Browsing Tag


The Road Ahead: The Future of Hotel Marketing

December 11, 2013 • By

Tambourine: Digital Marketing

In 1985 my grandparents took me to their local travel agent, a sweet woman named Ruth, to book a vacation to Florida. I remember being mesmerized by the beautiful brochures and exotic posters on display.

Ruth keyed our information into a computer terminal that consumed most of her desk, made a few phone calls… 30 minutes later, we wrote a check and walked out with a thick envelope full of printed material. Months later, we arrived at the hotel Ruth had booked for us and presented our well-worn reservation documents.

As stunning as the technological developments in travel marketing have been in the last 20 years, the next 20 promise to be equally incredible.

The hotel knew nothing about us. We knew practically nothing about the hotel (Ruth picked the hotel for us), what our room would look like, the amenities or the immediate area around the property.

Who knew that within a relatively short period of time, Ruth and the entire travel ecosystem would be disrupted by technology that empowered consumers to plan their own trips, preview images, videos, reviews from previous guests, make dinner reservations and chat (for free) with a concierge in Bangkok from the comfort of their home!

As stunning as the technological developments in travel marketing have been in the last 20 years, the next 20 promise to be equally incredible.

According to recent report from Expedia, travel could be on “the cusp of a transformative technological revolution.” Thanks to rapid adoption in smartphone usage, geo-location technology and younger generations’ comfort with sharing their personal information online, travel is set to become more effortless and streamlined than ever before.

Imagine this:

  1. You TELL your smartphone (or soon, smartwatch) to create a calendar event for a trip to a specific destination, or a “family” vacation and your “virtual digital assistant” goes to work researching and collating trip options.
  2. She (he?) starts checking flight prices based on your airline loyalty memberships, airport preferences and knowledge of your past trips (and your reviews). It will also tap into airline and hotel historic pricing databases to evaluate whether the price of your vacation may go up or down in coming weeks.
  3. Siri and her next of kin will then produce a list of options for you to consider. You can purchase, share with family and friends or refine the itinerary and send your virtual assistant back to work.
  4. When you arrive at the airport, new geo-location and payment technology in your smartphone will allow you to seamlessly pay for parking and baggage fees. While innovations in airport security and boarding pass technology will have more of us spending less time in line. Driving to your hotel? Apps on your mobile device will alert the hotel that you are approaching so your room can be ready for check-in.
  5. Hotels will have more actionable data about their guests than ever before. Aggregated from multiple “big data” sources including: social media, past stay history, loyalty programs and perpetually automated data appending programs connected to PMS and CRM systems.
  6. This trove of data will enable service-minded hoteliers to differentiate their product experience by personalizing offers and add-ons at the right time in the trip planning cycle for each customer.

The future is now.

Struggling to believe these advancements are just around the corner? Think again about how far we’ve already come. Tech-savvy hotel marketers are already doing remarkable things that would have sounded like science fiction just a few years ago:

  1. Global chains and boutique brands are working with consumer research companies to append demographic data to their past guest records to gain greater understanding of their customer base and create a model guest profile. This profile is utilized to identify new potential guest/consumers online who match the profile and engage with them via pinpoint digital marketing campaigns. Many believe this new science of past guest profiling and modeling increases advertising response rates and delivers higher ROI than “dumb” campaigns which ignore demographic and behavioral indicators.
  2. Tech giants like Google and Yahoo enable properties of all sizes to launch hyper-targeted campaigns (in hours!) that engage guests in proven feeder markets, past website visitors, fans of their competition’s social media pages, flyers to nearby airports, consumers who’ve received booking confirms from comp-set properties and an endless list of filters that increase ROI and reduce wasted marketing dollars.
  3. Most smart hotel marketers send post-stay surveys, but the most advanced are now automating additional emails to past guests who submit positive scores, encouraging them to leave reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and other important review sites.
  4. Brand managers are reviewing guest sentiment data from online reviews across their global portfolios to determine the optimal mix of amenities for future products/projects.
  5. Innovations in revenue management and powerful new yield management software are empowering even small properties to automate pricing decisions in real-time.

And more change is already in the pipeline, according to CB Insights: nearly half a billion dollars was invested in the travel and hospitality sector by venture capital firms from August 2012 to August 2013, with over 60% of that amount invested in tech pioneers outside the US, a clear indication that change is underway worldwide, not just in Silicon Valley.

Embracing it all.

The rapid pace of technological innovation in travel can easily overwhelm time-starved operators with limited resources and budgets. How can you prepare for the technology tsunami without losing sight of short term revenue targets and goals?

Here’s three ways we organize ourselves to embrace innovation without taking our eye off our clients’ needs and company goals:

  1. Use technology to find technology: Google Alerts, RSS feeds, personalized news feeds and specialized newsletters make it easier than ever to pluck relevant subject matter from the firehose of web content. A free tool we use often is Topsy (, which scans the social web for relevant conversations about subjects we care about. It helps us identify key influencers and participate in conversations we otherwise might never know about.
  2. Hire tech-lovers: All things being equal, we always hire the candidate who is more passionate about technology. They read blogs, love gadgets and fearlessly plunge into spreadsheets in search of actionable data. After putting all these techies together over the years, we now have a company culture that stimulates rapid adoption of new tools and software.
  3. Start at the bottom (of the sales funnel): In the limited time you and your team have to tackle marketing R&D, focus on technology that impacts the bottom line most rapidly. Ask yourself: which technology will add revenue or prevent lost revenue in the short term? A great example of this is an enhanced reservation abandonment/recovery process, whereby adding simple technology at the point of purchase can result in immediate revenue acceleration. Celebrating a few small victories that convert immediately to measurable revenue will give ownership/upper management more confidence to invest in more resource intensive R&D efforts.

The future is now.

In the time you took to read this article, undoubtedly at least one frothy press release has come out about a new technology in the travel/hotel sector. The pace and volume of change is staggering. And while the road ahead is unknown, it’s an absolute certainty that we will seek, engage, transact, share and communicate with guests in entirely different ways 10 years from now than we do today.

And if you don’t want to take my word for it… just ask Ruth.

Dave Spector is a Partner at Tambourine, an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1983

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit

A Hotel Marketing Thanksgiving: 10 things we're thankful for

November 25, 2013 • By

TambourineThanksgivingAs we gather together here in the US for our annual Thanksgiving holiday, we give thanks for the many blessings we have in our personal lives. This year, we’re starting a new tradition, we’re also giving thanks for all the amazing things we have that enrich our professional lives as hotel marketers. So we asked our staff, client GMs, revenue managers, hotel owners and partners to contribute and help us serve up our inaugural dish… dig in!

  1. OTAs: In an interesting twist, many hotel marketers gave thanks (privately!) for their ongoing success and traction with OTAs. Yes, those pesky OTAs that we all love to complain about drive a significant amount of business for many, forming a solid baseline of revenue and exposing our properties to new, previously unreachable audiences every day.
  2. TripAdvisor: No one believes companies or marketing people anymore, consumers only listen to each other! Which explains TripAdvisor’s monumental success. Their agnostic, unbiased portal helps consumers validate hotels, while an increasingly friendly set of hotel marketing tools and programs allows hotel marketers to steer relevant consumers directly to the property website. Sure, negative reviews can hurt, but handled properly, they also demonstrate honesty and authenticity.
  3. Evangelical Customers: More than a few hotel marketers we surveyed gave high praise and thanks to their most evangelical customers, who spread their love of the property via social media and word of mouth. These repeat visitors Tweet, post, share and send photos of their favorite place to friends and relatives with absolutely no cost to the marketing budget.
  4. A great location: Easily forgotten in an age of high-tech marketing is the importance of location, location, location! More than a few hotel marketers are giving thanks this year for a competitively-advantageous location that puts them by the airport, near Times Square, next to the convention center or smack dab on a private Caribbean beach!
  5. Google’s recent updates: Huh? Blasphemy you say?! Surprisingly, many hotel marketers see opportunity deep in the heart of the problems created by almighty Google changing the search engine game every few months. These enlightened marketers were able to quickly adapt… implementing new best-practices assets (i.e. perfecting local search tactics) and eliminating old, lazy, spammy techniques that end up penalizing less astute competitors.
  6. Active retirees: Grandma and Grandpa like to hit the road. Retirees are more mobile, more healthy and more wealthy than ever before. This translates to more bookings… direct bookings to be exact, because older folks prefer to book (or call) directly. According to Resonance Consultancy: “Unstoppable Elders” travel 25% more than the average leisure traveler and prefer off-peak travel, which bolsters properties affected by seasonality.
  7. Resurgent economies: Hotel marketers are giving thanks this year for resurgent economies at home and abroad. Key industry metrics have surpassed pre-recession levels, business travel is back and consumer confidence is improving. Better yet, strong economic growth in key US-feeder markets like China and South America has elevated ADRs from free-spending FITs.
  8. The Mobile explosion: Tech-savvy hotel marketers will remember 2013 as the year they truly figured out how to benefit from the proliferation of mobile devices. The adoption of smartphones enables us to target new guests, streamline booking confirms, offer express check-in, communicate in-stay offers, enhance the guest experience and empower social sharing.
  9. A loyalty program: Whether it’s a flag/chain-related program, a credit card/airline partnership or third-party frequent guest club, many hotel marketers are giving thanks this year to their loyalty program and its captive audience of incentivized travelers.
  10. Digital Intelligence: The hotel marketer’s toolbox gets sharper every day: smarter websites, personalized email offers, advanced yield-management systems, guest-preference data, ROI tracking… the amount of digital intelligence at our fingertips is staggering. For those who know which nuggets to mine, glory and bonuses await!

What did we miss? Tell us what you’re thankful for this year and we’ll send you our favorite recipe for Green Bean Casserole!

Happy Thanksgiving! As stunning as the technological developments in travel marketing have been in the last 20 years, the next 20 promise to be equally incredible.

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit

U.S. Hotel Revenue Reached Record Levels in 2012.

July 15, 2013 • By

TambourineAccording to recent study by STR, US hotel revenue reached record levels in 2012, with profit climbing to 24% of total revenue.

Unfortunately, despite growing consumer preference for direct bookings… most hotels also saw an increase in their dependency on expensive OTA-driven transactions. This costly channel drags down profitability and frustrates property owners seeking greater ROI on their investments.

If every hotel in the US were able to reduce their dependence on third parties by just 1%… more than $280,000,000 would be generated in new direct revenue!

What steps are you taking to reduce expensive OTA revenues?
New direct marketing technology is empowering smart hoteliers to generate direct bookings at much lower cost than the 25%+ OTAs charge.

One of the most immediate methods to reduce OTA cost is to participate in TripAdvisor’s “Show Prices” feature… whereby your hotel website’s direct rates can easily and quickly be published to supersede the OTAs offerings for your property!

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit

How important is social media in driving direct website traffic?

April 12, 2013 • By

Numbers 4 NinjasThere’s no question social media is critically important in the travel-consideration and purchase process (think: TripAdvisor). But how important is social media in driving direct website traffic? According to two recent studies, less than 2% of ecommerce visits are driven by social media referrers. While search still drives more than 30%.

Makes sense if you think about it… consumers use search to find stuff to buy and they use social media to…socialize. So while everyone is busy ramping their social efforts… we all need to remember that search still dwarfs social as a tangible business driver.

Did you know that 55% of hotels still don't respond to online guest reviews?

February 22, 2013 • By

Thanks to web-based communities like TripAdvisor, travelers are sharing their experiences and affecting the subsequent purchase decisions of others. 70% of travelers actually change their mind about an intended hotel or destination after reading reviews of previous guests!

If your past customers are talking about you online–whether it’s good or bad–join the conversation! It shows transparency, honesty and appreciation… good qualities for your brand to represent.

Don't Just Join the Conversation. Lead it. Social Lessons for Hotels. (Infographic)

February 7, 2013 • By

Tambourine Hotel MarketingEvery day, travel becomes more and more central to the social experience. With Facebook’s new Graph search, updates to Facebook’s Mobile App Nearby, and the big announcement that Facebook is starting to ramp up their hotel industry presence, hotels that have diligently worked hard to create a strong and consistent social presence are going to have a big leg up on the competition.

But for those hotels still fumbling around in the dark trying to find a social strategy, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

  1. People are already talking about your hotel. If you give bad service, people are complaining about you somewhere. Whether it’s on Facebook or TripAdvisor, they’re blowing the whistle on you. You can’t ignore them. It’s time to step up and manage your online reviews and your social reputation.
  2. The social experience starts long before check in. Guests who launch on the social experience with your hotel before check in are far more likely to continue being social throughout their trip. Set them off on the right foot with social incentives at the time of booking and watch that engagement go up.
  3. Drive the conversation. Facebook has proven tools to help develop brand advocates, increase your hotel’s fan base, and achieve exponential reach with special offers. Figuring out what people are saying is just the first step. As an authority on your hotel and your city, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be leading the conversation about travel in your sphere of influence.

Check out the Social Lessons for Hotels Infographic below for some great tips on managing those online conversations.

Thomas McDermott is the Social Media Manager at Tambourine.

About Tambourine: Tambourine is an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1986. The Company creates inspiring digital experiences and engaging campaigns that produce measurable results. Based in South Florida and New York City, Tambourine recently received Gold and Platinum Adrian and Magellan awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competitions, representing this year’s top marketing campaigns from across the global hospitality industry.

We are the instrument many of the world’s most advanced marketers use to create a steady beat of traffic and revenue growth. We provide a 360º integrated marketing program that delivers predictable ROI and a sustainable sales and marketing rhythm for your brand.

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