Browsing Tag

booking engine

3 Quick Ways To Drive More Bookings From Hotel Email Campaigns

November 9, 2016 • By


Even with all of the attention and focus given to Facebook, Google Hotel Ads, metasearch and other tools du jour… let’s not forget the tried and true workhorse of hotel marketing – email!

Smart hospitality marketers know that email marketing is still an essential method for driving bookings. However, it’s just as easy to be complacent with email marketing, using “spray and pray”techniques that only result in fatiguing your list and encouraging people to opt out. Here are three essential components that every hotel marketing email must have to drive conversions:

ESSENTIAL 1: Be Mobile Friendly

Statement of the obvious right?

Think about it: What is the first thing you do when you wake up? If you’re like most people, you grab your phone to sift through your email inbox. In fact, more than 65 percent of emails are now opened on a smartphone or a tablet. Hotels that don’t optimize marketing emails for mobile devices face a steep penalty. Research shows that 71 percent of people will immediately delete an email if it’s not displayed correctly for their mobile device. Ignore the needs of  mobile readers and you’ll likely lose them for good.

Not only should the email design be mobile-optimized, your content should also be created with the mobile audience in mind from the very beginning. Think short copy, bold headlines and images, large call to action buttons and plenty of white space for easy scanning.

ESSENTIAL 2: Craft an Irresistible Subject Line

Your guests’ email inboxes are overcrowded places these days. While it may seem like a small part of your hotel email campaign, your subject line has the biggest impact on that email’s success. You either win or lose with your subject line, there is no "good enough." Afterall, an email is worthless if it sits unopened, and the best email is the one that actually gets opened.

Studies prove that 35 percent of email recipients will open email solely based on the subject line. Not only does your subject line have to be compelling enough to grab attention, it has to be relevant and worthy enough to be opened. Keep them simple and clear, convey urgency and resist the urge to be too creative and ambiguous. Instead, you have to hint at what is waiting for the guest inside. If you’re promoting a "3rd night free" special, then your email should say just that. Use a subject line such as, “Limited Time: 3rd Night Free,” instead of a confusing “3 Times the Fun!”

Also, subject lines are most effective when you segment your email list. You should already have a separate email list for travel trade, transient and group business, however it’s best if you keep drilling down. So, build niche lists by geography, travel type (romantic, family, business, etc), or even meeting type. This way, you’ll be able to tailor your subject lines to match these audiences.


ESSENTIAL 3: Have a Compelling Call to Action

A common failure of unsuccessful emails is the lack of an obvious and meaningful call to action (CTA). A CTA is a no-nonsense, clear message that tells your audience what you want them to do. Think about what you want your guests to do, then tell them that explicitly. This can include, "Book now," "Explore our suites" or “Start your adventure.” Otherwise, the email will sit there, languish or be immediately deleted. Never assume your audience will know, want, or feel propelled to take the next step on their own.

Further, make sure your CTA is correlated to the recipients level of interest: if you are blindly emailing people who have never heard of your property before… its doubtful they will respond to a “Book Now” CTA. Instead, gently invite them to “explore the property” or “check rates.”

It’s also important to make the CTA stand out from all other text and graphics in the email. Many people scan their emails on-the-go. So, place the CTA prominently, with a compelling graphic or button.

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:

Direct Bookings, Email Marketing, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Marketing Blog

Friday Freebie: The First Step In Converting OTA Guests Into Direct Bookings

November 4, 2016 • 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: Convert OTA guests into future direct bookings by capturing their email address.

We can understand the frustration hoteliers have with business booked through an OTA. Not only do you pay hefty prices for one reservation, but OTAs don’t share the customer’s email address when it arrives in your PMS, barring you from digitally remarketing to these customers later.

But, there’s an extremely easy solution to this. Smart hotels simply ask the guests directly for their email address and give them a good reason to do so.

Here are a couple of ideas. Ask for the guest’s email address to:

  • Receive an email receipt of their stay.
  • As a log-in for Wifi.
  • To send them exclusive deals for future stays.

The bottom line: Don’t let an OTA guest walk away without collecting their email address. That is the only way you can market to them in the future and stay on their radar for other travels.

Get More: How Hotels Make Their OTA Addiction Worse

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:

Direct Bookings, Email Marketing, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, OTA, Past Guest Database

OTAs Hitting Hotel Owners Where It Hurts: Real Estate Values

November 1, 2016 • By


A new report from the AHLA has sent a ripple of concern through many hotel owners.

According to the report, entitled: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace“the 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.”

Translation: Costly third party bookings are eroding profits and overall hotel asset values.


The situation for many owners is even more serious in markets with new supply and growing Airbnb listings. Meanwhile, pricing power and occupancy everywhere seem to be peaking, which restricts revenue even further. All of this, in conjunction with acquisition costs rising, appears to be signaling an impending slowdown in RevPar. All of these factors mean hoteliers are left with less net revenue each month, with only one smart option to pull them out of the sinkhole of eroded margins: to drive bookings from the hotel’s direct channel.

The only way for hoteliers to increase their margins is by reducing the fees they pay to third parties and focusing their efforts on increasing direct, higher margin bookings.


You may not be able to ditch OTAs altogether, but you can leverage them as a customer acquisition tool and convince the guest to remain loyal from that stay forward. Not only then do you "own" the customer, guests who book direct tend to be more loyal, spend more and stay longer.

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:

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

The First 5 Seconds: Is Your Hotel Website Ready?

October 11, 2016 • By


We live in a world of instant gratification and non-stop distractions. So, all hotel marketers can surely agree that holding a guest’s attention in the digital world is difficult. We’re up against our guests’ own smart phones, websites full of intriguing content and forever-streaming social media channels.

In fact, attention spans are at an all-time low. Recent studies have shown that because of all these tech distractions, humans now actually have shorter attention spans than goldfish! Bottom line for those of us trying to convert guests on our hotel websites? Every second counts.

There are still ways to capture attention quickly and hold it. The first five seconds on your site will determine if that person books or bounces, so you need to squeeze performance from every secondHere are the five things every hotel website must do in the first five seconds to grab and hold attention long enough to maximize your chances of conversion and revenue.

1. Load Quickly

You’ve probably experienced this yourself. If a hotel website doesn’t pull up in the same amount of time it takes to slowly blink your eyes, you think something is not only wrong with the site, but the hotel itself! The ramifications of a slow loading website are not just swift (people will abandon your hotel website if it doesn’t load within 4 seconds), but often permanent as well. Recent studies show that once a potential guest leaves your site because of slow loading, most will likely never come back. That’s a ton of potential bookings down the drain merely because it took up too many seconds to load.

One quick way to gauge and improve load times (especially for mobile) is to use Google own speed checker.

2. Clearly State Your Unique Value Proposition

The reason you’re different from your comp set has to be obvious.  Remember, you have just five seconds, so there is no time to waste in expecting the guest to figure it out on their own. Don’t hide what makes you special a few sentences down in your content or buried deep in other parts of your website. You need to offer relevance to the guest immediately.

And this principle goes for EVERY major section of your website, not just your home page. For example, if a bride-to-be clicks on one of your wedding ad campaigns, that click should lead her directly to your wedding page where she’ll immediately find exceptional photos of your best venues dressed for a wedding or reception and reasons to book her special day there, (like gorgeous ocean views, a stunning mountain setting and customized menus with cultural flavors). She should not land on your homepage, your accommodations page nor your meeting and conventions page, and be expected to find the reasons herself.

3. Be Visually Arresting

Your hotel photography should be more than just pretty pictures. They need to stop a guest in their tracks and convey your experience in a single glance. A study by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management found that when guests research their hotel options online, they will dig deep and examine photos closely to see if the perceived experience correlates to rates.

Plus, photography has the power to change someone’s mind – for better or for worse. So, invest in a photographer experienced at shooting architecture, interior design or other hotel properties. They will know how to create stunning shots even from the most mundane of spaces.  Plus, don’t settle for a few good shots that you will use over and over. That will get old fast.  Use multiple shots from different angles to mix up your marketing pieces.

4. Establish Trust

Whether travelers notice this or not, staying in a hotel is an extremely personal experience. That’s why guests will spend time carefully reading guest reviews to see what other travelers have experienced before them. They want to know that you are what you say you are and that you’re worth their travel dollars. The best way for you to establish trust and “social validation” directly from your website is to showcase a few select TripAdvisor reviews, your magazine awards and any major industry accolades.

Again, make them relevant to the page a guest is being brought to. Your group travel page should feature awards from travel associations or agencies. Your meeting and convention pages should showcase accolades or reviews from meeting planners or meeting publications.

5. Make it Remarkably Easy to Contact You Without Picking Up the Phone

Ever get frustrated trying to find a number to call or a contact email on a company’s website whenever you have a question? Your guests hate that, too. In fact, you should assume any potential guest will have a question about a possible stay with you. So, instead of waiting for them to contact you, make their life easier by reaching out to them or offering them a method to reach out to your staff effortlessly. The best and most cost effective way to do that is through a live online chat. Chats are the most convenient form of online hotel guest service today. Not only will your guests appreciate the live interaction with a reservation agent, you’ll also be in a better position to convert that customer into a paid booking.

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:

Booking Engine, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Revenue

The Pros And Cons Of Building An App For Your Hotel

October 4, 2016 • By


Modern travelers expect your hotel to be mobile-friendly. After all, they use their devices during all phases of the travel, from dreaming, to planning, to booking, to experiencing and finally… to sharing. So, you need to be there every step of the way.

Hotels must embrace the mobile guest. They are not just the future for hotels, but the "here and now." And, there is no longer any viable excuse to delay offering an all-encompassing mobile presence for them. However, the question most hotels get caught up on is whether or not a custom mobile app is necessary for them to stand out from their competitors, attract more bookings and enhance their guests’ experience.

Wondering if a hotel app will pay off for your hotel or not? Here’s our take on it. 


1. Hotel Apps Offer Guests the Ease of One-Touch Bookings

If executed well, a hotel app can offer an Uber-like experience by saving user info and payment details. By storing these items, guests will only need just a few clicks to book a room. This bodes well for the modern traveler, who are using their mobile devices more and more to make purchases and book travel plans on-the-go.

2. Hotel Apps Can Consolidate and Connect Guest Details

Imagine a portal that will track your guests’ in-house behaviors and booking habits, including if they book a spa appointment, order room service, make housekeeping requests, and book dining reservations. By tying your hotel app to your CRM or PMS, you’ll be able to collect vital intelligence that can help you appeal to similar guests, better anticipate your guests’ needs and build relevant marketing programs to upsell ancillary services during that guest’s future stays.

3. Hotel Apps Build Loyalty

A hotel app can strengthen both brand loyalty and customer loyalty. When the app is on a person’s smartphone, just its presence alone will keep your brand top-of-mind when it comes time to look for a hotel. Most importantly, a mobile hotel app is most effective when it is integrated with your guest loyalty program. Guests will be able to collect points for their hotel stays and direct bookings, which they can later convert into rewards. After checkout, the hotel can also use the app to collect reviews directly from these guests. 

A hotel app also allows your hotel to deliver delightful functions not possible with a mobile website alone, including innovations such as keyless entry, real-time service notifications, room service requests and Apple Pay. All of these extra features offer more convenience to guests and an enhanced experience that heightens their satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Hotel Apps Open Up a New Level of Guest-Staff Communication 

Hotel apps allow you to connect with your guests before, during and after their stay in a way that no other channel can. With a hotel app, your staff can respond to guests’ requests and give them real-time updates. Imagine being able to message a guest and let them know that their room is being cleaned or that room service is arriving in ten minutes. With a hotel app, your guests can also request room service, early check-ins, request their car from valet or get updated billing information.


1. Hotel Apps Aren’t As Valuable to Independent Hotels

People consider their phone as sacred real estate and will only install apps that they’ll use frequently. A hotel app is not competing with other hotel apps for space, but rather any other app that the user finds valuable, including social media, productivity apps, games, music, etc.

Guests of independent properties will usually not see the benefit of downloading a hotel app, even if it were to make their current stay even better. The most utilized hotel apps are those that are designed for frequent visitors (ie brand loyalty members), where they can track their earned points for each stay and get personalized recommendations and offers.

2. Hotel Apps Can Be Costly and Complex to Connect to Your Current Property Systems

Creating a truly worthwhile hotel app requires a hefty investment in app development, design, technical testing, coding and content creation. Not to mention the difficulty in syncing up the app to your booking engine, mobile check-in, PMS or any on-property service and concierge functions that you currently have. While there are several app companies that offer templated formats, it is often difficult to maintain the same customization and quality as if it were created exclusively for your individual hotel.

3. Guests Prefer Mobile Sites, not Apps

A mobile hotel website is just as beneficial as a hotel app, without the hefty fees associated with app creation and upkeep. Plus, a study by ComScore found that the mobile web browser audience is TWICE as large than the audience downloading apps, and growing at a much faster pace. While a hotel app is optional at best, a mobile website is a necessity. Today, when guests are searching for hotels, some may use an OTA app, but many more simply look up hotels in a search engine, like Google, on their phone.

4. Hotel Apps Aren’t as Flexible to Different Devices and Technology Updates

Hotel apps require you to create different versions for Android and iOS devices, while one hotel mobile site is compatible across all devices on the market. The one constant in technology is change, and each year new devices are launched with new operating systems requiring app upgrades, testing, ongoing development and compatibility issues that will only pile on more headaches and investment over time.

5. Most Hotels Have Chosen Not to Create Apps

While you will hear plenty of news about major hotel brands offering innovative features with their apps (keyless entry, room selection, etc), the truth is that most hotels, even larger brands, have decided that apps are not worth the price tag and tiresome maintenance.

image2 Most hotels want to use their mobile presence to make it easier for travelers to discover them and make direct bookings from mobile devices.

However, a majority of hotel apps have serious issues with being discovered on app stores, as there are hundreds of competitors fighting for rankings. The travel section of app stores is already crowded with well-known names like Expedia, Jetsetter, Kayak, TripAdvisor and Airbnb. Most likely no one will find your app unless they intentionally type in your exact name looking for it. Even popular hotel apps like Marriott, Hilton and Ritz Carlton are missing from travel categories on app stores and are only found if you search specifically for them.

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:

Business, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Tools

Cheap Commodities: How Hotels Have Become Pork Bellies

September 27, 2016 • By


From an outside point-of-view, a hotel should be anything but a commodity. After all, guests should be placing high value on a product that involves their most intimate and private moments. They take showers in the bathroom, sleep in the beds, take private phone calls, and yes, even walk around au naturel.

You would think all of these private moments would build a highly personal connection to hotel consideration and booking, or better yet, even loyalty over time. Yet, guest purchase behavior is usually swayed by price. And their brand preference is almost always weaker than the love they have for other consumer goods and services that cost much less, such as their choice of golf balls, laundry detergent or beverages.

Sadly, the blame doesn’t entirely have to do with modern buyer behavior or the fact that new hotels are popping up all over the country.

Here are the five real reasons why your hotel experience is seen as a replaceable commodity (and, surprise! Most of these are the hotel industry’s fault in the first place):

1. The Hotel Experience is Largely Homogenized

Until very recently, hotel brands have catered to loyal customers who want something reliable, familiar and safe (ahem, boring). Place any traveler in a Hilton, Holiday Inn or Marriott guest room and they most likely will not be able to identify the brand they’re staying at or even be able to tell the major brands apart. So, because the experiences are similar no matter where you book, travelers instead use price as a point of differentiation.

2. Hotels Willingly Surrender Rooms to Be Sold Based on Price

When you hand over your room inventory to a 3rd -party channel, you are pitted up against your competitors (who have also lowered their rates) in a platform that makes your region appear overcrowded with options. To narrow down and simplify their choices, consumers are drawn to the one thing that does make each hotel listing different – the price.

This is why OTAs allow users to filter by price rather than by “best martinis” or “closest to cool stuff in the neighborhood.”

3. Hotels Allow Themselves to Be Sold on Opaque Channels That Focus on Cheap Rates and Nothing Else

Opaque channels such as Hotwire and Priceline allow guests to either name their own rate, or publish heavily discounted rates without showing the name of the property. Once the guest has moved forward with the purchase, only then is the hotel revealed. So, these customers are not willingly choosing to stay with your hotel. They’re not told that you offer the best organic breakfast in town, or that your rooms and the artwork reflect the local culture. In fact, they have no idea who you are until their payment has gone through! On opaque channels, you are nothing special and nothing more than a cheap rate.image2

4. Hotels Are Not Good at Telling a Story That Touches People’s Emotions

Let’s face it. You, your marketing staff and your sales team have long put too much emphasis on your hotel features instead of showcasing your unique experience and building it into a story that will resonate with guests. Proudly ticking off a list of amenities – outdoor swimming pool, bar, full-service restaurant, airport shuttle, room service, complimentary Wifi – does nothing to make your hotel stand out amongst your comp set nor appeal to a guest’s emotions. At the end of the day, customers will not remember which hotel offers what, and will – again – turn to price to make the decision.

5. Hotels Put Prices in Every Ad

Other than the ultra-luxury brands, virtually every hotel ad—across every type of media—includes a price point.


99%+ of consumers who encounter these ads have no previous exposure to the property and no idea whether $129 or $159 per night is a good deal. This price-first mentality has trained consumers to expect discounts, and has pushed hotels further into the category of commodity.

3 Ways to Avoid Commoditization

According to Harvard Business Review, here are three ways that hotel marketers can deflect the inevitable commoditization of their property:

1. Segment Your Audience and Market Directly to Them

Identify your hotel’s key customer segments and create unique products, packages and promos just for them. This approach will allow you to narrow in your marketing creativity on specific niche audiences, rather than just attempting to sell rooms to everyone and anyone. This is why it’s important to segment your email subscriber list and create target audiences for your online ads, as well. For instance, The Garden City Hotel in Long Island knows their hotel appeals to travelers willing to pay a price for grand experiences. So, they leveraged the close distance to Neiman Marcus to offer a luxury retail experience that includes a private tour before the store opens to the public, a customized consultation with a personal stylist, and lunch at the famed NM Café.

2. Build Room Packages Bundled With Ancillary Services or Destination Experiences

A simple overnight stay never provides the full experience that your hotel is capable of. Don’t expect guests to ‘get it’ and purchase ancillary services on their own. You’ll have to build distinctive experiences for them that are based on your property’s unique attributes. To showcase their lifestyle amenities, The Grand Lucayan Resort in the Bahamas built a wellness package, "Feel Grand and Healthy," that includes unlimited fitness classes, a round of tennis or golf, and 20% off spa treatments, along with a stay in an oceanview room.

3. Innovate With New Products Or Upgrades

Innovation should be every hoteliers mantra, period. Seek out ways to innovate every and any part of the guest experience, then spread the word. You can either create a new product experience or offer unique upgrades. Either way, you’ll be offering something that your competition doesn’t, which is the only true way out of the commoditization trap.

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

Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Marketing Mistakes, Hotel Sales, Increase Direct Bookings, Marketing Advice

Friday Freebie: Reduce Friction In Your Booking Engine

September 23, 2016 • By


Welcome to the Friday Freebie! Each week we share one FREE impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more revenue. 

This week’s freebie: Eliminate unnecessary friction in your booking engine and watch revenue instantly climb!

Remember the days of arranging a taxi cab to take you to the airport? You would call the cab company, talk to a dispatcher, arrange a pick up time, then worriedly wait for them out on the curb, never knowing if the driver was 1 minute away or 20.

Then, came Uber.

Today, people expect companies to make their lives easier, to eliminate  unnecessary inconveniences and make transactions as frictionless as possible. This is a major reason why Uber has seen such blazing success. They took all the small steps and aggravations of booking, waiting and paying for a cab, and eliminated them with one spectacularly simple app.

Get More: Three Things Hotel Marketers Can Learn from Uber

What steps can you streamline, eliminate or consolidate? How can you make it easier for someone to book a room? How can you innovate your own booking process? Start by taking a look at what’s cluttering the process for your customers. Are there too many options to select or too many fields to fill out? Do you really need to force purchasers to choose add-on packages BEFORE booking? Can you accept additional credit cards?

Take a lesson from Uber and reduce any superfluous functions or user requirements in your booking engine.

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

Booking Engine, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Revenue, Industry Trends

What Every Hotelier Should Be Doing Before 2016 Ends

September 13, 2016 • By


Newsflash: There are just four months left of 2016!  

With Labor Day behind us, the dust has settled from your summer season and you’re just now beginning to think of the rest of the year ahead. Before you get swept up in end-of-year chaos and coming up with holiday hotel marketing campaigns, September is the opportune time to set the foundation for your success in 2017.   

Get smart about planning ahead.

Here are five must-do tasks to ramp up for your 2017 revenue goals:

1. Evaluate the True Needs of Your Hotel’s Business Mix

We often see hotels that invest too much of their marketing focus and resources on attracting leisure business. Meanwhile, their corporate sales and group sales teams are left having to hastily create disjointed lead campaigns on their own. The biggest irony of this common situation is that a single corporate or group business contract promises hundreds of bookings and larger ancillary spending, while leisure marketing campaigns drive reservations one-by-one. Don’t ignore the biggest spenders. Instead, look at what your corporate sales’ and group sales’ goals are and create an integrated marketing strategy that aims to help them achieve those numbers, in addition to your leisure campaigns.


2. Prepare a Hotel Marketing Budget That Aligns to Your 2017 Revenue Goals

By now, your management or ownership team have met and begun to map out their revenue targetsfor 2017. If you haven’t already, ask them specifically what part of that revenue pie you and your hotel marketing team are responsible for. 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.

A common mistake hotel marketers make when creating a marketing budget is they simply just ask for the same amount as the current year. Here’s the problem: Your hotel owners will likely have an expectation for your team to do even better and to produce even more than this year. So, it makes no sense to ask for the same amount when now, you are being held accountable for achieving so much more!

3. Recruit New Salespeople to Replace Poor Performers

Now that we’re at the end of Q3 and heading into Q4, there’s less doubt as to which salespeople are your top players and which team members are not achieving their goals. If you’ve already invested in training and sales coaching but you're still not seeing any gains in the amount of groups booked by these poor performers, now’s the time to start looking at other potential sales people to take their place.

Competition for group business is fierce and you could possibly be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in group revenue if some of your precious salespeople are missing their numbers. You need an ambitious, creative and smart sales team to drive your goals. And, everyone has to carry his/her weight – period.

4. Gather Guest Reviews to Support Your Budget Requests for Hotel Upgrades

Even the most brilliant hotel marketers can’t get away with putting lipstick on a pig. Despite your consistent and creative marketing efforts, your insightful decisions and your perfectly executed marketing campaigns, you won’t ever be as successful as you deserve if your hotel is crumbling, aging, and showing signs of decay and disarray. Fresh, new properties are popping over everywhere and delivering the exact experience that modern guests are looking for. So, your hotel owners can’t sit back on their past investments and expect to drive the same business with the same ol’ product. Upgrades are necessary, you just have to prove it.

Leverage past guest reviews to convince ownership and management that investments are urgent and imperative to effectively compete. Comb through your guest reviews and highlight complaints that come up most often and will most likely drive potential guests away (mold in the bathrooms, shades aren’t dark enough, ratty carpets, aged décor, etc).

5. Have an Open Dialogue With All Stakeholders About What’s Worked and Not Worked YTD

Marketing success doesn’t occur in a vacuum or behind closed doors of your marketing meetings. You need to have open discussions with your other departments of the property team to analyze the year with you and review where you saw your biggest success, where you tanked, what was the best use of marketing funds and where you can save.

And, don’t overlook your own front desk staff as a key source of information about your customers. They often have insightful direct feedback that could impact your marketing campaigns 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

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

6 Ways To Survive Hotel Budget Season

September 6, 2016 • By


As budget season approaches, we’re here to help you plan for a profitable 2017 with six smart hotel sales and marketing budget strategies.

The most vital component of your budget planning is taking time for thorough introspection, honest reviews of what is currently working and not working, and open conversations with your hotel owners, colleagues, sales staff, guests and even your comp set. This due diligence will give you real information and real numbers to build your budget, instead of blindly relying on your gut for what will work and what won’t.

Here are six proven best practices from our in-residence DOSM, Jeff Spaccio, to help you navigate hotel budget season:

1. Find out Exactly What Hotel Owners/Managers Expect From You

Before you can carefully consider what resources you need for 2017, you must determine exactly how much your hotel owners/management company expects you to contribute to overall revenue targets. This discussion should occur early in the process. The more questions you ask, the more insight and clarity you will get. Typically, corporate-level execs and senior management already receive direction early in the budgeting process, so talking with them first will save you from wasting time and making costly assumptions and guesses.

A common budgeting mistake that hotel marketers make is leaving it up to their owners or managers on how much funds get allocated to marketing. By telling your management team, “I’ll do the best with whatever money you can give me,” you are actually placing your entire marketing team in a dangerous position, as they will now be tasked with producing the impossible and will be held responsible when you can’t make that goal. Instead, use your management team’s revenue goals and outline exactly what is needed to achieve that figure. In addition to outlining how much money you’ll need, tell them whether you will require new staff or if hotel product improvements are needed to achieve their targets.

2. Expand on Your Recent Success

Before drafting a budget, take a step back and evaluate this year’s performance and reflect on what brought you the most success in 2016. What trends, markets, promotions and tactics produced the most revenue? Whatever drove the most bookings and highest profits, continue that in 2017.

Too often, hotel marketers are so eager to be innovative and ahead of their competition that they invest only in all-new ideas, tools and trends each year. Or, even worse, they play it too safe and stick to "what we’ve always done" whether it is working or not.

While you shouldn’t ignore promising new trends, the best budget strategy is to focus on what is driving your largest amount of conversions right now. You also need to show hotel owners and managers how your work has contributed to this current year’s revenue. By calculating this year’s marketing cost per sale (MCPS), you can leverage this figure to help you justify what’s required to reach your 2017 revenue targets.

3. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

The idea of keeping budgets simple and straightforward is an often overlooked characteristic of successful budgets. Complicated budgets don’t create profits. They will only leave you weighed down and flustered throughout the year.

Instead, base your budget on a handful of quality initiatives and resources, not on a bevy of disjointed marketing ideas that will create small bursts of revenue. Simple, uncluttered budgets have the most impact on your hotel. Not only will they keep you organized and frictionless, they will allow you to be nimble and make quick decisions if opportunities arise or if certain programs become less profitable throughout the year. 

4. Gather Valuable Intel From Line Staff

There’s no reason why your group sales, front desk staff and catering staff shouldn’t be involved in budget planning. In fact, some of the best insight for your budget will come from front line staff who interact with guests and group clients and know what guests are looking for and complaining about. DORM’s and DOSM’s don’t often have enough personal contact with guests and meeting planners, so talking with staff will cover those blind spots.

Unless you ask, your staff is unlikely to willingly share their perspective or knowledge. So, leverage budget season as a forum to gather feedback from these valuable employees.

Further, don’t ignore your own marketing staff, even those in entry-level positions. Your hotel’s marketing success and profitability is directly connected to the people who execute the campaigns and help generate bookings. Ask them what is needed to amplify their efficiency, and what can make their job easier and more impactful. Give them the freedom to tell you what they need, what worked for them, what didn’t and their own ideas to drive more profits.

5. Talk With Your Competition

This may seem counterintuitive, but DOSM's and senior management should have strong relationships with their comp set. Reach out to peers from your comp set and discuss market perceptions, direction of the economy, future capital improvements and any anomalies they see in the upcoming year. These peer-to-peer discussions will broaden your budget outlook and unearth components you may not have considered.

6. Leverage Guest Reviews to Justify Budget Requests

In the end, it’s all about your guest. Understand what is currently impacting the guest experience for better or worse this year by combing through TripAdivsor, social media reviews and any other direct guest feedback.  Knowing what your guests want and need will help you determine your marketing budget in a more thoughtful way. If your hotel product requires additional investment to effectively compete for more direct bookings, now is the time to bring it up and back it up with guest reviews.

For more information on how to survive hotel budget season, download our free hotel marketing budget worksheet

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

Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing

5 Ways To Attract Last-Minute Labor Day Bookings From Your Drive Markets

September 1, 2016 • By


Millions of travelers will be packing their bags and hitting the roads this Labor Day weekend to take advantage of summer’s last official weekend.

While most travelers will already have their travel plans booked, you still have a chance to attract last-minute vacationers from your drive markets using Facebook advertising, your own email subscriber lists and social media accounts. 

Here's a list of our favorite hotel marketing tips to amplify the number of Labor Day travelers checking in this weekend:

1. Play Up Summer Fun

Amplify all things summer that guests can enjoy at your hotel –  soaking up some sun by the pool, the close proximity to the beach, outdoor activities and crisp cool drinks on the balcony. The idea of going back to school and the responsibilities that usually come in fall and winter are already fresh on people’s minds, so it shouldn’t be much of a challenge to evoke a wanderlust for the last remnants of summer.

2. Include Parking

Because of continued low prices at the gas pumps, millions of travelers are road-tripping to Labor Day destinations. It’s the perfect opportunity to create a clever end-of-summer road trip package offering complimentary parking. Is parking already free at your property? Then flaunt it good and often this week! Entice your audience to quickly round up a few friends or family for one last getaway to enjoy the final golden days of summer.

3. Leverage Last-Minute Travelers’ FOMO

There are two types of FOMO that you can incite this week: 

  1. Fear of missing out on the last days of summer.
  2. Fear of missing out on your last room availability.

Starting today, use your social media accounts and marketing emails to address one or both of these. This is a good use of the scarcity principle to make people aware that yes, summer is almost over. And yes, you still have rooms available. But, no, they will not last long. For instance, “Say goodbye to summer with one last sun-soaked getaway! We’re down to our last 12 rooms this weekend. Get ‘em while they’re hot.”

4. Feed the Foodies

AAA Travel studies show that more than half of Labor Day travelers listed dining as their top activity. Create summer-inspired F&B promos, such as a "So Long Summer Sips" menu of summer cocktails or "Final Flavors of Summer" breakfast or lunch featuring seasonal ingredients. Or, highlight farmers markets, authentic eateries, or events close to your hotel where guests can experience the local flavors of the season.

5. Give Them All the Reasons to Take a Last-Minute Getaway

Create a fun "before the summer ends" bucket list that features fun activities that every traveler should experience before autumn arrives at your destination. Or, put together a Top 10 list of drive-worthy restaurants, outdoor activities or attractions within close proximity to your hotel that Labor Day visitors should experience when they stay with you. Add a personal touch by curating these lists straight from your staff themselves.

6. Encourage Them to Bring the Dog!

Holiday weekends are a great time for regional guests to get away, but what about their dog? If your property is pet-friendly, remind potential bookers that pets are welcome and encourage them to bring Fido along for the ride!

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

Booking Engine, Direct Booking, FOMO, Holidays, hospitality, Hotel Packages