Browsing Tag

Guest Experience

How Guests Decide Whether to Buy on Your Hotel Website

February 20, 2018 • By

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 2.00.19 PM

Psychology plays a deeper role in online hotel booking decisions than you may think, particularly when it comes to building trust among hotel consumers. And creating that trust, experts say, is not as simple as just touting your brand affiliation or Trip Advisor rating.

Ultimately, your sales will suffer if you fail to foster trust with your hotel website visitors and give them psychological motivation to buy. According to a recent Western University study recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review, that begins with understanding the two methods of reasoning customers use when making online purchases, depending on the level of risk involved with that decision.

Parallel Processing

There are two different, yet complementary “parallel” means in which humans decide to buy. On the one hand, potential customers use logical, rules-based “deliberative” system of reasoning when making small, low-risk purchases.

That means that when buying lower-priced items online, shoppers are mostly looking for the standard signs of business legitimacy, like a secure checkout, a strong search-engine presence, online reviews, etc. Buying in this situation is a deliberate, informed choice that satisfies a very basic customer need.

But for more expensive, complicated transactions where personal comforts are associated (ie hotel stays), humans tend to rely on what is called “associative” reasoning, which is far less structured and rules-based than the deliberative process. Associative reasoning relies more on the individual’s own intuition and personal experience, and here is where building virtual trust becomes so important. Instead of creating a bond in person through your sales charisma and the reassuring experience of meeting your client in person at your office or storefront, you need to find the online aesthetics instead that trigger the same associative customer trust.

But how?

Here are three proven ways to build trust and increase your hotel website conversion rate:

1. Actually be authentic

You’ll never connect with consumers with a generic, cookie-cutter hotel website that fails to convey a truthful story. But there are also a number of subtle visual cues, as well as content features, that can go a long way toward enhancing a sense of authenticity that eases suspicion and fosters trust. Some useful tips include:

image2

The great ad man David Ogilvy reminds about the importance of being truthful in our marketing

  • Be truthful

Travelers are no longer drawn to sterile facts, puffy promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about. Telling a meaningful, TRUTHFUL story is what can truly attract travelers. Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity, so you can convey it poignantly across all marketing channels. Also, be truthful in how you tailor your messaging, language and imagery. Avoid using models in photos who don’t look anything like your typical visitors. And write your copy with language that speaks to your intended audience.

  • Avoid stock photography

Those dull, lifeless stock images that are used all too often on the web do little to motivate buyers or convince them they should do business with you. Instead, try and use your own unique photos. If that means hiring a professional photographer in order to create quality images, then go ahead and budget for that. And most importantly, every hotel should be capturing guest-generated content and repurpose it across every marketing channel

  • Get hyper-local

Give visitors the most authentic personalized content and recommendations you can. Offer “Staff picks” on great places to eat, “in-the-know” events and other local suggestions that go beyond the typical tips already available online for your area. Position your hotel website as the epicenter of the destination!

2. Provide social proof

Social proof can have a huge effect on building trust, because it taps into that fuzzy human logic that drives associative reasoning, including the fear of missing out (FOMO). Some core methods of providing social proof include:

  • Celebrate Past Guest Experiences on Social Media

Travel consumers are heavily influenced by “social proof” (this is why TripAdvisor is so popular). By sharing past guest stories, reviews (and best of all videos) on their hotel’s social media channels, you can turn your past guests into a perpetual army of experience evangelists.

Harvest their good times!

image3

An example of capturing guest-generated social proof from The St. Regis in San Francisco

  • User Testimonials

Post glowing past guest reviews directly on your website (especially for meeting planners). If possible, include a photo of the person leaving the review, which enhances the perceived legitimacy of the testimonial

  • Media Labels

Showcase awards on your hotel website from the reputable news or travel industry organizations who’ve recognized your property. The equity of these organizations creates buyer confidence at a quick glance

  • Partner Logos

Also display the logos of the businesses and organizations you partner with, even if they are smaller, less easily recognized brands. This bolsters credibility and draws other partners and customers to you

3. Create helpful content

Research has shown that people are more likely to do you a favor if you do something for them first. In marketing, this is called reciprocity, the principle of give and take. If you offer something of value upfront, travelers will have an innate desire and obligation to return the favor.

So when planning and executing content strategies for your site, create content purely for the sake of being useful to your customers. Don’t make content a thinly-veiled sales pitch. That’s a surefire recipe for a rapid bounce rate (how quickly someone clicks on a link and then leaves) and is a general turn-off for viewers, who see right through this tactic.

Design content to help solve problems and address customer pain points. Local area guides, FAQ pages, area events calendars etc are all examples of selfless content that conveys helpfulness and generates trust

For more on the psychology of buying as it pertains to the hotel booking process, check out our in-depth series on “The Surprising Psychology Behind Successful Hotel Websites,” Part One and Part Two.

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

February 13, 2018 • By

Hotel marketing folks are infatuated with these 7 things…

image1

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

1. A Strong Economy and Positive Industry Forecasts 

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

image22. Robust Career Opportunities

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

3. Elevated Consumer Awareness of Direct Booking Benefits

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

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

image3

4. Owners’ Investment in a Remarkable Product

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

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

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

5. Social Evangelism

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

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

Why?

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

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

6. Metasearch: An Attractive and Less Expensive Option

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

But, hotel marketers are loving metasearch too.

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

7. Digital Personalization

Every year, new hotel website and booking engine technology allows hotels to know more about who’s looking, booking and bouncing. With this robust analytics and demographic data, hotel offers are now personalized and optimized to reap the biggest ROI.

And hotel marketers are smarter than ever about crafting hotel marketing campaigns that are tailored to the right travelers and delivered to the right place, at the right time. And, best of all – everything is measurable, which provides tremendous power to hotel marketers when it comes time for annual performance and budget reviews.


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: When Guests Want to Pay… Get out of the Way

February 9, 2018 • By

image1

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Stop blocking bookings – be flexible and allow as many payment methods as possible. 

A booking in progress is a fragile and fickle thing. So many factors could derail the process and cause people to abandon their reservation and head over to another hotel or OTA. In fact, often it’s a complicated hotel booking engine process that pushes people to walk away from their reservation.

This is especially true at the moment of truth… at checkout!

Most hotels are smart about giving their guests options – from room types to upgrades. However, many hotels don’t extend their flexibility when it comes to paying. Instead, they offer a rigid set of payment options.

Solution: Provide speedy, simple payment experiences. Offer multiple ways to pay beyond the typical Visa, AMEX and Mastercard transactions. Accept as many other forms of payment as possible (like PayPal). Some hotels even accept Bitcoin these days!

And some go even further – Couples Resorts offers the Love Away payment plan which allows guests to place a $100 deposit, then enter into a layaway plan for their getaway.

Also, don’t forget to mention security clearly on your checkout page, otherwise you run a serious risk of abandonment. Customers need to feel confident that their payments will be handled securely. A statement of secure payment (or security badges) reassures your customers and could be the difference between a new guest and a lost sale.

Get more: Mobile Bookings are up. Why Aren’t Yours?


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

Rebranding Your Hotel? Five Marketing ‘Gotchas’

February 6, 2018 • By

Hotel rebranding requires more than pretty pictures…

image1

Successfully rebranding a hotel isn’t usually as simple as just putting up a new sign outside the property and slapping a new logo everywhere the old logo used to be…

A true rebranding is a massive shift in philosophy, company culture and audience targeting, which has widespread implications for all marketing efforts going forward under the new identity.

There are, unfortunately, some specific aspects of the rebranding process where marketing commonly goes astray. These “gotcha” moments include the following five blunders, which hotel marketers should avoid at all costs:

Gotcha #1: Before rebranding, forgetting to properly debrand!

The first step in a rebranding strategy is to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

That entails removing all collateral, signage, uniforms, advertising and marketing materials (online and off) that reference the hotel’s previous branded identity, including images, logos and words or catchphrases. You’ll also need to revise your presence on all digital platforms and sales channels, like Tripadvisor, the OTAs, AAA, etc., and share the news of the impending change with your local travel and tourism ecosystem, such as CVB partners, area vendors, chambers of commerce and the like.

image2

Gotcha #2: Failing to build your new brand around the TRUTH!

Just like your mom used to say… Don’t try and be something you aren’t.

Instead, root the identity of your rebrand in experiences and amenities you can actually deliver. Travelers are no longer drawn to sterile facts, puffy promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about. Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what can truly attract travelers. However, many hoteliers simply don’t know what their story is, much less how to convey it.

Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity, so you can convey it poignantly across all marketing channels. Cement that strategy by taking the time to author a brand manifesto, or brand promise document.

Gotcha #3: Not having enough time and money.

Just take a deep breath and remember: You only get one chance to launch.

Celebrate it! And expect to spend money.

It’s costly to create and activate new websites, digital media, advertising, signage, collateral, sales material and messaging for a rebranding. If you are transitioning from a brand to independent, make sure you have the team in-house, or external vendors, who can replace the vital marketing services your remote brand team was performing for you. This also includes managing the redirect schema of your legacy search engine rankings. Not to mention, meetings are booked years in advance, so you’ll need to publish new sales/meeting collateral ASAP.

Gotcha #4: Failing to retain legacy assets.

Don’t get too carried away when purging the hotel’s past.

Make sure you keep all assets from the hotel’s former brand days that you may need to reuse, like photos, video, newsletter templates, guest email databases, web addresses (for redirects), social media accounts, TripAdvisor and metasearch log-ins and Google Analytics data. These valuable assets (and legacy performance results) will help your marketing efforts in many ways going forward, particularly in reducing time and expense, regardless of the name change.

image3

Gotcha #5: Forgetting what really matters….

No amount of marketing, no matter how clever it may be, can make up for a lackluster product. There are far too many hotels that attempt to rebrand to over-compensate for or to cover up an aging, lackluster, or grungy hotel product. Sadly, as long as those hotels delay improving or – in some cases – completely overhauling their hotel appearance, service or amenities, they will continue to have an uphill battle when attracting and retaining guests.

As Robert Stephens (founder of Geek Squad) famously said: “Advertising is the tax you pay for an unremarkable product.” Marketing can only do so much. The less you pay attention to improving your service and your hotel product, the more you’ll be spending in marketing and advertising to make up for it.

Serve your guests better by working on your hotel first. By refusing to cut corners, investing in quality from the front desk to the back of the house, and by presenting the best guest experience that your staff can deliver, guest sentiment will go up, your number of repeat guests will go up, profits will go up and your marketing cost per booking will go down.


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: How Smart Hotel Marketers Convince Owners to Reinvest

February 2, 2018 • By

image1

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: The most important aspect of marketing is the product itself.

But what happens when hotel marketers are asked to bend steel with their bare hands and meet lofty revenue goals with a tired and inadequate product? How can hotel marketers contribute evidence to ownership that there is a problem and it’s time to reinvest?  

Here’s a few ways to support your case with real data:

1: Show past guest reviews (and aggregated guest sentiment scores) regarding common issues reported at your property, such as uncomfortable beds, old bathrooms, dirty carpets or tired decor.

2: Prepare a summary of new supply or newly refurbished compset properties, as well as your STR index trends against those properties.

3: Pull PMS or CRM data that illustrates the decline in repeat visitation from past guests as a result of inferior product experience.

Without a commitment to property upgrades, hotel marketers are facing an uphill battle, while owners are facing a decline in profits and ultimately… a decline in their property value.

Get more: Hitting hotel owners where it hurts: real estate values


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: Do This Instead, Tap into Consumer Fears about OTAs

January 19, 2018 • By

image1

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Stop competing on rates. Win back bookings from OTAs…

by reminding guests of how unreliable, uncertain and problematic OTA reservations can be. 

Think hotel consumers are always driven by the lowest price?

Think again.

Travel decisions are also based on emotions, not just practicality. And, there’s one emotion that hotel marketers need to tap into more: FEAR.

According to a recent JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, people are more likely to have a bad hotel experience (ie: hidden fees, unfair cancellation policies, and canceled reservations) if they booked through a third-party, like Expedia or Travelocity.

In fact, it doesn’t take long to find legions of complaints and horror stories of travelers left in the lurch because of strict OTA policies or apathy from OTA call centers. Travel plans are likelier to be unraveled by OTAs, not hotels.

So, tap into that fear to remind customers that you offer two things that OTAs don’t:

  1. A reliable reservation from a trusted source
  2. AND a staff that actually cares about them

We should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play. That your family vacation, business trip or long-awaited romantic weekend is too important to risk in any way!

Hotel marketers should communicate this critical message in key touchpoints with prospective guests during the research phase of their purchase journey:

• On your direct hotel website home page

• In your search/PPC ads

• In your retargeting ads that follow consumers after they visit your website

• In social media posts

• In call/reservations center training

• Inside your booking engine, where most abandonment occurs

Get more: We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs


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

10 Killer Hotel Website Conversion Hacks

January 16, 2018 • By

Hotel website conversion is key to any direct booking strategy. image1

There’s a good chance you’re killing the conversion rate of your hotel website.

Right now, potential guests are bouncing off your hotel website as you read this.

What good are your brilliant marketing strategies if you can’t hold onto the customers’ attention once they get there?

Your hotel product is not to blame.

Most likely, there are holes that need to be taken care of on your hotel website.

Make these fixes and watch your conversions increase.

Hack 1: Use Dynamic Personalization

Too many hotel websites use sliding graphics to showcase different messages, amenities and promotions. If the first screen isn’t right for the visitor… maybe the next one will be!

Unfortunately, it turns out that sliders kill conversion rates. Instead, we recommend using simple dynamic personalization to deliver the right message/promo to each visitor.

image2

An example of dynamic personalization welcoming past direct bookers with their previous date search.

For example:

By using campaign tracking codes to identify various inbound traffic sources, you can customize the messaging of your homepage to be more relevant to your visitors. For example, if you are promoting an in-state resident sale, you can dynamically set your home page to detect website visitors from your state and display that promo first.

• You can prevent abandonment to OTAs by dynamically showing gated/loyalty rates (see example above) to users who are automatically identified as consumers who have used your direct booking engine.

• When a guest from London 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 (i.e. instead of charging $100 USD for a room, you could charge 100 British Pounds, which is worth $1.32).

Hack 2: Keep Offers Consistent

Using promos across all your digital channels to drive traffic is nothing new, but if you don’t keep the offer consistent throughout the purchase journey, you are causing dissonance and inhibiting your direct hotel website conversion rate.

This is especially critical when guests expect to see the promo they clicked on reflected in the pricing inside your hotel booking engine. If an offer disappears during the booking engine conversion process, visitors can lose confidence in their purchase and abandon their checkout.

Here’s a great example from Couples Resorts showing a 7th Night Free promo on their Specials page, then carried forward all the way through into the booking environment:

image4

image5

The jump between your website to your booking engine is a dangerous place. If the transition isn’t seamless, it’s notorious for causing people to ditch their reservations. One thing to blame for the abandoned reservations: Mismatched online experiences.

The best booking engines are the ones that go unnoticed by the guest. If you transfer guests to a booking engine with a different design, different colors, different fonts than that of the website, it will cause guests to feel uneasy about moving forward. Even the smallest of differences can be jarring to the customer and will slowly chip away at the trust that you worked so hard to establish. So, keep things consistent to boost both customer trust and conversion rates.

Hack 3: Keep Messaging Consistent

Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining STORY 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.

People are often distracted and impatient when they’re shopping for travel online. They’re eager to find information that gives them confidence in their purchase decisions. In the early days of the web, researchers at the Xerox PARC laboratory in Palo Alto defined this as “information scent.”

According to the conversion gurus at Unbounce, people follow visual and information clues that help them find what they’re looking for. If they lose the scent, they’ll abandon the trail. If the information scent is strong, they’ll keep going. The question is: How consistent is the information your hotel provides across all your digital channels?

Hack 4: Offer Live Chat

Smart customer service can give you a serious bump in bookings. A recent study found that 62 percent of online customers are more likely to make a purchase if you offer live customer support.

Let’s be real:

Most of the people who visit your website will have questions. Don’t assume they will read every word on your website to find the answer. They want answers now. And offering them instant responses and open dialogue will make them more confident in booking. Online chat is even more important within your booking environment itself. Up to 98 percent of guests looking for availability on a hotel website will end up NOT BOOKING. Invest a few dollars a month in online chat to reduce attrition and guide your most valuable prospects to booking.

Hack 5: Fix Your Clunky Checkout

The faster a guest can get through the booking process, the higher your conversions. A long and complicated booking process can derail all of your efforts to get the guest across the finish line. Studies show that 28 percent of customers abandon their online purchases because they were frustrated with the long checkout. So, simplify, simplify, simplify. Take out irrelevant steps, mandatory sign-ups and upsell pages. Reduce the number of room types. Pare down as much as you can.

Also, sometimes the simple reason shoppers don’t complete a purchase is that their preferred credit card wasn’t accepted in your booking engine. Smart hotels offer multiple payment options, going beyond Amex, Visa and Mastercard to include as many forms of payment as possible, including third-party online payment services like PayPal. Some even take it a step further like Couples Resorts, who offer a “loveaway” payment plan.

Also, don’t forget to mention security clearly on your checkout page, otherwise you run a serious risk of abandonment. Customers need to feel confident that their payments will be handled securely. A statement of secure payment (or security badges) reassures your customers and could be the difference between a new guest and a lost sale.

Hack 6: Be Very Picky About Photography

Don’t shrug off hotel photography as simply pretty pictures. They carry far more influence than that: They convey your experience with a single glance. A study by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management found that travelers thoroughly inspect photography to see if your room rates match your experience. And, that photography has the potential to change a guest’s mind. So skip the old, dated, blurry photos and kill the cheesy stock images. Invest in a legit, professional hotel photographer with a compelling portfolio of previous work at similar properties.

Hack 7: Harvest Social Proof 

Modern travelers, especially millennial and affluent guests, are highly driven by user-generated content. In fact, a recent marketing study found that UGC is 20 percent more influential than any other type of marketing when driving purchases among millennial shoppers. Leveraging your guests’ own images (especially images from Instagram) in your marketing materials not only shows authenticity, it brilliantly demonstrates ‘social proof.’

Also, potential guests turn to sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook and OTAs to research what others are saying about your property. Our advice: Beat them to it. Select and showcase some of your best reviews directly on your hotel homepage to amp up conversions. Scour through guest feedback for the most poignant reviews, skip those that are too generic or lack-luster. The idea is to add credibility with authentic guest feedback, as well as build excitement about what’s in store.

image6

Hack 8: Automate Your Best Rate Guarantee

Having a Best Rate Guarantee badge on your website is no longer enough. Instead, smart hotel marketers now show 3rd party rates alongside their own direct rates, so that customers aren’t tempted to leave and compare prices on other sites. Widgets like TripTease make it easy for hoteliers to show rates form third parties… and (shameless plug) our very own booking engine takes the concept a step further by auto-matching third-party rates when direct rates are showing higher than third parties.

image7

Booking engines, like Tambourine’s, can now auto-display third-party rates and auto-correct direct rates when they are out of parity.

Hack 9: Speed Things Up!

Attention spans online are at an all-time low.

If you want to turn lookers into bookers, every second counts. The ramifications of a slow hotel website are swift, and often permanent as well. About 25 percent of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Almost 50 percent will abandon if the site takes more than 10 seconds to load. Worse, once they leave, they will likely never come back. Today’s consumers expect immediacy online, so this is essential to your conversion rate.

image8

Hack 10: Be Mobile-Friendly

Mobile bookings are up. According to eMarketer, by 2021, half of all digital travel sales will be made from smartphones or tablets. So, why aren’t your mobile bookings climbing, too? It’s not enough for your website to just ‘come up’ on a smartphone or tablet. Or, to merely offer a mobile version of your hotel website. Your hotel’s mobile experience has to match the expectations and habits of today’s consumers on-the-go. So, streamline the booking funnel. Design for one-hand navigation. Allow for alternate payments. Then, watch your mobile bookings rise.


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

4 Things Every Branded Hotel Should Be Doing on Facebook Right Now

January 9, 2018 • By

New hotel social media tools can help differentiate flagged properties….

image1

As a property flying under a global brand flag, you enjoy several key benefits:

Worldwide name recognition and consumer trust.

Access to millions of loyalty members.

Exposure on the Brand.com global website.

But unfortunately, due to scale and volume, remote, corporate brand marketing teams are often unable to tell your property’s unique story and differentiate you from sister properties in your region.

New advancements in hotel social media can help.

No longer just a means for ‘liking’ and holding goofy contests to attract more “followers,” Facebook is now an advertising powerhouse that allows you to target anyone in their global database with laser-sharp precision – even users who are not following your hotel!

But Facebook’s advertising platform can be overwhelming and complicated… so we spoke to Tambourine’s social media directors Thomas McDermott and Elle Andress to break down 4 key tactics for flagged properties to tap into the power of Facebook’s juggernaut advertising platform:

1. Targeting Loyalty Program Members

Facebook’s paid advertising platform enables hotel marketers to emplace unique content, inspirational images, promos and offers in the newsfeeds of highly targeted consumers with pinpoint precision. Ads can target by demographics, geography, interests, hobbies, and behaviors. For branded properties, this means you can target your social ads to folks who are interested in (or members of) your flag’s loyalty program (see screenshot below). This enables you to create awareness and preference for your property vs other similarly branded properties in the area.

image2

image3

Elle Andress: Director of Social Media at Tambourine

 2. The 28-Day Pixel

Until recently, hotel marketers were unable to track the success of their paid Facebook campaigns unless a guest booked directly from Facebook in the same session.

But the relatively new 28-day pixel feature now allows flagged hotel marketers to track a user’s path for 28 days after they have either viewed or clicked on your hotel’s Facebook ad. This tracking tool gives you insight into how well your Facebook investments are moving potential guests down the sales funnel. “Most importantly, it allows for more revenue attribution to your Facebook ads,” said Elle. “You can gauge if your ad campaigns are contributing to conversions or not.”

3. Reach & Frequency

Facebook’s new Reach & Frequency tool allows branded properties to pre-purchase larger audiences at a lower cost and ensures those users see the ad a fixed amount of times. You can customize a message, pre-purchase a minimum of 200K users within your chosen market and ensure those Facebook users see your marketing message however many times you like… typically 5-6 times.

image4

Thomas McDermott: Director of Content Marketing at Tambourine

“This is also particularly useful for properties that are new to the market and want to introduce their product or have a very particular feeder market,” Tom explains.

“Most recently, we’ve leveraged this tool for one of our Caribbean clients. We conducted a winter campaign to saturate northern markets. Plus, we’re currently working on a campaign to introduce a new property to the Florida market.”

Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) drops significantly compared to traditional performance ads, and ads achieve higher impact through repetition.

4. Canvas Ads

While not entirely a new marketing tool, Facebook’s Canvas Ad is a great way for flagged properties to differentiate themselves in the absence of a custom-designed experiential “vanity” website.

Canvas allows you to create a custom mobile web experience that lives inside of Facebook, doesn’t require IT or coding, but still delivers a custom experience that’s in line with brand standards.

“This is an ideal avenue to really go in depth and highlight the unique attributions of the property,” Tom explained. “From there, you can send them to the brand channel to book.”

Bonus: What Facebook tactics should you stay away from? 

Tom and Elle also suggested which tired practices to avoid:

“I think a lot of properties are still using too much hard sales language for their organic posts on Facebook, which is a big turnoff to the consumer. The place to do the sales style pitch is in the paid ads platform. For organic content, hotels should keep the copy light and relatable and show a human voice to the brand.”

– Elle

“I think there is still too much hype on fan growth. Yes, it is still worthwhile to build a network of relevant users. However, the audience builder tools really help you identify users who have expressed an interest in the property or who show relevant or valuable behaviors. You have access to those users whether they are fans or not.”

– Tom


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

DOSM Checklist for 2018

December 26, 2017 • By

Portrait of happy mature man wearing spectacles and looking at camera outdoor. Man with beard and glasses feeling confident. Close up face of hispanic business man smiling.

15 essential activities for hotel sales and marketing leaders.

We work with a lot of DOSMs across a wide variety of properties of all sizes in many countries.

Some are good, some are great… and some are working hard to improve.

What do the great ones have in common?

Which activities and disciplines deliver better results?

The answers might surprise you!

Based on our experience, here are the 15 things we recommend to hotel DOSMs seeking better results in 2018:

1. Assess Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

Successful DOSMs constantly scrutinize their monthly and yearly group business goals and know where they stand on any given day with each pending opportunity. Leave the fluffy weekly sales meeting to the other hotels; instead, keep track of the progress toward your group sales goals by meeting with your team every day. Review top opportunities, get a no-B.S. status on critical deals and determine what each salesperson can do that day to edge closer to winning that piece of business.

Do you know your current closing percentage? And how long the average deal takes to close?

You should!

A daily check-in is paramount to hitting your group room night goals.

2. Be Vigilant About Your product

With all the sales and marketing strategies and technology you have in place, at the end of the day, it’s an exceptional guest experience that will attract bookings again and again. So, it makes sense to get your head out of the computer and leave your office to simply walk your property at least once a day.

Be mindful and try to see the property with fresh eyes. Talk to guests!

Scrutinize any flaws or opportunities for improvement. Notice what’s missing or what is possibly holding your property back. Is it the restaurant’s uninspiring menu? Or a cluttered spa entrance? Or dismal hallway lighting? Maybe it’s outdated staff uniforms or procedures? No amount of brilliant marketing can cover or compensate for property shortcomings, so it’s up to you to start there first. Submit a report to ownership at least once a year detailing the product shortcomings that are affecting results.

3. Embrace the Metrics Owners Care About the Most

Every day, you should be checking key performance indicators (KPIs) that hotel owners and asset managers consider high priority, such as marketing cost per booking (MCPB), direct revenue ratio (DRR) and your STR index vs. the compset. Monitoring these KPIs will help you and your owner understand how your sales and marketing team is actually contributing to the hotel’s revenue targets. Plus, these numbers will ultimately drive performance each day. Most hoteliers tend to wait until a slow season to pay attention to these metrics, then scramble to frantically catch up when the numbers reveal how behind they are in reaching the hotel’s goals.

4. Monitor Guest Sentiment

In addition to speaking to real-life human guests, online guest reviews are another direct link to your hotel’s future success. They tell you what went wrong (and right) in the past, and what you need to do moving forward. Even if it is someone else’s job to read and respond to guest reviews, successful DOSMs need to know what guests are saying as well. Do the same with mentions of your hotel on social media, such as photos taken by guests and posted to Instagram or Facebook. These posts can be extremely revealing and give an unfiltered view of guest sentiment. Notice what comes up most often, and then outline how you and other management staff can make improvements.

image2

5. Speak to Actual Guests

Pardon us for repeating ourselves: Resist the urge to stay glued to your computer or attend your own meetings all day. Get out and talk to guests, especially attendees of groups and events if that segment represents a large chunk of your revenue projection!

You are a host, first and foremost. So, talk and mingle with the people who really matter: your guests. Chat with guests in the lobby, or walk the meeting space and chat with attendees during their downtime. Start a conversation and see how things are going. Ask what could make their stay or meeting experience even better. Discover what really matters to them. Jot down and collect their responses, and use that as inspiration to drive your sales and marketing efforts. All of this intelligence can be used to attract more transient bookings or group business in the future.

6. Build Your Story

Travelers are no longer drawn to facts, promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about.

Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what can truly attract travelers to you. However, it’s a common problem for many hoteliers to not know what their story is, much less how to convey it.

Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity so that you can convey it poignantly across all your marketing channels.

7. Get Closer to Your Revenue Manager

The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager almost every day, not simply once per week. Just like your top sales opportunities, you need to stay on top of your hotel’s pace reports, upcoming low periods, performance vs. budget and the strategies to drive more revenue from ancillary products. The days of sales/marketing operating in separate silos from revenue management are firmly over. Check out this brief article on how to connect all the departments that affect your property’s revenue.

image3

8. Wrap Your Property in Local Color

The desire for unforgettable and authentic travel experiences isn’t going away anytime soon. Modern travelers want to experience a destination like a local would, and are replacing trips to cliched attractions with visits to mom-and-pop shops, farmers markets, art walks and hidden local spots. And, they’re looking to pick a hotel at the epicenter of all those things. Don’t sit back and simply rely on your concierge to stay abreast of all the local activities that are possible. Stay on top of it by skimming the publications that locals tend to read, such as weeklies like San Diego Reader or city magazines like Seattle Met. This will give you ideas for possible partnerships, room packages and unique off-site group options.

9. Study Your Compset

In the battle for bookings, never take your eyes off the competition. In addition to monitoring rate, checking in on your compset gives you insight into the smart moves they’re making to draw more direct bookings and more group business. One of the easiest ways to keep up with competition is to follow their social media accounts, not just for the property itself, but of each salesperson, too. (Each salesperson at your property should follow their counterparts at competing hotels.) What is getting the most engagement? What are they bragging about? Then, read their latest guest reviews and find out what their guests love and hate about their experience. Use this data to gauge what their customers and guests respond to and determine if you can use their successes to inspire change at your property as well.

10. Stress Balance and Reduce Stress

Smart DOSMs also find ways to reduce stress at work. They hire positive, high-achieving staff and fire negative, poor performers. They set expectations clearly with those below and above them. They eliminate vendor fatigue by consolidating their needs with as few vendors as possible. They surround themselves with people who can get things done with little to no hand-holding. And most importantly, they know that despite their non-stop, 24/7 job, work should never be their only source of pride and enjoyment. The most successful DOSMs have vibrant, fulfilling lives outside of work, balancing the demands of their work life with family, friends, exercise and travel.

11. Tech Enable Your Sales Team

Group planners/buyers are now using digital methods for some 80% of their pre-purchase research and planning, so hotel DOSMs need to scrap the traditional, relationship-based methods of the past and arm themselves with every digital tool available. This includes gathering customer data from social media, blogs and other aspects of their respective digital footprint, as well as tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Knowland Group’s market intelligence. It also means syncing sales efforts with the hotel’s marketing team, especially through marketing automation and a joint customer relationship management (CRM) system.

12. Stop Competing with OTAs on Price

Instead of making price parity your lead strategy for combatting the online travel agencies (OTAs), recent data suggests another tactic can be much more effective: targeting consumer fears regarding using OTAs.

It turns out that OTAs have built a lousy reputation for poor customer service, and many travelers worry about reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds when booking through OTAs. In response, you should harness the power of emotional messaging across all transient marketing touchpoints, reminding prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play, and you have a 100% commitment to customer service in the event something does go wrong.

13. Augment Your Brand’s Basic Marketing Program

Brand affiliation offers many potential sales and marketing advantages; however, these benefits aren’t often enough all on their own, as each brand’s national marketing team generally can’t reach specific target markets on a timely basis, convey unique property experiences or synthesize authentic local culture. Hotels need to augment their brand’s core program with timely campaigns and custom direct “vanity” websites that help fill periods of need, instead of solely relying on their brand’s standard marketing program, which is duplicated for every other sister hotel in the region. Take a proactive approach that focuses on differentiating your property, customizing your website, boosting your search engine optimization (SEO) and social media efforts and elevating the authenticity of your marketing message.

Also, if your property heavily depends on group revenue, consider adding technology, training and lead generation tools from outside vendors.

14. Consolidate Vendors

Working with multiple hotel marketing vendors means none are accountable. Meanwhile, hotel marketers waste a lot of time delivering messages from vendor to vendor, in a struggle to get everyone on the same page. Then further complicating things is the issue of vendor technology often not working well with others, blocking real-time data from being shared amongst the entire team.

The solution?

Pare-down your vendors to as few as possible, favoring hospitality marketing partners who have an expertise and proven success in several areas—not just one—so they can optimize multiple marketing functions. Most importantly, ask them the necessary questions to find out if they have the chops and systems in place to drive bookings and deliver ROI.

15. Know Your Cost-Per-Booking 

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 the 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) by segment. 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… avoiding the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition.


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 Official Gift Guide for Hotel Marketers

December 20, 2017 • By

image1

Forget the silly gadgets and fancy chocolates!

Listen up hotel owners and asset managers, we know what hotel marketers really want for the holidays…

Here’s our annual list of the things that hotel marketers tell us they crave the most:

1. They Want to Be Rewarded for Driving Measurable Revenue 

Hotel owners expect their marketing team to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be tangibly measured.

And hotel marketers are responding!

By tracking their marketing cost-per-booking (MCPB) and return on ad spend, they are showcasing the marketing team’s direct ROI… this new breed of “revenue marketer” is moving away from the squishy, legacy metrics of hotel marketing into a new era of accountability (and hopefully increased compensation)!

2. They Want the Budget Correlated to Targets

Nothing would make hotel marketers happier this holiday season than a budget that was actually correlated to the targets being set for them (by segment)! Unfortunately, there are still many hotel owners who believe their sales and marketing teams can hit increasingly lofty revenue targets with less money and resources than the year before.

This year, hotel marketers are hoping to convince upper management that their ambitious revenue goals need to be supported with bigger budgets (and maybe even more staff). Let’s hope hotel owners realize that investing in marketing is one of the smartest moves they can make to boost revenue.

3. They Want Continued Investments for Direct Booking Campaigns

The launch of major campaigns by industry giants this year further reinforced the industry’s message on the benefits of purchasing directly through a hotel website rather than an OTA. But to rely solely on the AHLA, Marriott and Hilton to communicate these advantages to travelers is insufficient. Every property, regardless of size, affiliation or location, should be showcasing the benefits of booking direct and changing their message to expose the real weakness of OTAs.

 image2

4. They Want Standardized Metrics That Really Matter

Instead of leaning on squishy metrics, most hotel marketers crave consensus on KPIs that will actually measure important things, including:

  1. MCPB (Marketing cost per booking): Tracks the cost of each sales and marketing channel versus actual conversions. (Try using this for OTA commissions as well… and see how that channel stacks up versus your other campaigns.)
  2. DRR (Direct revenue ratio): Measures percentage of online revenue from direct sources (your website) versus pricey third-party sources, like OTAs. If you’re not generating more than 60 percent of your transient revenue from direct reservations, you still have work to do!
  3. Website Conversion Rate (from unique visitor to entrances into the booking environment): Converting a higher percentage of visitors into booking searches (or phone calls) is critical to reducing your cost of revenue and MCPB.
  4. Variance from Revenue Target BY SEGMENT: This metric showcases revenue goals versus actual results.
  5. TripAdvisor Sentiment Score: Using a reputation/sentiment monitoring tool allows hotels to measure guest satisfaction. This reflects whether your guests are enjoying your product, along with alerting you to hotel deficiencies. A bad hotel experience will outweigh any of your clever sales and marketing tactics.

5. A Better Product… Please!

Successful hotel marketing depends on a great product.

Period. Full stop.

If you’re trying to sell a tired, flawed, aging or otherwise inferior hotel experience, no amount of marketing – no matter how innovative or brilliant – can avoid the inevitable downward spiral.

There are far too many hotels that continue to sink millions of marketing dollars to over-compensate for or to cover up an aging, lackluster, or grungy hotel product. Sadly, as long as owners delay investing in the appearance, service or amenities of the property, hotel marketers will continue to fight an uphill battle in attracting and retaining guests.

6. They Want to Celebrate Authentic Local Experiences

The vast majority of hotel marketers understand that today’s traveler cares as much or more about the EXPERIENCE than the thread count of the hotel’s sheets or the convenient parking. But not everyone is on board with converting the focus of a hotel’s marketing to focus on life-enriching experiences. Hotel marketers unanimously tell us they crave more time, resources and freedom to celebrate their properties’ connection to local experiences.

7. They Want Better Photography!

Like it or not, we’ve become a very visual society.

Just as important as a hotel’s service, extraordinary hotel digital marketing requires extraordinary photography because it plays such a strong role in consumers’ travel purchase process, from the inspiration phase to booking. Images define guest expectations and poor quality shots are the equivalent of telling potential guests that the hotel’s offerings are subpar, especially if the competitive set has better visual content on its website.

8. They Want to Decrease Their Dependence on OTAs

Yes, we know… statement of the obvious.

Everyone wants this, but rather than complaining, it’s time to change the overarching hotel industry strategy from emphasizing price parity to tapping into consumer fears of OTAs.

Instead of obsessing about Best Rate Guarantees, we all need to start focusing instead on how reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds are perceived by consumers when they book direct vs indirect.

Many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could unravel their travel plans in seconds.

9.  Can We Get a Little Acknowledgment Please?

It’s not about ego.

It’s about progress… Marketers aren’t looking for a pat on the back!

What they want is for executives, owners, and hotel asset managers to understand all that falls on the shoulders of marketing. Because, when management truly understands the resources required, the marketing department usually gets the resources and the budget required to keep up with their compset and meet the revenue requirements of ownership.

10. They Want an End to the Rising Cost of Guest Acquisition!

Owners can’t control many of their rising costs, particularly debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at marketing costs—particularly the cost of guest acquisition—which are also rising fast.

According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset.

And one of the reasons that marketing costs are rising so quickly is because hotel marketers are often unable to create perceived value in their product, which ends up being treated like a commodity instead. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become redundant, overdone and difficult to distinguish from one another, prompting travelers to book solely based on price.

Happy holidays!

We hope all your wishes come true this holiday season too! 


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