Browsing Articles Written by

Dave Spector

Want more group bookings? Tell a better story.

May 27, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hospitality and Tourism Marketing BlogWeddings. Family reunions. Milestone birthday weekends. Nothing fills your hotel like a group celebrating. They book multiple rooms, eat at your restaurant, and bring merriment (and revenue) to every outlet in the hotel.
If you can show them the story they will someday tell, you’ve sold them.
You’d love to book an event every weekend, but marketing to these groups is difficult and expensive. Party planners are fickle. Trends come and go so quickly, you’re forced into costly updates and repackaging. But there is one timeless, common desire every guest wants. And you can sell it over and over at little cost to you. What is it? A story they can repeat for years to come. Whether you have all the amenities on their checklist or not, if you can show them the story they will someday tell, you’ve sold them. Of course, now the question is how to get the story into their heads. Let’s examine some ideas together.

But first, you must know what constitutes a story.

A story is not your lush green surroundings. It is not room décor or chef’s creations or cake toppings. Those are details. More than likely, you already have a website and brochures full of details. A story is grandma traveling across the state to dance with 5-year-old Johnny. A story is the bride forgetting her something blue in her suite and the best man retrieving it just in time. Stories revolve around people. When you tell a good story, guests picture their grandma dancing in your ballroom and their best man dashing through your hallways.

5 Simple Tricks to Event-Capturing Storytelling

Now, that you have an image in your head of a good story, we can uncover some ways to make them public.
  1. Start small: You need a story to tell one. If you haven’t booked a wedding in six months, you can still show your romantic side by creating a weekend engagement package. As more people propose at your hotel, use their stories. The internet loves proposal stories.
  2. Post a Treasured Memories page on your website: After an event, tell the planner you want to feature their party. Ask if you can interview a guest. It doesn’t have to be the star of the party. Somebody who traveled far or who has known the guest of honor the longest usually has a good tale to tell. Remember, people love to share these stories. You simply need to ask.
  3. Use spontaneous quotes on social media: Spontaneous comments build associations between your hotel and emotions. For instance, a partygoer says to you, “I danced so much my feet will hurt for a week!” Instantly, your property sounds like a fun place to throw a party.
  4. Take control of social media by creating a hashtag:  Business conferences use hashtags so attendees can connect. Chances are your private events will too, but learning what those hashtags are can be tricky--unless you create them. Sneak a #MarklovesMelissa or a #SamsAManMitzvah at the end of your first correspondence. Put your hashtag on welcome packages and cards. Get everyone excited about sharing their story on social media.
  5. Add-in your guest service skills: Now that you know where to find them on social media, join in on the conversation where appropriate. If everyone is enjoying dinner downtown and you know there is great live jazz next door. Use their special hashtag to suggest they check out the show. Essentially take the impeccable guest service you provide in private and broadcast it.
Bonus Tip: Don’t wait until your next event to begin. Get in the habit of storytelling today.  As you read this post, did a memorable guest story pop into your head? Share it with us in the comments. Or post this on social media with your favorite story from a past private event. 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 Tambourine.com.  

Hotel revenues low? Say hello to CRO.

May 19, 2014 • By

Tambourine: hotel-marketing-CRONew metric powers RevPar, ADR and AOR

For decades, hotel marketers have used acronyms like Revpar, ADR and AOR to gauge the health of their business. These metrics have become the de facto benchmarks by which hotel owners, management and sales/marketing teams evaluate performance. But recently, a new acronym has emerged that directly impacts all the others… CRO, or “Conversion Rate Optimization.” Innovative hotel groups and hotel management companies are using CRO across their web, call center and sales operations to rapidly distance themselves from their compsets.

What is CRO?

CRO was started by ecommerce companies like Amazon as a way to increase the percentage of website visitors that convert into customers. Travel industry giants like Expedia, TripAdvisor, Kayak and major hotel chains soon caught on, using CRO to increase the number of calls and visitors converting to actual bookings and revenue. The benefits of CRO are obvious: as the cost of driving traffic to your website or call center increases, so does the importance of CONVERTING a higher percentage of your traffic. Recently, an increasing number of hoteliers have expanded CRO practices beyond their websites to improve the conversion rate of their call centers and corporate/meetings sales teams as well.

The basics:

According to Neil Patel, a leading expert in CRO: “conversion rate optimization (CRO) in its simplest form is finding out why your traffic isn’t converting into customers… and then fixing it!”
  1. Sounds easy, but where do hotel marketers begin? Let’s take a closer look at how to get started on CRO:Designate a CRO leader: don’t even bother trying CRO unless you have a capable, math-loving champion in the organization to lead the charge. This person (or shameless plug… outsourced hotel marketing company) should have enough time to carefully administer CRO experiments and monitor results. They should also have software enabling them to accurately gauge results of their various tests. And most importantly, your CRO leader must have the support of senior management to implement real changes in the organization based on the results of their CRO findings.
  2. Measure What Matters
    Measure what matters: Start by deciding which metrics matter most. What are the key metrics affecting your revenue production? A few come to mind right away: Entrances into the hotel booking engine, opportunities in the pipeline for your sales team and calls into the res/call center. Ultimately, revenue and bookings are the most important metric, but you will need to fix the up-funnel metrics before you can grow revenue.
  3. Get real data: Do you have systems in place to actually gauge current run rates for the metrics you’ve decided to optimize? Its vital to KNOW real results before you start your CRO experiments.
  4. Ask LOST sales opportunities WHY they chose a competitor
    Get real user feedback: Data from your systems alone won’t be enough. You’ll also need qualitative feedback from real people about their experience with your sales and marketing assets. How? Ask LOST sales opportunities WHY they chose a competitor? Pay $79 to usertesting.com for unbiased reviewers to test and record their experience on your website. You will be amazed what you can learn by talking to real prospects about their experience with your sales and marketing process.
  5. Start your A/B tests: A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: you try an A and a B version simultaneously to determine version which was more successful and then put it into permanent real-world use.

What To Test? Here’s a few suggestions:

a) Which website pages drive more entrances into the booking engine? b) Which sales script converts more meeting leads into opportunities? c) Which offer converts more inbound calls to bookings? Wondering where to begin? Check out this link to 100 examples of successful CRO for inspiration!

No-Nos for CROs

CRO can get very technical, but it can also be very simple. The items above should help you get started, but there are also a few common pitfalls to avoid:
  1. Avoid testing with small numbers: you’ll need a statistically significant volume of traffic/leads/calls to get meaningful results. Also, experiments with larger flow should make your CRO efforts worthwhile when results begin to improve.
  2. Stop guessing: Don’t try to improve any channel’s conversion based on guesswork or “gut instinct.”
  3. The Boss isn’t always right: Try not to let the highest paid person or senior executive’s OPINION determine which CRO experiments to run. Reply on data and actual user feedback to determine the problem areas

Is it really worth it?

The push to shift away from dependency on OTAs and increase direct bookings has inspired hotels of all sizes to spend billions on driving traffic to their own website and call centers. Sadly, its mostly wasted… hotel owners and their marketing teams would be better served by focusing instead on CONVERTING a higher percentage of their existing traffic stream, no matter how small it is currently. Improving your conversion rates across all channels should be at the very top of every hotel marketer’s list in 2014.

Cinco de Mayo: 5 Hotel Marketing Tips

May 2, 2014 • By

Tambourine: Hotel Marketing

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Tambourine is celebrating with a fiesta of some of our favorite digital marketing tips. From fine-tuning your content for on-the-go travelers to zeroing in on your prospect’s emotions and true priorities, these tactics are fit to be implemented seamlessly into your current marketing efforts.

UNO - Edit Down Your Content For Mobile Users

Cut down on the fluff, be succinct and get to the point.
When it comes to your hotel’s mobile site, don’t simply reuse the copy you wrote for your desktop site. Instead, repurpose and rewrite your mobile content so that it’s easier to digest by people on-the-go. Because people have shorter attention spans on their smart phones, the copy on your mobile site has to be faster, shorter, and punchier than your desktop version. Use bolded headlines and bullet points. Cut down on the fluff, be succinct and get to the point.

DOS - Don’t Settle for Weak Calls-to-Action

When all is said and done, it’s copywriting that will compel people to book your hotel. Don’t leave people hanging without instructions on what to do next after combing through your site. And, be clear about it. Start with verbs and keep it simple.  Beyond the typical ‘book now,’ you can use ‘plan your escape now,’ 'schedule your site tour today’, or 'start your adventure here.’

TRES - Identify and Leverage Your Hotel’s Biggest Fans

Find out who your brand advocates are and treat them like all-stars.
First, find out who your brand advocates are. You can find them on your social media pages (who is always liking and commenting on your posts?), your TripAdvisor reviews (look for the 4-5 star ratings), and your meeting planner testimonials. Then, treat them like all-stars. Give them first dibs on any promotions or deals. Offer exclusive room upgrade codes. Send them a personal invitation to meet with your top management. Extend a special room rate just for them and their friends and family. Make it easy for them to share their love for you with everyone they know.

CUATRO - Share Content That Answers ‘What’s In It for Me?’

Whether it’s through email newsletters, social media updates, or hotel blog posts, never forget your audience’s first priority: What’s in it for me? Ideally, all of your messages and content should be a mix of hotel news and useful destination tips. For example, when you send out an email about your Valentine’s romance package, include relevant content made up of gems of information, such as ‘Fun Date Ideas Under $50 in Chicago’ or ‘5 Best Places to Kiss in Seattle.’

CINCO - Make Booking Direct More Appealing Than Using an OTA

Who says you can’t out-market an OTA? The key is to make your offer sweeter than your OTA rate. And, don’t worry about rate parity, which only applies to the exact room offer the OTA displays. The workaround is to offer a larger value to that same room using the same rate. For example, include complimentary parking, dining discounts, or free breakfast vouchers.  Make the decision to book direct a no-brainer.  

What Can a British Knight Teach Us About Hotel Marketing?

April 28, 2014 • By

HotelMarketingDo this ONE amazing thing and beat everyone

You have probably never heard of Dave Brailsford. He doesn't work in the hotel or marketing industry. He's actually a British Knight with a psychology degree. So what can Mr. Brailsford teach the hotel marketing community?

The Big Idea and The Tour de France

He came up with an idea he called: “the aggregation of marginal gains” whereby his riders would try for a 1 percent margin for improvement in everything they do.
No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as Director of England's cycling team, that’s what Brailsford set out to do. His approach was simple: He came up with an idea he called: “the aggregation of marginal gains” whereby his riders would try for a “1 percent margin for improvement in everything they do.” He thought if they could improve lots of small things by just 1 percent, then those small gains might add up to remarkable improvement. So his team started to optimize everything: nutrition, training regimens, equipment. But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there... According to writer James Clear: “They searched for 1 percent improvements in subtler areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.” Brailsford believed that if his team could successfully execute this strategy, his team might be in a position to win the Tour de France in five years. Instead, they won it in 2012 just three years after deploying his philosophy of marginal gains!

What can hotel marketers learn from Sir David's approach?

As marketers, we control four main levers that determine our property's success: 1. Product 2. Pricing 3. Promotion 4. Placement (distribution) Make a quick list of your opportunities for improvement within each of these categories. If you apply Brailsford's theory to these four key areas (and the sub-elements within each), it's easy to see how tiny improvements can lead to reasonably rapid ROI!

Rather than swinging for the fences with one big idea after another, ask yourself:

1. How can I create a 1% improvement in my product or service experience? 2. Can I incrementally improve pricing/revenue management? 3. What can I do to get 1% better conversion from my hotel booking engine? 4. Where can I find new audiences to extend my inventory/rates?
Improving by just 1% isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.
As Clear so eloquently puts it: “…So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about. Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.” Ultimately, Brailsford's big idea of "aggregating marginal gains” reinforces what we already know, that nothing worthwhile comes easy. And those who work at getting better every day... usually win. 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 Tambourine.com.

Revenge of the Timeshare Geeks: 5 new technologies revolutionizing timeshare marketing

April 4, 2014 • By

Revenge of the Timeshare Geek | Tambourine hotel marketing technology

The wild west days of timeshare tour generation are over.

Aggressive OPCs and massive outbound calling campaigns face intense scrutiny and struggle to deliver positive ROI. Instead, a new generation of timeshare/vacation club marketers is deploying cost-effective digital tactics that harvest the reach and power of the web to drive INBOUND leads. Is your timeshare/vacation club marketing team keeping up with more advanced competitors?

HERE'S 5 WAYS TO ACCELERATE YOUR QUALIFIED TOUR FLOW NOW:

  1. Persona-based Search Marketing: Search engine marketing, especially Google PPC, is already used by many timeshare/vacation club developers… sadly, they're wasting millions of dollars producing unqualified leads at an unsustainable cost-per-lead. Other than the largest brands, independent timeshare developers struggle to find and keep truly skilled search marketing professionals with the proven knowledge and tactics required to capture qualified inbound leads. Sure, there are thousands of search marketing firms ready to run campaigns on your behalf, but very few take the time to understand the ideal PERSONA of your qualified lead and synthesize that understanding into your actual campaigns. Most vacation clubs seek tours from folks with a very specific demographic profile. Your search marketing team needs to understand the characteristics of this profile and use it to hyper-target search engine campaigns that engage relevant prospects.
  2. Dynamic Capture/Landing Pages: Visitors to your online landing/capture page arrive with a treasure-trove of valuable data that can help you convert them into a lead. Advanced vacation club marketers instantly harvest the location, keyword data and previous behavior of the visitor to create dynamic personalized messaging on the fly! This is vitally important to timeshare developers who target overseas prospects… enabling the developer to detect country of origin and translate the inbound landing page to welcome the visitor in their native language.
  3. Airport Retargeting: Major airlines now allow marketers to target travelers searching their sites for specific airports and dates. If you're a timeshare developer in Miami and KNOW a couple from Brazil is flying to Miami on a specific date, you can now deploy digital advertising that targets that specific couple with a mini-vacation offer for their chosen dates. The airlines and their advertising partners also offer highly targeted space on inbound boarding passes, creating a high-value messaging opportunity the couple will retain during their journey.
  4. Digital Call Tracking: It's relatively easy to track inbound leads form online campaigns, but what happens when leads CALL your property? Powerful new call tracking technology now enables advanced timeshare marketers to track the source, location and phone number of all inbound leads. These reports are invaluable for determining which campaigns are creating inbound phone calls and enabling call-back campaigns.
  5. Mobile/Responsive Websites: A large and growing number of consumers now carry mini-computers in their pocket… smartphones like the iPhone are often the primary computing device for many people (especially the affluent). Its imperative that any landing pages be automatically responsive when they detect a mobile browser and instantly reconfigure the site for optimal readability. A good example of this is ViajemosTV.com which instantly changes its shape and content to welcome inbound visitors on mobile phones or iPads.

Ready to geek-up your tour generation?

The digital marketing revolution that's changed the hotel industry and many others is now rolling over the timeshare/vacation club sector as well. Advanced developers are implementing innovative digital campaigns to drive INBOUND leads and tour generation. If your operations team is seeking to accelerate lead flow from digital channels, find a qualified expert vendor with proven industry knowledge and demonstrable metrics. Start slow and ramp as results improve… it's the geeky thing to do! 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 Tambourine.com.

Tambourine Develops Hotel Marketing Technology Using Google Glass

March 26, 2014 • By
Sig Varela of b2 Miami and Colleen Delaney of Tambourine

Tambourine is harnessing the power of Google Glass to improve the way hotels connect with guests on social media channels.

Tambourine, a Google-certified partner, is proud to be one of the first technology firms in the travel industry to develop an application using Google Glass. The new technology, which Tambourine plans to deploy for clients in Q3, will help hotels, destinations and tourism marketers solve an increasingly difficult problem: how to gather, curate and distribute compelling content across all social channels, and will enable the following:
  1. A large number of hotel/destination employees (across multiple departments) will be able to capture compelling images, video and anecdotal experiences with no interruption of their regular duties
  2. All content is uploaded to a centralized repository for approval/review by social media team
  3. Content is then auto-distributed across Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and LinkedIn (for meeting planners)
“The pace of innovation in the area of digital and social media marketing is relentless,” according to Rafael Cardozo, President of Tambourine. “We strive to give our partners in the hospitality industry a competitive edge by staying ahead of the curve…Google Glass was a natural fit for organic property-level content creation”

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 Tambourine.com.  

Want more visitors? Find your Percy. Five critical qualities of a tourism leader.

March 4, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel and Destination Marketing

Meet Percy

He’s lived alone in the same well-kept little house for decades. He’s in his sixties but can outrun, outlift and outdrink guys half his age. He has not been to a doctor in forty years. He has no college degree or formal business experience.
...without these five qualities, no tourism leader can truly thrive.
Meet Percy, the greatest tourism leader we’ve ever seen (note: he would be horribly embarrassed if he knew about this article, so I’m changing his name to safeguard his privacy). Incredibly, he’s not the tourism director for his region… he’s not even on one of their many committees. This is a monumental blunder on the part of the local tourism authority. He’s a simple tour guide, driving tourists around his destination in a spotless white van. He has no political ambitions or big financial goals… but has five important qualities that tourism marketing organizations need to inspire and attract visitors. They may not be the only five required for success, but we believe that without these five qualities, no tourism leader can truly thrive. If your tourism authority or DMO wants more visitors, you’d be wise to find your Percy. Here’s why:
  1. Percy knows his region:   He knows thousands of people by name. He knows where to get the best local food of every type. He knows the cook, as well as their mother/father/grandfather and the complete family tree of the farmer who cultivated the vegetables on your plate. He knows the high and low temp for the day, the ocean temperature (in Celsius and Fahrenheit), the chance of precipitation, the dew point and the pollen count. He can speak about the region from his heart and infuse that message in the region’s communications.
  2. The region knows Percy:   As important as it is for your tourism leader to know the region, it's also important that local stakeholders/constituents know him or her as well. Go anywhere with Percy and people call out to him with love and affection. They trust him to convey their messages to the world. He is in touch with them daily, not sequestered in a sterile office building sending emails. And because he is humble, they know he will use the funds he’s entrusted with wisely. They know he will always do the right thing to ensure the critical flow of tourism dollars into their region.
  3. Percy symbolizes the region:   Percy is a man of the people. He is a textbook characterization of the regional profile. He eats where the locals eat. Shares their love of sports and maintains fierce regional pride. Does your leader reflect the region’s values? Does she embody the authentic essence of your destination? If your region is known for golf, it makes sense to find a leader who knows and loves golf.
  4. Percy is a great listener:    Percy has no ego. He talks 1/10th as much as he listens. But when he listens, he listens intently, treating CEOs and busboys with the same care and genuine interest.  He asks tourists why they chose his region and what they love most. He asks airline personnel about load factors. He listens to the ideas of other local tourism officials, even when he knows they are misguided. His amazing skill for listening is not something he works on… he is simply and genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say.
  5. Percy sees the future:    Most tourism officials are only in office for a few years, so they have a hard time taking a longer view of destination development. Percy knows that attracting tourists to the region is a never-ending process. He realizes that one of the most important ways to make tourists feel comfortable in his region is to get the population of his region to treat tourists with an extra dose of courtesy, respect and appreciation. So he starts with the youth of his region… he goes to schools and talks to kids about the importance of tourism! He is planting the seeds for a better tourism environment with no compensation or benefit to himself. How awesome is that?

Many DMOs have already found their Percy

At this point, many of you may be saying: “Hire an everyday tour guide as our Tourism Director… come on Dave, are you nuts?” But before you condemn me and fire off a flaming comment below, take a moment to ask yourself a few tough questions: What qualities does your current tourism leader possess that have a tangible impact on your region’s actual results? Does their ability to manage meetings generate a significant increase in tourist dollars? Has their political savvy increased local occupancy rates? Fortunately, many DMOs have already found a Percy with the complete skill set: professional management capabilities combined with a deep, intrinsic understanding and love of their destination. Look closely at these regions’ results and it’s no surprise they are usually thriving while their competitors continue to struggle.

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 Tambourine.com.  

Surprise! 10 ways your hotel website is killing your business. Part 2

February 21, 2014 • By
Tambourine: 10 ways your hotel is killing you

Think your website is “good enough?” Think again… Here’s the second half of our list of ten ways your hotel website may be insufficient and underperforming:

Read Part 1 Here
  1. You fail to showcase your special promos:   Hotel consumers have been conditioned to expect a deal. Groupon, Travelzoo, the OTAs, dozens of other flash sale and deal-of-the-day players have made travel consumers less loyal and more price-conscious than ever before. Fight Back! Showcase your best offers prominently… not only on your website, but also across all your digital channels: mobile, search, social and email to past guests.
  2. Your photography is boring:   We live in a world where image is everything. On the web, people look at images first and read only if they like what they SEE! Simply “taking” photos of your rooms and amenities is not enough… you need to MAKE photos. Check out this photo from Four Seasons Mumbai as an example of how compelling a photo can be. Not every property has the blessed locality of this one, but every property deserves to look its best to engage website viewers. Hire the best photographer you can afford and a stylist. This investment will come back many times over.
  3. You fail to delight meeting/event planners:   If your property has no meeting facilities and receives limited revenue from groups/weddings/events… feel free to skip to #9. But if you depend on those market segments for any substantial amount of revenue, you need to make sure you are delighting meeting and event planners when they arrive at your site. Do you have content to engage these demanding folks? 360º videos of your facilities? Diagrams and spatial dimensions of the meeting rooms? Photos of previous weddings? Sample menus? Maps to nearby entertainment venues? All these and more will make the difference between getting a lead or missing out on lucrative business.
  4. You are not optimized for all devices:   Virtually every travel consumer (especially if they are affluent) uses two or three different screens in their purchasing cycle. If your website is not utilizing fully responsive website design best practices (ie, auto-reconfiguring itself depending on the screen size of the visitor) you are losing bookings. Your site needs to be stunning on big screen desktop computers, easy to navigate and read on a tablet (both portrait and landscape) and of course on any smartphone. Recent data shows exponential growth in tablet bookings, so make sure your tablet experience has been vetted, optimized and tested.
  5. You are overspending on traffic until you fix conversions:    The push to shift dependency on OTAs and increase direct bookings has inspired hotels of all sizes to spend billions on driving traffic to their own website. Sadly, its mostly wasted… hotel owners and their marketing teams would be better served by focusing instead on CONVERTING a higher percentage of their existing visitor stream, no matter how small it is. From architectural link/URL planning to “big-data” personalization and “smarter” booking engines, there are important new innovations and techniques available to catapult your website conversion and capture more direct revenue.

Improving your website "look-to-book" conversion rate should be at the very top of every hotel marketer’s list in 2014.

Your website is the first impression guests have of your property, it will shape their perception of your value and determine if they will buy from you, surf away to your competition or book your property through a costly OTA.

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 Tambourine.com.  

Surprise! 10 ways your hotel website is killing your business. Part 1

February 10, 2014 • By
 

Surprise! Your Hotel Website may be Killing Your BusinessThink your website is “good enough?” Think again…

Would you buy three-year-old TVs for your rooms? How about cheap lobby furniture that no one wanted to sit on? If 1,000 people came into your store and 999 walked out without buying anything, would you rethink your merchandising? The answers to these questions are obvious. But as strange as it may seem, some hoteliers remain blissfully unaware of their website’s negative impact on revenue. And it’s a big problem: depending on the targeted ratio of group vs leisure bookings, the typical independent or boutique hotel website could represent more than 50% of the property’s expected revenue production. Yet, far too many hoteliers still serve up an inferior, antiquated experience to potential and repeat guests. Remember, virtually ALL of your website traffic INTENDS (they rarely stumble into it) to find your site through natural search, paid search or links from other related sites. Then, 99%+ of those highly relevant visitors leave without converting… what does this tell you about your hotel’s website as a vital business asset? Here’s a quick list of ten ways your hotel website may be insufficient and underperforming:
  1. You treat every website visitor the same:   Business travelers expect and need different treatment than couples seeking a romantic weekend getaway. You don’t treat them in the same way when they are on-property, why treat them the same way when they arrive at your site? Simple new technology allows you to personalize the arrival experience and engage with the most relevant message and offer.
  2.  You treat every booking engine visitor the same:   Once a website visitor performs an availability search and enters your booking environment, it’s even more important to customize their experience. Based on their previous clickstream behavior and demographics, the booking environment should adapt to their profile… preventing reservation abandonment, increasing your conversion and raising your actual ADR. Tambourine's booking engine making great strides in this area, check it out.
  3.  You’ve never actually watched a human test it:   Amazing things happen when you ask unbiased users (no, not your spouse!) to actually sit down and try using/booking on your site. Check out UserTesting.com for cheap, demographically-relevant testers.
  4. Your pricing is confusing:   Ever been in the checkout line when the cashier has to go verify a price? Or been told that the coupon you want to use is no longer available? Or worse yet, you actually buy a product only to learn that it was cheaper at another store. Visitors to your online booking environment expect fast, simple, smooth transactions. Travel consumers will surf away from your site at the smallest hint of pricing friction, lack of price parity or complexity. Your revenue management team can have a deeply profound impact on your web team’s results… make sure the booking environment is carefully monitored and frequently tested!
  5. You have no SEO foundation:   Competing with the OTAs and your compset for high Google rankings is hard enough without handicapping yourself from the get-go by failing to build the site on a best-practices SEO foundation. Your link structure, site map and microdata need to be carefully reviewed and crafted by real SEO practitioners.
Thanks for reading Part 1 of this 2 part series. We hope it was informative. Next week, we'll tackle the next five reasons your hotel website is killing your business.

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 Tambourine.com.

How much should your hotel marketing budget be? Part 2

January 24, 2014 • By
 

Tambourine Hotel Marketing BlogPART 2: The Right Way

Last week we covered the wrong ways to answer the question: how much should our marketing budget be…?” Now, let’s focus on better ways to answer the question that will determine your success and quite possibly your career longevity!
  1. “The budget needs to be aligned to sales/revenue projections… what are the sales & revenue projections?” It’s always a bit awkward to answer your boss’ question with a question of your own, but it’s impossible to determine the proper hotel marketing budget without knowing the overall revenue targets AND how each sub-segment is expected to contribute to the total revenue pie. Once you know the actual revenue targets, you can carefully consider the resources you need to “climb the hill” that’s been put in front of you. And then, even after you know how “high” the hill is… you need time to put your plan and ultimate budget request together.
  2. “I need $____ in funding. ____ new people. _____ product changes to be made. And _____ department to report to me.” Whoa. Does that sound bold and frightening?We understand if it does, but budgeting time means it's time to put on your big boys and girls pants and tell ownership EVERYTHING you need to deliver the results they are mandating! Surprisingly, many senior tourism and hotel marketing folks think they are restricted to simply asking for advertising money. If you need more people on your staff to achieve the revenue target, then you need to ask and be prepared to make a simple business case for the added overhead. Same goes for changes to the product; if your physical product or service experience requires additional investment, now is the time to ask! And last but not least, if someone else’s department is inhibiting your results, ask for control of it…. Or forewarn ownership that results may be hampered by folks you have no ability to manage and improve.
  3. Last year, we achieved a marketing CPS of X. To achieve next year’s budget, I need $_______ .” CEOs and property owners no longer want to hear about “branding initiatives” or logo colors… they expect their senior marketing leaders to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results. So it's important to have complete fluency in the KPIs that affect the bottom line. As an 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. But remember, you will also be expected to reduce your CPS over time as you learn and tweak your programs.

Think it through!

Remember, when ownership asks you for your budget request, take time to carefully think about your answer. This may be the first and last time you get to ask for the things you really need to achieve the goals they have set for you.

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 Tambourine.com.