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Top 10 Ways to Attract More Meetings in 2015: Part 2

November 11, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Marketing Technology for the Hotel and Tourism Industry

The new year is quickly approaching. Soon hotel marketing managers will be gathered around the conference room table to ask the same old question: How can we reel in more meetings business in 2015?

It's time to give meeting planners the relevant content and tools they need to make a decision and orchestrate a great event. Here's part two of our list: Top 10 Ways to Attract More Meetings in 2015. Read Part 1

6. Build Relationships, Instead of Aimlessly Adding LinkedIn Connections

It’s all about connecting in an unselfish way.
Think you’re prospecting just by adding planners as LinkedIn connections? Think again. Instead, determine which connections you’d like a better relationship with and start a conversation with them. Share some relevant news or tidbits, ask questions, learn what’s most important to them and what they do. It’s all about connecting in an unselfish way, just as with your in-person relationships. Do this right, and you’ll create an authentic, long-term relationship for sharing, collaborating, supporting and of course, buying and selling. This will also put you and your hotel in the consideration set when the planner starts looking at your destination for an upcoming meeting.

7. Tell, Don’t Sell

Similar to client testimonials, have event attendees tell their story about their experience at your property. What were their favorite moments of the event? How was it traveling to your property? What attractions did they visit after the event concluded? Meeting planners want good feedback on their work, just like everyone else. Embedding these positive stories will make them believe their own attendees will experience the same delight. What you want are feel good stories – such as a grandfather traveling cross-country to dance with his granddaughter at her wedding. A company manager meeting his overseas associates for the first time and bonding over dinner. Create a separate Webpage of these stories, along with photos if possible.

8. Make Their Life Easier

Create an uncomplicated framework to follow for submitting RFPs.
Meeting planners crave simplicity. If there are several ways to do something, they’ll want to go with the path of least resistance. So, become that easy solution for them. Create an uncomplicated framework to follow for submitting RFPs (don’t require a million fields to fill out), to looking at photos of the space (show photos both with and without people), to chatting with someone on your team (make it easy to chat online).  Use words like fast, easy, step-by-step. Give them all the information in one easy place, not scattered all over the place or over hundreds of emails. Show that you will get them to their goal faster and easier than any other sales person.

9. Give Them Something New 

Meeting planners want what’s fresh, what’s novel. Don’t think this requires a huge meeting space overhaul. ‘New’ comes in minor upgrades too. Just think about Apple’s “new” models released every year that often feature minor tweaks. So, create new promos, new sales packages, make small design enhancements to your venue space, or rebrand them entirely. Another technique to try is scarcity: Make a really great promo only available for a short amount of time, then re-release it just once a year. Each time you release the promo, it will create that same sense of novelty, with a subtle urging of ‘get it now!’. Think of the annual frenzy over Girl Scout cookies. 

10. Offer a Solid Solution – Not Just a List of Features

In other words, “It’s not about you.” Many of us are guilty of this. Yes, including you. This is when you create a list of all your hotel’s features and amenities, whether the meeting planner needs them or not. Instead, let the planner’s objectives guide the information you share. They don’t care that your hotel spa won awards or your restaurant now features gluten free items. They just want to know how you plan on pulling off a phenomenal event for them. Which hotel features will be a part of the winning solution that will help that planner reach her goals? Rates, date and space are the easy part. Boost your value by concentrating only on the solutions that will explicitly meet their meeting and event aspirations.

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: www.Tambourine.com

 

Linked IN, Meeting Planners, Meetings and Events

Top 10 Ways to Attract More Meetings in 2015: Part 1

November 4, 2014 • By
Tambourine: Hotel Marketing TechnologyHard to believe, but 2015 is just around the corner. And, with that new year, comes new sales goals, new clients and events to cultivate… and even more ways to connect and build relationships with these customers. 1. How do you plan on reeling in more meetings business in 2015? 2. How can your property stand out from your comp set? 3. What should you do differently to connect with meeting planners? Two words: Help Them. Give them the relevant content and tools they need to make a decision and orchestrate a great event. Here are ten ways to do just that:

1. Become a Resource for Planners

Meeting planners don’t care about your accolades or new amenities that will not impact their attendees.
Create a meetings and event blog for your property, where you share insider knowledge and tips on your destination, event design, meeting trends, etc. Don’t make the mistake of failed hotels’ meeting blogs, who used their blogs solely to sing their own praises and post press releases about their property. Meeting planners don’t care about your accolades or new amenities that will not impact their attendees. Instead, stick with topics that are relevant to them and useful to planning a meeting in your city.

2. Harness Social Proof and Let Previous Clients Sell For You

Meeting planners will always believe other meeting planners over salespeople. Use that to your advantage. Let your previous clients sell on your behalf by posting their glowing testimonials directly to the meetings section of your Website. In fact, make client quotes or testimonials the first thing a planner will see when they go to your meeting page. Showcase professional photos of previous events held in your property’s venue spaces, instead of shots of empty conference rooms and ballrooms. Add the logos of the companies you (if they will endorse you) and associations that previously booked with you.

3. Fill Up Your Destination Pages

When meeting planners are searching for venue space, they consider the destination first, meeting space second. They may search for ‘things to do in San Diego’ or ‘Miami attractions’ to see what will delight attendees. Get in on their search results by creating robust content on nearby attractions and area activities on your Website. Don’t just simply list what the attractions are, as most big, brand sites do. Instead, write mini descriptions for each attraction, include distance from the hotel and link to their respective Websites. Also, include a destination event calendar.

4. Use LinkedIn to Gather Social Intelligence On Clients

Meeting planners will always believe other meeting planners over salespeople.
A tried-and-true way to impress your clients? Do your research. According to Valarie Sparks, a social sales trainer who specializes in teaching hotel sales teams how to use LinkedIn as a revenue generating tool, every sales person should be thoroughly reading a prospect’s LinkedIn profile before each sales call or visit. Don’t waste your time (or your clients’) asking questions that could easily be answered just by glancing at their profile. This includes: Where did you work before? How long have you been planning meetings?

5. Be a Thought Leader and Trusted Peer on Social Media

When participating on social media, it’s important to establish yourself as an expert resource, while still being ‘one of them.’ Comment on other industry Facebook pages. Retweet what planners are posting on Twitter. Answer questions in LinkedIn meeting and events discussion groups – there are hundreds out there. In fact, have someone on your team contribute to these LinkedIn groups daily, such as CMP’s group or MPI’s Meeting and Event Discussion Group. Next week, we'll share the second half of our list of Top 10 Ways to Attract More Meetings in 2015.

Linked IN, Meeting Planners

Mom Knows Best: Hotel Marketing Lessons from Your Mother

May 9, 2014 • By

Tambourine: Travel & Hotel Marketing BlogCould Mom be the best hotel marketer ever?

Quite possibly! All throughout your childhood, she recoiled at the sight of your dirty room. She questioned your questionable friends. Her never-ending nagging was enough to keep our eyes rolling for years. But guess what? Turns out her sage, maternal advice is completely applicable to your work as hotel marketers. Check out the hotel marketing advice hidden inside your mom’s favorite sayings… proving again that mother knows best:

Mom: “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Just because something is trendy in the marketing landscape, it doesn’t mean your hotel has to blindly follow suit. Ask yourself: Does my hotel need to leverage this new marketing platform? Does it align with the hotel’s marketing strategy and goals? Always make your own decisions for what is best for your property. Do your due diligence and be selective when choosing to implement any new marketing tools/tactics.

Mom: “Were you raised in a barn?”

Does what you’re doing align with your property’s core essence?
Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: With this question, your mom is really showing disappointment that your actions weren’t reflective of the standards she instilled in you. In marketing, this can be translated to: Does what you’re doing align with your property’s core essence? Are your marketing messages confusing your guests? Be sure that all of your marketing efforts and content are a direct reflection of your brand.

Mom: “Don’t Make Me Have to Tell You Again.”

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: With hotel guests and meeting planners having such chaotic schedules and competing priorities, you have 2-5 seconds to capture their attention. In marketing, don’t expect your audience to re-read or examine any of your marketing assets. So, if you’re not making your messages clear enough the first time around, you’ll probably lose them. You have one shot to draw them in. Don’t expect a second chance to repeat yourself.

Mom: “I Brought You Into This World. I Can Take You Out of It.”

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Your customers are the reason you exist, the reason you’re in business… and the folks who could force you out of business! So you must always respect them by focusing your hotel marketing efforts on them – not your hotel’s amenities, history, or accolades. The most successful hotels are the ones that put guests first.

Mom: “Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home.”

If a staff member makes a blunder, fess up to it.
Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Your staff’s actions have consequences. Just one look at your TripAdvisor reviews can prove that. How can your hotel successfully face a customer service crisis that could eventually make its way to social media? Communicate! If a staff member makes a blunder, fess up to it. Own your mistake, apologize and move forward…before you pay the price in online reviews. Your hotel guests will appreciate your honesty and transparency.

Mom: “Will You Sit Still For Once?”

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: When your marketing focus and message are all over the place, you’re actually making it harder for your guests to understand your core USP and discern why they should want to stay with 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.

Uncategorized

Hotel Marketing Apathy: The Hidden Cost of Doing Nothing

April 14, 2014 • By

Hotel Marketing Apathy | Tambourine

A dangerous trend is creeping its way into the hallways of hotels and resorts throughout the country.

Hotel marketing teams, overburdened with small staffs and growing responsibilities, are resorting to the old, seemingly harmless adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
In addition to becoming weary and lethargic, one popular way to cope has been to avoid the changes all together and remain content to market their properties “the way we’ve always done.”
In-house management teams are getting overwhelmed with change, especially the rapidly growing list of hotel tools and trends crowding the market. In addition to becoming weary and lethargic, one popular way to cope has been to avoid the changes all together and remain content to market their properties “the way we’ve always done.” However, it’s thinking like this that is leaving hotel ROI on the table. While doing the same thing (or even nothing) is the path of least resistance, it can easily become the road to ruin.

Keeping Up With The Status Quo: Disaster

Nothing can kill a hotel faster than a resistance to change and improvement. Some hotel marketers are afraid of what might happen if they try something new. Will they alienate their existing hotel guests and clients? Will another hotel do it better? How much more work will this mean for their staff? While no one has all the answers, it’s actually hesitation that can be most fatal to the bottom line. “Your hotel will stagnate,” said Patrick Goddard, president and CEO of Trust Hospitality, a hotel management firm based in Florida. “You’ll lose loyalty and eventually market share.” Jamie Adams, vice president of asset management at The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager in Washington D.C., agrees. “Market share is so vital and we won’t gain if we’re not constantly figuring out how to do it better,” he said. Adams stresses that in the age of daily developments in technology, you have to remain flexible, agile and on your toes. “You’re either moving forward or backwards. The real danger is if you fall behind.”

Fighting Complacency

The reality is that none of us will ever be doing as well as we should be. There will always be room for your hotel to improve its marketing campaigns and make them even more effective in capturing your audience. Adams and Goddard offered advice to both hotel owners and hotel management teams. “It all starts with a strong brand DNA that is well communicated across all stakeholders: Agency, owners, corporate team,” said Goddard. “When you have this in place, developing both passive and active marketing tactics come easy.”
“You’re only limited to the creativity of your team.”
Adams suggests hotel owners check in regularly with their in-house team (he opts for a weekly call to his hotels) to push for fresh and relevant marketing concepts. “At all of our hotels, we are pushing to find value in every nook and cranny. I want our team to be focused on it every second of the day.”

Moving Forward

Getting too comfortable with ‘business as usual’ will eventually yield diminishing returns. Your competition will get smarter, new hotels will enter your market, and suddenly the same rules won’t apply anymore. Goddard believes avoiding marketing apathy at your hotel depends on making innovation and creativity company standards.
Innovation is part of our DNA - Patrick Goddard
“If your hotel doesn’t believe in innovation, then you won’t have innovative people working for you,” he said. “Innovation is part of our DNA – we hire people and agencies that believe that innovation is important to dominate the market. People who get complacent don’t belong here.” Dave Spector, partner at Tambourine, a hotel marketing technology firm in New York City, offers another tailored piece of advice to keep hotel marketing teams moving forward. “Most hotel management teams are understaffed and can’t keep up with all the new evolving channels of business being pushed at them,” he said. “Our advice: if you do nothing else this year, make sure you have a revenue projection BY CHANNEL (i.e. OTAs, direct, corporate, etc). Measure your results every quarter and invest the time and resources to fortify underperforming channels.” 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.

advertising, destination marketing, hospitality, hotel marketing, marketing, mobile advertising, search engine optimization, Travel, Uncategorized, websites

Hotel Marketing Confessions: Hoteliers Reveal Their Top Marketing Struggles

March 18, 2014 • By
Hotel Marketing by Tambourine

Once upon a time, hotel marketing was a simple undertaking. All of your marketing options could be counted on one hand (billboards, direct mail, public relations, broadcast media and print media) and it was just as easy to determine where to find your next potential guest.

Technology has changed the rules completely. Now, marketing your hotel is stunningly different than how you handled it even a mere five years ago. And, the changes keep coming. Leisure and group travelers are now 100 percent mobile and in complete control of the content they receive, and how and when they receive it.
Today’s hoteliers face both obstacles and opportunities undreamt of in years past.
Today’s hoteliers face both obstacles and opportunities undreamt of in years past. Curious what marketing hurdles fellow hoteliers are up against? We thought it was time to step back and find out. We spoke with three seasoned hotel pros who shared their top marketing concerns with us. Here are the common themes that we discovered in each conversation:

Rapidly Increasing Marketing Channels

One thing is for certain. With social media and marketing technology being developed at lightening speed, one of the biggest challenges for hoteliers is to simply keep up. Jeff Brown, director of sales and marketing at Los Arboles Hotel in Palm Springs,  likens social media as a moving target. “Just when you think you are making headway, the goalposts are moved.” Bryan Guillot, president of the Thomas Lee Group, which manages sales and marketing for resorts throughout the Caribbean, knows to expect volatility in a marketplace where media evolves so quickly. “There is always a new distribution element, tool or access point coming in the very near future,” Guillot said.
Staying on top of all upcoming communication tools is a key to our success.
“Staying on top of all upcoming communication tools is a key to our success.” Hotel guests now have so much media at their disposal. Creating marketing campaigns that get opened, read, and acted upon is at the top of every hotelier’s wishlist, though smaller hotels will have the additional challenge of a limited market spend. “Fighting through the clutter to get the message out and be directly discoverable to guests ... this seems to be a playing field dominated by people with very large PPC, SEO and TV budgets,” Brown said.

Neverending Need for Content

The most time-consuming marketing task? All three of our hoteliers agreed: Regularly creating compelling content for social media, blogs, mobile, promotions, and email marketing. First comes strategy, says Cesar Rocha, director of revenue management at b2 Miami Downtown Hotel. “It’s about tailoring the right message, then deciding how to deliver it.” he said. “What is the customer looking for? And, why would they book at your property?” Guillot agrees that while it takes most of his and his staff’s time, talking regularly with customers and delivering consistent value to them is paramount. “It’s easy to get sidetracked; however if we communicate to clients through every distribution portal, we drive sales and deliver guests to our resort.” Brown believes building content is something that can’t be rushed, and is a marketing necessity that requires pure talent. “Creating the content and crafting it to be engaging and not overly advertorial is an art,” Brown said. “An art that takes time to create.”

Leveraging OTAs to Increase Direct Bookings

Of course, we all know that Priceline, Expedia, Hotwire and other online travel agencies are one of our most valuable resources to filling rooms and marketing our properties to an audience of millions.  But how do you reap the rewards of your OTA relationships, while also shifting reservations away from the OTA site and instead to your own? Rocha  believes it lies in a multi-faceted approach.  “You’ll need strategies for consistent engagement, PPC marketing, content, etc, that will lead to higher conversion rates,“ he said. Driving direct bookings requires hotels to be at the top of their game and always looking for ideas. “With OTAs, customers have the power of choice. So, we have to go above and beyond with our marketing and consistently tweak our message to keep up.”

Targeting Effectively

The marketplace is in constant motion, with customer buying patterns and preferences ebbing and flowing in an unpredictable manner. And, that could easily lead to marketing campaigns with poor aim. Guillot says a constant goal is making sure he has the right offer in front of the correctly targeted customer at the right price and the right time. Rocha points out that sometimes your target audience is not who you think it is. “You might believe it is one customer, but the market demand could dictate it is someone else entirely.” He said this is most common with new hotels, which may want to cater to business travelers, but end up getting leisure guests who are more attracted to the brand.

Your Hotel Marketing Challenges

As the world of hotel marketing rapidly evolves, what’s top of mind at your property? Share your insight and leave a comment below!

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.  

Direct Bookings, Targeting Effectively