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Friday Freebie: Ditch the Extras to Clear the Path to Purchase

July 13, 2018

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue. 

This week’s Freebie: Stop cluttering the booking experience with too many options.   

Want to drive guests to make quicker transactions?

Stop offering too many options to sift through!

If you’re asking guests to select a room type, choose enhancements, and add upgrades before making a reservation, you’re setting up a serious roadblock to that booking.

Offering too many options to customers can cause decision paralysis.

Guests are likely to get so daunted by making the wrong decision, that they delay moving forward, putting off the decision until the next day, the next week or worse, not at all!

Scrutinize the steps you make guests go through in order to complete a booking. Do they have to choose from 7 room types with similar descriptions? Do you give them too many add-on and upgrade options, such as spa treatments, bottles of champagne, flowers in the room, airport transportation, etc?

While it may seem worthwhile to let them personalize their stay, modern travelers really seek simplicity and ease. Get them to the booking faster, instead of overwhelming them and causing unnecessary delays.

Leave guests a clear path to purchase by paring down on their options.

Get More: Want More Bookings? Give Consumers Less to Choose From


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

The 10 Commandments of Hotel Email Campaigns

July 10, 2018

Email marketing is one of the best ways to retain customers by engaging with past, present (and future) guests.

Smart hotel marketers prioritize keeping up-to-date on email marketing best practices in order to continually improve their programs and reap a growing return on investment. Here are some of our email best practices for hotel and resort marketers looking to improve their profits in 2018:

1. Create one clear call-to-action

One of the biggest mistakes hotel marketing managers make in email marketing is putting too many offers or links into their marketing emails. This dilutes your potential for success, as having multiple calls-to-action or CTAs can confuse your guests.

For this reason, it’s very important to pick one goal or primary objective for your email before you sit down to write your copy and brainstorm your design. Your marketing emails should have one large button that is your main call-to-action or CTA. Campaign Monitor found that having a single, button-based CTA increased click-through rates by 28 percent over a link-based CTA. Also, having a single CTA makes it much simpler to measure the success of your email by looking at click-through rates.

An example of a promotional email with a single, clear CTA from The Roger, NYC

2. Be short and sweet

Although the myth that human beings have the attention span of a goldfish persists, the reality is not much better. Litmus found last year that the average time spent reading an email is around 11 seconds. Therefore, to create a message that resonates with your guests, you must get to the point quickly. Communicate your intent with headlines and images, and don’t spend too much time on body copy that most of your guests probably won’t bother to read.

3. Automate what you can

Whether you’re a managing a small independent property or field marketing for a major brand, your time as a hotel marketer is precious!

Therefore, you should automate as much of your email communications as you can.

How?

Start with a basic booking confirmation email that goes out automatically as soon as the guest’s stay is on your books. Continue with a post-stay series, with a thank you email sent after the guest checks out, and a “we miss you” email inviting them back, sent six weeks to a few months after that.

Next, you might try a pre-stay email series sent in the weeks leading up to the guest’s stay. These emails can be adjusted quarterly or seasonally, depending on what works for your brand. The important part is, automating some of your communications can help you drive upsell revenue and repeat bookings while saving you time.

One of the most lucrative automation sequences you can create is for Reservation Recovery. After a visitor abandons your hotel’s booking engine, it should automatically send out a compelling email with a personalized greeting that thanks them for visiting your website and a reminder to book. Reservation recovery automation can produce significant results every month, as the chart below shows for a Miami property:

4. Target segmented audiences

In 2017, Mailchimp found across industries that segmenting email campaigns, or sending different campaigns to different types of customers, produced 14 percent higher open rates and 100 percent higher click rates.

A great example from Sotherly Hotels of a segmented campaign to feeder market, driving-distance members of the hotel database

For example, targeting different groups of guests might be one campaign to guests who stayed as a couple, while another might go to business travelers or guests with children. It is true that over-personalization can be perceived as somewhat creepy, and is frankly difficult to do accurately at scale. But, sophisticated hotel marketers with advanced CRM systems know that targeting guests with relevant offers are more likely to convert.

Chart from Conversion Fanatics

5. Correlate the landing page

One of the most overlooked aspects of successful hotel email marketing is the need to have a landing page experience that satisfies the curiosity of the arriving visitor from your amazing email campaign!

If the landing page experience doesn’t synchronize and reinforce the offer you made in the email itself… prospective bookers will abandon the page and surf away. To avoid dissonance, confusion and abandonment, your landing page should have the same offer, branding, look and feel of the email itself. If you are sending a promotional offer and directing clickers to your specials page, by all means make sure that the promo is in fact included on the specials page!

Here’s an example from Charlestowne Hotels of a correlated email offer and landing page:

6. Practice good data hygiene

Many hotels have old or inaccurate emails in their guest databases, which increases bounce rates and can affect your deliverability. It is important to regularly remove invalid emails. You should also remove guests who haven’t stayed on your property for over two years. Finally, never ever purchase email lists online. Purchased lists have a low-quality rate and will negatively impact your bounce, unsubscribe, spam reports, and delivery rates, all hurting your email reputation and future deliverability.

7. Keep an eye on critical metrics

There are six critical email metrics that hotel and resort marketers use to measure their success:

• open rate

• clickthrough rate (CTR)

• bounce rate

• guest database growth rate

• unsubscribe rate

• overall email marketing return on investment (ROI)

Most email clients will track CTR, bounce rate, guest database growth rate and unsubscribe rate for you. ROI is often a bit trickier and involves the ability to tie bookings to specific emails within your CRM and email marketing system.

8. Stay up-to-date on the law

Finally, there are laws about email marketing in most countries, and as a marketer, it is your responsibility to follow the law, or face costly consequences. For example, the Can-Spam Act of 2003 is a US-based anti-spam law that mandates certain content in your emails like a physical address and an opt-out link. More recently, the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union mandates certain practices for data handling by entities in operation within the EU, or handling of data belonging to EU Citizens.

This means that your hotel is affected if you have any data on any EU citizen, regardless of your location. Non-compliance means fines up to 20 million euros or 4 percent of annual turnover (whichever is greater). These are just two of many laws that vary regionally and change frequently, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest regulations that are relevant to your business.

9. Optimize for different devices and email clients

Your email might look great in on a desktop, but perhaps that code doesn’t work as well on an iPhone or Android. As of 2015, the vast majority of emails were opened on a phone or tablet, so it’s important to make sure your email is coded correctly for these devices. Email clients also vary. Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and others are all a little bit different, so it’s important to use a tool like Litmus to test your code on different devices and clients to make sure your guests aren’t getting a jumbled mess of characters and broken links.

10. Write from the perspective of the guest

Now that you’ve considered some of the audiences that you might target with relevant offers, it’s important to consider their perspective when crafting those offers. What are the wants and needs of this specific audience? If your email appears to guests to be self-serving, they’re more likely to click delete, or worse, report your messages as spam.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: An Extremely Simple Fix to a Common (and Costly) Hotel PPC Mistake

July 6, 2018

hotel internet marketing

Welcome to the Friday Freebie! Each week we share impactful hotel marketing services tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more direct bookings.

This week’s Freebie: Reap more ROI from pricey PPC campaigns with this simple fix: Replace broad, generic keywords with targeted, long-tail phrases.

One of the most widespread mistakes that hotel and resort marketers make with their hotel PPC campaigns also happens to be one of the most costly:

Wasting precious marketing dollars on short key phrases (three words or less) that are too generic, too broad and too pricey. These include widely used phrases like “Miami hotels” or “hotels in Nashville.”  Our team has seen costs of these overused key terms up to $8 per click, a price which will only continue to rise in the face of dramatic surges in hotel PPC costs overall. Investing in these generic terms not only will rapidly eat away at your hotel marketing budget but rarely converts to worthwhile bookings.

Here’s why:

People using a short phrase like “San Diego hotels” are at the very start of their travel search. They haven’t selected a neighborhood, narrowed down the type of property they want, or even the desired price point. In other words, they’re just entering the “dreaming stage” of the travel funnel.

Here’s the fix:

Use your precious hotel PPC budget to pick off quality “late funnel” clicks. Invest your PPC budget in key phrases that are hyper-specific and targeted, such as “business hotel near San Jose Santana Row” or “family friendly hotels Oregon coast Garibaldi.”

With these targeted phrases, you’re more likely to capture traffic ready to buy AND stretch your PPC spend.

Get more tips on how to save precious marketing dollars:

The Rising Cost of PPC


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Why Is Hotel Marketing so Hard? (And What to Do About It)

July 3, 2018

If you’ve been in the hotel industry long enough, you’d remember when having a few wholesalers’ contracts, a fancy brochure and a telephone number were pretty much all you needed to stay in business.

The bad news is that the good ol’ days are gone for good.

Hotel marketing is getting more and more complicated, and it’s unlikely that the trend will revert any time soon, so you’d better be prepared to overcome new obstacles and challenges every week.

An unimaginable level of sophistication and complexity

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” said Stephen Hawking… and now more than ever, hotels need to be pretty intelligent. The hotel industry in 2018 looks like Darwinian natural selection on steroids and in order to survive, hotels and resorts will have to adapt, evolve or be extinct.

From the early SEO hacks of the mid/late 90’s to the generic-keyword ads of the early ’00s, from Chris Anderson’s Billboard Effect to AI chatbots, hotel marketing has evolved to a level of sophistication and complexity simply unimaginable just a decade ago.

COMPLEX GOALS = HARD WORK

In order to understand how hotel marketing has become so hard, we need to understand the overarching goal of hotel marketing (If your goals are difficult, then it should be no surprise the related activity is equally arduous).

With that in mind, we humbly offer up Sergio Zyman’s (the legendary Coca-Cola Marketing Executive) definition of the goal of marketing: the sole purpose of marketing, he wrote, is “to get more people to buy more of your product, more often, for more money.”

Today, most hotel marketers use this definition as their goal and subsequently, they face hard work every day.

COMPLEX CHALLENGES = HARD WORK

Hard goals make the work of hotel marketing harder… but on top of that, there are daily tactical challenges as well, for example:

• too much expectation placed on hotel marketers

• not enough support/investment

• too much disconnected technology

• vendor fatigue

• too little actual product differentiation 

• too little actual pricing differentiation 

• too little actual distribution differentiation 

• new shiny tech objects all the time

• multiple screen sizes/experiences to manage

• historically high results in ADR/AOR and Revpar have made it hard to “raise the bar”  

• lack of comprehensive reporting systems

• siloed departments (sales vs revenue mgt vs marketing)

• owners with short term horizons to flip properties; unwilling to invest in direct audience     

For this Article, we picked five key issues that, in our opinion, contribute to the exceptional difficulty of hotel marketing:

1. Fragmentation
2. Expectations
3. Distribution
4. Apathy
5. Hype


1. FRAGMENTATION

We live in an overconnected world, but when it comes to travel technology, it seems like little has changed since the late 90’s. It is not unusual, in fact, for a hotel to have a dozen different providers (PMS, CRS, Channel Manager, Booking Engine, CRM, etc.), not communicating with each other.


As this chart from our friends at Snapshot shows: multiple, disconnected vendors and systems will inevitably challenge any efforts to drive bookings. Your marketing operation needs to be a well-oiled machine to outperform the compset. However, that’s near impossible when you’re juggling disparate vendors, shuttling messages back and forth to make sure everyone is aligned. Worse yet, no one vendor will take full responsibility when campaigns fail and goals aren’t met.


2. EXPECTATIONS

Another friction point arises whenever owners and asset managers expect marketing executives to perform at unnatural speed, with minimal resources and (yet) be able to provide ever-increasing results.

The misalignment between the management and the marketing team is one of the main reasons why hotel marketing is so hard.

No matter how intimidating your boss might be, if you do not man-up (or put on your big girl pants!) and ask for that additional budget you absolutely will need, you’re basically sabotaging your whole department (and potentially your career) from the start. No goal can be achieved without a sufficient and adequate budget. An AdWords campaign for example, could need $1,000/month to guarantee continuity and ROI, so if management is immovable and allocates only half of the budget needed, they shouldn’t be surprised when the campaign goes offline by the 15th of each month, harming the final campaign outcome.

Hotel marketers need to ensure their owner’s expectations are aligned with the marketing budget.


3. DISTRIBUTION

Let’s not forget that distribution (Placement of your product) is one of the 4 “Ps” of classic marketing theory. And nothing is more complex for today’s hotel marketers than managing the distribution landscape (see Spaghetti chart above again)!

For example, you have your channel management strategy correctly mapped and setup, you’re respecting the agreements with all your distribution channels but, out of the blue, you find a cheaper rate, usually sold by an agency you have never heard of before and have no contract with… 

Sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

Even though wholesalers created their business model for offline distribution, as their market share started to shrink, their only way many found to survive was unbundling package rates and selling them at a lower price all over the web, creating a Babylon of online offers.

Hotel marketers and revenue managers often have no other options than making “test” bookings on these obscure channels, finding out who is the wholesaler responsible for the contract breach, getting in touch with the respective account manager and, with some luck, stopping the discounted price from spreading, re-establishing price parity, until (eventually) the vicious circle starts all over again. On top of that, the complexity of juggling room inventory and rates across all the ever-growing endpoints, such as metasearch engines, consortia, etc., usually gives little to no control on the very end of the booking funnel, making even the best marketing teams extremely frustrated.


4. APATHY

If this has always been the way you run your business, why change it now, right?

Wrong.

“There is no growth or success without change,” said Ed Catmull, the brilliant mind behind Pixar. Unfortunately, many hotels start resting on their laurels until they enter a downward spiral of lethargy, from which they wake up only when the proverbial s*it hits the fan and are forced to adapt and improve. Unfortunately, with record high industry results, too many hotel marketers are suffering from apathy; taking your foot off the gas and coasting actually makes the job harder in the future.

According to Jamie Adams, vice president of asset management at The Carlyle Group, a well-known hotel asset manager: “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.”

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.

And while recklessly going against the grain is never a good idea, you should make sure to find your place in the market, tell a story that is different from your comp set. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches and experiment, even when (or especially when) the market stagnates, as this will give you an advantage over the competition.


5. HYPE

One year in a dog’s life is approximately seven human years and the same formula can be applied to technology.

Every day we hear about the “Next Big Thing” that will disrupt the Industry (remember Google Glasses?”).

But all that glitters is not gold, so it’s important not to get too excited about any new shiny object out there. It’s worth remembering that nine out of ten startups will fail. The travel industry seems to be obsessed when it comes to unproven new tech that is incompatible with their 23 other existing systems. Some of them could, eventually, become the standard in our Industry, but you should not put too much energy and money on something that may or may not work in the next five years.

Remember how much effort you put in optimizing your MySpace profile back in 2005?

Neither do we.


KEY TAKEAWAYS:
Here’s our 5 key takeaways for dealing with the inherent difficulties of hotel marketing:

1.    AVOID FRAGMENTATION
Choose a PMS, Channel Manager and 
hotel booking engine that’s integrated with as many third-parties as possible (and willing to create new integrations if/when needed without extra costs). You may not know today what data you will need to pull out tomorrow

2.    MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
If you need more advertising budget, new tools or more people on your team, you better ask for it! Is it better to sound cocky and arrogant or to miss your yearly budget?

3.    REGAIN CONTROL OVER DISTRIBUTION
Restrict your OTA partners from using your brand name on search marketing. Bulletproof your wholesalers’ agreements by sticking with dynamic rates only, or by adding clauses to prevent unbundled rates to be sold online. Make sure to partner with a booking engine/channel manager that provides connection to both metasearch engines and GDS, in order to maximize your reach and regain control of your distribution.

4.    AVOID APATHY
A mobile website and a good booking engine are not enough anymore. Hotel marketing has reached an incredibly high level of sophistication, as we stated earlier, so, if you want to be prepared to kick some butt, you may want to have something new and different in your quiver.


5.    BUZZWORDS ARE JUST BUZZWORDS
Some technologies are still at their infancy stage. And some of them will never be a fit for your hotel anyway. So, if your average guest is 60 years old, you could probably drop that brand new Snapchat ad campaign.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: 7 Cool Google Hacks for Hotel Marketers

June 22, 2018

hotel internet marketing

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This week’s freebie: Stop wasting time researching on Google and wading through useless pages. Efficient hotel marketers know how to properly tweak their marketing questions to get the most targeted and relevant results. 

You know the drill.

You turn to trusty Google when you want to know something about pretty much anything. Especially how to get better marketing results for your hotel!

However, we have all squandered valuable time scanning irrelevant search results to find the answer we’re looking for. Don’t be fooled – not all Google searches are created equal. There are actually some brilliant shortcuts that only the savviest of internet searchers know about.

Here’s how to eliminate useless Google search results and search like a pro:

1. When You Want to Find the Origin of an Online Image

Stumbled across a wonderful destination image or even a photo of your own property that you’d like to use in future marketing materials? Do a reverse image search to track down the original photographer.

Go the ‘images’ tab on Google, click on the camera icon in the search bar, and either insert the photo’s URL or the image itself. Google will then show where else the image has shown up online.

2. When You Want to Search An Exact Phrase:
Place quotation marks around your query to search for exact words, such as marketing slogans or promotion names.

Example:
“hotel social media best practices”

3. When You Want to Search Related Words At The Same Time

Place a tilde before a word so that search results will also show the word’s synonyms or related words

Example:

Summer hotel ~promotions

Results will also show social media campaigns, strategies, marketing ideas, and tips.

4. When You Can’t Remember The Exact Phrase to Search

What if you wanted to look up Kalibri Labs latest report and could only remember part of the name? Place an asterisk in place of the unknown words and Google will even search for phrases that are often misquoted.

 

Example:

Demystifying digital * hotel

 

5. When You Want to Narrow a Search By Excluding a Word
Place a dash in front of the word you want to eliminate from the search results.

Example:

Clever winter marketing ideas -Christmas

How to gather marketing analytics –advertising

6. When You Want to Search Within a Particular Website
Recall a great article and post you read on an industry or marketing site? Instead of using the search function within the website itself, simply place the word ‘site’ in your Google query.

Example:
“abandoned reservations” site:tambourine.com
alexa in hotels site:lodgingmagazine.com

7. If You Want to Find Similar Websites and Resources
When looking for resources and tools that are similar to a specific site, use the word ‘related.’

Example:
Related:smartmeetings.com
Related:socialmediaexaminer.com


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Smart hotel marketers are going “old school”

June 19, 2018

It’s graduation time.

And as we sit on uncomfortable auditorium chairs watching our kids, nephews, nieces or grandkids beaming with eagerness for the road ahead… we can’t help think back to the good ol’ days of our own high school and college experiences.

Yet, the more our school days fade away in the rearview mirror of life, the further we get from some of the critical lessons we learned back in the day.

No matter how much on-the-job experience you’ve amassed over the years, successful hotel marketers still need to crush the subjects they learned in high school and/or college.

Here are a few courses we can all use a refresher on:

1. English

One of the most vital weapons in any marketer’s arsenal—and a skill that’s often sorely lacking in the business world—is having a strong command of the English language, including a talent for narrative writing.

Successful hotel marketing efforts begin with simply having a compelling story to tell and being able to tell it cleanly and professionally. Whether you are crafting a newsletter, press release, blog, advertisement or website copy, all efforts hinge on your language skills. Not to mention the countless emails, phone calls and meetings happening in the background, where your language skills will also need to shine.

And that’s not all:

Marketers who excel in English may possess strong analytical abilities (used for picking apart all those words) and are usually great at empathizing, since appreciating literature (and its many characters) hinges upon this core ability. That translates well into understanding customers, who require marketers’ empathy, in order to truly understand their wants, needs, dreams and pain points.

An interesting Study from Grammarly concluded that better writers make more money

2. Math

Now more than ever, it is hard, quantifiable numbers that drive marketing, especially when it comes to harnessing analytics and data for smarter campaigns and management/ROI reporting. You don’t need to be a trained mathematician, but you do need to view numbers as your friend and embrace them, in order to develop effective marketing plans, analyze results and craft meaningful reports.

And unlike other subjects, math is definitive.

You either know the answer or you don’t.

Similarly, hotel owners demand 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.

There may have been a time in the past when hotel marketers could get by with subpar math skills, but all of that changed with the advent of Google Analytics, which has made numbers the new boss.

3. Psychology

Consumer behavior has always been driven by psychology, and now even more so in the digital age, where competition is intense and trust from customers is minimal. In order to drive business, it’s essential to get into the heads of customers, understanding their desires, pains and fears, and then address those psychological factors with relevant marketing efforts and frictionless ecommerce.

Buying behavior also strongly hinges upon emotion, so tapping into those consumer emotions can pay huge dividends when properly applied.

As we explored in our previous blog regarding web buying decisions, your sales will suffer if you fail to foster trust with your visitors and give them a psychological motivation to buy. According to a recent Western University study discussed in the Harvard Business Review, that begins with understanding the methods of reasoning customers use when making online purchases, depending on the level of risk involved with that decision. This is the kind of psychological sensitivity that can make the difference between a successful and failed marketing campaign.

4. History

It may not be the American Revolution or ancient Rome we’re talking about, but having an appreciation and mind for history will carry you far in your day-to-day marketing efforts.

Your property’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, it’s 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.

History is also your friend when it comes to knowing guests’ habits, past purchase behaviors, the demographics of your area, annual events and demand drivers and more. Part of this effort can be enabled with technology—a good CRM system and data mining process will help you amass customer histories you can utilize in the future. In the era of big data, understanding history and its value can help marketers cut through the clutter and target the things that count.

Finally, if possible, make history work for you.

Is your hotel housed within a historic building? Utilize that in your marketing message. Or, if it has an interesting/rich history, leverage that in all messaging. And don’t underestimate the power of nearby historical attractions; make sure to know all about those that are located near your hotel, and how you can convince the history buffs visiting those places to stay with you.

5. Economics

A firm grasp of economics is yet another hotel marketing essential, which often works directly in tandem with math-related functions like data analytics. Unless you understand the trending economics of the industry, your compset and region, it will be tough to make sense of your property’s performance.

The more you analyze relevant economic stats, the better you will be at forecasting future trends and providing context to management/ownership about your property’s results.

Economics, like psychology, also plays a key role in driving consumer behaviors, particularly with regard to pricing, booking pathways and reservation abandonment.

Successful hotels are reaping direct bookings because they learned how to tap into the psychology behind buying behaviors and can encourage them by implementing psychology and human behavioral insight into their hotel website design.

Time to do your homework.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: Take this piece of hotel marketing advice from your Dad

June 15, 2018

revenue mangement

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This week’s Freebie:  In honor of Father’s Day, we celebrate one of Dad’s (many) favorite expressions and its relevance to hotel marketing: “Share with the other kids!”

Its an important lesson for hotel marketers who fail to work closely with their revenue management (and group sales) teammates.

All too often, revenue management and marketing teams operate in silos. Although the two disciplines use different tool sets and metrics to execute their strategy and measure their performance, they have a common goal: driving revenue!

For many hotels and hotel management companies, one of their main challenges is shifting the culture of the organization and the mindset of each department so that collaboration becomes routine.

Hotel marketers should at least be doing these five things with their peers:

1. Building revenue targets together
2. Informing revenue management and sales of impending campaigns
3. Examining periods of weakness together
4. Identifying segments that are causing shortfalls
5. Determining what can be done as a unified team… then doing it

Get More: Father’s Day Lessons for Hotel Marketers


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: Focus On, Then Fix Your Booking Failures

June 8, 2018

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.

This week’s Freebie: By only focusing on what works, you’re hurting your hotel’s revenue. Instead, find out what makes visitors abandon their bookings and fix it.

It’s a seemingly profitable hotel marketing tactic: Find what works and keep doing it.

Our advice: Don’t rely solely on this method.

Or, solely on your current customer database.

By only focusing on how past guests successfully landed on your website and booked a room, you’re ignoring the thousands of others who didn’t “survive” your booking process and booked elsewhere. It’s an overly optimistic view that hides whatever is stopping you from capturing even more direct bookings.

In addition to celebrating what IS working, also dig into what IS NOT working, to increase hotel revenue.

Why did they leave?

What could have made them stay?

Here’s how:

Closely monitor the points of booking abandonment. Leverage your website’s analytics or heat mapping software like HotJar to find out exactly where potential guests decided to bounce.

Is it on the homepage?

The accommodations page?

Or, the transition from your website to the booking engine? 

Find out where you are losing potential guests on your website and pinpoint the issue. Perhaps your photography doesn’t inspire guests to move forward. Or, the hotel copy is generic, long-winded and not written to convert. Or, perhaps you’re driving people away with an inconsistent experience when guests finally press ‘book’.

If you want to thoroughly optimize your hotel’s most successful conversion methods, consider the entire audience — those who booked and those who bounced.

Get More: How a WWII Scientist Can Help Your Hotel Survive


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Which Direct Booking Incentives Actually Work?

May 29, 2018

As hotel and resort owners strive to improve margins by reducing the cost of guest acquisition, hotel marketers are increasingly focused on driving direct hotel bookings, with the major brands spending millions annually to evangelize the benefits.

And according to experts, brand.com sites are already seeing strong returns on these initiatives—although it will take years of ongoing effort to achieve a broad consumer shift—so the question is: What’s specifically working right now to motivate consumers to book direct?

Surely, promoting a direct booking strategy begins with understanding that different incentives and messages are effective for different chain scales and geographies. What works for a large resort in California may be very different than what is effective at a select-service property in downtown Cleveland.

That’s why it’s so vital to separate the actionable items from the generalities.

Whichever direct booking incentive you choose, remember that success hinges upon creating perceived value to stimulate bookings. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel at your hotel to do it—you can showcase proven, every day offers and amenities—as long as you spotlight those perks across all your direct channels, these offerings are often perceived by guests as exclusive to the direct channel, which may make the crucial difference when competing for bookings. Remember: OTAs have to manage thousands of properties, its difficult to impossible for them to keep up with every offer at every hotel.

Looking across our diverse portfolio, we evaluated which book-direct benefits have a low cost, but a high perceived value to guests.

Here’s what we found:

1. Enhanced On-Property Experiences:

Many properties offer differentiated on-property services and experiences to direct bookers, such as club-level access, room upgrades or late checkouts. These are powerful differentiators that hotels can offer, but OTAs cannot. It’s an important distinction to capitalize upon, since there will always be certain benefits that can only be provided by those directly managing the hotel.

The Roger in NYC showcases significant on-property benefits to direct bookers

“Hotels are able to offer more than just points through their loyalty programs,” said Mark Carrier, president of B.F. Saul Hospitality, in a recent article in Hotel Management. “By virtue of operating their properties, hotels are able to alter the stay for loyalty members in tangible ways that third parties simply cannot. There are very significant benefits that are delivered to the frequency club members, and those are often worth more than points. OTAs are very smart, aggressive, focused and well-financed, but hotel operators still have the physical properties.”

2. Enhanced Digital Experiences:

Big brands now offer loyal consumers greater control of their digital travel journey right from the start, with features like the ability to pick their own room, check-in by phone and even use their phone to unlock their room, if they use the brand’s mobile app. These advanced functions—not available to guests who book on third-party sites—are highly effective at driving direct bookings, especially among time-starved, tech-centric, road warrior business and “bleisure” travelers.

3. Loyalty Rates & Points;

According to hotel loyalty marketing expert David Feldman, loyalty programs can do many things, such as:

  • Preventing customers from switching / defecting to competitors;
  • Provide insights into consumer preferences;
  • Drive incremental spend and increased demand;
  • Increase share-of-wallet;

So its no wonder this is the largest and most common of the direct booking incentives used by hoteliers.

Big brands, soft brands and collections have enjoyed tremendous traction by offering “closed-group” rates to loyalty members. These discounted rates enable hoteliers to offer parity-busting room rates, without violating their OTA contracts. Such incentives—although costly and not necessarily sustainable—are the primary reason most industry experts agree that Hilton and Marriott’s large-scale campaigns will be successful in the long-term at driving loyalty.

Preferred Hotels Rewards Program includes many best practices of direct booking strategy

And even at a discounted rate, these direct bookings are still more profitable than OTA bookings, according to Kalibri Labs research. In, “Book Direct Campaigns: The Costs & Benefits of Loyalty,” its study of 2016 direct booking campaigns, Kalibri found that the net average daily rate (ADR) of discount loyalty rates was 8.6% higher than the net ADR of rack rates on OTAs. Loyalty memberships—stimulated in part by points—are also a crucial overall provider of direct bookings volume, with four to six of every 10 room nights booked at upper midscale, upscale and upper upscale hotels driven by loyalty members, according to the report. Loyalty contribution rates appear to be directly linked to growth in loyalty membership, which the study says increased 30% to 40% from 2015 to 2016.

4. Fear:

Rather than showcasing tangible incentives or discounts, some properties choose instead to remind consumers of the dangers of booking anywhere else but direct.

This can be highly effective, too, since many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could completely disrupt their long-awaited travel plans.

To leverage this effective emotional/psychological edge, hotels should remind prospective guests at every opportunity (are you listening call center managers?) that their direct websites and call centers are 100% dedicated to handling the needs of their property. Meanwhile, you can honestly explain to customers how OTA booking engines and their call centers are servicing tens of thousands of properties, including your competitors.

5. Best Rate Guarantees:

Best Rate Guarantee badges are nice, but many consumers have become desensitized to those innocuous graphics and believe OTAs vast array of hotels guarantees lower prices.

Savvy hotel marketers are talking things to the next level: advanced tools that display OTA rates on your hotel website (and inside your direct booking engine) have become a popular and effective method of deterring shopping cart abandonment and inspiring direct bookings. Widgets like TripTease are a wonderful addition, yet they still lack the connectivity to actually change your direct rates when a lower rate is detected on an OTA. Instead, TripTease simply reports the disparity to you and then requires you to track down and resolve the OTA disparity.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Hotel tech vendors (including Tambourine 😉 with real website/CRS integration can automatically display OTA rates AND update direct rates in real-time when they are higher than the OTAs’ often inexplicably lower prices.

6. Thematic Destination Incentives:

This is a great opportunity to offer book-direct benefits that correlate with the hotel’s unique story, geography or theme. For example, hotels near Disney may offer discounted or free park passes; or mountain resorts may offer discounted ski lift passes. Smart hoteliers are also positioning themselves as the authentic epicenter of their destinations, by offering curated city guides/maps (and in some cases, actual tour guides!) to direct bookers. Such direct-booking benefits work, because they are relevant to the typical guest persona and they reinforce the hotel’s theme and/or geography.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

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