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Friday Freebie: Do This to Turn up the Heat on Summer Bookings…

May 26, 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: Rake in more summer bookings by building a tiered minimum stay promotion leveraging your onsite amenities, instead of simply handing out summer discounts.  The good news: Today launches the unofficial start of summer. Even better news: Millions of travelers are pulling out their credit cards and packing their bags for summer vacays. But, don’t rejoice just yet. The competition for summer travelers is fierce and hotels will be pumping out summer discounts in every direction to get their attention. Our advice? Hold back from joining the pack and giving out those standard 10-15 percent discounts. They’re boring and your compset is probably doing the same thing. To get the most revenue out of this summer season, you need to stand out in the sea of summer sameness. Here’s how to do it: Create tiered minimum stay promotions using your onsite amenities as incentives for longer stays. Start off with small, no-cost add-ons, like free late checkouts or early check-ins. Then, increase your offerings with each day added onto the reservation. These can include room upgrades, free parking, free bike rentals, dining credits, spa credits, tickets to local attractions, etc. The best part is, unlike straight price discounts, these value-ads strategically help you drive incremental revenue by enticing guests to stay longer and spend more money at the restaurant or spa, which they may not normally do. Get more: Put Some Sizzle In Your Summer ADRs 

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

Stop the Noise: The 10 Things That Matter to Hotel Marketers Right Now

May 23, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing has never been so cluttered and noisy. image1 Every week it seems as if there is something new and important competing for your attention and causing FOMO (fear of missing out) stress. With all this marketing overload, it’s easy to forget what is really important and which marketing assets actually have the biggest impact on results. We’re here to help... Of course every property has unique demands and market conditions, but we want to try and free your mind from all the nonsense, hype and clutter and review the 10 things that should TRULY matter (in our humble opinion) to the majority of hotel marketers right now: 1. Having a Remarkable Product Boundless creativity, clever marketing concepts and even a robust marketing budget are essentially useless if your hotel is crap. Great marketing can only begin with a great product. If your hotel is showing its frayed edges and providing lackluster experiences (or no real experience at all), no amount of brilliant marketing will save you from a downward spiral. Scour your hotel reviews and find out what guests complain about the most. Then, present this to your owners and champion the improvements your hotel needs to turn the tide and rise above the comp set. 2. Telling a Compelling Story  There is a reason why “storytelling” has become a hotel marketing buzzword over the last several years. Storytelling captivates your audience, draws them in emotionally and entices them to want more. Travelers – both leisure and business – don’t need to be sold on your thread count, the hours of your fitness center or the square footage of your ballroom. When they research hotel options, they are really looking for how your hotel will impact their lives during and after their stay. Follow these steps to use storytelling to win over the hearts and wallets of your target hotel audience.   image2 3. Integrating Systems and Technology Using different providers for each of your critical marketing technology needs (i.e. CRS, website, hotel booking engine, PMS, and CRM) is a recipe for disaster. Many hotels are missing out on countless reservations because of one simple reason: they don’t have integrated technology. The key is to work with as few providers as possible to make sure each component of your marketing can seamlessly speak to each other and simplify reporting for stressed-out hotel revenue, marketing and sales execs who are tired of system incompatibility and reporting nightmares. 4. Measuring Cost-per-Booking  Think you’re impressing your hotel owners with news about your social media followers, your cool new marketing videos or your rebranding initiatives? Think again. Today, hotel owners expect their hotel marketing departments to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be measured. Without tracking and showing numerical evaluation of your marketing efforts, you’re going to face a difficult time later in the year when you need to request next year’s marketing dollars. To prove how your marketing efforts are adding to the hotel’s revenue, you’ll need to calculate your marketing cost-per-booking (MCPB). Use this number to show your marketing team’s value and to ensure you’re given the proper amount of marketing dollars to continue bringing in business for the hotel. Be especially vigilant to know your cost-per-booking from OTAs as well. Avoid the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition. 5. Consolidating Vendors The more hotel marketing vendors you work with, the more chaos and confusion you should expect.  Hiring multiple, disconnected vendors to handle separate hotel marketing tasks, like hotel website design, hotel email marketing, hotel social media and hotel PPC campaigns, will halt your property’s success in so many ways. First, you’re paying way too much for vendors handling only one function. Second, you’ll spend most of your day relaying messages from one vendor to the next. And, lastly, no one vendor can ever be held accountable for your marketing success or failure, since they can easily point fingers at each other. Smart hotel marketers avoid juggling vendors… thereby reducing stress and gaining time to spend on proactive campaigns. 6. Sticking to a Plan Marketing to everyone will get you nowhere fast. Smart hotel marketers have a roadmap with a breakdown of exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. This enables the firm to correlate its separate investments in marketing for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B. The best hotel marketers understand that generic, aimless and ‘pretty’ marketing won’t cut it. Every marketing activity they create is built with the intention of drawing direct business from one or more of a hotel’s pre-defined guest segments. This will allow you to delegate the proper amount of investments to market to group, corporate, leisure/transient or F&B business. Every marketing activity you craft should be built with the intention of pulling in direct business from one or more of your target guest segments. 7. Consistency Across All Channels  Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining rate, image and promo parity is vital to your hotel’s bottom line. Smart hotel marketers also know that their USP (unique selling proposition) has to be consistent across all brand touchpoints and channels. If consumers see your property described as “urban chic” in one place and “a traditional business hotel” in another… dissonance occurs, causing erosion and attrition. Consistency matters. Whether it’s sending out email offers on a steady cadence, updating your hotel’s social media accounts or communicating with your group clients, it’s critical to set schedules and maintain consistency regardless of season or current results. Your core marketing activities need to be sacred and deserve to be given the attention, resources and budget required. 8. Stunning Photography  Awe-inspiring photos are worth a thousand bookings. Evocative images provoke an emotional response and directly contribute to booking decisions. Your images prepare potential guests for what’s to come. Along with your hotel's website design, they convey your experience with a single glance. So, be ruthless and replace all bland property images, including those that are old, grainy, dark or fail to convey a remarkable guest experience. Hire a hotel photographer trained in shooting real estate or architecture. Even better, complement those professional images with authentic and free photos taken by your hotel’s best photographers – your own guests. 9.  Simultaneous Promotions Across All Channels  Filling periods of need is not easy… which is why smart hotel marketers launch promotions across all channels simultaneously. (See #7: Consistency, above.) Imagine you are the general of all your forces, you’d want them to coordinate operations and move in unison! Launching the promo on every channel AT THE SAME TIME gives consumers comfort and avoids confusion. If guests see different special offers for your hotel on a 3rd party channel than what is shown on your own direct hotel website, they will get uncomfortable with the inconsistency and find another hotel that gives them greater mental comfort. 10. Continuing to Boost Online Guest Sentiment Guests will always trust other guests more than you. This is why past guest reviews are one of the most influential factors impacting your hotel’s future success. Whether glowing or scathing, every review is an opportunity to stumble or shine. Get rid of the canned corporate responses and strive to always answer genuinely and authentically. Graciously own up to any mistakes and correct mistaken guests with grace. Even offer solutions for problems you can’t control, like the noisy nightclub across the street or the construction next door. Keep all of your responses thoughtful and they’ll have a greater chance of turning negative reviews into shining moments that make your hotel even more likable and worthy of a visit.

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

Do Hotel Sales Teams Have a New Secret Weapon?

May 16, 2017 • By

Smart hotel marketers are using new, affordable marketing automation tools to close more group and meetings business.

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Marketing automation technology is one of the biggest advancements in the marketing world over the last ten years.

And hotel marketers were among the early adopters.

The vast majority of hotels use basic forms of marketing automation to improve relationships with leisure segment guests: automatic booking confirms, post stay surveys and reservation recovery emails have been deployed by hotel marketing departments for many years.

But now, thanks to new, more affordable and simplified software, marketing automation could very well be your group sales department’s new best friend and the catalyst for driving more meetings and events to your property. 

Marketing automation can send the right message at the right time to the right meeting planner or group lead. And keep your sales team informed as your target prospects engage with your website and marketing materials!

First, here’s a simple explanation of how marketing automation works for hotel sales and marketing departments:

1. A small piece of code from your marketing automation vendor or agency is embedded in your hotel website’s code. This code allows your marketing automation platform to monitor every visitor who comes to your direct hotel website.

2.  Each visitor’s behavior, actions and referral source is now tracked, collected and viewable via your marketing automationplatform.

3. You can trigger automatic actions to occur when a visitor or lead meets a specific condition. This can be anything from an emailbeing sent, a retargeting ad being delivered or an alert being sent to a salesperson.

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Now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the specific things marketing automation can do to accelerate group revenue:

1. Engage New Group Prospects

Once you get a meeting planner’s email address (usually submitted via an RFP form), marketing automation can ensure that every new lead receives an instant personalized response. Surveys have shown that a surprising number of inbound leads are often ignored… simple marketing automation eliminates this risk by sending these new leads a welcome email that summarizes your hotel’s entire group experience, gives them easy links to see venue photos and images of past events, contact information and bios of sales managers, sample group itineraries, virtual venue tours, etc.

The purpose of this email is to give the meeting planner a reason to interact with your website. From there, marketing automation tools can track their behavior on your website and collect data to refine future campaigns.

2. Create a Steady Drumbeat of Awesomeness

Meeting planners love to book venues they trust. And one way to build trust is by communicating consistently in a selfless, helpful way. Hotel marketers can use marketing automation tools to establish a steady “drip” of stories, photos and content that helps prospects understand the destination better and do their job more effectively. But under no circumstances should the content be self-serving!

Your content “stream” does not have to be restricted to email or digital content. Direct mailing personal notes and helpful material often breaks through the clutter and differentiates you from the thousands of emails your prospects receive each week!

Creating this cadence of content will establish you and your property as a trusted resource and position you as THE leader in your destination!

3. Segment Messages By Group/Event Type

Based on where meeting planners are located and/or what they click on in your onboard/welcome email (and subsequent visits to your hotel website), marketing automation software can determine if they are planning a family reunion, a corporate retreat or a large customer conference. Were they looking at a virtual tour of the largest ballroom? Or, spending a lot of time on the activities pages?

Marketing automation can separate each prospect into smaller buckets and send more customized marketing campaigns with relevant images and copy that match their interests.

4. Perfect Timing…

Meetings and events often follow a pattern throughout the year. For example, many associations generally hold annual conferences in the fall or winter. Meanwhile, the more price-sensitive SMERF market (social, military, educational, religious, fraternal) tend to meet off-season (usually holiday months or summer) when there are more discounts to leverage. Marketing automation can schedule campaigns to be released at the right time, with season-specific images and copy, to target group planners way in advance leading up to their site selection.

Even better, marketing automation enables hotel marketers to send increasingly specific messages as each prospect's behavior intensifies. For example: if one of your meeting planner leads spends 20 minutes on your website two days in a row, she probably should receive different (and more urgent) calls-to-action than the planner who has not visited in months!

5.  Retarget

Retargeting is another form of marketing automation used by many hotels to drive leisure business from consumers who have visited the hotel website before. Similarly, if a meeting planner’s visit to your hotel website doesn’t result in an RFP, you can set up retargeting advertising campaigns (typically through display ads) to follow them and remind them what makes your venue a viable option for their group. The idea is to stay top of mind and get them back onto your site, so that you’ll have a second chance of converting them. You can make your retargeting efforts even more effective by personalizing each with the information you have already collected, for example: dynamically populating your retargeting ads with the actual event dates provided by the prospect.

Have questions about using marketing automation for your hotel sales department? Ask us… we love to talk about this stuff!


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

20 Surprising Digital Marketing Stats Every Hotel Marketer Should Know

April 11, 2017 • By

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We dug up these 20 digital marketing nuggets (across all industries) to help you benchmark your efforts and determine which efforts are worth while.

Hotel Email Marketing

Despite all the attention given to social media marketing and mobile marketing, email marketing still holds a place as one of the most successful online marketing platforms.

  1. Targeted emails sent to segmented lists generate 58% of all digital revenue (The Direct Marketing Association, 2015).
  2. 86% of consumers prefer companies that send promotional emails monthly, while only 15% would like to receive them daily (Statista, 2015).
  3. 48% of emails are opened using a smartphone (Movable Ink, 2015).

Learn More: 3 Quick Ways to Drive More Bookings from Hotel Email Campaigns

Hotel Digital Display Advertising

Display ads are one of the oldest forms of online hotel advertising. However, today’s audiences have a much different opinion and level of patience with certain digital ads. Here’s what you should know before putting together a plan for online advertising.

  1. 91% of consumers believe ads are more intrusive today than a couple of years ago (HubSpot, 2016).
  2. The average CTR of display ads is 0.06% (HubSpot).
  3. Retargeting campaigns can result in a high ROI (Retargeter). People subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to convert (Digital Information World).
  4. WPP's GroupM, a huge international ad buyer, forecasted that digital will likely account for 77% of total spend in 2017.
  5. Asked to name their number-one challenge, 15% of digital marketers said “meeting the expectations of the always-connected customer,” 14% chose “executing consistent campaigns that drive desired business outcomes” (i.e. leads or revenue) and 13% cited the proliferation of channels across paid, owned and earned media (B2B Marketing Insider).

Learn More: How Smart Are Your Hotel Ads? Hotels Squander Millions by Ignoring Their Best Prospects

Hotel Social Media Marketing

According to Hootsuite, 83% of Americans have a social media account. Social media has drastically changed how hotel brands interact and get in front of their target audiences. Here are some stats to keep in mind when putting together your hotel's social media strategy:

  1. When social media is part of their buyer’s journey, customers tend to convert at a 129% higher rate. They are also four times as likely to spend significantly more than those without a social component (Deloitte).
  2. 61% of companies that invested at least six hours each week in social media marketing saw an increase in their search engine rankings (Social Media Examiner, 2015).
  3. 59% of Instagram’s 500 million monthly users visit the app each day, including 35% who visit their accounts multiple times (Pew Research Center, 2015).

Learn More: How Guests’ Social Media Can Amplify Your Hotel Marketing Budget

Hotel Mobile Marketing

Consumers’ reliance on mobile devices increases each day, with smart phones seeping into almost each moment of their lives. So, optimizing your hotel marketing efforts for mobile should be one of your hotel’s top priorities.

  1. One-third of people say their smartphone is the primary device to access the internet (HubSpot, 2016).
  2. 61% of people are unlikely to return to a brand’s mobile site if they experienced a problem accessing it. On top of that, 40% will visit a competitor instead (McKinsey & Company).
  3. 31% of people say they open and read half of their emails on their mobile device (2015 State of Marketing Report). Meanwhile, about 80% of the time spent on social media sites happen on mobile devices (Marketing Land).
  4.   48% of people start any mobile research with a search engine, instead of an online app (Smart Insights, 2016).
  5.   More Google searches are made on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan (Google, 2015).

Learn More: Is the iPhone Killing Your Hotel Revenue? Hotel SEO

As the rules for search engine optimization continue to morph each year, it’s more important than ever for hotels to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and techniques to increase their placement in an online search.

  1. According to 72% of marketers, the most effective SEO tactic is creating relevant content (Ascend2, 2015).

Learn More: The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO Part 2

Hotel Content Marketing

Creating compelling destination and hotel content (blogs, videos, fun visitor guides, etc.) has the power to attract, engage and inform travelers and meeting planners, while also establishing your property as a unique experience provider.

  1. B2C companies that published more than 11 blog posts a month receive 4 times more leads than companies that only blogged 4-5 times a month (HubSpot, 2015).
  2. 43% of people say they skim, not thoroughly read, blog posts (HubSpot, 2016).
  3. Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3 times more than any other type of content (Mass Planner, 2015). (Source: HubSpot)

About Tambourine

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

The Painful Truth About Hotel SEO (Part 2)

April 4, 2016 • By

This is the second and final installment in our two-part series on the massive upheaval in hotel SEO best practices. See Part 1 here:

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Problem 3: SEO Has Become Even More Technical and Code Heavy Than Ever Before!

The days of hiring a website vendor and an SEO vendor to work separately are over because there’s no accountability. The best SEO practices in 2016 are less focused on pumping out high volume, keyword stuffed content distributed to link wheels or article distribution services for backlinks and more focused on collaborating with the development and analytics teams to monitor the website user experience and SPEED!

Large images and other technical bolt-ons can slow a website down and prevent Google from crawling a page, causing low Google PageSpeed Insights scores that can harm rankings.  Sharing plug-ins can also leave a site vulnerable to spammy bot traffic, which can pollute referral and organic keyword reporting in tools like Google Analytics or Webmaster tools if not filtered properly. 

Ex: Google shows your page speed load time:

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Solutions:

    Keep your code lean. Audit the hotel’s website every six months to remove any outdated scripts or pieces of code that is no longer necessary

    Run speed tests. You typically want to get a score of 80 or higher. The Varvy Mobile Testing tool is really helpful too (See screenshot below)

    Google often overwrites meta descriptions in the results if they are too long. Put more emphasis on tags like titles, alt image tags and headers. Never use multiple H1 tags as that will only confuse the search engines.

    Implement canonical tags and language preference tags to ensure that you are not penalized for duplicate content between the desktop and mobile sites.

    Place no robots.txt on pages that you do not want indexed.

    Redirect URLs of outdated hotel offer pages.

    Don’t allow multiple versions of a page with various extensions like .html, .asp. cf. or .php to be created. This will only create a redirect nightmare if you ever rebuild the website.

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Problem 4: Ranking Reports Are Useless

Ranking well for high volume keywords doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue, and Google doesn’t always disclose which organic keywords lead to a hotel booking. With mobile and personalized local results gaining share, ranking software will show different position results to a user based on their device, location and even previous search history.  That’s too many variables for an SEO professional to control and consolidate in a single report.

Instead of requesting ranking reports from your hotel web design or SEO  provider, redefine your organization’s metrics for success.

Hotel SEO success should be gauged on the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

    Increase in engaged organic website traffic.

    Improved website conversion rate for traffic coming from organic sources.

    Total direct website revenue or phone revenue generated from organic   channels.

    Higher impression to click-through rates (CTR) from queries (use Webmaster tools to see this ratio).

SEO and Paid (PPC) search will remain a rapidly evolving space as Google continues to adapt to mobile and more personalized solutions for its users. Hotel marketing teams and SEO professionals will have to keep an open mind about ever changing roles, strategy, testing and analysis to keep up. 

Want to see how your technical SEO knowledge stacks up against the pros?  Try taking this quiz.


About Tambourine

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

The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO

March 28, 2016 • By

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You are a director of sales and marketing overseeing all day-to-day activities for your property, maybe several properties, from meeting/group sales to Trip Advisor reviews and website promos. It all falls on you.

Then one day, your GM calls and says, “I just did a Google search for 'Miami Hotels' and we don’t come up anywhere. What are we paying that hotel website company for?”

You immediately go online to do more searches and panic ensues. You start to think, what ARE you paying them for? Aren’t they supposed to be handling all of that Google stuff? Why isn’t your hotel on the first results page for all of those non-branded keywords?  Why is everything so different on Mobile?

The answer is that everything you’ve expected or known about search engine optimization for hotels up until the last year is now obsolete. Even if you’ve invested thousands of dollars into your SEO efforts to have your website successfully rank on page one of Google for “Miami Hotels,” you may never see your website show up on page one, let alone see a measurable ROI.

So how do you answer your GM and hold your Hotel SEO firm accountable? It’s time to redefine your KPIs when it comes to search, and face some of the harsh realities of SEO for the hotel industry.


Problem 1: Google Has Commercialized Its Results Pages

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Summary: In 2015, Google reduced its Google Maps and Google Places results from displaying a “7-Pack” to a “3-Pack”, only showing three Hotels with a thumbnail image and Google’s own commercialized meta-tool. Hotel Ads may lead a consumer to book via Google or with one of their OTA advertising partners.

And recently, Google made further, MAJOR layout changes to its SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), especially for broad search queries like “Miami Hotels” or “Hotels in Times Square."  As a result, natural/organic search listings have now been pushed further down the pages and are seeing a reduction in organic click-throughs, and even less traffic on mobile devices.

Solutions: While you cannot control the search engine's giant layout or where your listing is displayed in the SERPs, you do have some control on what information is being populated:

Claim your property’s Name and Place (NAP) and make it consistent across all platforms from Google Plus to Yelp. Make sure your Google Plus page is verified and links directly back to your hotel’s website. Services like Yext or Moz Local can help you manage all of these in one simple platform. Other services like Whitespark can assist with citation cleanup or updating any listing on the web that has your property’s business name, physical address and phone number, in addition to helping build safe, credible backlinks.

  Control the images you display across the online universe with image parity software like ICE Portal or VFM Leonardo. This will help clean up images of your hotel across the web, including the OTAs.

Target answers not keywords. A recent study revealed that 15 percent of Google’s 3.5 Billion daily searches were questions or queries that the search engine has never seen before! Hotel websites need to target “long tail” search queries by adding content that answers a traveler’s questions and provides information about the destination or the experience guests will have. Don’t be afraid to promote local businesses or restaurants; not everything on the site can be self-serving. A hotel site is more likely to rank for long tail queries that have less competition and will see a rise in user engagement.  Quality website traffic over quantity!

Utilize a content mapping and interlinking strategy. What page does your website user visit most before they book?  Is there a pattern in the sequence of the pages they visit before entering the booking engine? Once you identify the most relevant pages on your hotel's website, analyze the typical user’s journey to complete a booking. This “path” report can be pulled from Google Analytics.  Content mapping ensures that the content on those pages, and the text links within the site copy, are interlinked properly, making it easier for the user to find the information they are looking for in addition to passing signals to Google about what content is most related and important.

Problem 2: Increased Competition for Your Own Hotel Name

Summary: Google’s Hotel Ads and Book on Google products have made it harder than ever for hotels to get traffic from their own brand name. TripAdvisor, big brands and the OTAs have always out-muscled individual hotel websites for popular non-branded keyword searches (ie: “Miami hotels”). But in 2015, new paid advertising products emerged, making the search engine marketing space even more competitive for individual properties.

Last year, Google introduced its Book on Google model alongside its Hotel Ads module. Online users now have the option to view rates from all OTAs or book with Google directly from the SERP page, without ever having to actually visit a hotel or OTA website! Properties connecting via a CRS are paying approximately 10-12 percent commission to Google for the Book on Google feature, and anywhere from $1.00-$4.00 cost per click (CPC) to have their rate listed alongside the OTAs on Google’s Hotel Ads module.

You can read more about how Google’s products work on their official websearch blogBut here is a simple visual breakdown of Google’s new page structure:

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Solutions:

  Dominate the SERP by combining PAID and Organic Search Efforts. Consider having your PPC and SEO teams working side by side to implement tactics like Review or Ad Extensions and Event Schemas to take up as much real estate as possible on a page for brand related search queries.

  If budget permits, participate in Meta Search Advertising or Hotel Ads, but be sure that the hotel rates are in parity!

    Add alternative tags to all of the property’s images and with the hotel’s name to influence branded image results.

    Invest in having unique content in other places that have direct links back to your website from authoritative places like Wikipedia, Youtube, etc.

• Refresh the website’s title tags and header tags if you notice click-through rates on your organic results are decreasing. Use strong language in your site’s title tags and meta descriptions like “book direct” or “official hotel website.”

Check back next week for Part 2 of Painful Truths about Hotel SEO


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

Holiday gifts: 17 Free Tools That Make Hotel Marketing Easier

December 2, 2014 • By
Tambourine: hotel and tourism marketing technologyEvery day you learn about new software, emerging social media channels and burgeoning review sites, and every day you wonder how you will ever manage it all. Fortunately, new hotel marketing tools also inspire other tools to make utilization simpler. Many of these tools cost big bucks and need to be worked into next year’s budget. But some are free-- which means you can start using them today. Look down the list. Pick a few out to try today. Then, bookmark this list for easy reference later.

Get the Facts: SEO, Market Research, and Analytics

  1. Quicksprout: Quicksprout grades your website for SEO factors and load time. Gives you advice on improving your scores for speed and load.
  2. Google Alerts: Set alerts for your comp set, your neighborhood and local attractions. Google will send updates to your inbox.
  3. Google Analytics: Meet your website’s audience. Google analytics shows you the origin, keyword usage and behavioral profile (meeting planners vs. leisure tourists?) of all website visitors. It can segment out who visits your website and books. You can also set conversion goals.
  4. U.S. Department of Transportation: The more you know about who comes to your city the more precise you can target your marketing. Find out definitive information about which markets feed your region on the USDOT site.
  5. BuzzSumo: Analyze what articles get the most social media attention in your region or category. Go to the website and enter your city name+travel. You’ll see what people really want to read about when their researching a visit to your city.
  6. Track Maven:Track Maven provides a simpler way of keeping up with your comp set. The site follows up to ten competitors across content and social media channels. Then, it will email you the results.
  7. OpenCalais:OpenCalais searches content for relationships between persons, places and things. It can help you recognize untapped keywords in your content to empower your SEO efforts. Likewise, if a competing hotel’s content gets more attention than yours, copy and paste a few of their articles into OpenCalais to find which keywords they’re using.
  8. RevPar Calculator: Figure out your RevPar on your smartphone with RevPar Guru’s free app.
  9. Email campaign ROI calculator: Find the estimated ROI of your email or direct marketing campaign’s with Marketing Today’s ROI calculator.

Create Quality Content

  1. Hemingway app: While no online editor catches every error, the Hemingway app will make you see your copy differently. Hemingway points out grammar mistakes, long sentences and awkward phrases.
  2. The Content Idea Generator: Can’t think of anything to write about for your hotel blog? Feed a word into the Content Idea Generator and you’ll get a headline for your next post. I tested it out and this is what I got: Vacation: 14 Things Spock Would Say About Vacation Resorts: Doing Resorts the Right Way Meeting Planners: The Dummies Guide to Meeting Planners Of course, these ideas are just starters. You might want to change the last one to The Dummies Guide to Planning Awesome Meetings
  3. Tweriod: Tweriod analyzes your Twitter feed to tell you when most of your followers are online. So you receive maximum exposure for every Tweet.
  4. Twitter Analytics:Twitter Analytics breaks down link clicks, engagement rate, retweets, and favorites. Use it often and patterns will emerge.

Send Effective Emails:

  1. Lyris Content: The worst thing that can happen to your outgoing emails is they end up in your guests’ spam folders. The Lyris Content Checker scans your emails for words and phrases that often trigger email spam alerts.
  2. Send Forensics Email Deliverability Test: Compare your emails deliverability against local and industry benchmarks with Send Forensics. You can also set alerts to protect your reputation as someone who sends valuable emails.
  3. Contactually’s Email View: Nothing sells your hotel like a pretty picture. Ever wondered if the pictures you email load correctly across various servers?  Find out. Simply enter your outgoing email’s HTML code and Contactually will show you how it will look in Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL, and Hotmail.
  4. Litmus Subject Line Checker: After you’ve ensured your emails avoid spam folders, your next task is to get travelers to open the email. Your subject line is key. This Litmus tool shows you how your subject line appears in different email servers.
Have you decided which tools can help you today? Bookmark this post for easy reference. Then share it on social media to help your fellow hotel marketers. 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

Google reducing the space allocated to natural search results.

August 8, 2013 • By

TambourineNo, that's not a typo. 

Google has slowly been reducing the amount of space it gives to natural search results in favor of products that require an investment of time or money to utilize. Search for a hotel in NYC now and the initial results page is dominated by Google PPC, Google Carousel (Places), Google Maps and Zagat (owned by Google) results. It's even worse on a mobile phone… where no natural results come up on the initial screen. Why are so many hotels spending so much time chasing page one rankings if Google keeps reducing the space allocated to those rankings? And more importantly, what should smart hotels be doing to ensure they're getting maximum traffic flow from the unavoidable, but ever-changing Google highway?

Here's our recommendations:

  1. Get good at PPC: Google's flagship paid product is expensive, but can still deliver spectacular ROI if piloted correctly.
  2. Optimize your Google Places account: make sure its accurate and current. (Be sure to encourage Google+ reviews on your website as well as TripAdvisor)
  3. Feed direct prices on Google Hotel Finder: OTAs are using your hotel's name to drive bookings via Google's new Hotel Finder. You can feed prices directly via partnerships with agencies like ours or others.
Striving for organic results can still yield lucrative traffic on longer-tail keywords, but smart hotel marketers need to be aware that more pragmatic methods are also now required to stay current with the reality of Google's landscape and maintain a competitive edge.

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 Tambourine.com.