Browsing Tag


Get out of your comfort zone and copy these 3 OTA secrets

July 1, 2014 • By
hotel-marketing-secrets It’s so frustrating. It makes hotel marketers want to rip up all their OTA agreements. But it wouldn’t help. The OTAs charge you big fees. And you never feel good about how they represent you. But you can’t seem to break free. You know guests flip back and forth from their websites to yours. Yet when it comes time to book they head back to the OTA to complete the purchase.

Why do guests go back to the OTA to book?

Because OTAs do something that is so against every hotelier’s nature, I’m almost afraid to tell you. You will rebel against this idea. You won’t want to do it. But hear me out. This is important.

Unlike you, OTAs love making guests uncomfortable. And to compete, you must make them uncomfortable too.

Wait! I know the words “uncomfortable guest” causes a little indigestion. Of course, you want them to have comfortable stays. However, while they’re booking, they should be uncomfortable with their own indecision. That is where OTAs excel, and hoteliers often fail. When you spend your life focusing on comfort, this mind shift is difficult. You know direct booking is best for you and your guest. So, think of it as the little discomfort you cause them upfront that helps them in the end.

3 Tips to Make Guests Uncomfortable

(Bet you never thought you’d see that line on a hotel marketing blog)
  1. Limit their booking page options: Once a traveler reaches your initial booking page, you should start eliminating choice. Remove your menu bar from these pages. Make going through with the booking process the only option. They’ve already made their decision. Encourage them to stick to it (Tambourine CRS, a fast-growing CRS/hotel booking engine, does this well). Expedia uses a popup. After hitting ‘Book’, you have two options: Pay now or Pay at hotel.  Orbitz gives you one option: ‘Continue booking’.
  2. Make it cutthroat: Travelers are doing more than booking rooms on OTAs. They compete with other guests. tells the guest who else is looking at the room. Orbitz has a bubble that tells you ‘Two Rooms Left’. This isn’t booking. This is a battle and your hotel website is the frontline. Even if you can’t imagine inundating your guests with pop-ups and brightly colored buttons, add a line to the top of your booking page that states, “While you’re online booking travel plans, it’s likely someone else is too. Our rooms book up quickly. We’d hate for someone else to get your room. Book now to guarantee your spot.”
  3. Push them to checkout: You advise your guests to checkout on time, so they don’t incur a fee. Consider doing the same when they checkout of your website. Although they may pay the same wherever they book, remind them that they will enjoy more flexibility and better customer service when they book direct. Include the word, ‘Now’ on your booking page. Explain the benefits of booking immediately. Expedia warns guests to “Hurry! Prices and inventory are limited.” You may want to tone it down to match your brand. However, you need to create urgency. Remind your guests that it behooves them to book now.

Are you ready to celebrate your independence?

If so, share this post on social media. Let them know you ready to stand up and fight for your guests—even when it’s a bit uncomfortable.

 About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit:

Comfort Zone, Creating Urgency, Direct Bookings, Fighting Back Against OTA, Increase Direct Bookings, Making Guests Uncomfortable, OTA, TravelTripper

The Road Ahead: The Future of Hotel Marketing

December 11, 2013 • By
Tambourine: Digital Marketing In 1985 my grandparents took me to their local travel agent, a sweet woman named Ruth, to book a vacation to Florida. I remember being mesmerized by the beautiful brochures and exotic posters on display. Ruth keyed our information into a computer terminal that consumed most of her desk, made a few phone calls… 30 minutes later, we wrote a check and walked out with a thick envelope full of printed material. Months later, we arrived at the hotel Ruth had booked for us and presented our well-worn reservation documents.
As stunning as the technological developments in travel marketing have been in the last 20 years, the next 20 promise to be equally incredible.
The hotel knew nothing about us. We knew practically nothing about the hotel (Ruth picked the hotel for us), what our room would look like, the amenities or the immediate area around the property. Who knew that within a relatively short period of time, Ruth and the entire travel ecosystem would be disrupted by technology that empowered consumers to plan their own trips, preview images, videos, reviews from previous guests, make dinner reservations and chat (for free) with a concierge in Bangkok from the comfort of their home! As stunning as the technological developments in travel marketing have been in the last 20 years, the next 20 promise to be equally incredible. According to recent report from Expedia, travel could be on “the cusp of a transformative technological revolution.” Thanks to rapid adoption in smartphone usage, geo-location technology and younger generations’ comfort with sharing their personal information online, travel is set to become more effortless and streamlined than ever before.

Imagine this:

  1. You TELL your smartphone (or soon, smartwatch) to create a calendar event for a trip to a specific destination, or a “family” vacation and your “virtual digital assistant” goes to work researching and collating trip options.
  2. She (he?) starts checking flight prices based on your airline loyalty memberships, airport preferences and knowledge of your past trips (and your reviews). It will also tap into airline and hotel historic pricing databases to evaluate whether the price of your vacation may go up or down in coming weeks.
  3. Siri and her next of kin will then produce a list of options for you to consider. You can purchase, share with family and friends or refine the itinerary and send your virtual assistant back to work.
  4. When you arrive at the airport, new geo-location and payment technology in your smartphone will allow you to seamlessly pay for parking and baggage fees. While innovations in airport security and boarding pass technology will have more of us spending less time in line. Driving to your hotel? Apps on your mobile device will alert the hotel that you are approaching so your room can be ready for check-in.
  5. Hotels will have more actionable data about their guests than ever before. Aggregated from multiple “big data” sources including: social media, past stay history, loyalty programs and perpetually automated data appending programs connected to PMS and CRM systems.
  6. This trove of data will enable service-minded hoteliers to differentiate their product experience by personalizing offers and add-ons at the right time in the trip planning cycle for each customer.

The future is now.

Struggling to believe these advancements are just around the corner? Think again about how far we’ve already come. Tech-savvy hotel marketers are already doing remarkable things that would have sounded like science fiction just a few years ago:
  1. Global chains and boutique brands are working with consumer research companies to append demographic data to their past guest records to gain greater understanding of their customer base and create a model guest profile. This profile is utilized to identify new potential guest/consumers online who match the profile and engage with them via pinpoint digital marketing campaigns. Many believe this new science of past guest profiling and modeling increases advertising response rates and delivers higher ROI than “dumb” campaigns which ignore demographic and behavioral indicators.
  2. Tech giants like Google and Yahoo enable properties of all sizes to launch hyper-targeted campaigns (in hours!) that engage guests in proven feeder markets, past website visitors, fans of their competition’s social media pages, flyers to nearby airports, consumers who’ve received booking confirms from comp-set properties and an endless list of filters that increase ROI and reduce wasted marketing dollars.
  3. Most smart hotel marketers send post-stay surveys, but the most advanced are now automating additional emails to past guests who submit positive scores, encouraging them to leave reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and other important review sites.
  4. Brand managers are reviewing guest sentiment data from online reviews across their global portfolios to determine the optimal mix of amenities for future products/projects.
  5. Innovations in revenue management and powerful new yield management software are empowering even small properties to automate pricing decisions in real-time.
And more change is already in the pipeline, according to CB Insights: nearly half a billion dollars was invested in the travel and hospitality sector by venture capital firms from August 2012 to August 2013, with over 60% of that amount invested in tech pioneers outside the US, a clear indication that change is underway worldwide, not just in Silicon Valley.

Embracing it all.

The rapid pace of technological innovation in travel can easily overwhelm time-starved operators with limited resources and budgets. How can you prepare for the technology tsunami without losing sight of short term revenue targets and goals? Here’s three ways we organize ourselves to embrace innovation without taking our eye off our clients’ needs and company goals:
  1. Use technology to find technology: Google Alerts, RSS feeds, personalized news feeds and specialized newsletters make it easier than ever to pluck relevant subject matter from the firehose of web content. A free tool we use often is Topsy (, which scans the social web for relevant conversations about subjects we care about. It helps us identify key influencers and participate in conversations we otherwise might never know about.
  2. Hire tech-lovers: All things being equal, we always hire the candidate who is more passionate about technology. They read blogs, love gadgets and fearlessly plunge into spreadsheets in search of actionable data. After putting all these techies together over the years, we now have a company culture that stimulates rapid adoption of new tools and software.
  3. Start at the bottom (of the sales funnel): In the limited time you and your team have to tackle marketing R&D, focus on technology that impacts the bottom line most rapidly. Ask yourself: which technology will add revenue or prevent lost revenue in the short term? A great example of this is an enhanced reservation abandonment/recovery process, whereby adding simple technology at the point of purchase can result in immediate revenue acceleration. Celebrating a few small victories that convert immediately to measurable revenue will give ownership/upper management more confidence to invest in more resource intensive R&D efforts.

The future is now.

In the time you took to read this article, undoubtedly at least one frothy press release has come out about a new technology in the travel/hotel sector. The pace and volume of change is staggering. And while the road ahead is unknown, it’s an absolute certainty that we will seek, engage, transact, share and communicate with guests in entirely different ways 10 years from now than we do today. And if you don’t want to take my word for it… just ask Ruth. Dave Spector is a Partner at Tambourine, an ROI-obsessed marketing agency driving demand, revenue and brand awareness for travel and leisure clients since 1983

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit


Expedia's revenue growth over the same period last year was 24%.

May 10, 2013 • By
Tambourine: Numbers for NinjasThis amazing stat brings up a number of issues for hotel marketers. First, how do your results compare to Expedia's? Sure they have bigger budgets, deeper resources and global markets, but their primary growth is coming from surging travel demand. Are your sales in sync? Next, even more depressing, is the sobering fact that Expedia's most recent financial report reveals that the percentage of overall revenue it spends on marketing is growing faster than its revenue growth! Did you increase your marketing spend by 24% last Q? If not, Expedia may take an even bigger bite out of your bottom line in the future!

marketing, Marketing Budget