Browsing Tag

hotel marketing budget

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

November 14, 2017 • By

And why hotel marketers are feeling the pinch…

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

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

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

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

1. Lack of Differentiation and Low Conversion Rates

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

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

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

2. Fighting the Neighborhood Bullies

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

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

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

3. OTA Commissions Are Not Viewed as Expenses

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

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

4. A Focus on Flipping

Ultimately, many owners themselves are partly to blame.

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Why Hotel Sales Teams Need to Up Their Digital Game

November 7, 2017 • By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Get Data

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

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

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

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2. Get in Sync with the Marketing Team

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

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

3. Get Social

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: The First Thing DOSMs Should Do Every Morning

November 3, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

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

Hotel DOSMs run hectic, crazy schedules.

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

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

1. Review Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

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

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

2. Pow Wow With Your Revenue Manager

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

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

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

Today’s hotel marketers are drowning in metrics.

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

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


About Tambourine

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

What’s Scaring Hotel Marketers This Halloween?

October 30, 2017 • By

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

Here is what they said:

1. Unrealistic Goals on Tight Budgets

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

Not exactly.

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


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2. Product Deterioration vs The Compset

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

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

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

3. The Cost of Guest Acquisition

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

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

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

4. The Pace of Change

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

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

5. Lack of Integration

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

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

6. Shaky Job Security

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


About Tambourine

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

Hotel Digital Talent: Why Is It so Hard to Find?

October 17, 2017 • By

Hotel digital marketing requires an increasingly hard-to-find skillset.

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If you want to be successful in the hotel business, it’s now mandatory that you outperform your compset in the digital world.

So these days it’s more important than ever for hotel companies to attract and retain world-class digital talent. In most cases, the first place guests now interact with your hotel is not inside your lobby—it’s within the digital world—yet all too frequently, we aren’t fully prepared to greet that guest accordingly. Hotel websites, CRM systems, data analytics, email, social media and search marketing all require deep expertise to deliver real ROI.

Sure… digital talent is in high demand everywhere, but beyond that, there are other reasons why skilled digital professionals are sorely needed in the hospitality industry.

Here Are the Five Hiring Challenges We See… and What to Do about Them:

1. Many Digital Experts Have Gravitated to Other Industries And/Or Start-Ups

There are seemingly endless opportunities right now in the digital space, and the required core skills are adaptable to various industries, so digital pros can literally work anywhere that a business has a digital presence. That may be a huge Silicon Valley mega-corporation or a basement startup and everything in between. And in many cases, the Googles and Facebooks of the world are offering the hip, informal vibe of a startup that millennials crave, with the stability of a steady paycheck and job security and the cool factor of working at the digital avant-garde.

2. Hotels Are (Unfairly) Viewed As Stagnant and Non-Innovative

Like other components of the traditional business sector, hotel companies are frequently perceived as stalwart, non-evolving dinosaurs, dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. Brands, which have to carefully explore changes due to the sheer size of their operation, are perceived as being especially sterile places to work. While there are advantages to being dependable and maintaining steady growth, winning over top digital talent sadly isn’t one of them.

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3. OTAs Are Killing Innovation

The online power of the OTAs—driven in part by their massive marketing budgets—has severely hampered most hotels companies’ ability to innovate and try new things, since the cost to compete against everything the OTAs do is just too high. With the price tag associated with competitive digital marketing efforts like pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns becoming simply too expensive, too few industry players are doing anything extraordinary, aside from just trying to keep up.

4.  Compensation and Turnover 

True, there are perks from working in the travel industry, but the pay isn’t always one of them. Averages for industry compensation are not among the highest, because profit margins are increasingly compressed (those darn OTAs again!), causing hoteliers to focus on cutting expenses and controlling costs. That means the best hotel digital pros are often leaving to take higher paying jobs elsewhere, because they can.

5. Digital Skills Vs Business Skills 

The millennial digital natives who are now in high demand by recruiters often have little to no experience yet delivering on the intense ROI expectations of an agency or corporate hotel marketing setting. This is especially true for recent graduates: Universities tend to focus on theory, and for many marketing majors, the specific skills used in online marketing are mostly learned on the job, through experience. So, for the young talent you do end up courting and successfully hiring, there will be a significant learning curve, provided they decide to stay.

Look for These Three Things:

For the hotel companies that can work through the issues listed above, the struggle isn’t over just yet. Once your company is successfully generating employment interest from digital mavens, it’s important to ensure those professionals have adapted their talents to the many nuances of the hotel industry.

Therefore, it’s critical to find smart, capable digital pros who understand the following three essential things:

1. The Hotel Experience

It is exceedingly difficult to understand how to market travel unless the marketer has traveled significantly themselves. This applies to digital marketing, too. The best professionals in digital travel marketing have personal travel miles to draw from, particularly when it pertains to the hotel experience and the digital booking process.

2. The Hotel/Travel Purchasing Funnel

On the surface, it may appear as though there are only two stages of the hotel/travel purchasing funnel—researching and booking—but there are actually five distinct phases: dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. Properly targeting your audience with the right media and message during each of the five stages is an integral part of extending your company’s digital reach.

3. How to Turn the Funnel into Tangible Digital Action

Lastly, and most importantly, digital professionals need to understand which digital media are relevant for each stage of the hotel/travel journey, and how to gauge the ROI for each. Wherever possible, seek to eliminate guesswork: quality hotel digital marketers need to fully embrace data reporting and analytics, in order to properly track results and develop actionable strategies for the future.


About Tambourine

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

Why Hotel Management Companies are Obsessed with Marketing Costs

October 3, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing costs are affecting profitability more than ever.

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With profit growth slowing in the lodging industry, the focus among hoteliers is now shifting toward closely controlling costs, especially among management companies, whose earnings are directly tied to property performance (and incentives are tied to profits).

As the pressure to find cost savings mounts, experts say one of the most significant expenses to watch is marketing, which has only grown more expensive with the rapid growth of digital media.

In general, hotel management companies care deeply about costs, which have a direct linear effect on their ability to achieve profitability/incentive targets. And these days, marketing costs (especially OTAs and third-party channels) are rising at an alarming rate. Industry averages for marketing expenses typically range from about 4% to 7% of overall expenses, but can vary widely depending on the hotel and its management.

image2 “Marketing is a minimum of probably 6% of your expenses, so it’s a pretty big number,” said Richard Millard, Chairman and CEO of Trust Hospitality. “It could be as high as 8% to 10%, depending on what you’re doing.”

Between just internal staffing, OTA commissions, digital marketing programs (paid search, banner ads, etc.) and other forms of advertising (print, radio, TV, billboards, etc.), hotels are currently fighting a rising tide of seemingly obligatory marketing costs. And all too frequently, it forces managers to scrimp elsewhere.

“Marketing is costing more and more, and that means the training and service level of people on the hotel side suffers, because some way, somehow that money has to be saved,” Millard continued. “So what we as an industry often cut back on, instead, is human resources and training.”

But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Finding the Right Balance

Smart management companies can still find methods to keep marketing costs from getting out of hand, while continuing to do all the right things to get their properties noticed in the marketplace. It requires careful planning, but it’s not impossible.

Experts say one core strategy for reducing and controlling hotel marketing expenses is to strategically outsource certain aspects of hotel marketing to third-party vendors and consultants, based upon the management company’s need and resources. For example, while it may clearly pay to hire a skilled, full-time revenue manager for internal staff, it may be more cost-effective to hire an outside agency for critical recurring functions that drive direct bookings such as email promos, search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search/pay-per-click (PPC) and metasearch campaigns.

image3 “Marketing as a discipline has grown exponentially in how you reach a potential guest or interact with a guest. The reach has become enormous,” said Michael Tall, president and COO at Charlestowne Hotels. “There are certain disciplines and components of marketing that we feel are better left to those that specifically do that as their discipline. The key is figuring out what it is that you want to do internally as a management company, and what needs to be outsourced, and then it’s just selecting the right vendors and hiring the right people inside.”
Another critical method is managing OTA relationships and working to drive customers toward booking directly, rather than through OTAs. OTA commissions can run anywhere from roughly 14% to 25%, depending on the scale of the relationship (rates tend to be higher for independent, unbranded hotels) and the company’s contract with each OTA, but savvy managers can save considerably by optimizing this particular channel.

“We want people to book in the lowest cost channels,” said Tall. “Understanding whether you are able to get a guest or enough guests to book on the lowest cost channels, versus having to go out and market or pay for acquisition to OTAs, is really the balance that you try to understand. That’s a huge part of our business: understanding what it is we desire from the OTAs, and what are we willing to pay to the OTAs to acquire the guests.”

It also comes down to making sure hotel marketers are constantly up to date on the latest marketing techniques and trends, and then both planning and acting accordingly. (This is another area where a mix of both internal and third-party guidance can prove effective.) Most importantly, marketers need to regularly analyze their various channels for a firm understanding of what’s working and what isn’t, as well as where the future lies.

“You can only cut so many corners. It’s not just about trying to save marketing dollars; it’s about spending those marketing dollars wisely,” said Millard. “The secret is to be on top of it. Marketing is changing and you can’t depend on one thing. Experience is great, having people who know what they’re doing is great and having the right technology is great. But you’d better pay attention. Don’t be too sure that what’s working in September 2017 is still going to be here in January 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

 

Friday Freebie: Hotel PPC, 7 Ways to Improve ROI

September 29, 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: Seven expert tweaks for your hotel’s PPC.

Managing hotel PPC campaigns can be a beast.

From researching extensively for keywords, to monitoring which terms convert into traffic or bookings, to making adjustments depending on the season, weather, destination, special events…yikes.

It’s a lengthy and thorough process that requires more time than most hoteliers realize.

The good news: Hotels that take the time and effort to learn what really matters will see an uptick in their ROI and conversions.

Today, Raisa McDonald, Search Engine Marketing Manager at Tambourine, gives us 7 ways hoteliers can boost profitability and improve their hotel PPC campaign performance.

1. Use Both Broad and Exact Match Keywords
This is about quality over quantity. “Be sure to include exact match and broad match so your ads are displayed whenever someone does a search that is relevant to your keywords,“ Raisa points out. Many hoteliers waste money investing solely on broad match keywords, which is Google’s default option. However, this means you are spending money on irrelevant traffic that isn’t converting or qualified in the first place. Broad keywords will pull up in searches that include your key terms in any order and even with misspellings. For example, a broad search term of ‘Nashville hotels’ means your hotel will come up even for ‘Nashville Schools,’ ‘nashville gyms’, ‘san diego hotels’ or ‘hotels.’

Instead, turn to more restrictive match types, like exact match keywords. Your volume will decrease, however, your hotel ads will be shown to a more relevant audience, meaning more conversions and clicks.

2. Avoid Going Over Your Daily Budget Early in the Day
It’s important to stay on top of your PPC spend. “Going over your budget too early can limit the amount of potential customers seeing your hotel’s ads, which can mean you may be missing out on conversions,” warns Raisa. To avoid this from happening, she suggests using an ad schedule to control when your ads are displayed.

3. Monitor and Track Conversions
The foundation of any successful hotel PPC campaign is analytics and tracking results. After all, having a strategy in place for conversion tracking is key to knowing how well (or poorly) your campaigns are performing. “Not all conversions are the same nor are all conversions about immediate bookings,” Raisa explains.

So, if your conversion goal is to get more calls from your ads, you should make sure your settings are properly configured to track when and where the calls are coming from, she suggests. Only with this insight will you know which placements, ads and key terms lead to conversions and are actually worth bidding on.

4. Max Out All Possible Extensions 

Google AdWords extensions allow you to add more information to your hotel ad beyond the basic URL, ad copy and headline. The more space your ad takes up and the more details you include makes it more likely for your ad to stand out and get clicked on. And more clicks usually means you’ll pay less per click, as well as boost your conversions. “So, make sure your ads have all the extensions possible to get the most ad real estate on the Google search page,” Raisa advises.

5. Bonus Tip: Add in Information About Recent Hotel Promotions
One of Google’s newest Adwords features is called the promotion extension, which can be used by advertisers to show a current promotion or sale going on at their property. This extension is displayed as a part of the search ad and can help to bring more customers to the site and increase bookings.

6. Test, Test, and Test Again

Frequent adjustments are usually necessary throughout the lifetime of your PPC campaign. So, testing is the best way to optimize your PPC spend. “Implementing different ad copies to see which one performs better is a good way to see what works for your campaign and gets the most conversions,” Raisa explains.

Alter just one variable at a time to get the test data you need. “Be sure to write quality ads and check for any grammatical errors,” Raisa adds.  Also, don’t leave your test running for too long. A common mistake is allowing the ‘losing’ ad too much screen time which diminishes the visibility of the ‘winner.’

7. Tap Income Levels

One of Raisa’s advanced tactics includes household income targeting. “This is a good way to advertise to users within a certain geo-location based on their average household income,” Raisa explains. Data gathered from the IRS is used with this strategy to help your ads reach a more qualified 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

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

Friday Freebie: Make Your Hotel Website More Meeting Planner Friendly

July 7, 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: Make it easier for meeting planners to consider and choose your venue by providing the tools and data they expect.

Meeting planners are constantly on-the-go and juggling several projects at any given moment. Make their jobs easier (and make it easier for them to see your venue’s potential) by providing the valuable tools they need to select a site.

According to our recent meeting planner survey, these are the mandatory tools that meeting planners expect to access directly from your hotel website:

  • Capacity charts
  • Floor diagrams
  • Room measurements
  • Virtual/video venue tours
  • Photos of actual events

Get More: What Do Meeting Planners Actually Want? Here’s the Suprising Results


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