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Friday Freebie: Stop Being a Groundhog: Get Out From Under Your Desk

February 3, 2017 • By


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 being a hotel marketing groundhog … Rekindle your hotel marketing creativity by getting out of the office to talk to guests.

It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of hotel marketing.

Tasks like creating marketing assets, engaging with your audience on social media and analyzing data pretty much guarantees that you’ll be fixated on your computer screen for most of the day.

However, marketing that has the most impact and produces the highest amount of conversion requires creativity and knowing your audience. The easiest way to achieve both is to step out of your office everyday and speak directly to members of your marketing audience. They’re lingering in the lobby, enjoying lunch in the restaurant and reading books on the terrace. Your current guests are your best springboards for brilliant marketing ideas.

Start a conversation and ask how their stay is going, what surprised them about the property, what they’re enjoying the most and what they would miss if your hotel closed? Making it a habit to speak directly with your marketing audience will uncover what your hotel experience lacks, trigger creative solutions and inspire fresh approaches to marketing campaigns – all benefits you could never achieve by hunkering down in your office.   

Get More: Are You a Hotel Marketing Groundhog?

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

Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

DOSM Checklist for 2017

January 3, 2017 • By
image1 2017 is going to be a game changer for hotel DOSMs. This year, you need to maximize every advantage you have to meet your revenue targets and outperform your comp set. It’s easy to start off the year with a burst of explosive energy, like a sprinter at the start line. But staying in front of the pack throughout the year requires you to maintain a disciplined daily routine of revenue-centric tasks. That’s why we’re bringing back our annual Tambourine DOSM Checklist, which suggests daily activities that will make it easier for you to achieve your revenue goals. Here are the 10 things we recommend to hotel DOSMs for 2017:

1. Assess Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

Successful DOSMs scrutinize their monthly and yearly group business goals and know where they stand on any given day. Leave the fluffy weekly sales meeting to the other hotels. Keep track of the progress towards your group sales goals by meeting with your team everyday. Review top opportunities, get a no BS status on critical deals and determine what the sales person can do that day to edge them closer to winning that piece of business. Do you know your current closing percentage? And how long the average deal takes to close? You should! A daily check-in is paramount to hitting your room night goals each month and the rest of the year. image2

2. Improve Your Product

With all the sales and marketing strategies and technology you have in place, at the end of the day, it’s an exceptional guest experience that will attract bookings again and again. So, it makes sense to get your head out of the computer and leave your office to simply walk your property at least once a day. Be mindful and try to see the property with fresh eyes. TALK TO GUESTS! Scrutinize any flaws or opportunities for improvement. Notice what’s missing or what is possibly holding your property back. The restaurant’s uninspiring menu? Cluttered spa entrance? Dismal hallway lighting? Outdated staff uniforms or procedures? No amount of brilliant marketing can cover or compensate for property shortcomings, so it's up to you to start there first. Submit a report to ownership at least once a year detailing the product shortcomings that are affecting results.

3. Review the Metrics Owners Care About the Most

Every day, you should be checking key performance indicators that hotel owners and asset managers consider high priority, such as MCPB (marketing cost per booking), DRR (direct revenue ratio), and your STR index vs the comp set. Monitoring these KPIs will help you and your owner understand how your sales and marketing team is actually contributing to the hotel’s revenue targets.  Plus, these numbers will ultimately drive performance each day. Most hoteliers tend to wait until a slow season to pay attention to these metrics, then scramble to frantically catch up when the numbers reveal how behind they are in reaching the hotel’s goals.

4. Check In On Guest Sentiment

In addition to speaking to real life human guests, online guest reviews are another direct link to your hotel’s future success. They tell you what went wrong (and right) in the past, and what you need to do moving forward. Even if it is someone else’s job to read and respond to guest reviews, successful DOSMs need to know what guests are saying as well. Do the same with mentions of the hotel on social media, such as photos taken by guests and posted to Instagram or Facebook. These posts can be extremely revealing and can show you what guests consider the highlight of their stay and in some cases, what they were disappointed by. Notice what comes up most often, then outline how you and other management staff can make improvements.

5. Empower and Encourage Your Team’s Creativity

Today’s travelers are drawn to what is different and remarkable. This requires your team to come up with fresh and innovative ways to market your property and wow guests. Brilliant brings bookings. Encourage your marketing and sales staff to bring a new idea to the table everyday. Then, actually give them the freedom and permission to run with the concepts that seem the most feasible. The key is to not belittle or reject ideas, no matter how outlandish or lousy they may seem at first. That will only discourage innovation. It may take many tries before uncovering an idea that could lead to a breakthrough idea. Empowering your staff goes a long way in boosting job performance and team morale, which will undoubtedly reflect on hotel revenues. image3

6. Speak to Meeting Attendees and Guests

Pardon us for repeating ourselves: Resist the urge to stay glued to your computer or attend your own meetings all day. Get out and talk to guests, especially attendees of groups and events! You are a host, first and foremost. So, talk and mingle with the people who really matter -- your guests. Chat with guests in the lobby or walk the meeting space and chat with attendees during their downtime. Start a conversation and see how things are going. Ask what could make their stay or meeting experience even better? Discover what really matters to them. Jot down and collect their responses and use that as inspiration to drive your sales and marketing efforts. All of this intelligence can be used to attract more bookings or group business in the future.

7. Meet With Your Revenue Manager

The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager each day, not simply once per week. Just like your top sales opportunities, you need to stay on top of your hotel’s pace reports, upcoming low periods, performance vs budget and the strategies to drive more revenue from ancillary products. The days of sales/marketing operating in separate silos from revenue management are firmly over… check out this brief article on how to connect all the departments that affect your property’s revenue.

8. Wrap your property in local color

The desire for unforgettable and authentic travel experiences isn’t going away anytime soon. Modern travelers want to experience a destination like a local and are replacing trips to major attractions with visits to mom-and-pop shops, farmers markets, art walks and hidden local spots. And, they’re looking to pick a hotel at the epicenter of all those things. Don’t sit back and simply rely on your concierge to stay abreast of all the local activities that are possible. Stay on top of it by skimming the publications that locals tend to read, such as weeklies like San Diego Reader or city magazines like Seattle Met. This will give you ideas for possible partnerships, room packages, or unique off-site group options.

9. Study Your Comp Set

In the battle for bookings, never take your eyes off the competition.  In addition to monitoring rate, checking in on your comp set gives you insight into the smart moves they’re making to draw more direct bookings and more group business. One of the easiest ways to keep up with competition is to follow their social media accounts, not just for the property itself, but of each sales person, too. (Each sales person at your property should follow their counterparts at competing hotels.) What is getting the most engagement? What are they bragging about? What value are they bringing to LinkedIn? Then, read their latest guest reviews and find out what their guests love and hate about their experience. Use this data to gauge what their customers and guests respond to and determine if you can use their successes to inspire change at your property, as well. image4

10. Stress balance and reduce stress

Smart DOSMs also find ways to reduce stress at work. They hire positive, high achieving staff and fire negative, poor performers. They set expectations clearly with those below AND above them. They eliminate vendor fatigue by consolidating their needs with as few vendors as possible. They surround themselves with people who can get things done with little to no hand holding. And most importantly, they know that despite their non-stop, 24/7 job, work should never be their only source of pride and enjoyment. The most successful DOSMs have vibrant, fulfilling lives outside of work, balancing the demands of their work life with family, friends, exercise and travel.

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, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice

10 Gifts Hotel Marketers Want For The Holidays

December 20, 2016 • By


‘Tis the season to create your holiday wish list.

However, a hotel marketer’s wish list is unlike any other. Instead of asking for a new car or the latest tech toy, what you secretly hope Santa brings are all the assets you need to hit budget in 2017.

So… deck the halls with these top wishes from every hotel marketer’s holiday wish list:

1. Presidential Policies That Maintain Current Demand and Today’s Steady Economy

After two years of presidential election anxiety and uncertainty, hotel marketers are crossing their fingers that President Elect Trump and his policies will work in the hotel industry’s favor. Despite the controversial rhetoric during campaign season, we hope Trump’s long-standing and famed career in real estate will serve us well during his time in office, with issues like immigration reforms that positively impact our employees, foreign trade agreements that benefit our supply chain, or promised tax relief.

2. More Legal Injunctions Against Airbnb

Earlier this month, Airbnb officially backed off a lawsuit they had against New York City and the city’s new strict regulations targeting certain Airbnb hosts. The new rules impose fines up to $7,500 for hosts illegally renting out multiple units. This settlement comes after Airbnb walked away from another lawsuit earlier this year, attempting to block San Francisco’s law that required hosts to register with the city. Other cities had kept a close eye on these cases, since the outcome would potentially shape their own battles against Airbnb. Plus, AHLA created model legislation for local governments to use in their own short-term rental measurements. These events leave us with renewed hope for more rulings against Airbnb in the future.

3. More Awareness of the Benefits of Booking Direct

We all have Marriott and Hilton to thank for setting up a strong foundation for the rest of the hotel industry in our battle to regain bookings from OTAs. Their high-profile marketing campaigns, like Hilton’s “Stop Clicking Around,” intrigued audiences and raised awareness about the benefits of booking direct. Now that the stage has been set, our hope is more and more hotels will follow in their footsteps and start their own clever campaigns (no matter how small) to regain market share, plus offer more creative perks to entice guests to book direct.

Read more: 3 Ways to Overcome the Perception that OTAs are Cheaper

4. Simpler Data Collection and Personalization

Just like Santa, you want to deliver exactly what guests want when they want it. And, there’s just one way to achieve that – data. Luckily, 2016 was a big year for data, giving us more tools to amass more timely information about guests than ever before. However, gathering and analyzing data can be time-consuming and complicated. So this year, hotel marketers are hoping for simpler methods and tools to collect that data and actually put it to good use. 


5. To See Authentic Travel Marketing Pay Off

Today’s hotel guests are all about extraordinary experiences and remarkable moments they can’t achieve at home. So, for the past several years, hotels have been reimagining what defines their typical guest experience and giving guests front-row access to the local flavor and culture. From chef-led farmers market tours to lobby art shows featuring local upcoming artists, hoteliers are hoping their curated local experiences will prove to drive more bookings and boost their bottom line.

6. A Bigger Marketing Budget

You know all too well that successful hotel marketing campaigns take talent and money. And, nothing would make you happier this holiday season than a larger 2017 marketing budget to pay for the resources you know you’ll need. Unfortunately, there are still many hotel owners who believe you can hit your revenue targets with less money and  cheap marketing methods. This year, hotel marketers are hoping to convince hotel execs that their lofty revenue goals need to be supported with loftier budgets (and maybe even more staff). Let’s hope hotel owners realize that investing in marketing is one of the smartest moves they can make to boost revenue.

7. Property Upgrades to Remain Competitive

Major hotel brands have invested millions in creating new hotel collections or revamping current properties to align with the tastes and expectations of modern travelers. With so many new and noteworthy properties vying for guests’ attention, it’s more important than ever to keep up with contemporary amenities, experiences and aesthetics. No amount of brilliant marketing can hide an aging and outdated hotel property.   Unless your hotel owners invest in the necessary upgrades, renovations and redesigns, marketing your behind-the-times hotel will be a fruitless endeavor.

8. Less Reliance on OTAs

We get it.

Sometimes you feel as if your hotel can’t survive without OTAs. They bring bookings seemingly out of nowhere and consistently fill your rooms with a minimal amount of effort. However, the fact remains that those rooms are booked at rock-bottom prices. On top of that, OTAs still pocket 15-30% on top of the already reduced room rate. Driving your own reservations and relying less on OTAs IS possible. ROI-obsessed hotel marketers like many of our clients have created tools and perfected marketing techniques to take back bookings, such as booking engines that decrease bounces, copywriting that drives conversions, and pricing psychology that convinces guests to purchase. All of these smart tools and tactics already exist and are here for the taking, so consider this holiday wish ‘granted.’

9. Consistent Glowing Guest Reviews

From TripAdvisor reviews to Instagram images to Facebook photos, today’s travelers rely on each other’s experiences to help drive and validate their own booking decisions. No matter how brilliant your marketing campaigns are, guest reviews will always have the upper hand. So, it’s important to deliver an outstanding guest experience each and every time. The more positive opinions guests share about your hotel, the more others will trust you with their travel funds as well.

10. Better benchmarking

Virtually every hotel marketer we speak to asks the same question: “how am I doing compared to other properties ,like mine?” While many common benchmarks (like STR’s indexes) exist, KPIs like website conversion rate and direct vs 3rd party revenue ratio vary by property-type and market. Help apparently is on the way, as smart analytics companies like Snapshot Analytics in Europe and others are trying to help hotel marketers evaluate their performance vs relevant peers worldwide.

Business, Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice

7 Things Hotel Marketers Are Thankful For This Thanksgiving

November 22, 2016 • By


Coming off the heels of an intense election season, this Thanksgiving will be unlike any other. No matter who won your vote or where you stand personally, let’s come together as members of the hotel community and give thanks to all the things that make us happier, more productive and more successful in our jobs and our industry.

We asked hotel marketers what they’re grateful for right now… here’s what they said:

1. A President Who Understands the Hotel Business

Whether you love or hate him, one thing is certain: President-Elect Donald Trump understands the hotel business. As Katherine Lugar, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association noted in her recent email to members after the election: “…President-elect Trump has a unique understanding of the significant contributions that travel and tourism make to the economy and in communities around the country.”

2. A (Still) Strong and Stable Economy

Despite growing hotel supply and the threat of Airbnb’s success in driving leisure and corporate business, demand and RevPar are still steady. Based on low inflation rates, a solid labor market and stronger consumer spending, STR predicts hotel demand to remain strong throughout 2017. We’re still experiencing an unprecedented period of record results in the hotel industry. And, for that our gratitude is high.

3. The End of Election-Fueled Uncertainty

For years, the question of future government leadership has been top of mind for businesses across the country. Presidential elections tend to spur a lot of economic uncertainty and 2016 was no exception. According to a September 2016 report by Bankrate, a majority of Americans consideredthe presidential election the biggest threat to the nation’s economic health. This made many businesses hesitant to spend money on business travel and related expenses. Now that the votes are in and the election is over, industries across the country can start resetting their new normal and planning meetings and events with renewed confidence.  

image2 4. Elevated Consumer Consciousness

Hilton and Marriott did everyone a favor this year by investing in high-profile ad campaigns on national TV to encourage consumers to book direct. Whether these campaigns will pay off for their respective brands is unknown, but virtually every other hotelier is thankful for the elevated public consciousness of “booking direct.”

5. An Army of Guest Marketers

One of the greatest benefits hotels have seen since the advent of social media is the marketing reach of its own guests. When guests brag and gush about their stay on Twitter, post photos of appetizers or their balcony views onto Instagram and Snapchat, or shoot live videos onsite on Facebook, they instantly become a relevant extension of your own marketing team – without the expense of added marketing staff!

6. Digital Personalization

Every year, new hotel website and booking engine technology allow hotels to know more about who’s looking, booking and bouncing. With this robust analytics and demographic data, hotel offers are now personalized and optimized to reap the biggest ROI. Hoteliers are smarter than ever about crafting hotel marketing campaigns that are tailored to the right travelers and delivered to the right place, at the right time. And, best of all – everything is measurable, giving us tremendous power and insight over future marketing moves. 

7. Tech That Improves the Guest Experience

The explosion of mobile tech developments has allowed hoteliers to reach potential guests 24/7, streamline the booking process, engage in relevant conversations, communicate offers and encourage social sharing. And, the guest experience is easier and better than ever before. Guests can now check-in and check out, make service requests, track their travel expenses, chat with hotel staff, order room service, and in some cases, even turn on the TV and lights --- from just their smart phones or tablets.

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, Digital Marketing, Direct Booking, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, hotel marketing campaigns, Hotel Marketing Tools, Hotel Revenue, Hotel Sales, Marketing Advice

The Top 5 Myths In Hotel Marketing Right Now

November 15, 2016 • By


Sometimes, ignorance is not bliss.

In hotel marketing, having outdated assumptions or incorrect information can cost your hotels millions in lost revenue… and perhaps even cost you your job. So we’ve put together a quick list of 5 current myths we see being perpetuated in the hotel marketing world:

Myth #1: OTA Revenue Has No Cost

We placed this at the top of our list because it couldn’t be any further from the truth. With commissions ranging 15-30% for each reservation, OTAs are the most expensive distribution channel you have. But, it’s easy to miss. After all, OTAs send you money, not the other way around. However, remember that OTAs are taking out your expense BEFORE they send your hotel a check. Meaning, youimage2-2 never see how much they are taking out of your room revenue.

Remind yourself of that each time you get money from your OTAs partners. They are not cost-free. And too many hotel marketers have no idea how much their OTA revenues actually cost.

Myth # 2: Your Flag Provides All Your Marketing Needs

Your brand’s marketing team is servicing hundreds of hotels (often in the same city!) and providing the same tools to all of its properties. Think about that – every hotel in their family is getting the same marketing templates, the same access to the loyalty database, the same website and reservation system.

Whether you are a seaside property in Santa Monica, a mountain resort in Breckenridge, or an urban high-rise in Seattle, every property is given the same assets to market their property, regardless of target market or unique facets.

And, if you have a period of need or want to target a specific segment with a customized campaign? Your far away brand team is often unable to deploy an effective campaign that captures the unique essence of your property in a reasonable amount of time. 

Smart hoteliers have wrestled back the marketing responsibility. Read “Why Are So Many Flagged Hotels Taking Marketing Into Their Own Hands?” to find out if it's time for your hotel to augment your brand’s marketing efforts.

Myth # 3: Your Competition is Dumb

On the contrary – your competition is brilliant. After all, YOU are someone’s competition… and you’re not dumb!

Always assume they are one step ahead of you and are always working on new ways to entice guests and group business away from your property. Marketing tools and knowledge are open to everyone, and just because your comp set didn’t put up much of a fight before, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t turn things around any day now.

There’s never a good time for hotel marketers to sit back smugly and relax, assuming the competition is too far behind to catch up. Never stop hustling.

Myth #4: Dropping Rates Solves Everything

We see the appeal of this one, but don’t fall into the trap. It comes down to the economics of supply and demand, a concept that even some revenue managers may not fully understand. Leverage business intelligence tools that can now look at future demand. This will allow you to hold rate in order to keep price integrity versus what the market is doing. We also suggest to only consider qualified (fenced) discounts and opaque channels during need periods, if you need to lower rates. This way, the lower rates are not announced to your entire target market, just a select group.

There is always another hotel that is more than willing to go even lower to undercut you. Instead of hastily changing your pricing strategy, increase your perceived value to guests. Research your comp set’s guest experience, paying close attention to what’s missing. Then offer services and local experiences that no other property in your city offers. Position your hotel as higher value and a property that is worth paying more to stay at.

Myth # 5: Your Hotel Will Be the #1 Ranked Hotel by Google

Think of everything you know about SEO, then throw it out the window. Every year, Google makes changes that massively impact how easily a hotel can rank #1 in a Google search for their destination name.

It is extremely difficult to get on the first page and virtually impossible to conquer the OTAs as the first or second listing at the top of the results page. Check out this example of the organic search results for “hotels in Miami,” the first 6 are for metasearch and OTA portals:


Making matters worse, those same behemoths are also usurping rankings for your own hotel name itself!

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Here are ways hotels can still get discovered within the confines of this new SEO landscape.

Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, OTA

3 Big Reasons Hotels Need To Track Inbound Phone Calls

July 25, 2016 • By


We all know how important it is to monitor data from digital marketing campaigns that boost hotel direct bookings. However, usually those analytics only track online activity and engagement. One of the best ways to bridge the gap between your online and offline marketing activities is by tracking your phone calls using simple new digital tracking technology.

Travelers often want to know more about the experience they’re about to embark on. And, they want to interact with someone on your hotel staff or reservation center to get the answers. This is especially true at resorts or destination properties, where it is extremely common for guests to call and want to speak with someone personally before pulling out a credit card to make a reservation.

Here are three key reasons to start using digital tracking technology to analyze phone calls for your call center or reservation agents:

1. Listen and Win

You may already have sufficient intelligence about your guests. However, call tracking offers even more powerful insights to understand them like never before. Most phone tracking vendors now enable management to “listen in” to recordings of any/all calls. What makes this feature so impactful is that you are hearing from the guest firsthand, using their own voice and words to express their concerns and wants. This insight will show you how customers are actually interacting with your hotel—in their own words—and what is needed to win the guest’s trust.

2. Monitor Your Reservations Team

Taking #1 a bit further… by “listening-in” to recorded phone calls, you can see how well your guest service team deals with guests and what needs improvement. How is your guest services team handling simple and complex inquiries? How are they conveying your hotel’s unique experience over the phone? Are they up-selling properly and easing the guest along towards booking a reservation? The idea is to boost conversion rates and guest satisfaction by fine-tuning your guest engagement and customer-facing experiences.

3. Measure Your Marketing

If you’re only measuring your digital results, you’re missing a significant KPI of success: phone calls!  Again, simple new technology is readily available and allows you to attach a custom phone number to each of your hotel marketing campaigns – both offline and online – and see which are driving the most phone calls. You can apply phone tracking to a variety of assets including PPC, social advertising, display advertising, press releases and marketing videos. Even your hotel website can have its own number to gauge how much phone traffic it generates. You can track which numbers/campaigns are generating more calls and the length of the calls.

 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

Customer Service, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Management Team, Tracking

Three Secrets Your Hotel Booking Engine is Dying To Tell You

July 6, 2016 • By


Your booking engine is more than a place of transaction or a page for your guests to check prices, room types and availability. Your hotel’s booking environment also holds a goldmine of free data, but only if you take the time to unearth it.

Sadly, most hotels aren’t doing so. By taking the time to dig deeper to find this smart data, you’ll take massive strides to outpace your comp set in the battle for bookings and profits.

Here are three pieces of revenue-generating data trapped inside your hotel booking engine:


1. Unconstrained Demand

Your revenue management team uses this term to describe the quantity of rooms that could be sold if there were no inventory or pricing constraints for a specific date in the future. (Don’t take this definition literally, since obviously it is impossible to imagine any day where you have unlimited guest rooms at a zero price tag).

Do you know which dates in the future have extraordinary demand? Your booking engine does. The idea is to identify when unconstrained demand is high. This way, you can determine which low paying business to deny by raising rates or creating stay restrictions for the dates in high demand.

2. "No Availability" Displays

Do you unknowingly block bookings on your own direct hotel website because you have too much inventory locked up with more expensive 3rd party channels? It’s surprisingly common for hoteliers to be in the dark about how many times potential guests are essentially turned away because they are shown a “Sorry, no availability” screen for their preferred dates.

Of course, you want to earn the most revenue from any of your available rooms. And, of course you would rather sell your rooms through the most profitable channel – your own hotel booking engine.  But, the only way to know is to harvest your booking engine data to reveal how many times you are actually blocking direct business on a particular date.

3. Demand For Different Room Types

Normally, revenue managers examine the highs and lows of your bookings by date. But on an industry standard, that single-focused method means you’re missing the opportunity to fine tune your prices based on different room types.

Your booking engine can reveal searches vs. actual bookings for each room type. You may find that your double rooms are in higher demand on the weekends, and they can justify a higher rate than your standard rooms over in-demand dates. By focusing your revenue management activities only on your entry-level rooms, you’re essentially only revenue managing a small fraction of your whole inventory. 

 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

Booking Engine, Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Increase Direct Bookings

10 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years Of Hotel Marketing

April 18, 2016 • By

shutterstock_234721312When Jim Zito started in hotel marketing, the internet was still a few years away, most marketing campaigns were printed and Milli Vanilli was up for a grammy. After 25 years in the industry, Jim has seen the rise and fall of many hotel marketing tactics, tools and techniques. So, we asked him for the ten most important lessons he’s learned over his impressive career. Here’s what he told us:

1. Collaborate With the Revenue Team, Don’t Just Work With Them

It may sound like common sense, but since the hospitality industry has embraced the discipline of revenue management, (formerly yield management, formerly stagnant seasonal rates created once a year by the reservations and sales team), there can be tension between sales and revenue personnel. That tension is a good thing if used creatively and collaboratively. 

Healthy debate and discussion between DOSMs and  DORMs are productive.  Before you bring a piece of business to a DORM, look at it from their perspective. If you look at a piece of business closely, you usually know if a piece of business does not make sense.  Sometimes, sales just wants to book and move onto the next piece without really thinking it through.  On the other side of the coin, taking a piece of business sometimes has some long-term strategic value that you need to champion, and it’s not only about the revenue from that one time event.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Continually Adjust Your Segment Mix

We start off each year with our defined goals by day, by week, by market segment, and sometimes… we get so caught up in achieving these goals that we don’t see the forest for the trees.   

“Markets change, and you need to adapt.” 

What we thought in September is often not true in May, (sometimes, it’s not true in January). There can be unanticipated market events like a sporting event or changes in market demand.  Make ongoing adjustments to your plan. Ongoing reviews can help you gain market share, increase revenue and lift ADR by making ongoing adjustments. 

Your market and the market segments will dictate the frequency of the need for adjustment.  Work with your DORM. You can find ways to adjust segmentation to mitigate potential shortfalls and to find opportunities to grow the business.

3. Use Web Analytics

One of the more under-utilized tools accessible to a DOSM is your hotel’s website analytics.  Your website is a source of one of the most cost effective form of distribution, but did you know it is also a source of potential group and corporate leads?

Once a month or quarter, take a look at your hotel’s referring domain report.  This is the report that tells you which websites are sending traffic to you when their users click on a link to go to your website. If tagged correctly, you can see revenue by each referring domain.  Not only can these reports help you measure success from PR efforts and digital advertising, but you may encounter additional direct sales channels you may not have been aware of.  Wedding planner websites who are referring customers, or local music, food & wine festivals that are linking to your hotel because of your proximity to an event.  They may not have negotiated a block, so reach out for a partnership or contract.  You may not always find something, but you may be surprised by what you do find!

4. Trust, But Verify

I cannot take credit for this catchy little phrase, but it is something I did long before I heard it.  In this increasingly digital age, we assume that everything is set up correctly to distribute our rates and inventory. 

“Random spot checks and scheduled audits can reveal many opportunities”

Also know that things can and will always go wrong, so something that was once working can “break” for many reasons, and ongoing audits can find these problems.  How do your rates and property appear on the GDS’s or corporate booking tools?  Set a reminder for quarterly screen shots and audits!

5. If You Can’t Measure It, Don’t Do It

Wherever you can,  find ways to quantify your efforts.  Just as you would evaluate a piece of business, (stay pattern, rate, ancillary services), find a way to quantify all your marketing initiatives. 

“Before you act, ask yourself, 'How do I measure success?'” 

Capturing ROI on your programs and having quantifiable results makes requesting resources and the budgeting process easier.  What did you generate from that ad? What did you book from that trip or trade show?

6. OTA as an Acquisition Tool

Some hotels can rely on the OTA channel as a panacea, but if you are practicing rate parity across all channels and can attract NEW guests who would otherwise not discover you, OTAs are a sensible and meaningful channel.  Treat the margin as a cost of doing business, and when that guest arrives to the hotel, create a proactive program to collect their personal information for remarketing post departure, incentivizing them to book direct on subsequent visits.

7. PMS Data

Work with your front office team and go through the arrivals daily.  Do not just look for existing clients, look for the people you don’t know. Look at their email addresses; you may find opportunities to negotiate corporate accounts! Talk with the front desk, they will recognize the repeat customers who may be booking directly at the desk each time they depart or alternatively book through another channel.  Reviewing this data, talking with the front desk and asking the right questions can often create new leads. 

If you are fortunate enough to have a CRM system, work with the database administrator to look at customer profiles, especially their stay patterns. Incentivize referrals from your loyal (non-corporate) customers to create new business.

8. Selling Property Enhancements

We all love to see enhancements to our properties

Having something new to sell is exciting. It gives a DOSM something to talk about and enhances the story. But how do you champion these enhancements to asset managers and owners?   

Information and data are your best tools.  Collect feedback from customers on what they want. What business can you get by adding to or updating the existing product?  What business will you save by making updates?  Having this information at your fingertips can help you proactively support the operations team when requesting the resources to enhance or update your hotel(s).

9. Talk to Your Call Center

The voice channel is an amazing resource of information. Call center agents can be the first to hear when something is not working  (e.g. website). They also know when there are gaps in the information, (e.g. “people always ask how high the ballroom ceilings are.”) 

If they are not geographically close, schedule a trip, bring them food and make them feel part of the team. They are also motivated by incentives for things like up-sells, suite bookings and identifying new corporate leads.

10. Pick Up the Phone

I know your clients can choose how, if and when they want communication from you, but in this age of email and texting, some of your newer team members may rely a bit too much on electronic methods to prospect and communicate. More misunderstandings happen — and delays in resolution can be minimized — if you would just pick up the phone. If you have to go back and forth more than twice to come to a resolution or understand an issue,  pick up the phone.

About Jim Zito

Partner, Z2 Group

image1Jim Zito has been building and leading award-winning marketing and digital teams in the luxury and lifestyle hospitality industry throughout his 25-year career. He is a partner in Z2 Group, hospitality and technology consultants.

Before founding Z2 Group, he was Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer with Chelsea Hotels. Prior to that, he was the Corporate Vice President of Digital with Morgans Hotel Group and launched his career with Denihan Hospitality. He has been fortunate to work with iconic hotels both domestic and international including Hotel Chelsea and The Benjamin in New York, Delano and The Tides in South Beach, and the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

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, Data Analysis, Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue

Forget Daylight Savings: Start Saving On These 4 Hotel Marketing Costs

March 15, 2016 • By


While the rest of the nation is celebrating their extra hours of sunlight because of Daylight Saving Time, now’s the perfect time for smart hotel marketers to make their costs lighter as well.

Call it spring cleaning or just a way to lessen your property’s monetary obligations, DST and the onset of spring is a great excuse to refocus on maintaining a healthy profit margin for your hotel.

So, spring to action and follow these steps to cut down on the major expenses that could be weighing down your marketing budget. 

1. OTA Commissions: Yes, That’s a Marketing Cost

OTAs are a distribution channel and distribution is a key component of marketing. So, stop looking at your OTA commissions as an operational cost! They are a marketing cost. And it’s no secret that hefty commissions paid to OTAs are stifling and robbing your hotel of its rightful revenue. But, don’t be so quick to blame the OTAs for that. You could – and should – be proactively going after more direct bookings with your own seasonal promotions, email campaigns, retargeting ads and targeted offers. Also by leveraging your data, responding to TripAdvisor reviews, and capturing guests when they’re already on your site. The majority of your marketing budget comes down to customer acquisition costs (CAC). OTAs have some of the highest CAC, while direct bookings have the lowest.

Plus, don’t make the mistake of overstocking your OTA inventory, which effectively cuts you off from earning as much as you can if you allocated those rooms for direct bookings or less costly channels.

2. Dump Pricey, Broad PPC Keywords That Never Produce ROI

The most common Google AdWords mistake is also the costliest. Countless hotels are still sinking their money on expensive, high volume key phrases, such as “New York hotels,” which quickly eats away at your marketing budget and produces little to no conversions from click-happy consumers who are just tire-kicking you and your compset’s prices. The cost alone for these broad, overused terms should warn you to stay away. We’ve seen generic phrases, such as “Miami hotels,” costing $6 – 8 more per click! With only 3 – 5 percent of clickers converting into bookings, the chance of seeing positive ROI is practically impossible. Get smart about your PPC budget and aim for targeted phrases instead.

3. Put the Brakes on Free Upgrades and Comp Rooms

Take a cue from your hospitality cousins: the casinos. To them, comps and upgrades are all about the math. The more someone spends and wagers at their tables and slot machines, the more comps they receive. Comps are not given to guests who simply walk into the casino and ask for them.

Plus, travel hackers have gotten really savvy about comps and upgrades and are more than happy to share their secrets with others. Google "how to get a comped hotel room" and you’ll find legions of articles and blog posts outlining the sneaky strategies hotel guests can use to milk more out of your hotel. Put a stop to it. Unless, of course, you enjoy losing revenue. 

4. Renegotiate Vendor Contracts

At Tambourine, we don’t require contracts, so its always baffled us why so many hotels sign rigid contracts that handcuff them to a vendor for years, regardless of client happiness or vendor performance.

It’s all too easy to sign vendor contracts and forget about them, which often leads to overspending on tools and services you no longer need. Smart hoteliers are vigilant about the money they’re spending on marketing vendors and whether they are receiving the value they anticipated. Dust off all of your marketing vendor contracts, including your PMS, channel manager, advertising, email, social media and hotel booking engine agreements, and review their performances.   

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, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Marketing Tools, Hotel Revenue, OTA, ROI

Hotel Marketer’s 10 Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions

January 11, 2016 • By


Based on feedback from your peers, here are the 10 most popular new year's resolutions from hotel marketers around the globe.

Repeat after us: this is the year I will…

1. Stop Blaming OTAs and Rate Parity for All My Problems

It’s easy to make third parties and their stringent contract restrictions out to be the arch enemy of the hotel industry. After all, they whittle down the margins of each booking with their high commissions, hold onto their customer data and commoditize the hotel experience. Why shouldn’t we point fingers at them? Because there’s more to filling vacant rooms than just relying on OTAs.

What are YOU doing to drive direct bookings? Are you presenting a unique story in the market, creating unique experiences for guests or investing in building a direct booking audience? There are so many points in the travel journey where your hotel can regain control. Focus on what you can do, rather than merely pointing fingers.

2. Refine My Property’s Unique Story

Your guests have nearly endless options when looking for accommodations. From competing hotels, to Airbnb, to staying with nearby relatives. The only way to stand out is to spotlight what’s truly unique about your property and doggedly sharing that in every marketing touchpoint. Is it the locally sourced breakfast in the morning? Your storied past? Your funky décor? Build a personality around your unique selling point, add on complimentary experiences and celebrate the heck out of it.

3. Be Steadfast Regarding Budgets

We’ve seen it before. Management and ownership making sales goals higher and harder to achieve with an already dwindling budget. This is your year to put an end to it. Part of it is educating management on what can be reasonably achieved with your funding and staff. Then, raising the bar and showing them the ROI that’s possible given more resources. Don’t simply accept the amount they offer to you. Fight to align the revenue goals with your hotel marketing budget!   

4. Commit to Flawless TripAdvisor Reviews

Guest reviews play a major part in every guest’s decision to purchase. In fact, reviews have more power to influence others than all of your best marketing tactics combined! So, work with your staff to aim for happy guests and glowing reviews. And, when someone does leave a negative comment or asks a question within a review, respond that same day. Don’t address them a month later with a canned response. Travelers know better.

5. Gently Advocate for Product Improvements

There’s nothing worse than being old, dusty and dated in a sea of shiny and new. Unfortunately, thousands of hotels are dealing with this situation right now. Don’t let this happen to your property. With new brands being built from the ground up, whose DNA was created to appeal directly to modern travelers (think: Canopy by Hilton, Virgin Hotels, 1 Hotels and Resorts), older properties can’t ignore their need for upgrades any longer if they want to stay in the game. No amount of marketing can mask a dated hotel product.

6. Talk to More Guests and Meeting Planners

Think you know what matters to your guests while staying hidden behind your office doors? The best way to know what’s lacking and what’s working at your property is to walk your property and talk to your customers face-to-face. Commit to doing this every day for at least 10 minutes.

7. Make Decisions Based on Data, Not on Instinct

The smartest hotel and resort marketers lean on hard numbers and figures, not intuition. Analytics and tracking can reveal insight into your bookings and your guests in a way that no gut feeling can. Can your intuition tell you your exact demographics, who your top three geographic markets are, which guests spend the most money, which sites give you the most leads, or how well your comp set is doing?

8. Stop Depending on My Flag/Brand Team

Your remote, flag/brand sales and marketing team handles dozens of other properties (many in your region). They don’t really know your property or your specific market segments. This year, take back ownership of your property’s success and augment the basic marketing assets your flag affiliation gives you. Invest in a hotel vanity site, create and publish timely packages and specials, and launch campaigns targeting key groups and local events.

Read: Why So Many Flagged Hotels Are Taking Marketing Into Their Own Hands

9. Get Comfortable With Owner KPIs

There are many opinions on the key metrics for hotel S&M teams, and they can vary depending on your property's location and key segments. Here are the six we recommend monitoring:

- MCPB (marketing cost per booking)

- Revenue variance from target

- Sentiment score on TripAdvisor

- DRR (direct revenue ratio)

- RevPar Index vs compset

- Website conversion

Read: The Six Metrics Every Hotel Owner Cares About!

10. Try to Have More Fun and Worry Less!

This isn’t the insurance industry we’re working in. We’re here to sell worthwhile experiences and make visitors happy. Plus, people will never lose their desire to explore and discover. You will have a part in that no matter what. And, that alone is enough to smile about. ;-)

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

Digital Marketing, Direct Booking, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, Marketing Mistakes, Marketing Plan