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ota

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: www.Tambourine.com

ADR, AOR, Bounce Rate, Direct Bookings, MCPB, OTA, OTA addiction, Past Guest Database, RevPar

Get out of your comfort zone and copy these 3 OTA secrets

July 1, 2014 • By
hotel-marketing-secrets It’s so frustrating. It makes hotel marketers want to rip up all their OTA agreements. But it wouldn’t help. The OTAs charge you big fees. And you never feel good about how they represent you. But you can’t seem to break free. You know guests flip back and forth from their websites to yours. Yet when it comes time to book they head back to the OTA to complete the purchase.

Why do guests go back to the OTA to book?

Because OTAs do something that is so against every hotelier’s nature, I’m almost afraid to tell you. You will rebel against this idea. You won’t want to do it. But hear me out. This is important.

Unlike you, OTAs love making guests uncomfortable. And to compete, you must make them uncomfortable too.

Wait! I know the words “uncomfortable guest” causes a little indigestion. Of course, you want them to have comfortable stays. However, while they’re booking, they should be uncomfortable with their own indecision. That is where OTAs excel, and hoteliers often fail. When you spend your life focusing on comfort, this mind shift is difficult. You know direct booking is best for you and your guest. So, think of it as the little discomfort you cause them upfront that helps them in the end.

3 Tips to Make Guests Uncomfortable

(Bet you never thought you’d see that line on a hotel marketing blog)
  1. Limit their booking page options: Once a traveler reaches your initial booking page, you should start eliminating choice. Remove your menu bar from these pages. Make going through with the booking process the only option. They’ve already made their decision. Encourage them to stick to it (Tambourine CRS, a fast-growing CRS/hotel booking engine, does this well). Expedia uses a popup. After hitting ‘Book’, you have two options: Pay now or Pay at hotel.  Orbitz gives you one option: ‘Continue booking’.
  2. Make it cutthroat: Travelers are doing more than booking rooms on OTAs. They compete with other guests. Booking.com tells the guest who else is looking at the room. Orbitz has a bubble that tells you ‘Two Rooms Left’. This isn’t booking. This is a battle and your hotel website is the frontline. Even if you can’t imagine inundating your guests with pop-ups and brightly colored buttons, add a line to the top of your booking page that states, “While you’re online booking travel plans, it’s likely someone else is too. Our rooms book up quickly. We’d hate for someone else to get your room. Book now to guarantee your spot.”
  3. Push them to checkout: You advise your guests to checkout on time, so they don’t incur a fee. Consider doing the same when they checkout of your website. Although they may pay the same wherever they book, remind them that they will enjoy more flexibility and better customer service when they book direct. Include the word, ‘Now’ on your booking page. Explain the benefits of booking immediately. Expedia warns guests to “Hurry! Prices and inventory are limited.” You may want to tone it down to match your brand. However, you need to create urgency. Remind your guests that it behooves them to book now.

Are you ready to celebrate your independence?

If so, share this post on social media. Let them know you ready to stand up and fight for your guests—even when it’s a bit uncomfortable.

 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

Comfort Zone, Creating Urgency, Direct Bookings, Fighting Back Against OTA, Increase Direct Bookings, Making Guests Uncomfortable, OTA, TravelTripper

Did you know that 75% of consumers who book directly on a hotel site visit an OTA first?

March 5, 2013 • By
Sure the OTAs are a costly source of bookings, but they may also be driving traffic to your website that otherwise would never know you exist! Your listing on the OTA has a "billboard effect:" consumers discover you on the OTA, but then surf to your site to book directly. How can your property stimulate this behavior? Many of the OTAs offer premium placement opportunities (you only pay when someone clicks on your ad) to increase your exposure to relevant searchers researching your destination.

OTA

5 Things Hotel Marketers Are Thankful for This Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing pros are counting their blessings… image1 For most, Thanksgiving is a time for football, traveling to see relatives and diet-busting feasts. It's also the time of year we ask clients, colleagues and industry experts what they are feeling good about. And once again, we heard that the economy, industry dynamics and hotel consumer behavior are working in our favor like never before. Based on our informal survey, here are 5 things hoteliers are feeling thankful for this Thanksgiving: 1. Evidence That Direct Booking Campaigns Are Working  In 2016, major hotel brands and smaller hotels went after OTAs with a fervor and pushed aggressive campaigns to convince travelers that booking direct was best. Now, we finally have proof that the preaching paid off. Kalibri Labs compiled data from more than 12,000 U.S. hotels and 52 million transactions during the run of these highly publicized campaigns. In their recent report “Book Direct Campaigns: The Cost & Benefits of Loyalty,” Kalibri measured a significant net revenue benefit due to a shift in bookings from OTAs to Brand.com. While this certainly calls for a massive celebration, the momentum shouldn’t stop here. Experts agree that discounting to create loyalty can’t be the end-all, be-all of your book direct strategy; creating online and on-property experiences that the OTAs cannot must be the neverending quest for hotel marketers seeking to reduce OTA dependence and improve bottom line profitability. 2. Owners’ Willingness to Invest in the Product Hotel marketers know this best: No amount of brilliant marketing, guest data, or up-to-the-minute technology can compensate for an aging and run-down hotel property. Now, with property values on the rise and an overall healthy real estate market, hotel owners have the renewed confidence in investing in upgrades, redesigns and renovations that will help hotel sales and marketing teams compete with the new supply entrants in their market. And with so many major hotel brands launching new or re-imagined brands, it’s more vital than ever to keep up and hold onto your market share by offering compelling amenities, aesthetics and experiences.  image2 3. Demand and RevPar Still Going Strong Despite the threat of Airbnb’s climbing success (especially with their new focus on offering a complete travel experience, both in and outside of their hosts’ homes) and a ballooning hotel supply, RevPAR and demand are still holding steady. Based on a strong economy, hotel occupancies are still at an all-time high and the hotel industry is still experiencing an unprecedented string of record results. To date, RevPAR has increased year-over-year consecutively for 92 months, according to STR. 4. Social Evangelism Over the last few years, storytelling and “content marketing” has become one of the most popular (and cost-effective) ways for hotel marketers to win guests’ hearts and wallets. Why? Because consumers no longer trust advertising… they trust each other. As an article in Ad Age so aptly put it: “Your brand is defined by the interactions people have with it.” User-generated content (UGC), especially photos, videos and posts about on-property experiences are more authentic, less sales focused… and let’s face it, more creative than anything you could ever dream up yourself. Hotel marketers are feeling blessed to have guests who gush and brag about their stay on Facebook and post foodie pics to Instagram. Not only have they made marketing travel engagingly personal and authentic, they come at no cost to the hotelier. 5. Metasearch: An Attractive and Less Expensive Option It’s easy to see why travelers love metasearch, such as Google and TripAdvisor: They receive all the key details needed to research and book their stays all in one place, like real-time pricing, availability, hotel information, guest reviews and location. But, hotel marketers are loving metasearch too. They are using these sites to boost direct bookings instead of relying on OTAs and paying high commissions. You can pay-per-click or pay booking commissions (still less expensive than traditional OTA fees) – all while getting brand exposure and access to travelers who are just entering the consideration and booking funnel.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Business, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, OTA, Uncategorized

Friday Freebie: A Creative Way to Offset Shorter Booking Windows

November 17, 2017 • By
image1 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:  Counteract shrinking booking windows with a smart (and simple) reservation recovery campaign.  Smartphones, deal-hungry consumers, last-minute booking apps and penalty-free reservations. These are just some of the reasons why people are now booking hotels closer and closer to their check-in date. In fact, according to most experts, booking lead times have shortened dramatically, with last-minute U.S. travel consumers making up 13% of all bookings in their recent study. If your hotel constantly leans on these last-minute bookings, especially those booked on OTAs, you’re sacrificing revenue and losing even more (fast!) by paying expensive third-party commissions. Here’s one way to deal with this new reality of the rapidly shrinking booking window: Put Intelligent Reservation Recovery to Work… Rather than fretting about shrinking booking windows, focus on converting your best prospects SOONER with a dynamic reservation recovery campaign. Every day, hotels ignore millions of consumers WITH LONG BOOKING WINDOWS at the very edge of converting to real revenue. Prospects who have already visited your website and searched the booking engine for travel dates that coincide with your traditional periods of weakness. There is a massive opportunity to re-engage those lost visitors, convert them to bookings and ameliorate the periods that suffer from extremely short booking windows! Here’s How You Can Use Reservation Recovery to Mitigate the Effects of Short Booking Windows:  1. Know the Booking Window for Every Day of the Year Your booking engine, CRS or PMS provider can easily provide you with book-to-arrival data for every day of the year. Armed with this, you can identify the days/weeks that cause internal panic and low ADRs 2. Use Reservation Recovery Tech That Immediately Captures Email Addresses Once an online visitor searches for their dates and chooses a room type, smart reservation recovery technology will require their email address as the first field in the booking process. That way, you now have the contact info necessary to retarget them if they abandon their booking. 3. Create a Custom Campaign for the Periods with the Shortest Booking Window (and Lowest ADR) After a visitor abandons a booking that falls in your target low period, your reservation recovery system should send out a specific email with a personalized greeting that thanks them for considering your property and offers a limited-time incentive for booking with you directly. Sure, these incentives eat into net room revenue, but they are still far less than the commissions on OTA bookings or other sources of last minute bookings. By Incentivizing the Visitors Who Have Already:
  1. Demonstrated their willingness to book farther out
  2. Nearly completed a booking in a target period
You can close more bookings sooner… alleviating “short-booking window anxiety” for everyone on the revenue management and marketing teams! Studies have proven that reservation recovery systems can recapture millions of dollars in lost revenue… in some cases, up to 30% of abandoned bookings were reactivated!

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Business, Direct Bookings, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, OTA, Uncategorized

The Big Squeeze: Why Hotel Owners Are So Concerned About Marketing Costs

November 14, 2017 • By
And why hotel marketers are feeling the pinch… image1-2 Hotel owners are feeling the squeeze from rising operating costs, at a time when the U.S. hotel industry is posting record revenues. Debt service, brand fees, management fees, credit card and intermediary fees and capital improvement programs are all costly contributors that have many fearing that when the next downturn comes, things could get ugly. Owners can’t really control debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at variable marketing costs—particularly the cost of guest acquisition—which are also rising fast. According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset. There are a number of reasons why the cost of acquisition continues to spike (along with the blood pressure of some owners) including: 1. Lack of Differentiation and Low Conversion Rates One of the reasons that marketing costs are rising so quickly is because hotel marketers are often unable to create perceived value in their product, which ends up being treated like a commodity, and bought by consumers on price alone. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become largely homogenous and difficult to distinguish from one another, further prompting travelers to book solely based on price. But blame also falls on the shoulders of hotel marketers themselves, who often fail to highlight the unique and compelling aspects of their properties. Instead of just listing amenities like an indoor pool and free Wi-Fi, it’s far more effective to focus on unique differentiators like popular or noteworthy foods and services at the hotel, proximity to favorite attractions and neighborhoods, packages that incorporate local products/services and any other aspects that make one’s hotel different from the rest. If hotel marketers could create a more powerful story in the minds of potential guests and convert lookers to bookers at a higher percentage, their marketing costs would decrease. 2. Fighting the Neighborhood Bullies One of the main reasons marketing costs are out of control is that (despite the proliferation of tech and channels) there are actually a limited number of places from which hotels can attract significant traffic. Sure, the internet is a big place, but other than the OTAs, the vast majority of relevant traffic and bookings for hotels emanate from metasearch portals, Google and Facebook… where hotels find themselves in a David vs Goliath battle against the mega-budgets of the OTAs yet again! The deep-pocketed OTAs spend more on marketing than most hoteliers can keep up with. This problem is particularly pronounced in the Google AdWords/pay-per-click (PPC) world, where the OTAs can easily outspend the competition. Therefore, it’s essential to spend wisely, choosing times and places when either the OTA marketing spend is lower, or the payback from outspending the OTAs is high enough to justify the short-term expense. That philosophy also applies to controlling how much, and when, OTAs are used for bookings, depending on the time of year and the demand factors in the local market. The ideal percentages for third-party distribution can vary widely, and need to be closely monitored either internally or through a manager with acute revenue management skills. 3. OTA Commissions Are Not Viewed as Expenses Yet another reason marketing costs are running rampant is the apathy of many hotel marketers, who refuse to ditch their OTA crutch and invest more in driving direct revenue through their own proprietary activities. A core reason for this lack of action is the vague at best sense that many operators have as to exactly how much OTA bookings cost, and the impact of that cost on the property’s P&L. There are other marketing expenses, unfortunately, which are much more tangible on financial statements, including hotel digital marketing, hotel SEO, online media and retargeting, email marketing, advertising, social media and reservation abandonment programs. All of those expenditures can greatly help a hotel drive its own direct revenue, yet since these expenses are more visible on paper, they are generally cut first by owners, rather than OTA expenses, which are largely invisible. In many cases, the reverse tactic would be significantly more profitable. 4. A Focus on Flipping Ultimately, many owners themselves are partly to blame. By having short-term goals of flipping the property, many tolerate their property’s dependence on costly OTAs and ignore the long-term benefits of investing in building a healthier inflow of direct revenue. Having such a direct revenue stream only increases the value of the property, by boosting its prominence in the marketplace and fostering a more profitable bottom line. According to a recent AHLA report, entitled: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace, “revenue retained by US hotels after paying all customer acquisition costs declined by almost .4% or $600 million… That $600M in additional cost would have contributed directly to net operating income. Using an 8% capitalization rate (which most investors require), these additional acquisition costs of $600 million reduced the asset value of the overall hotel industry by at least $7.5 billion.”

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Business, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

Hotel Digital Talent: Why Is It so Hard to Find?

October 17, 2017 • By
Hotel digital marketing requires an increasingly hard-to-find skillset. image1 If you want to be successful in the hotel business, it's now mandatory that you outperform your compset in the digital world. So these days it’s more important than ever for hotel companies to attract and retain world-class digital talent. In most cases, the first place guests now interact with your hotel is not inside your lobby—it’s within the digital world—yet all too frequently, we aren’t fully prepared to greet that guest accordingly. Hotel websites, CRM systems, data analytics, email, social media and search marketing all require deep expertise to deliver real ROI. Sure… digital talent is in high demand everywhere, but beyond that, there are other reasons why skilled digital professionals are sorely needed in the hospitality industry. Here Are the Five Hiring Challenges We See… and What to Do about Them: 1. Many Digital Experts Have Gravitated to Other Industries And/Or Start-Ups There are seemingly endless opportunities right now in the digital space, and the required core skills are adaptable to various industries, so digital pros can literally work anywhere that a business has a digital presence. That may be a huge Silicon Valley mega-corporation or a basement startup and everything in between. And in many cases, the Googles and Facebooks of the world are offering the hip, informal vibe of a startup that millennials crave, with the stability of a steady paycheck and job security and the cool factor of working at the digital avant-garde. 2. Hotels Are (Unfairly) Viewed As Stagnant and Non-Innovative Like other components of the traditional business sector, hotel companies are frequently perceived as stalwart, non-evolving dinosaurs, dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age. Brands, which have to carefully explore changes due to the sheer size of their operation, are perceived as being especially sterile places to work. While there are advantages to being dependable and maintaining steady growth, winning over top digital talent sadly isn’t one of them.  image2 3. OTAs Are Killing Innovation The online power of the OTAs—driven in part by their massive marketing budgets—has severely hampered most hotels companies’ ability to innovate and try new things, since the cost to compete against everything the OTAs do is just too high. With the price tag associated with competitive digital marketing efforts like pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns becoming simply too expensive, too few industry players are doing anything extraordinary, aside from just trying to keep up. 4.  Compensation and Turnover  True, there are perks from working in the travel industry, but the pay isn’t always one of them. Averages for industry compensation are not among the highest, because profit margins are increasingly compressed (those darn OTAs again!), causing hoteliers to focus on cutting expenses and controlling costs. That means the best hotel digital pros are often leaving to take higher paying jobs elsewhere, because they can. 5. Digital Skills Vs Business Skills  The millennial digital natives who are now in high demand by recruiters often have little to no experience yet delivering on the intense ROI expectations of an agency or corporate hotel marketing setting. This is especially true for recent graduates: Universities tend to focus on theory, and for many marketing majors, the specific skills used in online marketing are mostly learned on the job, through experience. So, for the young talent you do end up courting and successfully hiring, there will be a significant learning curve, provided they decide to stay. Look for These Three Things: For the hotel companies that can work through the issues listed above, the struggle isn’t over just yet. Once your company is successfully generating employment interest from digital mavens, it’s important to ensure those professionals have adapted their talents to the many nuances of the hotel industry. Therefore, it’s critical to find smart, capable digital pros who understand the following three essential things: 1. The Hotel Experience It is exceedingly difficult to understand how to market travel unless the marketer has traveled significantly themselves. This applies to digital marketing, too. The best professionals in digital travel marketing have personal travel miles to draw from, particularly when it pertains to the hotel experience and the digital booking process. 2. The Hotel/Travel Purchasing Funnel On the surface, it may appear as though there are only two stages of the hotel/travel purchasing funnel—researching and booking—but there are actually five distinct phases: dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. Properly targeting your audience with the right media and message during each of the five stages is an integral part of extending your company’s digital reach. 3. How to Turn the Funnel into Tangible Digital Action Lastly, and most importantly, digital professionals need to understand which digital media are relevant for each stage of the hotel/travel journey, and how to gauge the ROI for each. Wherever possible, seek to eliminate guesswork: quality hotel digital marketers need to fully embrace data reporting and analytics, in order to properly track results and develop actionable strategies for the future.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Business, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, OTA, Uncategorized

Why Hotel Management Companies are Obsessed with Marketing Costs

October 3, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing costs are affecting profitability more than ever. image1-2 With profit growth slowing in the lodging industry, the focus among hoteliers is now shifting toward closely controlling costs, especially among management companies, whose earnings are directly tied to property performance (and incentives are tied to profits). As the pressure to find cost savings mounts, experts say one of the most significant expenses to watch is marketing, which has only grown more expensive with the rapid growth of digital media. In general, hotel management companies care deeply about costs, which have a direct linear effect on their ability to achieve profitability/incentive targets. And these days, marketing costs (especially OTAs and third-party channels) are rising at an alarming rate. Industry averages for marketing expenses typically range from about 4% to 7% of overall expenses, but can vary widely depending on the hotel and its management. image2 “Marketing is a minimum of probably 6% of your expenses, so it’s a pretty big number,” said Richard Millard, Chairman and CEO of Trust Hospitality. “It could be as high as 8% to 10%, depending on what you’re doing.” Between just internal staffing, OTA commissions, digital marketing programs (paid search, banner ads, etc.) and other forms of advertising (print, radio, TV, billboards, etc.), hotels are currently fighting a rising tide of seemingly obligatory marketing costs. And all too frequently, it forces managers to scrimp elsewhere. “Marketing is costing more and more, and that means the training and service level of people on the hotel side suffers, because some way, somehow that money has to be saved,” Millard continued. “So what we as an industry often cut back on, instead, is human resources and training.” But it doesn’t need to be that way. Finding the Right Balance Smart management companies can still find methods to keep marketing costs from getting out of hand, while continuing to do all the right things to get their properties noticed in the marketplace. It requires careful planning, but it’s not impossible. Experts say one core strategy for reducing and controlling hotel marketing expenses is to strategically outsource certain aspects of hotel marketing to third-party vendors and consultants, based upon the management company’s need and resources. For example, while it may clearly pay to hire a skilled, full-time revenue manager for internal staff, it may be more cost-effective to hire an outside agency for critical recurring functions that drive direct bookings such as email promos, search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search/pay-per-click (PPC) and metasearch campaigns. image3 “Marketing as a discipline has grown exponentially in how you reach a potential guest or interact with a guest. The reach has become enormous,” said Michael Tall, president and COO at Charlestowne Hotels. “There are certain disciplines and components of marketing that we feel are better left to those that specifically do that as their discipline. The key is figuring out what it is that you want to do internally as a management company, and what needs to be outsourced, and then it’s just selecting the right vendors and hiring the right people inside.” Another critical method is managing OTA relationships and working to drive customers toward booking directly, rather than through OTAs. OTA commissions can run anywhere from roughly 14% to 25%, depending on the scale of the relationship (rates tend to be higher for independent, unbranded hotels) and the company’s contract with each OTA, but savvy managers can save considerably by optimizing this particular channel. “We want people to book in the lowest cost channels,” said Tall. “Understanding whether you are able to get a guest or enough guests to book on the lowest cost channels, versus having to go out and market or pay for acquisition to OTAs, is really the balance that you try to understand. That’s a huge part of our business: understanding what it is we desire from the OTAs, and what are we willing to pay to the OTAs to acquire the guests.” It also comes down to making sure hotel marketers are constantly up to date on the latest marketing techniques and trends, and then both planning and acting accordingly. (This is another area where a mix of both internal and third-party guidance can prove effective.) Most importantly, marketers need to regularly analyze their various channels for a firm understanding of what’s working and what isn’t, as well as where the future lies. “You can only cut so many corners. It’s not just about trying to save marketing dollars; it’s about spending those marketing dollars wisely,” said Millard. “The secret is to be on top of it. Marketing is changing and you can’t depend on one thing. Experience is great, having people who know what they’re doing is great and having the right technology is great. But you’d better pay attention. Don’t be too sure that what’s working in September 2017 is still going to be here in January 2018.”

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com  

(SEO) Search Engine Optimization, advertising, Business, Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, OTA, Uncategorized

We Need to Talk About Hotel Marketing Metrics

September 19, 2017 • By
Unfortunately for hotel marketers, our industry is drowning in metrics. image1 From “look-to-book,” to unique visitors, to sentiment scores, to clicks…the list of stats goes on and on. With so much to measure, it’s easy to get caught up in the wrong metrics. Don’t waste precious time and resources by analyzing metrics that don’t matter in the grand scheme. It’s time to get perspective. So we’ve outlined 5 popular marketing KPIs that are currently distracting you from what really matters – driving traffic into your direct booking environment and call center. (As a bonus, we’ve also included the metrics that we think hotel marketers SHOULD actually obsess over!) Approach With Caution:  1. Bounce Rate According to Google Analytics, a ‘bounce’ occurs when someone visits a single page on your hotel website, then leaves without visiting any other page. A high bounce rate can seem devastating. After all, that shows that visitors aren’t interested in pursuing you any further, right? Wrong. This is a quick, singular metric that depends on context. This implies that a guest could go to a page on your website (for example, meetings and events), consume everything on that page for 5 minutes, leave the page and still count as a bounce. Simply because the visitor didn’t click to any other page on your hotel website during that same session. But what if they end up emailing your sales team a few moments later? Or, return the next day to submit an RFP? That one visit will still be deemed unsuccessful since the visitor “bounced.” Bounce rates can also vary according to page content and whether someone is using their smartphone or desktop. Mobile traffic bounces at a higher rate than desktop traffic. Plus, if you sent traffic to a specific landing page, like a promotions page, the goal is for the audience to engage ONLY with that one page. In that case, a bounce would be a good thing. 2. Online Traffic/Page Views An overall increase in traffic to your website is a great thing. But, don’t let this metric mislead you to believe your hotel website is performing better than it actually is. Ultimately, success comes down to quality, not quantity. Is all that traffic resulting in booked rooms, submitted RFPs, dinner reservations? Traffic is worthless if it is irrelevant or doesn’t convert. Aim for action, not attention.

If you have to pick one thing to focus on to measure your hotel website’s performance, make it entrances into the booking engine AND calls driven by digital to the call center.

Smart hoteliers would rather have 25 page views that resulted in 25 booking searches/calls, instead of 1000 page views without any action. 3. Email Open Rates Email is still one of the most efficient and persuasive hotel marketing channels out there. However, tracking your emails’ success isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. First off, open rates aren’t reliable. The biggest problem is the way your open rate is calculated. Most email marketing tools add a small, invisible image to every message sent. The email is only considered opened when that undetectable image is brought up from the server where it sits. But, because most email providers allow you to turn off images, this skews open rates dramatically and renders them difficult to track at best. And, even when someone opens your email, is it still considered successful if they read just one word, then delete it immediately? Just like your web traffic, ultimately you want your audience to perform an action, such as clicking through to the booking engine. 4. Social Media Followers It’s thrilling to see thousands of people excited enough about your hotel to follow you on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. This is purely a vanity metric. Yes, a large number of followers means a better reach. But, just slightly. Organic reach on social media channels has been declining for years. It’s standard now for hotels to invest in social media advertising just to consistently reach a small fraction of their followers. Which means your followers mean nothing until you actually reach them by paying to play. Plus, if your huge social media following isn’t translating into leads, traffic or conversions, then what’s the point? Instead of boosting ‘likes,’ focus on optimizing your channels for lead generation and on increasing on converting the followers you already have. 5. Display Ad Impressions When you are investing in digital advertising, it’s vital to know how many people actually see your hotel ads, right? Unfortunately, using impressions as a metric of advertising success doesn’t actually tell you how many people viewed your ad. It’s only a measure that shows how many times your hotel ad was displayed, whether or not it was clicked on. According to Google Research, about 56 percent of your hotel impressions weren’t actually viewed by anyone! Stop using impressions to measure the reach of your hotel advertising campaigns. Because impressions don’t measure action, they lack any real value. Instead, use conversions and actual clicks that lead to calls and entrances into the booking environment as a yardstick to measure the success of any display advertising. METRICS THAT MATTER Instead of leaning on metrics that only sound impressive on paper, pay attention to the numbers that will actually measure your contribution to hotel revenues. Every day, you should be checking the KPIs that actually matter to your hotel's owners and asset managers.
  1. MCPB (marketing cost per booking): Tracks the cost of each sales and marketing channel versus actual conversions. Try using this for OTA commissions as well… and see how that channel stacks up versus your other campaigns.
  2. DRR (direct revenue ratio): Measures percentage of online revenue from direct sources (your website) versus pricey third-party sources, like OTAs. If you’re not garnering 40 percent of your revenue from direct reservations, you still have work to do!
  3. Website conversion rate (from unique visitor to entrances into the booking environment): Converting a higher percentage of visitors into booking searches (or phone calls) is critical to reducing your cost of revenue and MCPB.
  4. Variance from revenue target: This metric showcases revenue goals versus actual results (by segment).
  5. TripAdvisor sentiment score: Using a reputation/sentiment monitoring tool allows hotels to measure guest satisfaction. This reflects whether your guests are enjoying your product, along with alerting you to hotel deficiencies. A bad hotel experience will outweigh any of your clever sales and marketing tactics.

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

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Friday Freebie: Creating Perceived Value to Stimulate Direct Bookings

September 15, 2017 • By

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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: Use generic amenities and perks to create perceived direct booking benefits.

One of the more impactful, yet simplest, ways you can convince people to book direct is to create perceived value. OTAs have hundreds of thousands of properties on their websites, they cannot keep up in real time with the perks and inclusions at all of them.

By cleverly showcasing a few of your generic, everyday perks as special book-direct-only rewards (i.e. “Book direct and get free parking!”) you will create the perception that free parking is a special, direct-only benefit…. without jeopardizing your OTA relationships over promo parity issues.

Most hotels are savvy enough to offer these amenities to entice business away from OTAs, however, they bury these reasons several pages into their website. Or, only display them once the guests make it to the booking engine.

Your direct booking benefits need to be obvious and displayed in areas where online visitors can’t miss them. Right on your homepage, directly in your advertising (including PPC), in a prominent place on all of your marketing emails, in your employees’ email signature, retargeting ads, etc.

Here’s an example of one hotelier, Couples Resorts in Jamaica, creating perceived value in booking direct right on their home page:

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Bring out your direct booking benefits front and center to amplify your chances of guests booking direct.

Get More: Three Ways to Overcome the Perception That OTAs are Cheaper


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Marketing Advice