Browsing Tag

direct bookings

The Painful Truth About Hotel Loyalty Programs

March 28, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

  • Hotels can’t grow market share by targeting existing customers.
  • In today’s modern environment, even your most loyal guests will shop around.
  • It's vital to focus on boosting your exposure to new audiences.

For years, marketing gurus and experts have taught hoteliers to focus on driving bookings from their loyal customers.

These are the guests who book a few times during the year.

Admittedly, this seems like one of the smartest and most sound hotel marketing strategies around to boost direct bookings – market to the people who already know and love you. The plethora of guest data you now have at your fingertips makes marketing to this current base of customers even easier and seemingly foolproof.

However, new research may prove otherwise….

In his book, How Brands Grow, Professor Byron Sharp of The University of South Australia, applied statistical analysis to sales data to find what truly drives a company’s success. His conclusion sent shockwaves through the marketing world:


”Your customers are customers of other brands who occasionally buy you.”


Companies can’t grow sales numbers significantly by focusing on loyal customers, but instead they must focus on “light buyers” who buy products (i.e. book a room at your property) relatively infrequently.

In other words, loyal guests are not your ideal target audience. Single booking guests are.

To move the needle on your hotel’s growth, you must attract NEW guests, instead of relying on loyal customers to keep coming back.   

Single Bookings Spur Hotel Growth

Sharp cites Coca-Cola as an example of a successful global company that grew, not from Coca-Cola lovers who purchased and consumed the soda everyday, but from the millions of people who only drank it just a couple times a year.

Several other brands have come to rely on steady and strong sales from the masses that only purchase their products occasionally, with long breaks in between where these same customers purchase from competitors.

And let's face it, OTAs, the culture of flash sales and last minute deals has made the travel industry one of the least loyal markets. In fact, 50 percent of American Airlines’ 2015 revenue came from 87 percent of its customers who flew on American Airlines just once that year.

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Overall, data from Phocuswright suggests that – other than elite members – most travelers do not prefer to book direct through hotel websites. Many travelers do not seem to care about the hotel's brand, as long as they get the perception of a good value by booking through OTAs.

However, most hotels today focus on past customer data and ways to reach and re-sell to their existing customers. After all, selling to your own guests appears low-risk, dependable and the quickest way to boost revenue.

Wrong, says Sharp.

He contends that the expense and effort that brands employ to market to their own customers is largely ineffective. 

“Loyalty programs do practically nothing to drive growth,” Sharp said.

The Painful Truth: Guests Shop Around

Companies largely over estimate just how loyal their customers really are.

The McKinsey Global Institute has been studying consumer decision journeys (the often erratic path people take as they move along from brand awareness to purchase), since 2009. Their studies show that the key to top-line growth is understanding the behavior of modern consumers.

Their research uncovered that even your most loyal hotel guests, including members of your loyalty program, consider booking at other hotels more often than you know.

Over the years, McKinsey found that the bond customers have with their favorite brands has been slipping. Active engagement in loyalty programs slipped by 2 percent. Plus, 58 percent of loyalty members don’t even use the program or take advantage of its benefits after signing up.

Why aren’t travelers as loyal as they once were?

More choices and new technologies.

With all the channels and travel sites at a guest’s fingertips, it’s easier than ever before to research and book travel reservations. Hundreds of mobile apps open up a world of hotel options where guests can view and compare prices and amenities, read guest reviews and size up hotels side-by-side.

Also, people are more clued in to what their family and friends are buying, loving, referring (and disliking) via social media.  All of these distractions and online triggers can cause even your best hotel guests to shop around. 

And, suffice to say that in today’s digital world, people can’t help but consider more options.

Social Media Engagement: Not as Vital as You Thought?

Modern customer decision journeys are also challenging the notion of engaging your “loyal” hotel social media followers.

According to Forrester Research, people who join and ‘like’ Facebook brand pages hardly ever interact or click on them thereafter. Their research shows the engagement rate of a Facebook brand page is generally 7 out of 10,000 users and for Twitter the rate is 3 out of 10,000. This lack of engagement is even worse for hotels who fail to produce compelling, fresh, authentic social content every week - 24/7/365.

McKinsey noted that most customers aren’t aware of, and simply not interested in, the differences between your brand or your competitor next door. And, those guests who do have a brand preference may decide to book with another hotel brand if it happens to be cheaper that day.

This fickleness shows that single-bookers (again, the ones who are really driving your success) don’t think of your property as remarkable, or even unique. They’re also not likely fans of your brand, on social media or anywhere else. It’s no surprise then that these buyers aren’t interacting with your brand on social media channels. Engaging and enticing “loyal buyers” to re-engage with you is necessary, but hardly a silver bullet.

In addition to trying to push your existing audience to engage with your hotel on social channels, focus on boosting the broad awareness of your hotel experience instead.

Then, get creative about translating the broad awareness to actual hotel consideration by creating interactive content on your hotel website, including destination guides, Chat-with–the-Concierge tools and powerful galleries of user-generated photos.

Other industry leaders have perfected this concept. For example, L’Oreal offers make-up tutorials instead of simply touting their products, while Charles Schwab offers basic financial planning lessons and investment calculators, in addition to showcasing their products. 

Hotel Marketing’s Critical New Battleground

The shiftiness of guest loyalty suggests that hotel marketers need to focus more on the moments when guests are INITIALLY considering which hotel to book (known as the initial consideration set).

According to McKinsey, the players in the initial consideration set are twice as likely to book versus the ones that pop up later in the guest’s decision-making process.

This confirms the need for hotel marketers to win travelers’ attention at the very beginning of the booking journey. And, drastically changes the dynamic of marketing mainly to guests who have previously stayed at your property, a tactic that hotel marketers have counted on for years.

When marketing to loyal hotel guests, normally you focus on a narrow collection of high-value customers, then use your marketing budget to retain them. In contrast, when marketing to grow your hotel’s exposure in the initial consideration set, you need to cast out a wider net to reach people who have little or no knowledge of your property.

Boosting Exposure is Vital to Boosting Growth

So, if marketing to and engaging with your current customers doesn’t drive growth at your property, what will?

What will reach people who don’t need you and don’t know you, so that when they are ready to book, your hotel comes to mind?

Advertising, answers Sharp.

“Advertising works best when it doesn’t try and persuade, but merely makes us remember a brand at the moment of purchase,” he said.

Advertising opens people’s eyes to your hotel. For instance, by keeping their beverage brand in people’s minds, Coca-Cola ads increase the probability of people buying their product by such a small margin that consumers hardly notice it. For this reason, most consumers claim they are not swayed by advertising.

When crafting advertising experiences, think of your two audiences:

1st Audience: Guests who enjoyed a stay at your hotel in the past, but who have not booked since then. According to McKinsey, these lapsed guests hold high potential since they have some knowledge of the brand, even if their experience was several years ago. You just need to find out why they never returned or if their habits or lifestyle have changed.

2nd Audience: These are the travelers who have no experience with your hotel. They may not understand what you offer, have never considered staying with you before, or perhaps have pre-conceived notions about your guest experience.

For both audiences, the solution is to create a unique story and innovative new services, products and news to stay at the top of their minds. Continue building new packages, guest experiences and amenities to drum up excitement.

Conclusion

While the significance of boosting exposure to new audiences is hardly a cutting-edge concept, research confirms that it now requires a new focus.

Both Sharp and MGI don’t suggest ignoring your most loyal guests to make room for new customers. Rewarding and retaining these repeat guests is still important. In fact, 42 percent of purchases are from customers who had purchased from that brand before.

However, focusing your hotel marketing budget on mainly retaining guest loyalty is a risky move since today’s shop-around mentality means you’ll lose more guests than add new ones.

Instead, boost your hotel’s growth by focusing more on creative products and services for the 87 percent of consumers who are likely to leave your compset in favor of trying out others.

Get more: Hotel Marketing – 10 Things That Worked in 2016


About Tambourine

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

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

Video: Watch What Happens When OTA Users Actually Shop Online

March 21, 2017 • By

Everybody has theories about why so many people prefer to shop for hotels on OTAs… but have you ever actually seen them do it?

To find out why so many guests prefer booking hotel stays on an OTA instead of a hotel brand/direct website, we hired UserTesting.com, a well-known website testing company that records unbiased (but demographically relevant) consumers while they search and book hotels online.

See for yourself!

Here are two videos of actual users (listen to their comments) as they shop for rooms on Expedia and then directly from the hotel's website:

Video 1: Click here to view. Participant using desktop computer. Male | 35–55 | United States | Income $100K–$150K+

Video 2: Click here to view. Participant using smartphone. Female | 35–55 | United States | Income $100K–$150K+

Here Are 3 Key Lessons to Take Away From These Two Customers' Experiences:

1. A Slow Booking Process Will Hurt Revenues

What we found reinforced a lot of what hotel marketers already know: guests think OTAs are easy-to-navigate and appreciated their simple process. In comparison, a hotel’s site was lengthier, not as intuitive and required too much information to complete a booking.

One user said, “Expedia was a lot easier and a quicker process to use. While the hotel’s website experience was not a bad one, it was more …’time-consuming,’ asked for more details. As a busy traveler, I would prefer to navigate through the check out process quickly.”

Consider this: It requires TWO steps to book a hotel on an OTA, inputting personal information and payment details.

To make the same reservation directly from the same hotel found on Expedia, the user had to navigate through SIX steps. This included asking the customer to select optional amenities like wine/champagne or flower arrangements, input a loyalty membership number, request a room preference and enter arrival and departure information.

2. Prominently Showcase Direct Booking Benefits

Your guests are not hotel industry insiders.

They don’t immediately understand why it’s best to book direct. So, it is up to you to tell them WHY they should. After all, once a customer discovers your property on an OTA, the next place they go is to your hotel’s direct website. So, give them legit reasons to book direct rather than returning to the OTA.

Make it obvious if you offer free Wifi, free parking, discounts at the spa and restaurant, or whatever other perks you offer guests REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY BOOK DIRECT OR NOT (sometimes, OTAs fail to showcase these perks)!

People have fleeting attention spans, so it’s important to make these benefits prominent and distinct, not buried in small letters or on an interior page of your hotel's website. Put them on the homepage and make them obvious in as many places as you can.

3. Automate Your Best Rate Guarantee

Besides usability, another OTA benefit that users really appreciated was seeing all the options in one place. These users enjoyed being able to see many hotels and pricing options from one site. 

This is yet another brilliant OTA tactic: Show your competition and their prices, so that customers aren’t tempted to leave your site to compare prices on their own.

Borrow this winning strategy by showing rates from various channels directly on your website. After all, guests don’t know that OTAs offer the same price for a room, nor are they aware of the concept of rate parity.

The best way to tackle this is to place your Best Rate Guarantee into your booking engine itself, where rates from OTAs are displayed alongside your own. Not only does this satisfy a guest’s desire to comparison shop, it proves that booking direct offers the best value.


While it’s easy to point fingers at OTAs for siphoning customers and bookings, let’s not forget who truly drives their success… the customers themselves.


It’s the customers who decide where to research room rates. It’s the customers who decide where to spend their money.

If anything, OTAs need to be credited for their marketing prowess. It’s only because of their careful attention to the user experience and customer preferences that customers are drawn to them in the first place.


 About Tambourine

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

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

3 Fast, Fresh Lessons Hoteliers Can Learn From Dominos

March 14, 2017 • By

In a world of lightning-fast technology and constant industry disruption, one skill has risen as a top necessity for older companies to survive:

Innovation.

We’ll be the first to tell you that refusing to adapt and adhere to modern traveler tastes, behaviors and preferences will be the fastest road to failure.

We love seeing how some older companies in other industries own their responsibility to not only keep up with technology, but to embrace it as a product itself… and Dominos (yes, the pizza maker) is the perfect example of this.

How did this consumer-centric company “toss” aside their old ways, refuse to play it safe and innovate? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review talks about how Domino’s focused on innovation... and reveals a number of important lessons hoteliers can borrow:

1. Take Another Slice of Technology

Dominos in Action: Half of Dominos' headquarter office works on software and analytics. And, the company now proudly proclaims that they are just as much a technology company as a pizza company. This has transformed their customers’ ordering experience, giving them options to order by voice on the Domino app, by text or emoji and allowing them to track their delivery order.

Hotelier Lesson: Not only are your guests’ lives immersed in technology, but their guest experience with you is deeply affected by technology as well. And as millennials become the primary market audience, your ability to present a frictionless “technology experience” will affect your success. Can guests book easily on mobile? Can they order room service from an app or in-room iPad? Can they check in without standing in a line after a long flight?  What are you doing to use technology to remove friction from the booking and stay phases of customer interaction?

2. Your Ingredients Aren’t Tasty Enough

Dominos in Action: Instead of hiding behind inventive marketing, Dominos opted for transparency and some well-placed self-deprecation. When they engineered their comeback, their effort included ads that admitted their pizza wasn’t the best, even producing a commercial featuring customers comparing their pizza to cardboard.

This risky strategy worked in their favor, as it endeared customers and was the catalyst for the chain to reinvent all of their pizzas with better ingredients and an expanded menu that is now worthy of their customers' praise. They now credit their improved pizza product as the centerpiece for their successful rebound.

Hotelier Lesson: Here’s the universal truth: successful hotel marketing strategies start with a remarkable product. You can’t simply rely on marketing dollars to magically pull in more bookings. Too many hotels invest in clever, flashy campaigns, without making any significant improvements to their properties itself or investing in extraordinary experiences that will wow guests. Advertising should never receive blame for a hotel’s failure or credit for its success. No amount of marketing can overcome an inferior guest experience.

3. Refuse to Play it Safe

Dominos in Action: In order for Dominos to engineer such a triumphant comeback, it was essential to scrap their current marketing model and blaze into something totally different. They unleashed a series of innovative ways for customers to interact with the brand and order, including text- and emoji-enabled ordering, a new crowd-sourced delivery car design and an Uber-like pizza tracker that allows customers to track their pizza delivery. This positioned their 56-year-old company as a nimble, tech-enabled disruption machine, instead of the dinosaur they could have been if they had not taken any risks.

Hotelier Lesson: Most owners want to flip their assets reasonably quickly. Asset and management companies want to earn their fees and property-level folks want to keep their jobs... so many hotels are apathetic about innovation. They want to fly under the radar, quietly market their properties without fanfare and stay true to how things have always been done. These are prime examples of ‘omission bias’ (worrying more about the potential consequences of a bad move, rather than the dangers of apathy and inaction) and ‘loss aversion’ (playing to avoid losing, instead of playing to win).

Both of these principles do nothing but stifle your hotel’s creativity and innovation, which (as we stated earlier) is essential to survive in a world of increasing competition and non-stop disruption.

Lesson learned?

Doing nothing and continuing to market your property ‘as usual’ is the riskiest move of them all.


 About Tambourine

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

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

7 Signs Your Hotel Marketing is Out of Control

February 28, 2017 • By

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It’s easy to see how things can go off course in hotel marketing.

With an array of channels, disparate vendors and multiple audience segments to manage, it’s inevitable that some things may fall through the cracks, questions will go unanswered and mistakes could quickly multiply.

The good news is that even if your hotel marketing is out of control from time to time, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost control.

You are still at the helm and can turn things around whenever you decide to acknowledge the wrong turns you’ve made and the missing pieces you overlooked.

Here are a few of the telltale signs that your hotel marketing might need a reality check… and how to turn things around:

1. You’re Clueless About How Much You Pay OTAs

Sooner or later, your owners or managers will ask you, “How much are these OTA bookings really costing us?” It’s a question that all hoteliers dread. Why? Because OTA commissions are often opaque. They generally pay a net rate to the hotel, after collecting their commission. Unfortunately, this means the fees being paid to OTAs will never show up as an expense on your P&L statements.

Not only do these invisible marketing expenses cost significantly more than direct bookings, they also pose a threat to your other marketing assets as well. When owners look at the budget to see which marketing costs to scale back on, the first thing on the chopping blocks are the expenses that are actually shown, even if they produce profitable bookings, such as your hotel website.

So hidden OTA costs are allowed to continue, while your other marketing investments are reduced. You should specifically examine and document how much each OTA booking costs vs the actual cost per booking of alternative channels.

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2.  Too Many Vendors, Too Much Chaos

The more marketing vendors you work with, the more complications and chaos you can expect. Managing several, disconnected vendors to handle separate marketing functions, like advertising campaigns, hotel website design, email marketing or social media, can hurt you in several ways: First, you’re most likely paying more for each vendor’s separate services. You’re wasting time by managing and relaying messages from vendor to vendor. And, worst of all, no single vendor is held accountable for overall success. Instead, they likely point fingers at each other.   

The key is to consolidate.

Narrow down your marketing partners to those who you trust the most, who produce the best and those who can handle multiple critical functions.

3. You Can’t Measure Your Contributions

Hotel owners and managers expect their marketing teams to contribute to their revenue targets IN MEASURABLE WAYS. 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.

To show how your marketing efforts are contributing to the hotel’s revenue, calculate your marketing cost per booking (MCPB). Use this figure to prove your team’s value and make sure you’re given the proper correlated amount of marketing funds next year. 4. You’re Unable (or Afraid) to Discuss Property Upgrades With Owners

For the past few years, major hotel brands have invested millions in revamping their current properties or launching new collections in response to the expectations of modern travelers. With so many of these new or freshly renovated/re-imagined properties vying for your guests’ attention, it’s more important than ever to keep up and stay competitive by offering remarkable experiences, aesthetics and amenities.

It’s vital that your ownership is on board to invest in the necessary renovations, redesigns and upgrades. Or else, don’t be surprised when guests pass you over for the newer kid on the block. No amount of creativity and provocative marketing can mask an aging and tired property.

Remind your ownership of that unavoidable reality in the nicest possible way.

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5. You Fail at Rate Parity

We get it.

Managing rates can get complicated. Setting rates every day, for every room, on every channel can easily get overwhelming and confusing. And, not just for you, but your customers, as well. 

Maintaining rate and market parity is vital to your bottom line. If you and your revenue managers fall asleep at the wheel, you can bet you’ll quickly be surrendering revenue.

This is about diligently staying on top of all the channels, using the right automation tools and working with a conscientious revenue manager. Monitor your comp set’s rate strategy weekly to ensure you have market parity.

6. You Are Unable to Increase Meetings and Events Lead Flow Meetings and events are often a hotel’s game changer. And, you know that a single group’s spend on event venues, F&B, guest rooms and other ancillary services can quickly help you meet budget.

But, what if your group sales numbers remain stagnant, leads consistently go cold and sales calls fail to produce interest?

Something is wrong, but it’s nothing that you – a bold, brilliant and boundless hospitality leader – can’t fix. There are numerous ways to get in front of meeting planners, earn their trust and compete for and win their event contracts.

If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to freshen up your sales approach with new tactics. Some of our favorites include:

7. Your Guest Sentiment is Plummeting

Every hotel has their share of negative reviews. But, this doesn’t give you a hall pass to shrug them off. How a hotel decides to manage guest reviews will determine if that property shines or stumbles in the future.

Notice your TripAdvisor score declining or stagnating? This means your owners and management staff have largely ignored the golden nuggets of feedback that guests leave for them. Do guests express their irritation with the noisy air conditioners in the rooms? Are there several complaints about the lackluster breakfast buffet? Do guests often mention a rude staff member?

Frankly, if you receive the same complaint twice, that is already one time too many. Bad service, bad sleep, bad food options and a host of other things can essentially ruin a guest’s opinion of you and their decision whether or not to come back.

Consider your guests as your eyes and ears to the problems that are holding your hotel back. When something is broken, actually fix it. Don’t just promise to ‘look into it,’ then walk away.


 About Tambourine

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

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

Is the iPhone Killing Your Hotel Revenue?

February 21, 2017 • By

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Here’s what we all know by now:

The explosion of smartphone usage over the past few years has been staggering. And not just iPhones, but smartphones of other brands as well…

The Pew Research Center reports that 75% of Americans now own a smartphone and half the population own a tablet. Not only is usage increasing and technology getting more sophisticated, consumers are more reliant on their mobile devices. In fact, 9 out of 10 American consumers keep their smartphones within reach 24 hours a day.

This round-the-clock usage has also redefined the way people book travel. A recent Google report revealed that 77% of luxury travelers turn to their mobile devices for trip inspiration. And a whopping 55% then use their smartphones to book their stay!

As mobile usage propels forward, so should your response as a hotel marketer. Mobile updates, and the world’s response to them, mean that you can’t simply recycle and reuse last year’s mobile strategy. 2017 is a clean slate to keep pace with mobile’s rapid growth.

Here are 5 things you need to know to ride the mobile wave and amplify your mobile revenue this year:

1. Your Search Engine Results Depend on Mobile

For the first time ever, Google is now using your hotel’s mobile site as the primary source to rank your hotel’s website content and user experience, with your desktop version as a secondary site. This means your mobile hotel site is the first factor that goes into determining how well you rank in search engines. While you may have regarded your mobile experience as important in 2016, hotel search engine marketing via mobile is now downright vital to your hotel’s presence and profitability. Plus, as mobile search rises, so does the use of local search terms. This places more emphasis on local SEO and the need for your marketing team to create optimized content with tailored metadata that includes location.

2. Use Mobile PPC to Fill Last Minute Rooms

On-the-go travelers rely on their mobile devices to book last-minute hotel reservations (especially at urban/city hotels). Studies show that 58% of last-minute bookings were made from tablets and smartphones. In fact, the less time a traveler has to book a room, the more likely the reservation will be made on a smartphone. Capture this audience with targeted mobile PPC ad campaigns that tout promos and deals for last-minute travelers or those who are already on the road. Create enticing weekend offers targeting spontaneous travelers from your drive markets. Are you located near the airport? Then, create ads that promote specials for travelers stranded by cancelled or delayed flights. image23. It’s Still a Phone… It’s surprising how many businesses neglect to publish a phone number on their mobile sites, essentially blocking smartphone users from clicking to call and losing out on potential revenue. The first proof of your hotel’s guest service is being available and accessible when guests need you. Take a hint from the few successful travel apps out there, including Expedia and Hilton, and make it easy for smartphone users to find and utilize your phone number.  Even better, craft your hotel’s mobile experience to be more app-like, with a one-touch ‘click to call’ button – both on your mobile website and mobile booking engine. Just as with your desktop hotel website, there are potential hurdles and friction that could easily derail a direct booking in progress via a mobile device. If a guest has a question (which they all do), make it simple for them to reach out to your staff. If not, the visitor may lose patience and seek a room someplace else. 

4. Your Mobile Booking Engine is as Important as Your Mobile Website There is a dangerous “chasm” between your hotel’s mobile website and your booking engine, where potential guests can likely ‘fall off” if you’re not cautious. Slow load times and inconsistent colors/layouts between the mobile website and your mobile booking engine will increase abandonment. Worse yet, if your mobile booking engine fails to recognize the inherent limitations of small screens (and short attention spans) and fails to shorten and simplify the mobile booking process, attrition will surely grow.

5. Optimize for Various Screen Resolution Sizes 

Today, there are seemingly endless smartphone choices, with different designs, features and vitally important (but less obvious) to marketers – different screen resolutions. An iPhone 7 user will have a different experience than the Samsung Galaxy user.

If you notice high traffic to your mobile site, but low conversions and a high number of bounces, consider using a browser tool, such as Chrome’s INSPECT feature that allows you to preview how your hotel’s website appears using various screen resolutions sizes and multiple devices.

 About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: Snag Last-Minute President’s Day Weekend Bookings

February 17, 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: Use FOMO to entice last-minute President’s Day Weekend travelers from drive markets.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real phenomenon. Spawned by social media, FOMO describes the unease and angst people feel when missing out on something interesting or exciting.

You can add FOMO to your list of hotel marketing strategies and leverage it to convert your audience’s restlessness into last minute, drive-market bookings.

Even though today marks the start of the President’s Day Weekend, you still have a chance to attract last-minute weekend travelers using FOMO. 

Here are two types of FOMO you can deploy today:

  1. Fear of missing out on the last three-day weekend until Memorial Day.
  2. Fear of missing out on your last room available or an amazing weekend room rate.

Create marketing messages that focus on what your audience will miss out on and push them out using advertising targeted to your drive markets (EX: your hotel social media channels and targeted email list).

BONUS IDEA: Plus, if you normally charge for parking, consider creating a last-minute room rate that includes complimentary parking. This gives visitors driving in from nearby markets another good reason to book... and avoid FOMO.

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

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

The Hidden Chasm: Why Your Bookings Keep Falling into the Abyss

February 7, 2017 • By

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The guest’s road from your hotel marketing campaigns, to your website and finally to online booking is a delicate, razors’ edge journey filled with several opportunities for the customer to bounce, turn back, and never return.

However, many hoteliers assume a booking is guaranteed once a visitor is on the website and ready to buy. But, beware. There is a dangerous “chasm” between your hotel website and your booking engine, where potential guests can likely ‘fall off”  if you’re not cautious.

Here are the most common ways to lose potential guests transitioning from your Website to your booking engine:

1. Lack of Personalization

Personalization is a big industry buzz word right now. But cutting through all the hype, the one place where personalization can truly make an immediate impact is on your direct website.

How?

When your hotel website and booking engine are integrated by one provider, personalized web experiences can be created instantly and dynamically. You can show gated and loyalty rates to recognized members of any ‘closed group’ your hotel wants to create.

Here are a few more examples:

• When a guest from Argentina visits your website and moves into the booking engine, your website can automatically pass the user’s location and localize room rates in the booking engine to the guest’s native currency.

• A past guest (“Alex” in this case) revisits your website after checking dates a week before. You can now present dynamic rate promos only available to loyal past guests.  Check out this example from our client, Cassa Times Square NYC:

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• Your website tracks user behavior and auto-configures the booking engine with images and messages relevant to that demographic (family vs business traveler).

2. A Slow Loading Booking Engine

It takes mere seconds to kill a booking. Research shows that 25% of consumers will leave a website if it takes more than four seconds to load. That figure jumps beyond 50% if your booking engine takes up to 10 seconds to load.

In a world of instant gratification and lightening-fast internet speed, guests expect every part of your hotel’s online experience to load immediately. Every moment of delay gives the customer more and more reason to abandon you in search of something better and faster.

Slow page loads and annoying delays are common when a customer plugs in their dates or a discount rate code into the booking engine. Don’t lose a hard-earned booking because of something as simple as speed.

Test your load times on different browsers and from mobile devices, which is especially important since many guests are now relying on their own cellular connections (non high-speed wifi) to make online purchases.

3. Inconsistent Experiences Between Website to Booking Engine

The best booking engines are the ones that go unnoticed by the guest. Being transferred someplace that looks and feels different to complete a transaction can cause guests to feel uneasy. This is why user experience (UX) is vital for online transactions.

Even the smallest of changes, like different fonts or different colors, can be jarring to your guests and chip away at the delicate trust and reliability that you worked so hard to establish. So, keep guest confidence high with a seamless transition and a consistent appearance.

A continuous, seamless customer experience is one of the major benefits of using one company for both your website and your booking engine. Customers will move smoothly from examining your guestrooms, looking at property photos and reading up on your amenities, to taking out their credit card and making a reservation.


 About Tambourine

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


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

10 Secrets of Luxury Hotel Websites (Part 2)

January 31, 2017 • By

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Last week we covered the first five secrets of luxury hotel websites … Here’s Part 2 and the final five tips for luxury hotels and resorts:

6) Luxury Hotel Websites Synthesize Design and E-Commerce

Clearly, luxury hotels need to be vigilant about their online presentation and perception, but the savviest upscale properties understand that e-commerce tactics and visually arresting design CAN coexist beautifully … and profitably.

A few elements to keep in mind:

• There is nothing inelegant about a clear and consistent call to action. A “Check Availability” button in a prominent location at all times can be designed in an understated manner and regardless of your booking engine partner, the front end booking widget experience can be custom designed in a refined manner rather than using the standard default widget.

• Templates and do-it-yourself content management systems can hinder your ability to extend your brand tone into the e-commerce realm. Make sure your website developer has the ability to implement all aspects of your branding including colors, patterns, textures, fonts and photographic and copywriting tone.

• Mapping the location of the hotel and its surrounding attractions are critical to e-commerce conversions. However, you don’t have to use canned/default map features and colors. Google Maps can be customized to display only the information relevant to your brand, as well as its brand colors and tones.

• The mantra of luxury branding is: “Less is more.” A more understated, “clean” layout not only harkens backs to luxury print design and branding campaigns of the past, but it also leads to faster page load speeds and better SEO results. Google is now indexing mobile site structures first. This means, fewer mobile pages and more succinct and efficient websites.

• With increases in Internet speeds and pervasive wifi, video (the ultimate branding and storytelling medium) has become a powerful inspirational tool for luxury hotel websites. A good inspirational video extends user engagement and increases entrances into the booking engine.

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7) Luxury Hotel Websites Welcome Global Visitors

Just within the past decade, the U.S. hotel industry has seen a significant uplift in wealthy international travelers. This growth in global guests and the ease of digital marketing across borders has given luxury hotels massive opportunities to expand into new markets and succeed internationally.

However, when it comes to your hotel going global, it doesn’t make sense to stick with a one-size-fits-all hotel web design or booking engine. Every culture has its own assumptions, ideals and values. What works in one country may flop in another. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

• Get a Real Translation

If international visitors go to your hotel’s website and just see English, it sends a message that their business isn’t important or that you don’t care to make their online experience an inviting one. And don’t make the lazy mistake of Google translating all of your website copy, then calling it a day. Reaching international travelers will take much more than a lazy word-for-word replacement. It requires taking into account the nuances, the cliché phrases and the style of language of your specific target.

Currency and Payment Options

Once you have overseas visitors hooked with a successfully localized hotel website, don’t lose them to an all-American, all-English booking engine that displays room rates only in U.S. dollars. The same principle goes for guest room and suite measurements. Most of the world uses the metric system, so don’t describe rooms with feet and inches.

  Dates and Times

Avoid confusion by displaying the times and dates in the preferred local format. This also guarantees a seamless user experience for international guests who are accustomed to different formats than what your American guests are acquainted with. Surprisingly, the format of MM/DD/YY is unique to the U.S. (and oftentimes used in Canada too, adding to the confusion). While Japan uses YY/MM/DD and most of Europe uses DD/MM/YY.

  Enable Language Toggle

We can’t always assume a guest’s native language based on where they live. So, it makes sense to enable guests to specify and easily toggle the language that suits them best. 

8) Luxury Hotel Websites Convey a Luxury Service Culture

Wealthy travelers expect VIP treatment and the highest caliber of hospitality from start to finish. Not only do luxury hotel brands invest heavily in service training and empowering their staff, they showcase that dedication to service and genuine hospitality directly on their website itself. Ritz Carlton's staff lives by their Gold Standard credo to “fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.”

This commitment must extend to the first touch many potential guests have with your hotel, through the phone and chat agents made available via your website. These operators must understand the details of your luxury service experience and be able to convey it via chat and phone.

9) Luxury Hotel Websites Enable Personalization

Shoppers who visit luxury stores expect and appreciate a personalized experience. Luxury hotel e-commerce is no different. Smart hoteliers in the upscale and luxury categories have built-in personalization features in their e-commerce experiences, including:

Detection of the website user’s search engine query or location and instant presentation of dynamic content (or offers) that match the user’s interest (ex: “adjoining rooms on the beach”).

• Smarter presentation of room categories that enables guests to select rooms based on their personal preferences (ex: “quiet, away from elevators, low-floor or ocean-view).

• Digital tracking of loyal past guests (and their past booking behavior) and instant dynamic presentation of offers, content and images that match their profile (ex: past guests can instantly be recognized and offered a “loyal guest” discount which creates kinship and reduces potential abandonment to OTAs).

10) Luxury Hotel Websites Respect Users’ Time

High-end guests often have more money than time … So they seek amenities and services that reduce friction and allow them to get what they want quickly. Smart luxury properties feature these capabilities right on their website, such as mobile check-in, 24/7 service butlers, on-site activities and rentals, service requests by SMS, children programs, or airport transfers. Further, high-end customers want to know they can reach a real person at any time. So, luxury properties lower the barriers to staff by making it simple to chat, call or email directly from their property's website and by promising quick response times (some even offer a convenient “call-back service”). The idea is to make their affluent customers feel like a part of an exclusive community and to give them multiple direct lines of communication to your staff.

About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: Find Out What Your Compset Is Up To… Automatically

January 27, 2017 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!  

Every Friday, we share one free impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue. 

This Week’s Freebie: Use free web-based tools to get instant updates on your competitor’s moves and offers.

Today’s travelers are extremely fickle and can be easily swayed by the latest competitor promo. So, never lose track of what your comp set is doing. There are so many tools and tactics at your disposal, that you should never be taken by surprise when a competitor starts outperforming you.

One of the easiest and most revealing ways to keep tabs on other hotels is to find out what their own guests are saying about them. Check in on their latest guest reviews on TripAdvisor and make a special note of what annoys their guests, as well as what delights them. (Your own review analysis tools may even allow you to monitor compset properties as well).

Aside from monitoring compset Trip Advisor reviews, here are a few other free ways to stay on top of competitive intelligence:

Check out MOAT: an awesome free tool that displays ads served by other hotels across the web. You can view not only the actual creative unit, but also other details like what website it appeared on, dimensions of the ad, file size of the ad, and file type of the ad. • Set up Google Alerts for each competitor.

• Subscribe/follow their social media feeds.

• Subscribe to their email list.

• Follow your top competitors automatically in your LinkedIn Sales Navigator dashboard.

These simple, smart practices will ensure you’re staying one step ahead of everyone else in your market.

Get More: 6 Ways for Hotel Marketers to Keep an Eye On their Comp Set


About Tambourine

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

Business, Comp Set, Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice

What Do Meeting Planners Actually Want? Here’s the Surprising Survey Results…

January 17, 2017 • By

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Looking for the ultimate tip to booking more group business this year?

Get inside the planner’s mind to find out what marketing they prefer, respond to, and act upon.

So, we decided to do just that. 

To help hotel sales managers win at various phases of the sourcing process, we partnered with EproDirect to collect insights from more than 83,000 meeting planners to find out what promos and incentives peak their interest, what marketing strategies actually influence them and what impacts their booking decisions.

After analyzing the data, we discovered some things you might expect along with some surprises. Use this data to shape your sales efforts, bring more value to your planner relationships and invest in the right marketing strategies to drive group business.

Click here to view the full report:

Survey Participants Profile:

31% - 3rd Party/Independent 29% - Association 25% - Corporate 5% - Government 10% - Other

Key Findings

What to Improve in 2017?

Meeting planners want to see quicker response times from hotels, an improvement in the quality of facilities and stronger customer service in 2017. While last year, planners said hotels could improve by offering better onsite technology, more competitive packages, along with quicker response times and stronger customer service.

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Double Down on Email Marketing

Despite all the attention given to social media today, 59% of the meeting planners surveyed said email marketing is still their preferred method of receiving information, special offers or updates. Trade shows/events trailed at 15% , while only 2% of planners surveyed preferred social media. One planner noted, “FAM tour opportunities and new hotels/venues and destinations are able to catch my eye.” While another planner said that he/she values emails that include unique ideas and articles.

Email still reigns as a meeting planner’s favorite method of contact. An overwhelming majority surveyed prefer to be solicited via email (87%), over phone calls (7%) and LinkedIn messages (2%).

Offer Relevant Venue Videos

Videos allow planners (especially part-time or non-traditional meeting planners, who carry out other responsibilities besides organizing events) to inspect a venue right from their office. When viewing videos, meeting planners consider facility views (72%) and self-guided virtual tours (69%) as being most helpful to their sourcing journey. Last year, planners also saw endorsements and ideas from meeting peers as most helpful (63%).

Provide the Right Tools on Your Website

Meeting planners rely on hotels to provide all the relevant sourcing tools directly on their website. The top five items that planners find the most valuable on your hotel’s meetings site include capacity charts, floor diagrams, room measurements, virtual/video venue tours and photos of actual events.

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Enhance Your Presence on eRFP Sites

When submitting RFPs, 33% of meeting planners preferred using RFP portals such as Cvent and Elite Meetings. A second preferred method, contacting the hotel sales rep directly, was liked by 29% of the meeting planners we surveyed.

Make an even bigger effort to make your proposals remarkable and compelling when receiving an RFP from a site like Cvent, since it is likely the planner sent the RFP to several properties. Plus, make your hotel sales reps’ direct contact information (extra points for also including a headshot) easy to access on your website, instead of simply providing a generic 1-800 number that’s routed to a sales coordinator. Don’t make the meeting planner dig around to find out how to contact the proper person on your team.

Offer the Right Meeting Incentives and Promo Offers

While meeting incentives and promotional offers only moderately impact a meeting planner’s site selection, food and beverage discounts (53%) and complimentary meeting space promos (71%) are considered the most attractive types of promo offers. Last year, incentives and promo offers had more impact, with 57% of planner participants saying that these could largely influence their site decisions.

Mingle With the Right Social Channels

Out of all the social media platforms used regularly for planning meetings, 42% of planners use Facebook and 60% say they prefer LinkedIn. Provide value on both channels by sharing unique event-related ideas and resources, answering planner's questions and participating in groups.


About Tambourine

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

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