Browsing Tag

seo

We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs

October 10, 2017 • By

Have hotel marketers squandered their primary weapon?
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Looks like we might have been going about this all wrong.

The thought that a guest’s primary travel concern is saving money is an assumption that needs to be reexamined.

According to JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, guests are more likely to be dissatisfied with their hotel experience and come across more problems (like canceled reservations or last-minute changes) if they book through a third-party, such as Travelocity or Expedia.

So, what does this mean for you?

It’s time to change the overarching hotel industry strategy from emphasizing price parity to tapping into consumer fears of OTAs.

Instead of obsessing about Best Rate Guarantees, we all need to start focusing instead on how reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds are perceived by consumers when they book direct vs indirect.

Many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could unravel their travel plans in seconds.

Meanwhile, hotels offer two vital things that OTAs do not: a secure, direct reservation and a dedicated staff that truly cares. (Smart marketers like Hilton have taken this dynamic to another level by enabling loyalty members to select their own rooms. This is a powerful differentiator, which adds even more peace of mind and diminishes OTA value.)

Trust Issues: Many Consumers Don’t Like OTAs

It doesn’t take much to prove how unhappy customers are with OTAs.

Both Expedia and Priceline have consistent and dismal 1-star ratings on a popular review site: Consumer Affairs. There are legions of horror stories by guests left in a lurch when they arrive to their hotel with an OTA reservation in hand, only to discover their hotel is sold out and there are no more rooms available. Or, even worse, that the hotel has no record of the reservation at all!

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The internet is flooded with examples of angry OTA customers, such as this family who spent almost 7 hours on the phone with Expedia customer service reps to get a partial refund when their reservation was canceled due to overbooking at the hotel.

Or, this traveler who booked a room in New Orleans on Priceline, only to have Priceline switch his reservation to a hotel of lesser standards, without an option to cancel.

How to Take Advantage:

The best hotel marketers have learned how to appeal to guests’ emotions, rather than rationale. Emotional messaging resonates more than simply selling physical amenities.

One way to leverage emotional messaging is to reposition OTAs in a guest’s mind. In Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, marketing gurus Jack Trout and Al Ries teach businesses to build messaging around their competitor’s weaknesses.

For example, Tylenol went after the aspirin business by adopting this message: “Aspirin can irritate the stomach lining, trigger asthmatic or allergic reactions and cause small amounts of hidden gastrointestinal bleeding… Fortunately, there is Tylenol.”

In the case of hotels vs OTAs, we should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play. That your family vacation, business trip or long-awaited romantic weekend is too important to risk in any way!

Hotel marketers should communicate this critical message in key touchpoints with prospective guests during the research phase of their purchase journey:

  1. On your direct hotel website home page
  2. In your search/PPC ads
  3. In your retargeting display ads that follow consumers after they visit your website
  4. In social media posts
  5. In call/reservations center training
  6. Inside your booking engine, where more than 95%+ of date searchers will abandon before booking

The Bottomline: 

Price parity is important, but tapping into consumer fears of booking with OTAs provides smart hoteliers with ample opportunity to migrate bookings back to the hotel direct.

Hotels should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that their direct websites and call centers are 100% dedicated to handling the needs of their property… While OTA booking engines and call centers are servicing tens of thousands of properties (including your compset’s)!

 


About Tambourine

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

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

 

The Secret Weapon Page on Your Hotel Website

August 29, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing pros are amplifying their SEO power on this critical page.

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It may be the most boring place on your hotel website today, but your policies (and/or FAQ) page represents a major magnet for SEO traffic.

Why is that?

Because Google pays serious attention to the content on this page.

And, OTAs can’t.

Expedia, Priceline and all the others simply can’t keep up on every hotel’s policies and can’t compete for searches for information on pet policies, cancellation policies, etc. Use this to your advantage and get more people to land on this page, while gaining an edge on the OTAs in the process.

Too many hotels skimp on content on their hotel policies page. But, it’s one of the main anchors that Google uses to deem if your website is relevant or not for searches like: “dog-friendly hotels in Denver,” or “early check-in hotels in Boston.”

Shannon DeFries, Director of Search & Analytics at Tambourine, shows us how to transform a typical and bland hotel policies page into a destination for valuable guest content, while also earning Google’s trust and boosting your search engine rankings.

Here Are Shannon’s Top Tips:

  • Fill your policy page with relevant information that explains your policies, rather than just listing them.
  • Link back to your hotel policy page for specific marketing campaigns. For example, for #NationalDogDay (August 26), promote your hotel’s love for its four-legged guests on your social channels. Then, link back to the policy page where it outlines your pet program, instead of just pointing to the homepage or amenities page.image2
  • Write your policy page in a conversational tone, similar to an FAQ. Stay away from robotic jargon, like ‘covered parking – yes.’ By writing with a conversational voice, you are making it easier for mobile users to find you through voice search.
  • Use the policy page to target long tail keywords, such as ‘pet friendly hotels in Miami’ or ‘hotels in Nashville with free airport shuttle.’
  • Make sure your hotel policy page has unique content not written anywhere else. Lifting another hotel’s policy page content and slightly rewording is a big Google no-no. You can be penalized for publishing duplicate content. You can even double-check that your content is unique by using tools like Siteliner, SEO Review Tools and Copyscape.
  • Avoid being indexed by Google if your hotel is a part of a brand or collection that uses the same policy verbiage for every property. You can do this by placing a “No Index” code on the page.

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 Seven Traits of Great Hotel Digital Marketers

August 8, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing requires a quirky blend of skills.

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Virtually every one of your future guests will discover and engage with your property in the online world before they ever walk through your doors. That’s why digital marketing has become such a prerequisite skill for hotels that want to outperform their compset.

But this job isn’t just limited to running ads and managing channels; digital marketing managers are also responsible for launching their own programs, managing external vendors and many other activities.

As one of those external vendors, we’ve worked with hundreds of hotel digital marketers over the years… and during that time we’ve seen that it takes a very special set of skills to be successful in such a demanding position.

The most successful hotel digital marketers we’ve worked with have these 7 traits in common:

1. They Multitask

On any given day, a digital marketing manager has to take care of a wide variety of tasks, ALL while overcoming sudden crisis drops in occupancy. To be successful in such a hectic environment, that person needs to be an excellent multitasker, with an uncanny sense of recall.

This combination lets them pick up on where they left off on other tasks from previous days and make steady progress towards their goals – all while being pulled in multiple directions.

2. They are Caffeinated

Digital marketing managers often need to help fill hundreds of rooms, every night, or face vanishing assets. But accomplishing that task, in a business that often sees many of its bookings occur in the last 48 hours before arrival, requires someone with a lot of energy and stamina (it’s not uncommon to see them go through 5 or 6 cups of coffee every single day).

3. They Should Be Well-Traveled

You can’t market a product when you have no experience as a user/buyer.

With this in mind, it’s only natural that successful hotel marketing managers should be able to use their own travel experiences to speak to prospects on a personal level.

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4. They Should Have Experience in Other Industries 

For an industry like ours, one that’s been resistant to change on many occasions, attracting digital marketers with skills and knowledge from other industries is essential. Hotels have long depended on a few core channels for their revenue, while other industries (think software and tech) have to develop innovative ways to build audiences, users and market share. By borrowing best practices, tactics and tools from other industries, hotel digital marketers can turbocharge your property’s marketing strategies and give you a serious advantage on the compset.

5. They Should Speak Geek

It’s cool to be part geek these days, especially in the hospitality marketing sector. That’s because everything is constantly evolving, so there’s always so much to learn. That’s why it’s a good indicator of success when you hear your digital marketing manager talking with their friends about things like; CRS, PMS, CRM, CMS, SEO, PPC or SEM. It shows their real interest in these subjects.

6. They Shouldn’t Be Scared of Data and Reporting 

That’s the only way they know what’s working in their campaigns… and what’s not.

Being comfortable with data and reporting also enables successful hotel digital marketers to make strong business cases to management and ownership for additional funds and marketing assets.

7. They Should Present Well

Digital marketing managers need to be seen as leaders who are able to bridge ‘the departmental divide’ and bring revenue management, sales and GMs together. Presentation skills and confidence are the keys to building consensus and cooperation across departments.

So, which one of these 7 skills is most important for your property?  How do you keep your competitive edge?  We’d love to hear more about this from your point of view in the comments below! 


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

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

Are Siri and Alexa Interrupting Hotel Search Marketing?

June 27, 2017 • By

Hotel search engine marketing is changing… are you ready?

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Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voice Search Strategies to Implement Now 

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

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

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

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

Also see: The Painful Truth About Hotel SEO 


About Tambourine

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

Do Hotel Sales Teams Have a New Secret Weapon?

May 16, 2017 • By

Smart hotel marketers are using new, affordable marketing automation tools to close more group and meetings business.

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Marketing automation technology is one of the biggest advancements in the marketing world over the last ten years.

And hotel marketers were among the early adopters.

The vast majority of hotels use basic forms of marketing automation to improve relationships with leisure segment guests: automatic booking confirms, post stay surveys and reservation recovery emails have been deployed by hotel marketing departments for many years.

But now, thanks to new, more affordable and simplified software, marketing automation could very well be your group sales department’s new best friend and the catalyst for driving more meetings and events to your property. 

Marketing automation can send the right message at the right time to the right meeting planner or group lead. And keep your sales team informed as your target prospects engage with your website and marketing materials!

First, here’s a simple explanation of how marketing automation works for hotel sales and marketing departments:

1. A small piece of code from your marketing automation vendor or agency is embedded in your hotel website’s code. This code allows your marketing automation platform to monitor every visitor who comes to your direct hotel website.

2.  Each visitor’s behavior, actions and referral source is now tracked, collected and viewable via your marketing automationplatform.

3. You can trigger automatic actions to occur when a visitor or lead meets a specific condition. This can be anything from an emailbeing sent, a retargeting ad being delivered or an alert being sent to a salesperson.

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Now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the specific things marketing automation can do to accelerate group revenue:

1. Engage New Group Prospects

Once you get a meeting planner’s email address (usually submitted via an RFP form), marketing automation can ensure that every new lead receives an instant personalized response. Surveys have shown that a surprising number of inbound leads are often ignored… simple marketing automation eliminates this risk by sending these new leads a welcome email that summarizes your hotel’s entire group experience, gives them easy links to see venue photos and images of past events, contact information and bios of sales managers, sample group itineraries, virtual venue tours, etc.

The purpose of this email is to give the meeting planner a reason to interact with your website. From there, marketing automation tools can track their behavior on your website and collect data to refine future campaigns.

2. Create a Steady Drumbeat of Awesomeness

Meeting planners love to book venues they trust. And one way to build trust is by communicating consistently in a selfless, helpful way. Hotel marketers can use marketing automation tools to establish a steady “drip” of stories, photos and content that helps prospects understand the destination better and do their job more effectively. But under no circumstances should the content be self-serving!

Your content “stream” does not have to be restricted to email or digital content. Direct mailing personal notes and helpful material often breaks through the clutter and differentiates you from the thousands of emails your prospects receive each week!

Creating this cadence of content will establish you and your property as a trusted resource and position you as THE leader in your destination!

3. Segment Messages By Group/Event Type

Based on where meeting planners are located and/or what they click on in your onboard/welcome email (and subsequent visits to your hotel website), marketing automation software can determine if they are planning a family reunion, a corporate retreat or a large customer conference. Were they looking at a virtual tour of the largest ballroom? Or, spending a lot of time on the activities pages?

Marketing automation can separate each prospect into smaller buckets and send more customized marketing campaigns with relevant images and copy that match their interests.

4. Perfect Timing…

Meetings and events often follow a pattern throughout the year. For example, many associations generally hold annual conferences in the fall or winter. Meanwhile, the more price-sensitive SMERF market (social, military, educational, religious, fraternal) tend to meet off-season (usually holiday months or summer) when there are more discounts to leverage. Marketing automation can schedule campaigns to be released at the right time, with season-specific images and copy, to target group planners way in advance leading up to their site selection.

Even better, marketing automation enables hotel marketers to send increasingly specific messages as each prospect’s behavior intensifies. For example: if one of your meeting planner leads spends 20 minutes on your website two days in a row, she probably should receive different (and more urgent) calls-to-action than the planner who has not visited in months!

5.  Retarget

Retargeting is another form of marketing automation used by many hotels to drive leisure business from consumers who have visited the hotel website before. Similarly, if a meeting planner’s visit to your hotel website doesn’t result in an RFP, you can set up retargeting advertising campaigns (typically through display ads) to follow them and remind them what makes your venue a viable option for their group. The idea is to stay top of mind and get them back onto your site, so that you’ll have a second chance of converting them. You can make your retargeting efforts even more effective by personalizing each with the information you have already collected, for example: dynamically populating your retargeting ads with the actual event dates provided by the prospect.

Have questions about using marketing automation for your hotel sales department? Ask us… we love to talk about this stuff!


About Tambourine

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

20 Surprising Digital Marketing Stats Every Hotel Marketer Should Know

April 11, 2017 • By

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

Hotel Email Marketing

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

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

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

Hotel Digital Display Advertising

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

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

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

Hotel Social Media Marketing

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

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

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

Hotel Mobile Marketing

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

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

Learn More:
Is the iPhone Killing Your Hotel Revenue?

Hotel SEO

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

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

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

Hotel Content Marketing

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

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

About Tambourine

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

Stop Dangling the Wrong Carrots: How Revenue Incentive Plans Hurt Profits

March 7, 2017 • By

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Occupancy is high. You’re crushing your RevPar Index. And, you’re on pace to surpass your quarterly revenue targets as well as last year’s revenue.

From the look of things, your revenue team (this includes marketing and revenue management) is blazing to success and should be credited and applauded for driving huge profits to your property.

But, wait.

Look closer. It’s NOT increased profits your revenue team produced. It was increased revenue.

Right now, most revenue teams aren’t driven to optimize profitability at their properties. Instead, they are incentivized to boost revenue – profit margins and rising costs be damned.

The fault doesn’t lie entirely with your marketing and revenue team, however. Perhaps it’s time to critically examine your RM incentive plan structure instead?

The Hidden Risk of Current Revenue Management Incentives

To achieve a bonus today, most revenue managers are only tasked with exceeding top-line targets, like revenue variance to budget and variance to last year’s revenue. Plus, a favorite metric that hotels use is RevPar index, suggesting most owners want to see performance relative to the compset, instead of internal benchmarks. 

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“However, by incentivizing revenue managers to work on boosting revenues only, they’re essentially taking their eyes off of high expenses and any rising costs,” said Jeff Spaccio, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing In Residence at Tambourine. “Revenue doesn’t equate to profit.”

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While revenue managers are ultimately responsible for delivering profits to their properties, current incentive programs motivate RM teams to prioritize driving up revenues over the bottom line.

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Take an Honest Look at Channel Costs

Revenue managers must be cognizant of, and accountable for, costs and how they impact the bottom line, Spaccio said.

One of the biggest missteps under current incentive plans is that revenue managers aren’t motivated to pay close attention to which channels are costing the hotel the most and on the other end, which channels offer the most value.

Hotels should champion all efforts to drive direct bookings from their lowest cost channel – their own brand website, Spaccio recommends. This also means investing in hotel social media marketing, hotel search engine marketing and hotel PPC campaigns to drive traffic to the site.

Plus, don’t be hypnotized by the seemingly high revenues that OTA bookings can deliver. With commissions of 15 – 30%, third party websites are by far a hotel’s most expensive distribution channel.

In the end, driving bookings through your own website will have the greatest impact on optimizing profits.

The Vital Bottomline: Revenue Managers Should Impact Profits, Not Just Revenue

It’s time for hotels to maximize their profits by restructuring their revenue management incentive plans.

“After all, owners can only take profits to the bank,” Spaccio said.

First, motivate revenue managers to get well-acquainted with costs and learn where to reduce wasteful spending. They should be well aware of the cost per booking and your hotel should establish how much those reservations should cost.

Then, at the minimum, a revenue manager should meet or exceed your gross operating profit projections BEFORE being paid a bonus off the top-line incentive.

Continue to reward revenue managers for generating revenues beyond the forecasted targets, but in the end, incentives should be driven by the ability to exceed profitability.

It’s only with the proper incentives in place that revenue managers will pay more attention to the true net of any booking and prioritize boosting your bottom line.

 


 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