Browsing Articles Written by

Joe Haydn

Back to School Means Back to Basics for Hotel Marketers

August 26, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing Technology Remember when all you needed was a cool lunchbox and a No. 2 pencil to be ready for the new school year? Those were the days! Now you’re a hotel marketer and your list of needs seems endless. As we head into the Fall season, which for many means businesses conferences, wedding bookings for spring and holiday party planning, you’re bound to be busier than ever. However, when you look at your marketing activities, you might notice that it resembles your old school schedule:

English 101: Tell a Compelling and Succinct Story

Back in English class, you learned to grab readers early and engage them. Your marketing messages have the same goal. Back in the day, it was your teacher’s job to read your work. Now, your customers can easily click to a competitor or OTA site. Keep your messages succinct and interesting to arrest your prospects and keep them coming back.

Science 101: Experiment for breakthroughs

In school, you spent the year learning basic scientific rules and concepts. You learned to apply these principals in the lab. You learned the scientific method for learning what works and what doesn’t. You learned to test your own hypothesis. The same applies when you have a theory on how to improve your marketing. Until you experiment for yourself, you’ll never know if your theory is correct. Make sure your marketing programs are measurable and repeatable.

Math 101: the common denominator of success

Unlike other subjects, math is black and white. You either know the answer or you don’t. You can not avoid filling in the blank after an equals sign. Similarly, hotel owners want solid math skills from their management teams… they expect their sales and marketing leaders to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results.

History 101: is history repeating itself?

“History repeats itself,” as the saying goes. We can learn from the past. Similarly, your hotel’s past results also provide valuable lessons for the future. If every weekend in December and January has been slow for the past four years, its easy to see that this coming year will be the same unless you do something to fix it. If every weekend is busy, but you don’t adjust your rates to maximize your yield, you lose out on potential income.

What was your favorite and least subject in school?

Do you feel yourself gravitating to one area of your marketing because of it? Look at your marketing plan… are you ignoring your weaker subjects? Let us know in the comments below.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit:


6 Sales and Marketing Metrics Every Hotel Owner Cares About

August 20, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing TechnologyYour sales & marketing should be more effective. You know it. But you don’t know how to fix it. It’s a common problem. You fight hard to squeeze more juice out of all your marketing channels. Yet you feel like Sisyphus, the Greek king who was doomed to push the same boulder uphill for all eternity. Fortunately, your struggle doesn’t have to last forever. You can get the boulder up the hill. You simply need to figure out why it keeps falling back down.

The six key metrics every owner wants to hear about:

There are many opinions on the key metrics for hotel S&M teams. And they can vary depending on your property’s location and key segments, but here are the six we recommend monitoring:
  1. MCPB (marketing cost per booking): tracks actual production vs the cost of each S&M channel
  2. Revenue variance from target: this metric reflects your actual results vs the revenue goals (by segment) memorialized in your annual S&M Plan.
  3. Sentiment score on TripAdvisor: using a reputation/social media monitoring tool allows you to measure guest satisfaction/sentiment, this reflects product acceptance or alerts you to product deficiencies. A bad product will outweigh all your other S&M activities.
  4. DRR (direct revenue ratio): measures % of online revenue coming direct vs expensive third-party sources like OTAs. If you’re not getting 40%+ direct, you have work to do!
  5. RevPar Index vs compset: This traditional benchmark is still a key indicator of your team’s performance vs the compset.
  6. Website conversion rate (from unique visitor to converted bookings): Revenue originates from potential guests researching your property online. As your hotel’s digital front door, your website influences your guests’ impression more than any other marketing asset. Converting a higher percentage of visitors is critical to reducing your cost of revenue and MCPB (For a deeper dive on the ways hotel websites can negatively impact revenue follow the link.)

How and where do you measure it all?

Simple new technology is available to centralize all your KPIs in a colorful visual dashboard. When all your marketing activity is synced online in one place, team members can access it, regardless of location. It should look like this:

Why is tracking marketing metrics so difficult?

Tracking your metrics is easy, but doing it consistently… now that’s hard! Many of you are hitting your busy season. The hotel is booked at top rates. Hallelujah! You’re so busy you don’t need to watch your numbers, right? Well, no. Your sales and marketing metrics drive performance at the hotel. It’s easy to let them slide when you’re busy, but when the season ends, you’ll be stuck playing catch up. About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit:

Hotel Marketing Rockstar Q&A: Hugo Corrales – Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Trust Hospitality

August 12, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing Technologyhugo-corrales (1)For over 14 years, Hugo Corrales has been helping hotels get the most out of their marketing. He has worked with the Four Seasons Miami, the Ritz-Carlton in Miami, Starwood Hotels, and a host of others. He serves as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Trust Hospitality. Recently, we talked to him about what advice he has for hotel marketers and where he sees the future of hotel marketing. Tambourine: What is the most underused marketing tool or technique every hotel should be using?
Every hotel employee should be trained to be aware of our goals.
Hugo Corrales: One of the most underused tools is the harvesting of guest data. You can make your job easier by understanding the landscape of who your guests currently are. We see this as part of our service culture. We train our staff to be obsessed with engaging and recording guest preferences. While the front desk is integral in recording guest preferences, every hotel employee should be trained to be aware of our goals—from the front desk to valet to the bell stand. Tambourine: Many hotels are fighting to gain more direct bookings and steer guests away from OTAs. What’s your best advice for hotels seeking more direct bookings? Hugo Corrales: We have successfully fused the relationships with our vendors to deliver us data. We work hard to have our booking engine vendor communicate with Tambourine so they can see the relationship between the guest click-throughs as they relate to the website. Unless you have one vendor that handles it all, you really don’t know what the relationship is between the CRS and your website. This, in conjunction with a strategic SEO/PPC spend, social media spend has been a huge push. Tambourine: What changes do you see coming in hotel marketing? Do you have any advice on how hotels can be prepared for these changes? Hugo Corrales: We are constantly getting more and more data from various channels (social media, website, mobile). We have reports about reports. To dissect and use all your data effectively, you need to be able to put it all together on one dashboard or platform.
You need to be able to put [all of your data] on one dashboard or platform.
Tambourine: What is the most common marketing mistake you see? Hugo Corrales: The omission of search engine data for future marketing and lack of a proper hotel SEO/PPC plan. SEO is a mystery to a lot of people. Most people don’t understand it, so they dismiss it. It’s human nature. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you should dismiss it. It is still an important part of your marketing plan. Q: With so many online channels out there, many hoteliers either lose focus or become apathetic and overwhelmed. If you were to give them one piece of advice to get them back on track, what would it be? Hugo Corrales: Take an inside out approach. First, understand and agree upon the hotel DNA with stakeholders. From there, it’s critical to create an action plan around key initiatives while applying sufficient funds to target new direct bookings. Thank you, Hugo Corrales! We appreciate Hugo taking the time to share his insights. It’s always beneficial to hear from other marketers. We invite you to join the conversation. Let us know your best advice for other hotel marketers in the comments!

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit:

5 Signs Your Hotel Has Surrendered to Its OTA Addiction

August 6, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing TechnologyOTAs can be a tough addiction to kick. Owners know they cut into your profits. They can take control of your bookings. If competing with OTAs feels like an uphill battle, you’re not alone. All hoteliers want more direct bookings, but it’s become a bad habit for many to give up and let the OTAs take over. They’re addicted to the bookings OTAs bring in, even when those bookings come at a high price. OTAs are here to stay. For most hotels, quitting OTAs cold turkey is not an option. However, you can start to move towards a better balance of direct and indirect bookings. And the sooner you recognize your problem, the sooner you will be motivated to take action. Know the Signs of OTA Addiction
  1. You get more OTA business than Direct: What percentage of your online revenue comes from OTAs vs direct? If the ratio favors OTAs and other third party sources, then you have a problem and need to start moving the needle in the opposite direction.
  2. You’re not consistently reaching out to guests: OTAs grab a lot of guest information and keep it. When you accept this as part of your fate, you allow the OTAs to take over guest remarketing when your guests leave your property. Use every opportunity to gather information and further your interactions with guests. Collect email addresses at the front desk in exchange for future discounts. Encourage guests to take an online survey when guests dine at the restaurant. Ask if they prefer to have their check-out bill sent via email....
  3. You ignore this key metric: In addition to ADR, AOR and RevPar... add MCPB to your vocabulary. Marketing Cost Per Booking is an easy way to evaluate the cost of bookings that come from OTAs vs direct campaigns. If you paid $25,000 to OTAs last month for 250 bookings, that’s a MCPB of $100. How does that compare to your direct campaigns on PPC, email etc?
  4. You don’t give guests a reason to stay on your website: Check your bounce rate. If guests come to your site, look at one page, and click away, you’re essentially handing them over to the OTAs. Your direct site should promise the best value and provide a glimpse inside your property that sterile OTAs cannot match.
  5. You recognize the signs and take no action: You read a lot of advice on improving your marketing, but take little action. You might be caught up in big ideas of what you could do, should do, or would do. It’s a common problem. However, you’ll never beat your OTA addiction until you start doing. It is better to start with one small step today than to think about all the big things you can do tomorrow.
The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem I know it’s hard. Nobody wants to admit it. But we’re all friends here. Do any of these signs sound like your hotel? Let us know how you’re fighting for your hotel in the comments below.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit:

6 Ways for Hotel Marketers to Keep an Eye on Their Comp Set

July 29, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing TechnologyA wise man once said: “you’re only as smart as your dumbest competitor.” Hotel marketers have to keep this quote in mind everyday to monitor market conditions and set rates effectively. If one of your compset’s revenue managers is asleep at the wheel, price-conscious consumers will flock to the lowest rate, leaving you with a sudden, unexpected problem. Conversely, hotel marketers must also keep a careful eye on the smart things their compset peers are doing. Utilize the following six tools and you’ll have a better understanding of who is in your comp set, what they’re doing and how well they’re succeeding.
    1. STR Report Review: An STR report will grade your performance against your current comp set, update who is in your comp set, and help you benchmark key performance indicators going forward. If you haven’t been using comp set data to its fullest, an STR report is an excellent place to start.
    2. Social media monitoring: You can learn a lot from what your competitors post on social media. Take note of what and how often they post. Do they usually post about one aspect of their hotel, e.g. cost, meeting space, local events? Which of their posts receive the most positive and negative response?
    3. Reader Board Services: Some think they are antiquated, but by using a reader board service, you can empower your group sales efforts. Reader board services let you know how which groups are using compset hotels... and their preferred programming. For instance, if a group uses several small breakout rooms, you know how to approach them.
    4. Rate monitoring: Rate monitoring programs, such as Rate Tiger aggregate comp set data from hotel websites, OTAs, and Global Distribution Systems. These programs ensure your rates stay competitive now and in the future.
    5. Local HSMAI events: Sometimes the best way to find out what your comp set is doing is to talk to them. Become active in your local HSMAI chapter and listen to what issues get others excited. What topics do they bring up? Are your competitors struggling with a topic or excited to talk about their successes?
    6. you’re only as strong as your dumbest competitor
      Google Alerts: If your comp set is getting press, you need to know about it. You can create Google Alerts for every hotel in your comp set. Take note of what press releases they send out and which media reporters cover their news. When they attempt to promote something that doesn’t get much attention, you know the public isn’t going to be interested in that kind of promo. You can save yourself from making the same mistake. Contrarily, if one press release gets a competitor national attention, you know to direct your marketing in a similar way.
How does watching your comp set make your marketing more efficient? Have you ever noticed a trend in your comp set that changed your marketing efforts? How did you make your discovery? And how did you modify your marketing because of it? Let us know in the comments below.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit:

Top 10 Awesome Hotel Email Marketing Secrets (Part one)

July 15, 2014 • By
TAMBOURINE: Hotel Marketing TechnologyMaybe you’ve heard the statistics. Email marketing is 40 times more effective than most social media. 77% of consumers prefer receiving marketing messages through email campaigns. You know you should be benefiting more from your email campaigns, but your emails don’t get the kind of response they should. Does everybody else know secrets you don’t? Actually, no. While there certainly are some simple secrets to improving your email campaigns, it seems many hotel marketers don’t know them or don’t use them. And their apathy gives you a great opportunity.

Implement the following and take full advantage of your hotel email marketing campaigns.

    1. Boost slow periods by targeting repeat guests: Use your PMS data to identify perennially slow periods. Then, set up an email list targeting guests who could help you increase your business. For instance, your pace report shows your spa is slow every weekday during the summer. Create an email list for guests who spend above average amounts in the spa. Send out special promotions encouraging them to come back and bring a friend.
    2. Get the most out of high demand times: Again, look to your PMS data to increase your yield. It’s easy to assume you’re going to bring in money during certain times of the year. If January is your season, you may be tempted to sit back and let the rooms book up naturally. However, you can increase revenue by sending date-specific emails to previous high spenders at your F&B outlets and amenities. It’s great to have a high occupancy rate, but it’s even better when guests are ready to spend more in your outlets.
    3. Thwart OTAs by collecting emails at the front desk: If guests book with OTAs, you may not get their email address online. Ask for it at the front desk. Explain you like to send out exclusive deals to your VIP email list and ask them to join. Then, the next time they book they’ll go straight to you and skip the OTA.
    4. Encourage them to give you an email address before they book: The best time to get them on your list is before they book a hotel. Add a simple Special offers/Deals” sign-up bar to your website. Then, offer them an incentive to sign-up.
    5. Use time triggers: Everyone likes an email that relates directly to their personal needs. This not only builds loyalty, but it encourages them to open further emails. Some typical triggers include:
      • right after they book
      • a few days before they arrive
      • a checkup during their stay
      • a thank you after their stay
      • 9 months or so after their stay...reminding them to book with you again this year.
When you’re improving your email systems it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up taking no action at all. That’s why I’ve broken this down into two parts. This week we covered who should get your emails and when... Next week, I’ll give you some tips on how to create emails that get opened and read. If you have questions about hotel email marketing, please leave them in the comments below.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: