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OTA

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: How Free Parking Can Reduce OTA Commissions

August 11, 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: Capture more DIRECT Labor Day bookings from drive markets by showcasing free parking on your hotel website. 

Millions of travelers will be hitting the road this Labor Day weekend, looking to celebrate their last summer weekend. Your drive markets are your best audiences to promote a last-minute getaway for the holiday.

Travelers are already enjoying the lowest gas prices in years. Sweeten the deal by including free parking in your Labor Day packages and specials ACROSS ALL CHANNELS…. But emphasize it on your direct hotel website.

OTAs have hundreds of thousands of properties on their websites, they cannot keep up with the promotions at all of them! By prominently showcasing the free parking perk (“Book direct and get free parking!”) you will create the perception that free parking is a special, direct-only benefit, without jeopardizing your OTA relationships.

Get more: 5 Ways to Attract Last Minute Labor Day Bookings from Your Drive Markets


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: Test Drive Your Booking Experience As a First-Time Guest Would

July 28, 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: Test and experience your website as a first-time guest would to spot what makes guests bounce.

Your website is your digital front door. And, just like your physical front door, there are a number of blockades that could, and do, get in a guest’s way.

Similar to an unwelcoming main entrance or a confusing front desk, hotel websites can have their own unsavory traits. These include slow load times, cluttered homepages, complicated booking procedures and a messy design.

However, most hotel marketers don’t see these traits in their own hotel websites. So, it’s important to take a look and scrutinize your website experience with fresh eyes to make sure nothing is getting in the way of changing a potential guest’s mind or blocking someone from exploring your website or booking a room.

To get some ideas, watch this video to see what real consumers think when they are booking a room on an OTA and directly on a hotel website.

Test your experience and look out for things that are likely to make your guests bounce.

Get More: 8 Ways Hotel Marketers Can Avoid Looking Foolish


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

Marketing vs Revenue Management: 4 Ways to Bridge the Gap

July 11, 2017 • By

It’s time to improve cooperation between hotel marketers and revenue managers.

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Is there an unspoken divide in your hotel?

Revenue managers and hotel marketers are often at odds, one department focused on balancing ADR and occupancy, while the other focuses on awareness, demand and “branding.”

In this post, Noelani Berkholtz, Tambourine’s Director of Distribution Strategy and former long-time hotel revenue manager, explains these differences and outlines what revenue managers can do to assist and champion their hotel marketing teams to help both departments achieve mutual success:

1. Understand Mutual Metrics

According to Noelani, one of the major sources of dissonance between revenue managers and hotel marketers are the goals and responsibilities allocated to the individual departments. “DOSMs are driven to work towards bonuses based on metrics that differ from a revenue manager’s metrics,” she explained. “This skews what marketing initiatives should actually be focused on.”


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2. Share Results Regularly

Hotel marketers and revenue managers are on the same side, yet revenue managers tend to keep crucial metrics, such as pacing, market mix, actualized occupancy, revenue, and ADR closely guarded. This type of unwarranted secrecy leaves hotel marketers flying blind. “When we withhold this kind of data, we are making the marketing team work in a smoke screen,” Noelani said. “If they can’t see the landscape of what is going on, they can’t proactively respond, or retroactively learn.”

Noelani also advises avoiding getting defensive over the numbers. Revenue managers are aware of the shrinking booking window, but at the same time don’t want to be held accountable for it.

Above all, communicate.

Noelani advises to not let your lack of modern marketing knowledge hinder you from engaging with your marketing team. “Educate your marketing team on what has and has not worked in the past,” she recommends. “And, keep them in the know with any initiatives you are pushing out with the OTAs, even if you are simply mirroring the discount on your site.”

Share your STR report and other relevant reports, so the marketing staff can keep a pulse of the market. Plus, let them know what your goals are and keep them abreast on how the hotel is pacing towards those goals so they can alter their marketing initiatives to achieve them.

“Consistent communication will reduce the gap between initiatives and goals, and produce a rockstar revenue-generating team.”

3. Talk About Other Channels 

It turns out that revenue managers are already working successfully with other marketing departments – OTAs! Revenue managers often run certain promotions targeting certain demographics or need periods that end up producing a ton of business for the OTAs. Start sharing how the OTAs have been successful in marketing your hotel to help your own marketing department!

4. Be Brutally Honest

The marketing department wants to hear from you.

For instance, revenue managers often wish hotel marketers made things easier.“If a hotel’s marketing department or outside agency made the process of launching initiatives as simple as OTAs did, they would want to engage the marketing department more,” she said.

“When there are 8 different people to contact each time a need period is identified, revenue managers are too busy to round them all up. They are more likely to just reduce the rate and hope that helps their conversion on the different channels.”


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

5 Things Hotel Marketers Are Celebrating This July 4th

July 3, 2017 • By

Hotel sales and marketing pros have a lot to be happy about this year.

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This Independence Day, hoteliers are not only celebrating a long weekend bustling with holiday travelers, but all the other indicators that prove there are more sunny skies ahead for the industry:

1) A Winning Trifecta: Thriving Group Business, Stable Economy & A Positive Hotel Market 

The hotel industry’s up cycle has exceeded expectations. Occupancy rose 1.5 percent, driven by an increase in demand of 3.4 percent. ADR increased 2 percent and RevPAR rose by 3.6 percent – making May 2017 the 87th month of consecutive RevPAR growth.

Even after two months with a declining pipeline of new rooms, the number of new room construction reached 192,000. This is a small increase (April 2017’s count was 189,000) and shows that the pipeline of new construction is flourishing, but at a slower pace.

Most of the new construction focuses on select-service hotels without substantial meeting space, which is a boon for hoteliers overseeing full-service properties who continue to see an uptick in their booking pace as large groups compete to lock in venues.

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2) Owners’ Investment in a Remarkable Product

You can be out-of-this-world creative. You can have the wittiest, most clever and memorable hotel marketing concept. You can even have a generous hotel marketing budget to pay for massive exposure in front of all the right audiences.

Yet, all of that means nothing without a truly differentiated hotel product.

If your property is providing a lackluster experience with frayed edges, outdated décor, and musty smells, no amount of brilliant marketing can save you from the downward spiral of lost revenue.

New hotels with bold concepts and fresh guest experiences are springing up in all directions, so hotel owners need to invest in their properties to keep up with modern expectations. Thankfully, more and more hotel owners are realizing that the best hotel marketing investment they can make is in enhancing their property, the experience and the service.

3) The Lowest Summer Gas Prices in Years

The start of summer is not normally a time for low gas prices, since so many people are taking to the road and creating demand. However, with the recent drop in oil costs, travelers are elated to find some of the lowest summer prices at the pumps for the first time in 12 years. In fact, this holiday weekend’s prices could be the lowest 4th of July gas prices since 2005. According to AAA, gas prices have been falling every day since June 2nd and are expected to keep dropping. Consider us pumped for all the road travelers ahead.

4) Expanding Awareness of Book Direct Benefits

Fueled by affordable digital marketing tools and increasing comfort in deploying them, hotel marketers are feeling more confident and emboldened to push for direct bookings instead of relying on OTAs to fill their rooms.

In April, Hyatt Hotels became the latest brand to offer a discount to guests who book directly from the Hyatt website, following similar programs by Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. These moves by the major chains are heightening public recognition of the benefits of booking direct and are chipping away at the myth that OTAs save money. With the stage set by industry titans and all the advanced marketing tools and metrics available to hoteliers, we expect this momentum to continue to swell.

5) Social Media Evangelists

Hotels now have small, private armies of unpaid marketing staff: guests who Instagram, Snap, Facebook and Tweet while eating breakfast in bed, lounging by the pool, and watching the sunset from their balconies. Each post boosts awareness for your hotel and bolsters your hotel’s reach… all without your staff lifting a finger or spending a dime. And, even after checking out, guests continue to post photo albums and videos of their vacations.

When guests gush about their travels, they’re creating content that is hotel marketing gold. You can even easily discover and collect Instagram photos posted by your guests using a tool like our new Tout.


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 Create Urgency in the Booking Process

June 16, 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: Create a sense of urgency and “fear of missing out” (FOMO) to nudge people to book faster. 

People feel more compelled to buy if they believe they are about to miss out on a limited-time offer or a good deal. This type of urgency is about creating “scarcity value,” a concept that OTAs have mastered and implemented systematically on their OTA websites to stimulate purchase behavior.

One of the easiest ways to create a sense of urgency and make guests want to make quicker booking decisions is to program scarcity values into your hotel website and booking engine.

Ask your hotel booking engine provider 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 2 days left
  • Only available to the first 50 reservations
  • 35 people viewing this room now
  • Only 7 rooms remain for this date
  • Or, incorporate a countdown clock to an expiration date

Get More: The Surprising Psychology Behind Successful Hotel Websites


About Tambourine

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

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

May 23, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing has never been so cluttered and noisy.

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

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

We’re here to help…

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

1. Having a Remarkable Product

Boundless creativity, clever marketing concepts and even a robust marketing budget are essentially useless if your hotel is crap. Great marketing can only begin with a great product. If your hotel is showing its frayed edges and providing lackluster experiences (or no real experience at all), no amount of brilliant marketing will save you from a downward spiral. Scour your hotel reviews and find out what guests complain about the most. Then, present this to your owners and champion the improvements your hotel needs to turn the tide and rise above the comp set.

2. Telling a Compelling Story 

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

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

 

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3. Integrating Systems and Technology

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

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

4. Measuring Cost-per-Booking 

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

Think again.

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

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

5. Consolidating Vendors

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

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

6. Sticking to a Plan

Marketing to everyone will get you nowhere fast.

Smart hotel marketers have a roadmap with a breakdown of exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. This enables the firm to correlate its separate investments in marketing for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B.

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

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

7. Consistency Across All Channels 

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

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

Consistency matters.

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

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

8. Stunning Photography 

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

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

9.  Simultaneous Promotions Across All Channels 

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

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

10. Continuing to Boost Online Guest Sentiment

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: Nudge Your Happiest Guests to Leave a Review

May 19, 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: Convince more happy hotel guests to leave good reviews by reminding them at several touch points. 

See those guests who wrote a TripAdvisor review of your hotel?

They make up a teeny, tiny percentage of guests who actually stayed with you. They represent the few who either remembered to leave a review OR felt compelled to because of an extraordinary experience (or a horrible one). 

Now, imagine how much better your TripAdvisor rankings would be if more happy and satisfied guests wrote a review of their stay. The good news: It only takes a simple reminder. 

Stop leaving your guest reviews to chance. Here are a few ways to gently remind your guests to share their experience on TripAdvisor:

Post Stay Emails
Every hotel should have an automated process that emails every guest asking for feedback after the guest checks out. And don’t be afraid to put a link leading directly to your TripAdvisor profile. This will likely increase the overall number of reviews you accumulate and show your commitment to transparency! 

Approach Your Social Advocates
Turn to your hotel’s brand advocates – those who have posted to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter before.
Research shows that hotel properties that reach out to their loyal guests to build up reviews will see not only higher rankings, but increased online sentiment.

Remind Guests During Their Stay, Not Just At Check-Out

If your staff hears a guest complimenting the hotel in any way, have them encourage the guest to share that tidbit in a review.

Place Your TripAdvisor Link In Your Email Signature
Any email you send to guests or to whoever else, should have a link to your TripAdvisor profile.

Get more: Want Better TripAdvisor Rankings? Do These 3 Things


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: Remember The 4Ps Every Day

March 31, 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: Stay on top of your hotel’s success each day by reviewing your hotel’s four marketing pillars: price, product, promotion and placement (distribution).

It’s easy to forget what marketing is really all about.

With all the new hotel marketing technology, apps, social networks and fancy lingo we deal with, it’s inevitable that you will be pulled away from the big picture to focus on all the minor details.

If you don’t make an effort to clear that clutter from your mind each day, you’ll lose sight of the CORE FOUR marketing pillars that drive the success of every successful company’s marketing:

1. Price

This is a critical component of hotel marketing. Does your room rate make sense for the value of your guest experience? How do you compare to your comp set? Are you implementing the rules of hotel pricing psychology to reach guests? Are you allowing OTAs to price your hotel too cheaply?

2. Product

The most important of the 4Ps! Consider both the hotel’s physical product (rooms, meeting space, restaurant, spa, amenities, etc.), as well as the service experience. What truly differentiates your guest experience compared to your comp set? Are your hotel’s USPs still relevant to today’s travelers? What needs improvement?

3. Promotion (i.e. Advertising)

This translates to hotel advertising. Are you synchronizing your limited budget to correlate to your targeted business mix? Are you being smart about retargeting abandoned reservations? Have you invested some ad dollars into reaching audiences on social media platforms?

4. Placement

This refers to your distribution channels. Are you allocating too much inventory and relying too heavily on OTAs? Or, are you thoughtfully optimizing your own hotel website and booking engine to attract more profitable, direct bookings?

Each day commit an hour to review each of these pillars. Determine the areas that need more attention and where your team is currently succeeding. Pivot and finesse as needed. Staying on top of these four major areas will assure that you’re headed towards success each and every day.

Get more: April Fools – 8 Ways Hotel Marketers Can Avoid Looking Foolish


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

The Painful Truth About Hotel Loyalty Programs

March 28, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

  • Hotels can’t grow market share by targeting existing customers.
  • In today’s modern environment, even your most loyal guests will shop around.
  • It’s vital to focus on boosting your exposure to new audiences.

For years, marketing gurus and experts have taught hoteliers to focus on driving bookings from their loyal customers.

These are the guests who book a few times during the year.

Admittedly, this seems like one of the smartest and most sound hotel marketing strategies around to boost direct bookings – market to the people who already know and love you. The plethora of guest data you now have at your fingertips makes marketing to this current base of customers even easier and seemingly foolproof.

However, new research may prove otherwise….

In his book, How Brands Grow, Professor Byron Sharp of The University of South Australia, applied statistical analysis to sales data to find what truly drives a company’s success. His conclusion sent shockwaves through the marketing world:


”Your customers are customers of other brands who occasionally buy you.”


Companies can’t grow sales numbers significantly by focusing on loyal customers, but instead they must focus on “light buyers” who buy products (i.e. book a room at your property) relatively infrequently.

In other words, loyal guests are not your ideal target audience. Single booking guests are.

To move the needle on your hotel’s growth, you must attract NEW guests, instead of relying on loyal customers to keep coming back.   

Single Bookings Spur Hotel Growth

Sharp cites Coca-Cola as an example of a successful global company that grew, not from Coca-Cola lovers who purchased and consumed the soda everyday, but from the millions of people who only drank it just a couple times a year.

Several other brands have come to rely on steady and strong sales from the masses that only purchase their products occasionally, with long breaks in between where these same customers purchase from competitors.

And let’s face it, OTAs, the culture of flash sales and last minute deals has made the travel industry one of the least loyal markets. In fact, 50 percent of American Airlines’ 2015 revenue came from 87 percent of its customers who flew on American Airlines just once that year.

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Overall, data from Phocuswright suggests that – other than elite members – most travelers do not prefer to book direct through hotel websites. Many travelers do not seem to care about the hotel’s brand, as long as they get the perception of a good value by booking through OTAs.

However, most hotels today focus on past customer data and ways to reach and re-sell to their existing customers. After all, selling to your own guests appears low-risk, dependable and the quickest way to boost revenue.

Wrong, says Sharp.

He contends that the expense and effort that brands employ to market to their own customers is largely ineffective. 

“Loyalty programs do practically nothing to drive growth,” Sharp said.

The Painful Truth: Guests Shop Around

Companies largely over estimate just how loyal their customers really are.

The McKinsey Global Institute has been studying consumer decision journeys (the often erratic path people take as they move along from brand awareness to purchase), since 2009. Their studies show that the key to top-line growth is understanding the behavior of modern consumers.

Their research uncovered that even your most loyal hotel guests, including members of your loyalty program, consider booking at other hotels more often than you know.

Over the years, McKinsey found that the bond customers have with their favorite brands has been slipping. Active engagement in loyalty programs slipped by 2 percent. Plus, 58 percent of loyalty members don’t even use the program or take advantage of its benefits after signing up.

Why aren’t travelers as loyal as they once were?

More choices and new technologies.

With all the channels and travel sites at a guest’s fingertips, it’s easier than ever before to research and book travel reservations. Hundreds of mobile apps open up a world of hotel options where guests can view and compare prices and amenities, read guest reviews and size up hotels side-by-side.

Also, people are more clued in to what their family and friends are buying, loving, referring (and disliking) via social media.  All of these distractions and online triggers can cause even your best hotel guests to shop around. 

And, suffice to say that in today’s digital world, people can’t help but consider more options.

Social Media Engagement: Not as Vital as You Thought?

Modern customer decision journeys are also challenging the notion of engaging your “loyal” hotel social media followers.

According to Forrester Research, people who join and ‘like’ Facebook brand pages hardly ever interact or click on them thereafter. Their research shows the engagement rate of a Facebook brand page is generally 7 out of 10,000 users and for Twitter the rate is 3 out of 10,000. This lack of engagement is even worse for hotels who fail to produce compelling, fresh, authentic social content every week – 24/7/365.

McKinsey noted that most customers aren’t aware of, and simply not interested in, the differences between your brand or your competitor next door. And, those guests who do have a brand preference may decide to book with another hotel brand if it happens to be cheaper that day.

This fickleness shows that single-bookers (again, the ones who are really driving your success) don’t think of your property as remarkable, or even unique. They’re also not likely fans of your brand, on social media or anywhere else. It’s no surprise then that these buyers aren’t interacting with your brand on social media channels. Engaging and enticing “loyal buyers” to re-engage with you is necessary, but hardly a silver bullet.

In addition to trying to push your existing audience to engage with your hotel on social channels, focus on boosting the broad awareness of your hotel experience instead.

Then, get creative about translating the broad awareness to actual hotel consideration by creating interactive content on your hotel website, including destination guides, Chat-with–the-Concierge tools and powerful galleries of user-generated photos.

Other industry leaders have perfected this concept. For example, L’Oreal offers make-up tutorials instead of simply touting their products, while Charles Schwab offers basic financial planning lessons and investment calculators, in addition to showcasing their products. 

Hotel Marketing’s Critical New Battleground

The shiftiness of guest loyalty suggests that hotel marketers need to focus more on the moments when guests are INITIALLY considering which hotel to book (known as the initial consideration set).

According to McKinsey, the players in the initial consideration set are twice as likely to book versus the ones that pop up later in the guest’s decision-making process.

This confirms the need for hotel marketers to win travelers’ attention at the very beginning of the booking journey. And, drastically changes the dynamic of marketing mainly to guests who have previously stayed at your property, a tactic that hotel marketers have counted on for years.

When marketing to loyal hotel guests, normally you focus on a narrow collection of high-value customers, then use your marketing budget to retain them. In contrast, when marketing to grow your hotel’s exposure in the initial consideration set, you need to cast out a wider net to reach people who have little or no knowledge of your property.

Boosting Exposure is Vital to Boosting Growth

So, if marketing to and engaging with your current customers doesn’t drive growth at your property, what will?

What will reach people who don’t need you and don’t know you, so that when they are ready to book, your hotel comes to mind?

Advertising, answers Sharp.

“Advertising works best when it doesn’t try and persuade, but merely makes us remember a brand at the moment of purchase,” he said.

Advertising opens people’s eyes to your hotel. For instance, by keeping their beverage brand in people’s minds, Coca-Cola ads increase the probability of people buying their product by such a small margin that consumers hardly notice it. For this reason, most consumers claim they are not swayed by advertising.

When crafting advertising experiences, think of your two audiences:

1st Audience:
Guests who enjoyed a stay at your hotel in the past, but who have not booked since then. According to McKinsey, these lapsed guests hold high potential since they have some knowledge of the brand, even if their experience was several years ago. You just need to find out why they never returned or if their habits or lifestyle have changed.

2nd Audience:
These are the travelers who have no experience with your hotel. They may not understand what you offer, have never considered staying with you before, or perhaps have pre-conceived notions about your guest experience.

For both audiences, the solution is to create a unique story and innovative new services, products and news to stay at the top of their minds. Continue building new packages, guest experiences and amenities to drum up excitement.

Conclusion

While the significance of boosting exposure to new audiences is hardly a cutting-edge concept, research confirms that it now requires a new focus.

Both Sharp and MGI don’t suggest ignoring your most loyal guests to make room for new customers. Rewarding and retaining these repeat guests is still important. In fact, 42 percent of purchases are from customers who had purchased from that brand before.

However, focusing your hotel marketing budget on mainly retaining guest loyalty is a risky move since today’s shop-around mentality means you’ll lose more guests than add new ones.

Instead, boost your hotel’s growth by focusing more on creative products and services for the 87 percent of consumers who are likely to leave your compset in favor of trying out others.

Get more: Hotel Marketing – 10 Things That Worked in 2016


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