hotel marketing budget was more flush with cash.

So, just say, by the grace of the accounting gods, that your marketing department is granted an unexpected windfall of $5,000. How would you like to spend it? Or, rather, how should you spend it? Here’s what our team, with 30+ years of bringing in direct revenue for hotel clients across the country, recommends doing with that $5,000 to drive more bookings.


Put Your Money on Your Destination

Run a campaign that showcases your destination and aligns your hotel as the property that will give guests coveted front-row access to your city’s locally inspired and authentic moments. After all, modern travelers are not looking to stay in a hotel simply for the room and a bed. They want to immerse themselves in a sense of place and to experience things they won’t be able to replicate at home. The key is to focus your new marketing funds on answering this market need.

Here’s What We Would Do: 

1. Identify Slow Periods
Start off by looking at your calendar and noting which months or weeks need the most boost in occupancy, group bookings and ancillary revenue. For most hotels, you will have several need periods all year-round. In this case, cast a wide net and try to capture a full continuous month – or even a season – rather than staggered dates that run at different times of the year.

2. Select an Attraction/Event Close to Your Property
Now, comb through the attractions that are closest to your hotel, or a major local event that people are known to travel to. Whether it’s a landmark exhibit at your contemporary art museum or a new attraction, this will be the focus and star of your campaign, so gather as much information as you can for marketing. While it would be ideal (and give you the most visibility) to be an official partner as the host hotel, this is usually a pay-to-play transaction, and your funds can be better used elsewhere.

3. Create a Landing Page on Your Website That Focuses Exclusively on the Attraction/Event
Many hotels make the mistake of creating campaigns solely in social media or email, linking them directly to the booking engine or to their homepage, hoping it’s enough to usher the prospect to making a purchase. By doing so, these hotels leave a bulk of visitors floundering as they don’t know where to go next, or they start to question if the campaign is still running. Adding a landing page to your hotel website sustains the excitement of the event or attraction and its content can give the visitor even more reason to stay with your property if they want to join in the experience. And make sure to add a map on the landing page that shows distances form your hotel to the attraction/event!

4. Invest in Drawing Traffic to That Landing Page
The bulk of your $5,000 budget should now be invested in reeling in online traffic to that landing page. Use targeted methods, such as a direct paid search and a Facebook ad campaign, using specific keywords in your advertising. Piggyback those efforts with emails to past guests who have stayed in that time period before.

Identify the market these travelers historically have come from in your PMS. If for example, most of the last few year’s mid-week July guests all came from local drive markets, export that guest data from your PMS, repeat guest email marketing and use those lists to build Custom and Look-alike Audience campaigns in Facebook. Start all of these marketing efforts a few months beforehand to build momentum and to garner as much exposure to the landing page and your hotel as possible. And finally, make sure your local CVB or tourism board knows that you’re investing in the campaign. They may be doing something as well, and may mention your property as a recommended place to stay for the event.


 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

Friday Freebie: One Simple Booking Engine Tweak

June 10, 2016 • By

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Today marks the launch of our fun, new way to boost your hotel marketing efforts! Introducing the Friday Freebie, featuring one easy, free hotel marketing idea that you can implement immediately to drive more direct bookings.

Let’s get started with this week’s Freebie:


Gather Email Addresses at the Beginning, Not Middle, of the Booking Process

Abandoned bookings are real. But, so is recovery. Many times, abandoned bookings occur after someone proceeds into your reservations portal only far enough to see what your room rate is. Then, leaves to continue their search elsewhere.

The key is to capture a user’s email address at the very beginning. Even before they select dates, even before they choose a room type. Make sure the email address is the very first field to fill in on your hotel’s booking engine. That way, you have a direct way to reach them and re-market if they end up walking away from your site and going someplace else.

Get more: See what other steps you can take to recover those lost reservations.


 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 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years Of Hotel Marketing

April 18, 2016 • By

shutterstock_234721312When Jim Zito started in hotel marketing, the internet was still a few years away, most marketing campaigns were printed and Milli Vanilli was up for a grammy. After 25 years in the industry, Jim has seen the rise and fall of many hotel marketing tactics, tools and techniques. So, we asked him for the ten most important lessons he’s learned over his impressive career. Here’s what he told us:


1. Collaborate With the Revenue Team, Don’t Just Work With Them

It may sound like common sense, but since the hospitality industry has embraced the discipline of revenue management, (formerly yield management, formerly stagnant seasonal rates created once a year by the reservations and sales team), there can be tension between sales and revenue personnel. That tension is a good thing if used creatively and collaboratively. 

Healthy debate and discussion between DOSMs and  DORMs are productive.  Before you bring a piece of business to a DORM, look at it from their perspective. If you look at a piece of business closely, you usually know if a piece of business does not make sense.  Sometimes, sales just wants to book and move onto the next piece without really thinking it through.  On the other side of the coin, taking a piece of business sometimes has some long-term strategic value that you need to champion, and it’s not only about the revenue from that one time event.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Continually Adjust Your Segment Mix

We start off each year with our defined goals by day, by week, by market segment, and sometimes… we get so caught up in achieving these goals that we don’t see the forest for the trees.   

“Markets change, and you need to adapt.” 

What we thought in September is often not true in May, (sometimes, it’s not true in January). There can be unanticipated market events like a sporting event or changes in market demand.  Make ongoing adjustments to your plan. Ongoing reviews can help you gain market share, increase revenue and lift ADR by making ongoing adjustments. 

Your market and the market segments will dictate the frequency of the need for adjustment.  Work with your DORM. You can find ways to adjust segmentation to mitigate potential shortfalls and to find opportunities to grow the business.

3. Use Web Analytics

One of the more under-utilized tools accessible to a DOSM is your hotel’s website analytics.  Your website is a source of one of the most cost effective form of distribution, but did you know it is also a source of potential group and corporate leads?

Once a month or quarter, take a look at your hotel’s referring domain report.  This is the report that tells you which websites are sending traffic to you when their users click on a link to go to your website. If tagged correctly, you can see revenue by each referring domain.  Not only can these reports help you measure success from PR efforts and digital advertising, but you may encounter additional direct sales channels you may not have been aware of.  Wedding planner websites who are referring customers, or local music, food & wine festivals that are linking to your hotel because of your proximity to an event.  They may not have negotiated a block, so reach out for a partnership or contract.  You may not always find something, but you may be surprised by what you do find!

4. Trust, But Verify

I cannot take credit for this catchy little phrase, but it is something I did long before I heard it.  In this increasingly digital age, we assume that everything is set up correctly to distribute our rates and inventory. 

“Random spot checks and scheduled audits can reveal many opportunities”

Also know that things can and will always go wrong, so something that was once working can “break” for many reasons, and ongoing audits can find these problems.  How do your rates and property appear on the GDS’s or corporate booking tools?  Set a reminder for quarterly screen shots and audits!

5. If You Can’t Measure It, Don’t Do It

Wherever you can,  find ways to quantify your efforts.  Just as you would evaluate a piece of business, (stay pattern, rate, ancillary services), find a way to quantify all your marketing initiatives. 

“Before you act, ask yourself, ‘How do I measure success?’” 

Capturing ROI on your programs and having quantifiable results makes requesting resources and the budgeting process easier.  What did you generate from that ad? What did you book from that trip or trade show?

6. OTA as an Acquisition Tool

Some hotels can rely on the OTA channel as a panacea, but if you are practicing rate parity across all channels and can attract NEW guests who would otherwise not discover you, OTAs are a sensible and meaningful channel.  Treat the margin as a cost of doing business, and when that guest arrives to the hotel, create a proactive program to collect their personal information for remarketing post departure, incentivizing them to book direct on subsequent visits.

7. PMS Data

Work with your front office team and go through the arrivals daily.  Do not just look for existing clients, look for the people you don’t know. Look at their email addresses; you may find opportunities to negotiate corporate accounts! Talk with the front desk, they will recognize the repeat customers who may be booking directly at the desk each time they depart or alternatively book through another channel.  Reviewing this data, talking with the front desk and asking the right questions can often create new leads. 

If you are fortunate enough to have a CRM system, work with the database administrator to look at customer profiles, especially their stay patterns. Incentivize referrals from your loyal (non-corporate) customers to create new business.

8. Selling Property Enhancements

We all love to see enhancements to our properties

Having something new to sell is exciting. It gives a DOSM something to talk about and enhances the story. But how do you champion these enhancements to asset managers and owners?   

Information and data are your best tools.  Collect feedback from customers on what they want. What business can you get by adding to or updating the existing product?  What business will you save by making updates?  Having this information at your fingertips can help you proactively support the operations team when requesting the resources to enhance or update your hotel(s).

9. Talk to Your Call Center

The voice channel is an amazing resource of information. Call center agents can be the first to hear when something is not working  (e.g. website). They also know when there are gaps in the information, (e.g. “people always ask how high the ballroom ceilings are.”) 

If they are not geographically close, schedule a trip, bring them food and make them feel part of the team. They are also motivated by incentives for things like up-sells, suite bookings and identifying new corporate leads.

10. Pick Up the Phone

I know your clients can choose how, if and when they want communication from you, but in this age of email and texting, some of your newer team members may rely a bit too much on electronic methods to prospect and communicate. More misunderstandings happen — and delays in resolution can be minimized — if you would just pick up the phone. If you have to go back and forth more than twice to come to a resolution or understand an issue,  pick up the phone.


About Jim Zito

Partner, Z2 Group

image1Jim Zito has been building and leading award-winning marketing and digital teams in the luxury and lifestyle hospitality industry throughout his 25-year career. He is a partner in Z2 Group, hospitality and technology consultants.

Before founding Z2 Group, he was Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer with Chelsea Hotels. Prior to that, he was the Corporate Vice President of Digital with Morgans Hotel Group and launched his career with Denihan Hospitality. He has been fortunate to work with iconic hotels both domestic and international including Hotel Chelsea and The Benjamin in New York, Delano and The Tides in South Beach, and the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

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

Hotel Marketer’s 10 Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions

January 11, 2016 • By

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Based on feedback from your peers, here are the 10 most popular new year’s resolutions from hotel marketers around the globe.

Repeat after us: this is the year I will…

1. Stop Blaming OTAs and Rate Parity for All My Problems

It’s easy to make third parties and their stringent contract restrictions out to be the arch enemy of the hotel industry. After all, they whittle down the margins of each booking with their high commissions, hold onto their customer data and commoditize the hotel experience. Why shouldn’t we point fingers at them? Because there’s more to filling vacant rooms than just relying on OTAs.

What are YOU doing to drive direct bookings? Are you presenting a unique story in the market, creating unique experiences for guests or investing in building a direct booking audience? There are so many points in the travel journey where your hotel can regain control. Focus on what you can do, rather than merely pointing fingers.

2. Refine My Property’s Unique Story

Your guests have nearly endless options when looking for accommodations. From competing hotels, to Airbnb, to staying with nearby relatives. The only way to stand out is to spotlight what’s truly unique about your property and doggedly sharing that in every marketing touchpoint. Is it the locally sourced breakfast in the morning? Your storied past? Your funky décor? Build a personality around your unique selling point, add on complimentary experiences and celebrate the heck out of it.

3. Be Steadfast Regarding Budgets

We’ve seen it before. Management and ownership making sales goals higher and harder to achieve with an already dwindling budget. This is your year to put an end to it. Part of it is educating management on what can be reasonably achieved with your funding and staff. Then, raising the bar and showing them the ROI that’s possible given more resources. Don’t simply accept the amount they offer to you. Fight to align the revenue goals with your hotel marketing budget!   

4. Commit to Flawless TripAdvisor Reviews

Guest reviews play a major part in every guest’s decision to purchase. In fact, reviews have more power to influence others than all of your best marketing tactics combined! So, work with your staff to aim for happy guests and glowing reviews. And, when someone does leave a negative comment or asks a question within a review, respond that same day. Don’t address them a month later with a canned response. Travelers know better.

5. Gently Advocate for Product Improvements

There’s nothing worse than being old, dusty and dated in a sea of shiny and new. Unfortunately, thousands of hotels are dealing with this situation right now. Don’t let this happen to your property. With new brands being built from the ground up, whose DNA was created to appeal directly to modern travelers (think: Canopy by Hilton, Virgin Hotels, 1 Hotels and Resorts), older properties can’t ignore their need for upgrades any longer if they want to stay in the game. No amount of marketing can mask a dated hotel product.

6. Talk to More Guests and Meeting Planners

Think you know what matters to your guests while staying hidden behind your office doors? The best way to know what’s lacking and what’s working at your property is to walk your property and talk to your customers face-to-face. Commit to doing this every day for at least 10 minutes.

7. Make Decisions Based on Data, Not on Instinct

The smartest hotel and resort marketers lean on hard numbers and figures, not intuition. Analytics and tracking can reveal insight into your bookings and your guests in a way that no gut feeling can. Can your intuition tell you your exact demographics, who your top three geographic markets are, which guests spend the most money, which sites give you the most leads, or how well your comp set is doing?

8. Stop Depending on My Flag/Brand Team

Your remote, flag/brand sales and marketing team handles dozens of other properties (many in your region). They don’t really know your property or your specific market segments. This year, take back ownership of your property’s success and augment the basic marketing assets your flag affiliation gives you. Invest in a hotel vanity site, create and publish timely packages and specials, and launch campaigns targeting key groups and local events.

Read: Why So Many Flagged Hotels Are Taking Marketing Into Their Own Hands

9. Get Comfortable With Owner KPIs

There are many opinions on the key metrics for hotel S&M teams, and they can vary depending on your property’s location and key segments. Here are the six we recommend monitoring:

– MCPB (marketing cost per booking)

– Revenue variance from target

– Sentiment score on TripAdvisor

– DRR (direct revenue ratio)

– RevPar Index vs compset

– Website conversion

Read: The Six Metrics Every Hotel Owner Cares About!

10. Try to Have More Fun and Worry Less!

This isn’t the insurance industry we’re working in. We’re here to sell worthwhile experiences and make visitors happy. Plus, people will never lose their desire to explore and discover. You will have a part in that no matter what. And, that alone is enough to smile about. 😉

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 People To Actually Read Your Hotel Website? Here’s How

September 22, 2015 • By

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You want all of your customers to know your property intimately.

To love it.

To book it over and over again.

“And, they would,” you tell yourself. “If only they would just go to our website and read all the beautiful details of what makes us so spectacular!”

But, here’s the harsh reality – your customers AREN’T consuming every inch of your hotel website design. And, truthfully, they never will. Same goes for your blog posts and marketing emails.

In fact, a recent eye tracking study shows that, on average, people are absorbing only 20 percent of your web content.  And according to eConsultancy: “the majority of people read online content in an ‘F’ pattern. The image below shows you what the F pattern looks like. It is a heat map, so the red parts are where people spent the most time looking and the blue parts the least time.”

image2Before you get frustrated and fire your copywriter, here’s why your customers aren’t reading your web copy:

Why Don’t People Read?

•   It’s too tiring to read text on a computer screen. In fact, your eyes move about 25 percent slower online versus reading on paper.

•  People have smaller-than-ever attention spans and are suffering from information overload. Online visitors are searching for specific information and if they can’t find it with a simple skim of your site, they’ll bounce.

•  Web users want to feel as if they are driving their online experience by clicking on links and “moving” around. If they are stuck reading lengthy copy online, they feel unproductive.

Reading is Out, Scanning is In…

•  Don’t dismay. This doesn’t mean your hotel website and online marketing copy is useless. You just have to write for the modern user, who is simply skimming and scanning your hotel’s website.

•  The solution is simple: Write less and use formatting to capture and hold attention.  This makes content easy to digest.

The Secrets to Getting People to Read Your Website 

Here are a few tips for writing hotel website content that recognizes skimming and scanning behavior:

1. Keep paragraphs short – about two sentences long.

2. Get to the point, and quickly. Write your most important points at the beginning of sentences or paragraphs.

3. Use bullets (like we’re doing here) to break up content.

4. Use subheadings (also, see how we use them in this post) to break up groups of thoughts.

5. Add relevant links. Don’t just mention attractions that you are close to. Link out to them.

6. Emphasize your most important points by bolding them.

7. Leave plenty of white space.

8. Make each word count. Since you’re writing less, make sure the words you DO use are poignant and not generic.

9. Use photos. Instead of speaking wax poetic about your relaxing pool deck, show a stunning photo instead.  READ: A Picture is Worth a Thousand 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

6 Ways for Hotel Marketers to Keep an Eye on Their Comp Set

July 29, 2014 • By

Tambourine: Hotel Marketing TechnologyA wise man once said: “you’re only as smart as your dumbest competitor.”

Hotel marketers have to keep this quote in mind everyday to monitor market conditions and set rates effectively. If one of your compset’s revenue managers is asleep at the wheel, price-conscious consumers will flock to the lowest rate, leaving you with a sudden, unexpected problem.

Conversely, hotel marketers must also keep a careful eye on the smart things their compset peers are doing. Utilize the following six tools and you’ll have a better understanding of who is in your comp set, what they’re doing and how well they’re succeeding.

    1. STR Report Review: An STR report will grade your performance against your current comp set, update who is in your comp set, and help you benchmark key performance indicators going forward. If you haven’t been using comp set data to its fullest, an STR report is an excellent place to start.
    2. Social media monitoring: You can learn a lot from what your competitors post on social media. Take note of what and how often they post. Do they usually post about one aspect of their hotel, e.g. cost, meeting space, local events? Which of their posts receive the most positive and negative response?
    3. Reader Board Services: Some think they are antiquated, but by using a reader board service, you can empower your group sales efforts. Reader board services let you know how which groups are using compset hotels… and their preferred programming. For instance, if a group uses several small breakout rooms, you know how to approach them.
    4. Rate monitoring: Rate monitoring programs, such as Rate Tiger aggregate comp set data from hotel websites, OTAs, and Global Distribution Systems. These programs ensure your rates stay competitive now and in the future.
    5. Local HSMAI events: Sometimes the best way to find out what your comp set is doing is to talk to them. Become active in your local HSMAI chapter and listen to what issues get others excited. What topics do they bring up? Are your competitors struggling with a topic or excited to talk about their successes?
    6. you’re only as strong as your dumbest competitor

      Google Alerts: If your comp set is getting press, you need to know about it. You can create Google Alerts for every hotel in your comp set. Take note of what press releases they send out and which media reporters cover their news. When they attempt to promote something that doesn’t get much attention, you know the public isn’t going to be interested in that kind of promo. You can save yourself from making the same mistake. Contrarily, if one press release gets a competitor national attention, you know to direct your marketing in a similar way.

How does watching your comp set make your marketing more efficient? Have you ever noticed a trend in your comp set that changed your marketing efforts? How did you make your discovery? And how did you modify your marketing because of it?

Let us know in the comments below.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Top 10 Awesome Hotel Email Marketing Secrets (Part one)

July 15, 2014 • By

TAMBOURINE: Hotel Marketing TechnologyMaybe you’ve heard the statistics.

Email marketing is 40 times more effective than most social media.

77% of consumers prefer receiving marketing messages through email campaigns.

You know you should be benefiting more from your email campaigns, but your emails don’t get the kind of response they should. Does everybody else know secrets you don’t?

Actually, no. While there certainly are some simple secrets to improving your email campaigns, it seems many hotel marketers don’t know them or don’t use them. And their apathy gives you a great opportunity.

Implement the following and take full advantage of your hotel email marketing campaigns.

    1. Boost slow periods by targeting repeat guests: Use your PMS data to identify perennially slow periods. Then, set up an email list targeting guests who could help you increase your business. For instance, your pace report shows your spa is slow every weekday during the summer. Create an email list for guests who spend above average amounts in the spa. Send out special promotions encouraging them to come back and bring a friend.
    2. Get the most out of high demand times: Again, look to your PMS data to increase your yield. It’s easy to assume you’re going to bring in money during certain times of the year. If January is your season, you may be tempted to sit back and let the rooms book up naturally. However, you can increase revenue by sending date-specific emails to previous high spenders at your F&B outlets and amenities. It’s great to have a high occupancy rate, but it’s even better when guests are ready to spend more in your outlets.
    3. Thwart OTAs by collecting emails at the front desk: If guests book with OTAs, you may not get their email address online. Ask for it at the front desk. Explain you like to send out exclusive deals to your VIP email list and ask them to join. Then, the next time they book they’ll go straight to you and skip the OTA.
    4. Encourage them to give you an email address before they book: The best time to get them on your list is before they book a hotel. Add a simple Special offers/Deals” sign-up bar to your website. Then, offer them an incentive to sign-up.
    5. Use time triggers: Everyone likes an email that relates directly to their personal needs. This not only builds loyalty, but it encourages them to open further emails.
      Some typical triggers include:

      • right after they book
      • a few days before they arrive
      • a checkup during their stay
      • a thank you after their stay
      • 9 months or so after their stay…reminding them to book with you again this year.

When you’re improving your email systems it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up taking no action at all. That’s why I’ve broken this down into two parts.

This week we covered who should get your emails and when… Next week, I’ll give you some tips on how to create emails that get opened and read. If you have questions about hotel email marketing, please leave them in the comments below.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com