Browsing Tag

advertising agency

We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs

October 10, 2017 • By
Have hotel marketers squandered their primary weapon? image1 Looks like we might have been going about this all wrong. The thought that a guest’s primary travel concern is saving money is an assumption that needs to be reexamined. According to JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, guests are more likely to be dissatisfied with their hotel experience and come across more problems (like canceled reservations or last-minute changes) if they book through a third-party, such as Travelocity or Expedia. So, what does this mean for you?

It’s time to change the overarching hotel industry strategy from emphasizing price parity to tapping into consumer fears of OTAs.

Instead of obsessing about Best Rate Guarantees, we all need to start focusing instead on how reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds are perceived by consumers when they book direct vs indirect. Many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could unravel their travel plans in seconds. Meanwhile, hotels offer two vital things that OTAs do not: a secure, direct reservation and a dedicated staff that truly cares. (Smart marketers like Hilton have taken this dynamic to another level by enabling loyalty members to select their own rooms. This is a powerful differentiator, which adds even more peace of mind and diminishes OTA value.) Trust Issues: Many Consumers Don’t Like OTAs It doesn’t take much to prove how unhappy customers are with OTAs. Both Expedia and Priceline have consistent and dismal 1-star ratings on a popular review site: Consumer Affairs. There are legions of horror stories by guests left in a lurch when they arrive to their hotel with an OTA reservation in hand, only to discover their hotel is sold out and there are no more rooms available. Or, even worse, that the hotel has no record of the reservation at all! image2 The internet is flooded with examples of angry OTA customers, such as this family who spent almost 7 hours on the phone with Expedia customer service reps to get a partial refund when their reservation was canceled due to overbooking at the hotel. Or, this traveler who booked a room in New Orleans on Priceline, only to have Priceline switch his reservation to a hotel of lesser standards, without an option to cancel. How to Take Advantage: The best hotel marketers have learned how to appeal to guests’ emotions, rather than rationale. Emotional messaging resonates more than simply selling physical amenities. One way to leverage emotional messaging is to reposition OTAs in a guest’s mind. In Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, marketing gurus Jack Trout and Al Ries teach businesses to build messaging around their competitor’s weaknesses. For example, Tylenol went after the aspirin business by adopting this message: “Aspirin can irritate the stomach lining, trigger asthmatic or allergic reactions and cause small amounts of hidden gastrointestinal bleeding… Fortunately, there is Tylenol.” In the case of hotels vs OTAs, we should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play. That your family vacation, business trip or long-awaited romantic weekend is too important to risk in any way! Hotel marketers should communicate this critical message in key touchpoints with prospective guests during the research phase of their purchase journey:
  1. On your direct hotel website home page
  2. In your search/PPC ads
  3. In your retargeting display ads that follow consumers after they visit your website
  4. In social media posts
  5. In call/reservations center training
  6. Inside your booking engine, where more than 95%+ of date searchers will abandon before booking
The Bottomline:  Price parity is important, but tapping into consumer fears of booking with OTAs provides smart hoteliers with ample opportunity to migrate bookings back to the hotel direct. Hotels should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that their direct websites and call centers are 100% dedicated to handling the needs of their property... While OTA booking engines and call centers are servicing tens of thousands of properties (including your compset’s)!  

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

Friday Freebie: Cut the Fat to Fast Track Mobile Bookings

October 6, 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: Cut out all unnecessary fields, steps, content, graphics, and clutter that stand in the way of streamlined mobile bookings. There’s no denying that mobile bookings are rapidly rising in many segments of the hotel chain scale. (Urban/city hotels, are you listening?) In fact, an eMarketer study shows that by 2021, 50 percent of all online travel sales will be made from tablets and smartphones. So, why are your mobile bookings languishing, while everywhere else they are exploding? One glaring reason is that your hotel’s mobile experience doesn’t match up to the online habits and expectations of modern travelers. Here’s a simple tweak to fix this: Cut the fat.  Real estate on a smartphone or tablet screen is minimal, so instead of adding features, erase them. Streamline your hotel’s mobile booking funnel as much as possible. Get rid of the extra elements that aren’t vital to making a reservation. This includes extra fields, upsell features, navigational elements, ads, and superfluous links. Remember, mobile bookings are being made on-the-go. Travelers don’t have time, nor the patience, for lengthy procedures. So, whittle down the booking process to 3 steps or less. And don’t forget to pare down the content inside the mobile booking environment too. Only include copy that is necessary or a clear next step. Feature just one hotel image, versus a full gallery or video, which can slow down mobile load times even more. Get More: Mobile Bookings are Up. Why Aren’t Yours?

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

Friday Freebie: Hotel PPC, 7 Ways to Improve ROI

September 29, 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: Seven expert tweaks for your hotel’s PPC. Managing hotel PPC campaigns can be a beast. From researching extensively for keywords, to monitoring which terms convert into traffic or bookings, to making adjustments depending on the season, weather, destination, special events…yikes. It’s a lengthy and thorough process that requires more time than most hoteliers realize. The good news: Hotels that take the time and effort to learn what really matters will see an uptick in their ROI and conversions. Today, Raisa McDonald, Search Engine Marketing Manager at Tambourine, gives us 7 ways hoteliers can boost profitability and improve their hotel PPC campaign performance. 1. Use Both Broad and Exact Match Keywords This is about quality over quantity. “Be sure to include exact match and broad match so your ads are displayed whenever someone does a search that is relevant to your keywords,“ Raisa points out. Many hoteliers waste money investing solely on broad match keywords, which is Google’s default option. However, this means you are spending money on irrelevant traffic that isn’t converting or qualified in the first place. Broad keywords will pull up in searches that include your key terms in any order and even with misspellings. For example, a broad search term of ‘Nashville hotels’ means your hotel will come up even for ‘Nashville Schools,’ ‘nashville gyms’, ‘san diego hotels’ or ‘hotels.’ Instead, turn to more restrictive match types, like exact match keywords. Your volume will decrease, however, your hotel ads will be shown to a more relevant audience, meaning more conversions and clicks. 2. Avoid Going Over Your Daily Budget Early in the Day It’s important to stay on top of your PPC spend. “Going over your budget too early can limit the amount of potential customers seeing your hotel’s ads, which can mean you may be missing out on conversions,” warns Raisa. To avoid this from happening, she suggests using an ad schedule to control when your ads are displayed. 3. Monitor and Track Conversions The foundation of any successful hotel PPC campaign is analytics and tracking results. After all, having a strategy in place for conversion tracking is key to knowing how well (or poorly) your campaigns are performing. “Not all conversions are the same nor are all conversions about immediate bookings,” Raisa explains. So, if your conversion goal is to get more calls from your ads, you should make sure your settings are properly configured to track when and where the calls are coming from, she suggests. Only with this insight will you know which placements, ads and key terms lead to conversions and are actually worth bidding on. 4. Max Out All Possible Extensions  Google AdWords extensions allow you to add more information to your hotel ad beyond the basic URL, ad copy and headline. The more space your ad takes up and the more details you include makes it more likely for your ad to stand out and get clicked on. And more clicks usually means you’ll pay less per click, as well as boost your conversions. “So, make sure your ads have all the extensions possible to get the most ad real estate on the Google search page,” Raisa advises. 5. Bonus Tip: Add in Information About Recent Hotel Promotions One of Google’s newest Adwords features is called the promotion extension, which can be used by advertisers to show a current promotion or sale going on at their property. This extension is displayed as a part of the search ad and can help to bring more customers to the site and increase bookings. 6. Test, Test, and Test Again Frequent adjustments are usually necessary throughout the lifetime of your PPC campaign. So, testing is the best way to optimize your PPC spend. “Implementing different ad copies to see which one performs better is a good way to see what works for your campaign and gets the most conversions,” Raisa explains. Alter just one variable at a time to get the test data you need. "Be sure to write quality ads and check for any grammatical errors," Raisa adds.  Also, don’t leave your test running for too long. A common mistake is allowing the ‘losing’ ad too much screen time which diminishes the visibility of the ‘winner.’ 7. Tap Income Levels One of Raisa’s advanced tactics includes household income targeting. “This is a good way to advertise to users within a certain geo-location based on their average household income,” Raisa explains. Data gathered from the IRS is used with this strategy to help your ads reach a more qualified audience.

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

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

Friday Freebie: Three Ways to Keep Meeting Planners Away from New Competitors

September 1, 2017 • By
FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600 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: Three ideas to keep group business clients from moving to a new compset hotel. Meeting plannersThe opening of a new hotel sends shudders among hotel sales managers at surrounding properties because new venues are a magnet for meeting planners looking for fresh group experiences. How do you prevent your own steady group business clientele from running to the new kid on the block? Jeff Spaccio, DOSM-in-Residence at Tambourine (former regional director of sales for The Procaccianti Group and Pyramid Hotel Group) suggests three ideas to keep your meeting planner clients coming back: 1. Help Planners Give Back: Create a charity rebate and offer a 5-10 percent rebate on all group revenue. That total will then be donated to a charity of the organization’s choice. 2. Make the Planner Look Good: Offer spa certificates, complimentary room nights, or complimentary dining experiences that the meeting planner can pass along to the client company for employee giveaways and incentives. 3. Organize a Creative Night Out: Create a package offering a group night out (not at your own hotel) to a fun spot in town, including bus transportation. Get more: The New Supply Threat: How Hotel Sales Teams are Fighting Back

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

The Secret Weapon Page on Your Hotel Website

August 29, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing pros are amplifying their SEO power on this critical page. image1 It may be the most boring place on your hotel website today, but your policies (and/or FAQ) page represents a major magnet for SEO traffic. Why is that? Because Google pays serious attention to the content on this page. And, OTAs can’t. Expedia, Priceline and all the others simply can’t keep up on every hotel’s policies and can’t compete for searches for information on pet policies, cancellation policies, etc. Use this to your advantage and get more people to land on this page, while gaining an edge on the OTAs in the process. Too many hotels skimp on content on their hotel policies page. But, it’s one of the main anchors that Google uses to deem if your website is relevant or not for searches like: “dog-friendly hotels in Denver,” or “early check-in hotels in Boston.” Shannon DeFries, Director of Search & Analytics at Tambourine, shows us how to transform a typical and bland hotel policies page into a destination for valuable guest content, while also earning Google’s trust and boosting your search engine rankings. Here Are Shannon’s Top Tips:
  • Fill your policy page with relevant information that explains your policies, rather than just listing them.
  • Link back to your hotel policy page for specific marketing campaigns. For example, for #NationalDogDay (August 26), promote your hotel’s love for its four-legged guests on your social channels. Then, link back to the policy page where it outlines your pet program, instead of just pointing to the homepage or amenities page.image2
  • Write your policy page in a conversational tone, similar to an FAQ. Stay away from robotic jargon, like ‘covered parking – yes.’ By writing with a conversational voice, you are making it easier for mobile users to find you through voice search.
  • Use the policy page to target long tail keywords, such as ‘pet friendly hotels in Miami’ or ‘hotels in Nashville with free airport shuttle.’
  • Make sure your hotel policy page has unique content not written anywhere else. Lifting another hotel’s policy page content and slightly rewording is a big Google no-no. You can be penalized for publishing duplicate content. You can even double-check that your content is unique by using tools like Siteliner, SEO Review Tools and Copyscape.
  • Avoid being indexed by Google if your hotel is a part of a brand or collection that uses the same policy verbiage for every property. You can do this by placing a “No Index” code on the page.

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

Budgets Are Coming: 7 Lessons from Game of Thrones

August 22, 2017 • By
Hotel marketers are sharpening their pencils for battle. image1 Just as winter (and a terrifying army of the dead) descends on Westeros in Game of Thrones, budget season is looming in the real world and hotel marketers all across the kingdom are arming themselves for battle. To help hoteliers prepare, we turn to the lessons, themes and quotes we’ve learned while watching the battle for the Iron Throne between power-hungry lords and ladies: 1. GoT QUOTE: “When you play the game of thrones, you live or die.”  LESSON: Your budget is your armory. Ask for everything you need to survive. Hoteliers usually only think dollar amounts when working on their budget. How much will this marketing technology cost? How much should we dedicate to advertising spend? How much will our hotel website design cost? But, here’s the surprise: you are not restricted to only asking for marketing funds during budget time! If you need more marketing staff or outsourced vendors to help you achieve your hotel’s revenue goals, then ask for them! If your hotel is in dire need of upgrades and updates in order to effectively compete with newer properties and win market share, then ask for them. If you depend on another department’s performance to help you reach your targets, then ask to oversee them. Here’s an example of what that request could look like: “For me to achieve the revenue targets set forth by ownership… I need $_______ in funding, specific hotel upgrades to be made, and _______ new staff (contractors). Plus, I would like the ________ department to report to me.” The road to achieving your property’s revenue goals begins with your ability to ask for what you need. Show your management team that without these items, you won’t be able to deliver the results they’re looking for.  image2 2. GoT THEME: Three Dragons versus Everyone Else LESSON: Focus on quality, not quantity. Forget the mass of Lannister soldiers that Queen Cersei has under her belt or the thousands of eerie wights brought back to life by the White Walkers. All it takes are three massive, fire-breathing dragons to wipe them out completely. This year, vow to keep your budget uncluttered and uncomplicated. Your 2018 hotel marketing plan should be built on a few powerful initiatives, not on a mess of disjointed marketing tactics that just produce small bursts of wins and revenue. Build a strong budget that includes only marketing tactics that will have a measurable impact on your audience and the bottom line. 3. GoT QUOTE: “Words are wind, my friend…” LESSON: Getting what you want takes proof. Asset managers, hotel management firms and GMs are under more pressure than ever to deliver real bottom line results. However, many hotel marketers still shy away from being accountable for any revenue responsibilities. Instead, they lavishly tout their “rebranding initiatives,” number of social media followers or new hotel photography. This continued disregard for numerical evaluation will put you in a difficult position next year, when you attempt to request a larger marketing budget. Without measuring your success, owners and managers will be more apt to cut back on marketing expenses and staff, believing that your intangible branding results can be achieved with less. So it’s important to have complete fluency in the KPIs that affect the bottom line. For example, if you know last year’s marketing cost-per-sale (CPS), you should be able to extrapolate that against future revenue targets to determine the budget required and make statements like this: “Last year, we achieved a marketing CPS of X. To achieve next year’s budget, I need $_______ .” But remember, you will also be expected to reduce your CPS over time as you learn and tweak your programs. 4. GoT QUOTE: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”  LESSON: You have data. Use it.  This catchphrase, originally spoken by the red-haired Wildling Ygritte as she aggressively flirted with Jon Snow, has become one of the show’s most popular. But, don’t let it become your catchphrase. You should know everything about your marketing program results and not be guided by assumptions or gut feelings. You should rely on data culled from the right sources to guide all future hotel marketing decisions. And again, data is your ally when you need to ask for more marketing funds! Some data that you should always have on hand include key performance indicators, like DRR (direct revenue ratio), MCPB (marketing cost per booking) and your STR index versus the compset. All of these numbers will show you, and your hotel’s executive team, how much your marketing team is actually contributing to your hotel’s revenue. 5. GoT QUOTE: “Winter is coming.” LESSON: Apathy about 3rd party costs is dangerous. For a while, it seemed like winter would never come to GoT, despite numerous warnings with this ominous phrase. Yet, it was still on everyone’s minds. In hotel marketing, this means: Don’t ever be too comfortable in the here and now. For example, if more than 15-20% of your revenue is coming from OTAs, you need to prepare for the eventual downturn and start investing in programs, campaigns and assets that will deliver higher margin bookings. When “winter comes” to the hotel industry and AOR goes from 75% to 50%, you don’t want to have the majority of your bookings incurring a 20% OTA commission! 6. GoT Quote: “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Lesson: Ask hotel owners exactly what they expect from you. Before you determine what marketing resources you’ll need for 2018, you need to find out the exact amount your hotel owner (or hotel management company) expects your marketing team to contribute to the hotel’s revenue. Don’t move forward on a budget without knowing exactly what goals your team is beholden to. Get as much clarification as you can, including how many room nights, booked meetings, corporate bookings, etc. should be attributed to your marketing efforts. Ask management/ownership early on in the budget process, because this one question will give you clarity and insight to build out any other projected expenses. Don’t waste time or make costly guesses, nor should you allow your hotel owner to determine how much they want to give you. Don’t place your hotel marketing in a dangerous position of always being underfunded, but tasked with lofty goals. Instead, use your hotel owner’s revenue goals to correlate the assets you need to achieve them. 7. GoT QUOTE: “I may be small, but I won’t be knitting by the fire while others fight for me.”  LESSON: Don’t surrender your property’s destiny to 3rd parties. Spoken by everyone’s favorite young spitfire, Lady Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island, this empowering quote hits at the heart of every hotelier. OTAs have had their moment, but now it’s time to take back control of your booking destiny. So, stop depending on third-party sites to fill the house. Instead of paying commission fees of 15-30 percent, invest in the right tools and technology for your hotel to pull in your own reservations. One place where hotels will see big ROI is by investing in their hotel’s mobile experience. Offer a mobile-compatible booking engine. Have a responsive website and hotel marketing emails. Offer immediate online chat. Investing in mobile is paramount to your success in 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

Friday Freebie: Ignoring Your Hotel Website Heatmap Can Put You in Hot Water

August 18, 2017 • By
FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600 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: Find out what your hotel heatmap can reveal. Your hotel website is more than just pretty design and colorful photography. Every page is carefully constructed and arranged to achieve a specific goal, such as getting a visitors to sign up for your email list, to look at your hotel’s special offers, or, of course, to make a reservation. This requires constant testing and knowing exactly how people are interacting with your hotel site. One of the keenest tools to figure this out is called “heat mapping.” Despite what the name implies, a website heat map has nothing to do with weather patterns. Instead, it is a powerful tool that reveals some pretty useful, granular data. You can determine how people are using your hotel site, what content they’re consuming and what updates you can make to put your most profitable information where they are already looking. An infrared display uses color variations to show where on any web page there is high and low activity (based on mouse movement and scrolling behavior). Here’s what your hotel heatmap can reveal:  Where Visitors Are Looking While there are several types of heat mapping tools, they all share this common feature. In fact, the entire point of a heat map is to show the ‘hot areas’ of your hotel’s website that get the most attention. This intelligence is especially important if you have buttons, calls-to-action or forms that aren’t receiving the high amount of engagement you expected. By using a heat mapping tool, you’ll be able to see what is actually catching a visitor’s attention. If the low-performing features are located outside of these ‘hot areas’, you’ll know where to move them. Where Visitors Are Clicking You can track your web pages’ engagement based on where visitors are clicking. Similar to eye-tracking, you’ll find out if visitors are clicking where you actually want them to click on the hotel site. If not, you’ll determine where to place important elements to get the most interaction. Who’s Currently Visiting  Some heat mapping and tracking tools offer a real-time view that allows you to see how many visitors are currently on your hotel’s website. In some cases, you’ll also be able to see where the visitors are on the website and what they’re doing. Other tools use past data so you can see trends over a certain time period, according to a certain page, where they came from, and their type of visit. How Far They’re Scrolling You can also see how far visitors are making it down your hotel’s individual web pages. This is extremely helpful when your pages include an interactive element or a call-to-action below the fold. Using a heat map tracking tool, you can see where exactly visitors begin to drop out of the content, then leverage this insight to rearrange the page so it is more appealing. How They Navigate  Some heat mapping tools allow you to see the path visitors take throughout your site. This reveals if visitors are getting stuck on a certain part of your hotel’s website or if they’re having difficulty finding the information they need. Some tracking tools even allow you to record a user’s session, so you can watch how a visitor moves throughout your site.

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

Mobile Bookings Are Up. Why Aren’t Yours?

August 15, 2017 • By
Hotel booking engines need to look and feel more like apps. image1 Everybody is talking about the rise of mobile bookings. In fact, a study by eMarketer estimates that by 2021, half of all digital travel sales will be made from smartphones or tablets. Chris Bendtsen, an eMarketer forecasting analyst, told Travel Weekly that consumers are booking more travel plans on their smartphones and tablets for a variety of reasons:
  1. Easier methods of online payment.
  2. Larger smartphone screens.
  3. A desire to react quickly to last-minute travel deals. 
So why aren’t your mobile bookings growing as rapidly as the rest of the world? Too many hoteliers may think a mobile version of their website & booking engine will suffice. However, today’s consumers are not just looking for your website to ‘come up’ on their phones. Your mobile experience has to match today’s modern consumer habits and expectations. Mobile bookings are the present and the future of the hotel industry. Here are the three mobile booking tweaks you need to adjust to this new reality and outperform your compset: 1. Cut it Down Real estate on a mobile screen is limited. The first – and most important – step to maximizing the mobile guest experience is to cut out, not add, features. Examine your hotel’s mobile booking funnel and streamline it as much as possible. Strip your mobile site of any clutter, including links, ads, navigation elements, menu options etc. Pare down the booking process to 3 screens or less. Mobile is meant for the consumer-on-the-go… they have no patience for long-winded, self-indulgent purchase processes! Since mobile screens are smaller than desktops or laptops, minimize the amount of text on the screen. Trim content down to only what’s necessary to convey (like calls to action or clear next steps), then use a single big visual per page to guide guests through the process. Multiple photos, videos, and pages of copy will not only make your mobile hotel booking engine load slower, but possibly anger and turn away guests who are accustomed to faster uploads from other sites.  image2 2. Design for Thumbs Call it modern intuition: smartphone users navigate mobile sites using one hand. Most often with just their thumb. This is why the best mobile hotel ecommerce experiences are built like apps, which allow guests to tap, swipe, scroll, and click using just one hand or thumb. Stay clear of requiring guests to ‘pinch’ the screen to zoom in and out for content. This means your graphics and text are not optimized for mobile users and are too small. 3. Simplify Payment Options You pride yourself on giving consumers choices in room types, F&B venues, and other add-ons. Your flexibility should extend to the most important element in the customer-acquisition process: the checkout! Yet, sometimes the simple reason shoppers don’t complete a purchase is that their preferred credit card wasn’t accepted in your booking engine! Smart hotels offer multiple payment options, going beyond Amex, Visa and Mastercard to include as many forms of payment as possible, including third-party online payment services like PayPal. Some even take it a step further like Couples Resorts, who offer a “loveaway” payment plan. A complicated hotel booking engine process is often the reason guests abandon their reservations, so provide a simple and speedy credit card experience.

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

Friday Freebie: How Free Parking Can Reduce OTA Commissions

August 11, 2017 • By
FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600 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: Capture more DIRECT Labor Day bookings from drive markets by showcasing free parking on your hotel website.  Millions of travelers will be hitting the road this Labor Day weekend, looking to celebrate their last summer weekend. Your drive markets are your best audiences to promote a last-minute getaway for the holiday. Travelers are already enjoying the lowest gas prices in years. Sweeten the deal by including free parking in your Labor Day packages and specials ACROSS ALL CHANNELS…. But emphasize it on your direct hotel website. OTAs have hundreds of thousands of properties on their websites, they cannot keep up with the promotions at all of them! By prominently showcasing the free parking perk (“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. Get more: 5 Ways to Attract Last Minute Labor Day Bookings from Your Drive Markets

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