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Hotel Marketing Budgets: How Much is Actually Enough?

September 18, 2018

Hotel marketing budgets: how much is actually enough?

According to a recent study, Booking.com and Expedia return $16 for every dollar spent on marketing. This looks great on paper, but the reality is that over the last decade OTAs’ return on marketing investment decreased by 15%. 

This explains why Booking.com dramatically decreased its advertising spend. 

The same story is playing out across the hotel marketing landscape… cost-per-acquisition is soaring, and if the Goliaths of the industry had to change their strategies, it’s probably time to sit down and address the elephant-in-the-room: how much should you be spending on marketing? 

First: What’s in the Marketing Budget?

Allocations within the marketing budget vary from company to company. According to The CMO Survey sponsored by Duke University, Deloitte LLP, and the American Marketing Association, “less than half (47.9 percent) of companies include expenses for marketing employees in their marketing budgets. Most companies (61.3 percent) include direct expenses for marketing—such as advertising, trade promotions, and direct marketing—in their marketing budgets, but this varies by industry (See below):

What does your hotel or resort include in its annual marketing budget? Do you include employee or outside agency costs in your budget? How about OTA commissions or GDS fees?

This is a critical definition that will determine how much you need and how your results are perceived by ownership.

THE INVERTED U-CURVE

Hotel marketers can learn a valuable lesson from Malcolm Gladwell in his inspiring book David and Goliath. In the book, Gladwell talks about “inverted U-Curves:”

“Inverted-U curves have three parts, and each part follows a different logic. There’s the left side, where doing more or having more makes things better. There’s the flat middle, where doing more doesn’t make much of a difference. And there’s the right side, where doing more or having more makes things worse,” according to Gladwell.

The curve has been around for over a century and it has been applied to a wide range of different situations:  

Money: Scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier after they exceed $75,000 per year

Class Size:  Contrary to popular belief, a class size decreases beyond an optimal number, learning effectiveness decreases. Apparently, the optimum number is 18-24 students per class

Punishment and Crime: Past a certain point, cracking down on crime and locking people up stops having any effect on criminals, makes crime worse and the juvenile delinquency rate increases

Similarly, hotel marketing budgets have an inverted U-curve; doing too little will result in sub-optimal results, but doing too much is often wasteful.

So how can you identify this sweet spot? 

WHERE ARE YOU ON THE CURVE?

Hotels on the left side of the curve (usually large branded properties) typically allocate little to no budget in marketing beyond their brand fees. 

They often have a lackluster brand.com web page, no outside marketing investments and their distribution relies almost entirely on third-parties. The good news is that if your flagged hotel is on that part of the curve, any additional marketing investment will help you move to the flat middle of it, where investments and return are in balance and your profitability is at its zenith. 

The majority of hotels fall between the left side and the flat middle of the curve (and need to spend more to achieve their goals. However, if you categorize OTA commissions as marketing costs, virtually every hotel immediately moves to the right side of the curve, where spending more often delivers diminishing returns. As Kalibri Labs notes in their recent report: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace: “if you’re growing top-line revenue —but you’re spending a lot to do it—then you’re ultimately less successful in contributing to overall profits. Not an optimal strategy.”

However, if profit is not your primary goal (i.e. hotels rebranding, new openings, brand awareness projects, etc.) spending MORE may be the correct strategy, but for the vast majority of hotels (if you believe Malcolm Gladwell) it is not. 

So, how much is too much when it comes to hotel marketing?

Marketing effects profitability

According to a recent Gartner Research study, companies spend an average of 12% of their annual revenue on marketing. A recent CMO Survey comes to similar conclusions, highlighting how tech companies are among the biggest spenders (14%) when it comes to marketing. The hotel industry, however, seems to pay an even higher price (up to 25%, according to Kalibri Labs).  Tom Klein, the former CEO of Sabre, recently stated in a Tnooz interview that Travel “is not 90% margin like many of the businesses that Google and Facebook and others are in.” With OTAs’ average commission at 19% and direct booking cost-per-acquisition growing year after year, industry margins are under siege. 

So while ADR and RevPAR are important metrics, you should also focus solely “ProPAR” (Profit per Available Room): the revenue generated per room minus the investments needed to acquire the guest. Here again, we strongly recommend categorizing OTA commissions as marketing costs to get a true picture of your marketing budget and its effect on profitability!

WHAT ABOUT DIRECT BOOKINGS?

Because of high 3rd party acquisition costs, there has been a lot of attention on building direct channels, just think about Hilton’s Stop Clicking Around campaign:

The unavoidable truth is that it is also very easy to overspend when it comes to direct booking investments and you can find yourself on the right side of the inverted-U curve without even realizing it. Similar to the OTA channel, direct reservations also have growing costs. 

Special discounted rates, loyalty programs, hotel digital marketing, PPC, metasearch engines and social media ads to name a few. Our advice to clients has always been: “you should have an unlimited budget for things that work…”

This philosophy requires a near-manic obsession with ROI tracking and analytics that requires serious software and some intensely nerdy data, scientists. As the CMO Survey reinforces: when respondents were broken into three groups—high, medium and low usage of ROI analytics— marketing budgets were 70 percent larger in the high group than the low group.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Before you can determine how much to budget for marketing, hotel execs need to answer three critical questions:

1.  What are the revenue targets by segment? (more on this here)

Without a concrete understanding of targets by segment, hotel marketers cannot quantify (or deploy) their budgets properly… leading to misalignment with ownership and missed targets.

2. Where is the property in its lifecycle?

Recently opened hotels, or properties which went through a rebranding, in fact, should be less focused on return on investment and more on building awareness. In cases like these, 20-25% of annual revenue spent on marketing is common. If, on the other hand, your hotel has matured to a more advanced stage and it’s been in business for 3+ years, then 8-15% of your annual revenue on marketing should be more than enough to guarantee you a good balance between profit and visibility. 

3.  How much revenue is marketing accountable for…?

As the CMO Survey points out: Marketing is responsible for leading revenue growth at 38.4 percent of companies. These companies have larger marketing budgets as a percentage of the overall company budget than companies that do not assign primary responsibility for revenue growth to marketing.”

Friday Freebie: Follow These Digital Breadcrumbs To Find Out What Guests Really Want

May 18, 2018

Friday Freebie: What Guests Really WantWelcome 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: Travelers are already telling us what they want, what they’re excited about and what will draw them in. Just listen closely in the right places and embrace this data to improve your hotel product and overall marketing results. 

There’s no need to conduct a survey to find out what guests want. They’ve already revealed this information online. And, it’s readily available to you. 

You can easily discover what travelers are seeking in a hotel experience by listening and monitoring the right places:

  1. Use Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool to see what keywords visitors are searching for
  2. Monitor your social media posts and comments AND your compset’s
  3. Monitor your TripAdvisor reviews AND your compset’s
  4. Study your DMO’s research on regional visitors and their habits
  5. Comb through post-stay surveys

By keeping a close tab on this readily available data, you’ll be able to see both the threats and the opportunities for improving your hotel product and service experience. For instance:

  1. Do you get frequent complaints regarding a specific aspect of your hotel?
  2. Are travelers to your destination talking about a certain new attraction?
  3. Is there a spike in keyword searches for hotels near a certain neighborhood?
  4. What are the top activities and attractions near you (and how are you partnered with them)?
  5. These priceless digital breadcrumbs and golden nuggets of information will assist you in building a customer path straight to your door.

Get More: Hotel Marketers and Accidental Narcissists 


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: How to Uncover Guests’ Hidden Instagram Photos

April 27, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This week’s Freebie: Your guests are creating FREE ultra-creative marketing content almost every day. Here’s how to uncover that treasure trove of evangelism!

Right now as you read this, a guest is documenting their stay at your property and posting it on Instagram for all their followers to see.

From breakfast in bed to epic balcony sunsets, these photos and videos are far more authentic, unique and imaginative than anything the most creative hotel marketer can come up with consistently. Plus, your guests’ posts carry more influence since they are authentic, not manufactured. This SOCIAL PROOF builds validation and inspires their followers to consider a stay. You can collect these posts and use them for future marketing collateral (with permission) or to repost on Instagram to your own audience.

In other words – Your guests’ Instagram posts are precious marketing gold. And, the goodies just keep flowing in. 

Only problem is that many of these photos and videos are ‘hidden.’ You’ll only be notified of a guest’s post if they happen to use your official Instagram account name, otherwise known as a ‘handle.’ So, if a user leaves that out, you may never see their post.

Unless, you get proactive.

Here are three easy and proactive ways to unearth guests’ Insta content:

  1. Search the generic name of your hotel. For example, the Grafton on Sunset (@graftononsunset), should search ‘grafton hotel’ or ‘hotel grafton’ to catch any posts where guests used those names.
  2. Search any property specific hashtags that a guest might have used instead of your handle, like #graftononsunset or #hotelgrafton
  3. Monitor your property geo-tags, an automatic label that is marked when an Instagram user posts from your location.

Monitor these three methods daily to catch any timely content, as well as to catch any feedback or comments that guests make about their hotel experience.

Get More: Why Every Flagged Hotel Should be Rethinking Instagram


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: Use Content To Become A Meetings Magnet

April 6, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This week’s freebie: Consistently attract group/event planners with content that touts your city as a meetings-worthy destination — with you in the center of it all.

CVBs and DMOs aren’t the only ones who can produce destination content.

Hotels would be smart to create their own online destination pieces to drive traffic to their website. While many properties already create content touting leisure travel, very few hotels craft group-oriented content to cultivate traffic and awareness for group leads.

By creating helpful, “infotainment” content for meeting planners, you will establish your hotel and sales team as being the leader in your region. AND, position your hotel as being the most experienced property to host meetings and events in the area.

Creating content for the meetings industry doesn’t have to be time intensive. In fact, here’s the secret to producing several pieces in just a couple of hours:

REPURPOSE.

Take content that you’ve already written for your leisure audience and customize for a meetings audience by adding an ‘events’ spin throughout.

For example, here are repurposed titles that were originally written for the transient traveler:

Waterfront Teambuilding Activities in Chesapeake Bay

Philadelphia Group Tours for Conventioneers Who Love History

6 Venues for Corporate Dinners in Breckenridge

Best Louisville Distilleries for Group Bourbon Tastings

Post to your hotel blog, LinkedIn, or use as content for sales email newsletters. Produce meetings-inspired content often to give event planners a reason to consistently consider your property.

Get More: 6 Ways Hotel Marketing Can Generate More Leads for the Sales Team


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: Want More Business/Corporate Transient? Try this.

March 30, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This week’s Freebie: 

Start applying basic digital marketing tactics to enhance traction with the corporate/business transient segment.   

2018 is going to be a hot year for corporate travel.`

The Global Business Travel Association and Carlson Wagonlit Travel 2018 forecasts predict corporate travel spending will increase by 6.1 percent this year, up from the expected 2017 increase of 5.1 percent.

However, despite the growth, don’t expect corporate travelers to be drawn to your hotel on their own. You’ll need to sharpen your plan to attract their business.

Here are FOUR easy ways to grow your hotel’s business travel bookings in 2018:

  1. Make Your Business Benefits Obvious

According to a report by Concur and GBTA, 7 out of 10 travelers booked outside of their company’s channels at least once in 2017. So, even if you are a leisure property, it makes sense to showcase your business amenities thoroughly to this massive segment.

Create a page on your hotel website just for business travelers. Offer solutions and packages for corporate travelers, such as offering free early/late checkout, complimentary in-room WiFi, and complimentary breakfast.

  1. Send Only Targeted Email Campaigns to Corporate Travelers

Generic emails promoting resort services are not relevant to business road warriors. Instead, tout your airport shuttle, morning breakfast buffet, parking and nearby transportation options, business center, list of company headquarters in your area, ironing and laundry services, area eateries with grab-and-go options and your 24-hour fitness center.

      3. Optimize Your Website With Corporate Search Terms
Be deliberate with your hotel website content and write in terms that are relevant to corporate travelers. Create a business FAQ page that answers questions that business travelers are apt to ask. Highlight all of your amenities that are vital to corporate travel. Not only are you offering relevant content to this audience, it can be a magnet for SEO traffic.

      4. Create a “Bleisure offer”
Create an offer solely for business travelers that extends the corporate rate a few days before and after their reservation. Then, consider adding on simple perks during those extra days that address “bleisure needs such as complimentary breakfast, a late check-out, passes to a nearby gym (if your property doesn’t offer a fitness center) and a calendar of unique/authentic local events happening nearby.

Once the offer is created, use your CRM system to share the offer with all guests marked with corporate rate codes in your PMS before their stay. Include the offer in their pre-stay email, remind them at check-in and if possible… leave them a note during their stay.


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

Why Do Some Hotel Marketers Get Everything They Want?

March 13, 2018

Smart hotel marketing pros are using simple math get more budget.

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With the hotel industry enjoying a period of record performance, posting all-time highs for occupancy, ADR and RevPAR, one of the most talked-about ways to improve performance (and delight ownership) are to reduce the cost of guest acquisition.

And that begins with fully understanding a vital metric: your hotel’s CLV-to-CAC ratio.

But unlike many other industries that have already embraced the concept, too many hotel marketers are still unable to quantify their CLV-to-CAC formula.

This can be overcome with a little effort, offering a major potential boost to the bottom line and a far stronger bargaining position when asking ownership for more marketing dollars (and a raise)!

What Does It Mean?

To get started, there are some basic principles to know, beginning with terminology.

CLV stands for “Customer Lifetime Value,” meaning the revenue your hotel can expect to earn from each guest over the lifespan of that customer’s relationship with you. CAC, meanwhile, is short for “Cost to Acquire Customer,” or your total sales and marketing spend to attract each customer and obtain the aforementioned CLV. The premise behind the CLV-to-CAC formula is to maximize that ratio as much as possible.

There are multiple benefits from having a strong CLV-to-CAC ratio, including enabling hotel marketers to ask owners for more investment dollars, for example, imagine being able to tell ownership: “We spent $300,000 last year to attract 5,000 NEW guests, who represent a LIFETIME VALUE of three million dollars in revenue… in other words, for every dollar you give me, I’m giving you ten dollars back in gross revenue.”

So how do hoteliers calculate their CLV to CAC ratio?

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According to Kissmetrics, a well-known web/data analysis company, Starbucks CLV is more than $14,000.

Here are the core steps:

1. Making the Calculations

To come up with your CLV, first, consider how many times a guest typically stays at your hotel(s) over a multi-year period. Then, deduce the total value of those stays. Multiply that value by the total amount of visits per guest and that is the CLV you will use in the formula.

Next, to arrive at a value for CAC, simply divide the TOTAL amount your property spends on sales and marketing for each segment (ie: transient vs group vs corporate) by the total number of guests from that segment.

EXAMPLE:
So, if a hotel attracts 1,000 new guests this year and spends $100,000 to do it, the CAC equals $100.

2. What to include in CAC?

When calculating CAC for each demand segment, be sure to include salaries, expenses, technologies, advertising and any other investments made specifically to attract bookings for that specific segment. That may include, for example, a customer relationship management (CRM) system and trade show booth that is part of the CAC for your hotel’s sales efforts for attracting the corporate business segment.

Other costs, like Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, and social media fees should be attributed primarily to transient guest CAC calculations. On the other hand,
your hotel’s website, the salary for your director of sales and marketing (DOSM) and other “shared” costs can be distributed evenly across all segments that your property targets.

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3. The Results:

Using the calculations described above, divide the CLV by the CAC to arrive at the ratio.

For example, if a hotel has a CLV of $5,000 per transient guest and the CAC for each transient guest equals $100, then the CLV-to-CAC ratio is 50x. In other words, for every dollar spent on sales and marketing to target that guest, the hotel will earn back $50.

That is the kind of return owners love!

And that is the kind of math that separates serious hotel marketers from those just focused on pretty pictures!

Now compare results to your OTA costs!

Once you know your own CLV-to-CAC ratio, you can compare it to the CLV-to-CAC of bookings derived from third-party online travel agencies (OTAs).

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You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by what you find: Typically, OTA-driven guests are less loyal and will have a lower CLV as a result. Also, the commissions on those bookings may be higher than the CAC you are achieving on your own.

So, in the quest to drive hotel profitability even further into the stratosphere, make it a top priority today to learn your CLV-to-CAC ratio for each customer segment you target. By offering such compelling insight, the CLV-to-CAC ratio can be an incredibly powerful stat for hotel marketers to cite to owners when requesting more marketing dollars.

You’ll be much more likely to obtain the budget you need when your owner is assured their investment will lead to a far better payoff down the road.


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: Stop Obsessing Over This Hotel Marketing Metric

March 9, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This week’s Freebie: Stop obsessing about the quantity of traffic and visitors to your hotel website…instead, focus on how many actually enter the booking environment!

It’s every hotel marketer’s reality:

We have loads of stats to track…from website stats, search rankings, to social media likes and email open rates. And we know that gathering data is instrumental to finessing our marketing campaigns and being accountable to ownership and upper management.

However, some metrics can be dangerously misleading. One of those often-deceptive metrics happens to be extremely popular in hotel marketing: Online traffic and visitors to your hotel website.

Why is it misleading?

While a gradual, sustained increase in website traffic is a great thing, don’t let the numbers mislead you into thinking your site is performing better than it really is (conversely, if it drops, don’t freak out and think the sky is falling.)

The following are just a few of the factors can cause your traffic/visitors to create a “false echo” and send you off trying to fix (or replicate) something that it is out of your control:

  1. Seasonality can affect traffic up and down.
  2. A major PR story about your property can cause traffic to spike.
  3. PPC and Promo campaigns (avoid Groupon please!) can increase traffic and cause it to drop when its over.
  4. Local/regional events nearby your property will cause it to spike & drop.
  5. Changes in the way Google displays their search engine result pages (SERPs) can actually cause LESS traffic to come to your site (because users are getting their answers right on Google’s SERPs!

Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of traffic, not quantity.

And there are three primary keys to attracting QUALITY traffic:

  1. Tell the story only your property can tell: If you want to find the right guests who will buy and return, then you have to give them a truthful, relevant reason to consider you! You must understand your ideal guest persona and communicate your UVP across every marketing touchpoint.
  2. Stop using cheap tactics: Lots of unsavory digital “publishers” sell access to cheap traffic. But what good does it do if your traffic is coming from click-robots in Kazakhstan? Your digital team (or ask your guests!) should be able to easily explain which media they actually consume on their purchase journey.  (And do we really need to talk about the poor quality traffic from flash sale providers like Groupon?)
  3. Invest in long-term organic hotel SEO content: Choose the right keywords to start building long-term content around: You will never rank on page 1 of Google for “Hotels in Boston” but you have a decent shot of ranking for “Hotels near Fenway Park” if your SEO and content team is producing content EVERY MONTH with that “long-tail” focus.  Another simple trick: your content can bring you loads of quality search traffic if it answers the questions of your potential customers… you can use this handy/cheap tool to see what questions people are actually typing in about your market and compset

REMEMBER: If you have to pick one thing to focus on to measure the performance of your website, track entrances into your hotel booking engine and calls to your reservation center. 

Get more examples: We Need to Talk About Hotel Metrics


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

It’s Valentine’s Day: What Are Hotel Marketers Loving?

February 13, 2018

Hotel marketing folks are infatuated with these 7 things…

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Each year around Valentine’s Day, we ask clients, partners and industry insiders what they are feeling warm and fuzzy about… here are the 7 things they’re smitten with right now:

1. A Strong Economy and Positive Industry Forecasts 

The smart folks at STR, CBRE and PWC all generally agree that 2018 will be another year of steady growth for the hotel industry. (You can download STR’s detailed breakdown by market here.) Fueled by a strong global economy, relatively low gas prices and limited supply growth, the US hotel industry is once again expected to enjoy positive RevPAR and ADR growth. And since all boats rise with the tide… hotel marketers are riding the wave to happiness and career growth.

image22. Robust Career Opportunities

Speaking of career growth… hotel marketers are seeing more opportunities than ever. Industry results have expanded budgets and created new roles. While the allure of the hotel industry and the fast-tracked promotional opportunities make hotel marketing and hotel social media jobs some of the most coveted in the country.

3. Elevated Consumer Awareness of Direct Booking Benefits

Thanks to the massive media outreach by Hilton and Marriott’s direct booking campaigns, we’re seeing heightened public recognition of the benefits of booking direct. The idea is to educate travelers and chip away at the myth that OTAs save guests money. With the stage set, more and more hotels are following in Hilton and Marriott’s footsteps with their own hotel marketing campaigns enticing audiences to book direct.

Plus, hotel marketers at properties of all sizes are now armed with new digital hotel marketing tools and previously unaffordable technology that can help them drive direct room revenue, instead of settling for costly OTA bookings. The momentum of the “book direct movement” is growing and hotel marketing folks are excited to see where it’s headed.

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4. Owners’ Investment in a Remarkable Product

New hotels with bold concepts and fresh guest experiences are springing up in all directions, so hotel owners need to invest in their properties to keep up with modern expectations.

Thankfully, more and more hotel owners are realizing that the best hotel marketing investment they can make is in enhancing their property, the experience and the service.

If your property is providing a lackluster experience with frayed edges, outdated décor, and musty smells, no amount of brilliant marketing can save you from the downward spiral of lost revenue.

5. Social Evangelism

Hotel social media managers are feeling blessed to have guests who gush and brag about their stay on Facebook and post foodie pics to Instagram. Not only have they made marketing travel engagingly personal and authentic, they come at no cost to the hotelier.

Over the last few years, storytelling and “user-generated content (UGC)” has become one of the most popular (and cost-effective) ways for hotel marketers to win guests’ hearts and wallets.

Why?

Because consumers no longer trust advertising… they trust each other. As this article in AdAge so aptly put it: “Your brand is defined by the interactions people have with it.”

User-generated content, especially photos, videos and posts about on-property experiences are more authentic, less sales focused… and let’s face it, usually more creative than anything hotel social media folks could ever dream up.

6. Metasearch: An Attractive and Less Expensive Option

It’s easy to see why travelers love metasearch, such as Google and TripAdvisor: They receive all the key details needed to research and book their stays all in one place, like real-time pricing, availability, hotel information, guest reviews and location.

But, hotel marketers are loving metasearch too.

They are using these sites to boost direct bookings instead of relying on OTAs and paying high commissions. You can pay-per-click or pay booking commissions (still less expensive than traditional OTA fees) – all while getting brand exposure and access to travelers who are just entering the consideration and booking funnel.

7. Digital Personalization

Every year, new hotel website and booking engine technology allows 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.

And hotel marketers 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, which provides tremendous power to hotel marketers when it comes time for annual performance and budget reviews.


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: Stop Giving Money Away, Kill the Promo Code Box Today

January 26, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Stop giving away money in your booking engine… kill the promo code box!

Modern travelers are savvy, deal-seekers.

If a hotel deal exists, they’ll find it, use it, then expect it every time.

Such is the case with that prominent ‘promo code’ field found on practically every hotel’s booking engine. That prominent discount or promo code field makes online visitors doubt their purchase decision and will convince them that if they start trolling coupon sites, they can get money off of the room rate.

If they’ve made it far in the booking process that means they were likely dead set on completing the reservation before the irresistible appeal of a promo code field sent them off on a search for elusive promo codes!

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There IS a place for promo codes in smart hotel marketing.

Here’s How to Use Them Instead:

1. To Lure Back Unfinished Reservations

When travelers don’t complete their reservations, which can happen for several reasons, lure them back by offering a promo code through your reservation abandonment system and retargeting ads. This way, promo codes will only be shown to a highly engaged audience and will not show up in search results across the web. Use the principle of scarcity to make this even more appealing by adding a deadline to use the promo code before it expires. For example, “Come back and complete your booking within 24 hours and we’ll take 15% off.”

2. Create Your Own Page of Current Promos and Link Back to It

Macy’s has a brilliant solution to keeping shoppers on their hotel website while they’re looking for promo codes. Next to their Promo Code box, they invite shoppers to take a look at all of their current promotions and provide a convenient link to the list of codes. In your hotel’s case, include a direct link back to your special offers page where travelers can look at all of the promos you have available at the moment. By offering an internal link to your own promotions, you’ll reduce the number of visitors who would have abandoned their reservation to search for a discount or promo code on another site. Plus, you’re also showing transparency to the guest by letting them know you are willing to help them find travel savings.

SEE MORE: The Perils of Promo Codes

3. Track and Measure Advertising ROI

You can use coupon and promo codes to track and measure the success of your advertising. The concept is easy – just publish a different code for your different ad buys. For example, use a different code in your email marketing versus Facebook versus pay-per-click. This way you can track how many sales are generated from your various media placements.

Get Rid of the Promo Code Box All Together and Replace with Auto-Fill

Customize your advertising links so that if there is a promo code available, the inbound ad link into your website will take prospects directly to your booking engine where the promo code will automatically be plugged in. This way, you don’t have to have the promo code box on your hotel website at all. Which means, shoppers won’t leave your site to go find a discount somewhere else on the web.


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

Turnover: The Hidden Killer of Hotel Marketing (and What to Do about It)

January 23, 2018

Hotel marketing is hard enough without constant turnover.

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Sometimes, one of the greatest obstacles to successful hotel marketing lurks within your own office…

Staff turnover, especially when it’s excessively high, can be an absolute killer for most businesses, and your hotel marketing team is no exception. So learning to attract, cultivate and retain marketing staff—instead of churning through them—may have a wider impact than even the smartest of ad campaigns.

At hotels, specifically, there are a number of reasons why turnover of marketing staff makes it hard to achieve ownership’s revenue targets:

1. Consistency Is Vital to Success

In the hotel business—which is built largely upon brands and properties delivering on a standardized promise to meet guest expectations—few things are as important as consistency. Beyond just a flag’s amenities or service experience, that consistency clearly extends to marketing, particularly the frequency and content of consistent product messaging. It’s difficult to achieve that desired consistency if there is a revolving door of staffers creating those messages.

2. Familiarity with Guest Personas, Seasonality and Periods of Weakness

See #3. Learning the nuances of your hotel’s demand patterns requires time and experience, which won’t be the case if turnover is high. By keeping marketing staff long-term, those same patterns will become a cyclical strategy, where marketers know exactly how to fine-tune efforts.

3. New staff Is Hard to Find

There’s a dearth of quality marketing talent in the hotel business, especially digital talent, for a number of reasons. For starters, many top-notch digital marketers have gravitated to other industries or start-ups with a higher “cool factor” or earning potential. Corporate hotel cultures, often viewed as overly traditional, can dissuade younger marketing pros seeking more of a Silicon Valley workplace vibe.

4. New Staff Don’t Understand the Hotel’s Product or Message

It takes time to educate new hotel marketing staff on your property’s unique history, message and product experience. If your marketing staff is perpetually changing, you’re constantly putting new employees through the same learning curve, without reaping the benefits.

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How does a bad hire hurt your organization? Here are the responses, according to a Career Builder study.

5. They Have to Build Relationships with Team Members in Other Departments (I.E. Revenue Management)

No team is an island, and for marketing staff, it is increasingly important to foster and maintain strong relationships and communication with other departments, especially with revenue/yield management personnel. Again, that’s tough to achieve in a high-turnover environment.

6. They Often Have to Pick up (on the Fly) Existing Campaigns, Vendors and Marketing Programs That They Did Not Create

The learning curve for a new marketing staffer is multiplied when they are asked to shoulder—often rapidly—campaigns, agreements and initiatives that were formulated by previous employees. That can lead to a huge difference in vision and background on these projects once the new staffer is in charge. Especially if their predecessor had a jumbled mix of disparate vendors in place.

7. They Inherit Someone Else’s Goals

Marketing objectives can be highly personal (and stressful) to the marketer who set them. When a new employee inherits those goals, it may not be the best fit for that marketer’s skill set and vision for what they hope to achieve at their new post.

8. Departing Staff Take Lots of Proprietary Knowledge and Investment with Them

Sure, you can ask departing staffers to turn over all materials, notes and other information they have before they leave for good, but there will still be untold amounts of knowledge and experience they will invariably take with them when they leave. Sometimes the best solution to this problem is convincing them to stay, or at a bare minimum, asking them to be available to brief their replacement.

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A Study from Paychex revealing why employees leave.

Thankfully, there are ways to combat the turnover dragon. Successful strategies include:

1. Hire Wisely

One of the most effective means of reducing turnover on your hotel marketing team is to make smart hiring decisions in the first place. That means thoroughly interviewing and vetting candidates before extending offers, factoring in the candidate’s compatibility with your office culture, management and fellow staffers.

SEE: The Seven Traits of Great Hotel Digital Marketers

2. Pay Generously

Offering candidates a fair and market-competitive salary and benefits package is another important means of ensuring staff retention. Take some time to research prevailing wages, while brainstorming benefits, perks and incentives to sweeten the deal, if necessary. That may include concessions like flexible work schedules and various bonuses.

3. Revisit Annually

It’s a good idea to review staff salaries and benefits annually, in order to ensure you are keeping up with the marketplace. If possible, tap your HR team as your news pipeline to this end.

4. Get Flexible

Devise methods of offering greater flexibility to your hotel marketing team in order to foster a healthy work/life balance. That may include flexible and/or compressed schedules, telecommuting and on-site daycare. Embrace communications tools like Skype and chat applications such as Slack to keep remote teams/staffers in touch throughout the day.

5. Maintain Interest Levels

An engaged employee is a happy one.

Foster a challenging and rewarding work environment, filled with learning opportunities and potential for advancement, and your employees will thank you. Nurture healthy levels of social action among the staff, as well as proper praise and recognition from management, when deserved. Sometimes little compliments and courtesies go a very long way.

6. Praise Excellence

It’s extremely important to properly recognize employees who are performing well, whether the praise comes in the form of verbal recognition, emails, awards and/or special perks. Monthly company-wide emails detailing team/staff achievements are great, as are peer-recognition programs. Don’t hesitate to report those achievements up the chain to superiors, either; even when emailing a thank you note to a subordinate, consider CCing higher-ups for a added recognition. If you need to get a handle on what to praise, ask staffers for regular updates on their accomplishments, including some data and figures when and where possible.

7. Stress the Big Picture

Help your staffers visualize a future direction for them beyond just their current day-to-day responsibilities. Outline the wider career track they are headed down, spotlighting goals and achievements those staffers should target along the way. Use annual reviews and mid-year check-ins as a means of opening these discussions, as well as spontaneous chats. Always encourage everyone on your hotel marketing team to speak with you regarding any questions or concerns they may have.


About Tambourine

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

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