Browsing Tag

hospitality

7 Lessons Your Mom Taught You about Hotel Marketing

May 10, 2017 • By

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Every year, in honor of Mother’s Day, we share advice from the original CMOs (chief mother officers) – our mothers!

And when we dove into these motherly pearls of wisdom, we found pretty sage hospitality marketing advice. So, sit up straight. Mind your manners. And, for heaven sakes, listen to your mom.

1. Mom: “Money doesn’t grow on trees!”

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

Asset managers, hotel management firms and GMs are under more pressure than ever to deliver real bottom line results. However, many hotel marketers still shy away from being accountable for any revenue responsibilities. Instead, they lavishly tout their “rebranding initiatives,” number of social media followers or new hotel photography. This continued disregard for numerical evaluation will put you in a difficult position next year, when you attempt to request a larger marketing budget. Without measuring your success, owners and managers will be more apt to cut back on marketing expenses and staff, believing that your intangible branding results can be achieved with less.

2. Mom: “Just be yourself.”

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

In today’s world, it is more important than ever for brands to be transparent and authentic. Social media has changed everything and consumers are demanding that brands be more engaging and less overtly commercial. More personable, less corporate. Hospitality is no longer a B2C industry – it’s P2P, people to people. Every piece of your marketing should reflect that you are a host – first and foremost, and not a business that is gunning for your customers’ wallets. 

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3. Mom: “Finish what you started.” Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

Marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. You won't be ranked #1 on Google anytime soon. Your email list won’t balloon in just a month. Your hotel social media followers won’t triple with just a few posts. And, you won’t see an explosion of direct bookings with one campaign. Don’t expect immediate results in any of your marketing efforts. Successful marketing comes from being consistent. Each marketing component is part of the larger picture, so don’t give up if things don’t blossom right away.

4. Mom: “I brought you into this world. I can take you out of it.” Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

Your success ultimately comes down to how well you serve your guests with an amazing experience. And, your marketing should also reflect the guests’ desires, emotions, and the benefits they’ll receive from staying with you.

After all, they’re the reason you are in business and they can easily put you out of it! So, don’t use hotel marketing campaigns to simply brag about your property, your accolades and all the ways you are awesome. Instead, show how guests' lives and perspectives will be changed by an experience with you.

5. Mom: “Look both ways before you cross the street.” Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

Don’t put blinders on to the rest of the world when creating marketing assets or evaluating campaigns, get real user feedback! For example, you can pay $79 to usertesting.com for unbiased reviewers to test and record their experience on your website. You will be amazed what you can learn by talking to real prospects about their experience with your sales and marketing process.

6. Mom: “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” 

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

It’s a reality for all hotel marketers: despite your best efforts, sometimes a marketing campaign will fall flat or short of your revenue goals. This can happen even after investing a ton of marketing dollars, talent and time in marketing research and implementation.

You win some, you lose some.

Instead of obsessing over it and berating yourself (or worse, your marketing team), brush off your disappointment and get up again. Review what went wrong, determine what mistakes to avoid in the future, then keep moving forward. 

7. Mom: “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

Marketing trends move fast and furious. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of it all and have the urge to jump in without a sense of direction or without thinking if this is the best fit for your hotel and your current hotel marketing strategies. Listen to your mom – resist the urge. Instead, be selective which marketing tools and tactics you invest in. Does it genuinely align to your target business mix by segment? Do you have the budget and manpower to execute it well? Do you have a plan in place?


About Tambourine

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

The Marketing Secrets of Great Hotel Management Companies

May 2, 2017 • By

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Most hotel management companies are created by proven hotel executives who have cut their teeth leading profitable properties and now want to monetize their expertise with hotel owners and asset managers.

But what truly distinguishes a top HMC from a mediocre one?

How are the best HMCs deploying marketing tactics to attract more hotel owners, asset managers and investors?

We spoke with two industry leaders to find out:

W. Chris Green, COO and Principal of Chesapeake Hospitality

Jeff Spaccio, former Regional Director of Sales for The Procaccianti Group and Pyramid Hotel Group (and currently our own DOSM-in-Residence at Tambourine)

Here’s what they had to say about the marketing practices of the most successful hotel management companies:

1. They Hold Their Marketing Teams Accountable

Asset managers and property owners no longer want to hear about “branding initiatives” or logo colors… they expect their hotel management firm’s marketing team to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results.

This includes revenue management execs, whose compensation programs prioritize gross revenues over profitability. Innovative hotel management firms are now motivating revenue managers to understand true channel costs and gravitate to lower cost sources of bookings.

“They should be well aware of the cost per booking,” Spaccio reiterated.

“Smart HMCs are rewarding revenue managers for generating revenues beyond the forecasted targets, but in the end, incentives are primarily driven by their ability to exceed profitability.”

But accountability also requires empowerment. Which is why Green believes you have to invest in the strength of the marketing team’s skills to optimize both profitability and performance.

“We over-index on sales/revenue management and e-commerce corporate support,” Green shared. “To be relentlessly granular you have to have the people and the time to dig deep.”

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2. They Know Their Products and Markets

The best hotel management teams shun the one-size-fits all mentality. Instead, they analyze each property and its market dynamics to come up with creative solutions tailored to address the unique challenges that the property faces.

“Here, (at Chesapeake Hospitality) we always question the norm. Why does a hotel have to perform a certain way in a certain segment?“ Green said.

Spaccio also stressed the importance of understanding the property’s position in the marketplace compared to its comp set.

He recommends leveraging advanced business intelligence tools that allow you to analyze your competition and future demand.

Truly understanding what your competition is doing at the ground level and focusing on your competitive advantages should remain a core mandatory.”

3. They Correlate Investments to Targets

The most successful HMCs take the time to get to know all of a hotel’s customer segments and provide innovative solutions to address each type of audience. Spaccio insists that smart hotel management firms always 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 top HMCs 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.

4. They Work With Proven Vendors

If you want to be a trustworthy partner that drives profitability, you have to surround yourself with quality marketing partners as well.

“Partner with the best of the best in the hotel industry and hold them to your standards,“ Spaccio suggested. “You’ll only be successful if you set a high bar during your vetting process, whether you’re looking for a PMS, CRM or a hotel website design firm.”

Smart hotel management firms only work with hospitality marketing vendors and partners who have smart systems in place, proven successful in yielding above-market returns and a relentless determination for ROI that matches their own. 

5. They Confront Owners About the Product

Profitable hotel ventures start with a good product. If a property is lacking in amenities, room quality or decor, smart HMCs are upfront with hotel owners about investing in improvements. 

Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle against all the other hotels that are investing in their properties and their future. 

Plus, be prepared to fight for your share of that investment when hotel owners consider cutting costs in vital areas. 

Spaccio explained: “Understand how to manage owners and guest expectations. There are two ways to be profitable at a hotel: driving top line revenue and cutting expenses at the bottom line. The top hotel management have the ability to push back on owners and effectively manage them if an owner is looking to cut an expense that will ultimately hurt the property.”

6. They Hire the Right People

The most successful hotel management companies are made up of visionary and exemplary staff at all levels, from the marketing coordinator to the DOSM. Ultimately, the talent in all of your ranks is what can set you apart from other hotel management companies.

Hire the right energy,” Green recommended. “To differentiate among other hotel managers, you better have a very strong framework for success. This includes top talent - people who engage and inspire.”

“Then, consistently train them to win.”

There also needs to be a good balance of experience and innovation, Spaccio added. “Look for people who have the ability to multitask, analyze data and adopt ever-evolving new software platforms.”

“As hotel marketing moves more and more into the digital world, smart HMCs are hiring sophisticated hotel ecommerce managers and revenue managers to support their revenue projections,” Spaccio explained.


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

Does Your Hotel Suffer From Chronic Vendor Fatigue?

April 25, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

  • Working with multiple hotel marketing vendors means none are accountable.
  • Hotel marketers waste a lot of time delivering messages from vendor-to-vendor, in a struggle to get everyone on the same page.
  • Vendor technology often will not work well with others, blocking real-time data from being shared amongst the entire team.

Every smart hotel marketer knows they can’t manage the rapid pace of change in the digital world with their limited on-property staff and resources.

So they turn to talented marketing experts to leverage their tools, resources, skills and specialized experience. Where many hotels go wrong is when they divvy up marketing assignments and outsource each piece, one-by-one. In the end, their marketing “team” often looks like this:

One vendor to manage the hotel website.

Another vendor to optimize the hotel’s distribution channels.

Another vendor to manage emails.

One vendor to tackle SEO and PPC.

Another vendor to oversee social media content.

And the list goes on and on…

While you may believe this robust team of marketing minds means your hotel can now operate as a marketing powerhouse, you’re in for a rude awakening.

The truth is, with an extended team of disconnected marketing vendors, you’ll face even bigger challenges.

Here are the dangers of hiring too many vendors to work on your hotel marketing:

1) No Accountability Even if you can manage to keep up with each vendor’s specific performance metrics and milestones, they cannot be held responsible if their work depends on another vendor’s actions. And nothing will stop vendors from pointing fingers at each other when things go wrong.  For example: your email vendor runs a campaign for Mother’s Day that relies on your hotel’s web design firm to quickly produce a killer landing page. The campaign fails to produce the desired results… so who is at fault, the email vendor or the web firm?

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2) More Stress, Less Time

Face it. The more hotel marketing firms you work with, the more complications and chaos you’ll face with even the simplest of marketing tasks. Managing separate, disconnected vendors to handle single portions of your hotel’s marketing plan often means the bulk of your day will be spent managing several projects simultaneously, fielding numerous project calls and emails, hearing differing opinions, coordinating meetings and relaying information back and forth. Not to mention, trying to make sense of it all yourself. With less time to devote to each vendor to ensure you can get the most out of them, quality will slip, deadlines will be missed and you’ll have even more to deal with.

Welcome to the perfect headache. 

3) Truly Measuring ROI

While every vendor will proudly provide metrics to show you how they’re doing, getting down to the actual value their specific contribution brings to your property will be much more difficult, if not impossible. Especially, when multiple vendors will want to take credit for the same hotel bookings. This is especially true if you have multiple vendors who use the “Assisted Conversion” method of attributing revenue to their efforts. 

Bottom line, with so many marketing vendors you’ll never know who is truly impacting your bottom line.

4) Negative Impact On Your Career

When you spread your loyalty across several vendors, a few may not develop a sense of loyalty to you and fail to commit themselves to making you a star in your organization. And, that can have an adverse effect on your career. When vendors are lazy, slow or unmotivated you are ultimately to blame. And, your GM and hotel owners may see you as lacking oversight or control of your team.

In comparison, bringing on the hotel marketing vendors who are committed to YOU will boost your career and position you as an innovative champion at your hotel. The right partners will deliver the stats and the data you need to prove your value at the hotel and demonstrate your extraordinary leadership. The right partners will be driven to see you succeed and will be willing to work on weekends and through the night to deliver last-minute deadlines. 

The more vendors you work with, the less attention you will have to make sure you only have winning partners on your team. 

5) Integration Nightmares

Every vendor has their own technology and their own system of producing, reporting and measuring. Plus, they are all clueless as to what the other vendors are doing – unless you fully integrate them.

But, this is where you’ll face a major roadblock.

Most likely, each vendor’s proprietary software won’t seamlessly link to another vendor’s system. This means that what happens in one area of your marketing (such as lead generation campaigns), may not link seamlessly to any other portion (such as your website analytics).

Imagine that – each asset of marketing working separately in their small silos, oblivious to every other hotel marketing function, with no real-time intelligence shared between each. This means conflicting information multiplied many times over. Your marketing will be anything BUT seamless.

You’ll spend much of the day manually volleying information back and forth, from vendor-to-vendor, in a struggle to get everyone on the same page, much less the same marketing campaign.

The Solution Now you see that too many vendors equal a flood of stress and chaos that could potentially sink all of your marketing intentions. So, where do you go from here? We recommending paring down your vendors to as few as possible. Look for 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.


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

How Can a WWII Scientist Help Your Hotel Survive?

April 18, 2017 • By

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In WWII, Allied planes would often return to their bases with hundreds of holes from enemy guns. This inspired crafty ground crews to bolt on metal plating over the holes to strengthen the planes and prevent future losses. They assumed that the evidence clearly indicated where they should place the extra protection.

But one American scientist wasn’t so sure…  Abraham Wald, a brilliant mathematician and statistician, intervened and pointed out that while the surviving planes had been hit severely, they were still able to fly safely home.

He urged the military commanders to add more armor to the parts of the plane where there was NO DAMAGE. Wald theorized that the planes that didn’t make it back must have been hit in different places than the planes that did make it back.

In other words, it was the other parts of the plane that needed reinforcements – not the parts with obvious holes.

Enlightened commanders adopted Wald’s recommendation and his brilliant intervention would end up saving the lives of thousands of Allied airmen.

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Survivorship Bias: A Universal Human Error

Wald’s mind-blowing theory about the bombers’ weak spots is a classic example of survivorship bias. This is actually a common human error that leads us to pay more attention to survivors and “winners” instead of trying to understand the failures.

Almost everyone has survivorship bias without realizing it. Our entire global culture is about celebrating winners and forgetting the losers.

As author David McRaney writes in his amazing article on Survivorship Bias: If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact that only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view.” As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.”

Think about these other examples of how you (and millions of others) focus solely on “survivors:”

Celebrities

Many children grow up wanting to be famous. After all, the rock stars and TV stars they see everyday are all famous. So, there is plenty of opportunity, right? The truth is that famous actors, musicians, comedians, etc. are only the ones who ‘made it.’ They survived the auditions, the competition and let’s face it – had some good luck or God-given talent. But, what about the millions of others who tried and failed to win the audition, to get that starring role in a sitcom, to even make it past a casting agent? This is a prime example of how we tend to obsess on and worship the winners, rather than the losers. If you understand survivorship bias and you truly want to be a rock star, then you would be better off interviewing failed musicians to understand how they veered off the road to success.

Senior Citizens

The most common question that people who live past their 90’s receive: “How did you do it?” One senior citizen could say they never smoked or drank one drop of alcohol in their life. Another might answer that they drank often, smoked everyday and ate whatever they wanted.

Whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter.

Because, we really should be looking at the millions of other senior citizens who DIDN’T make it past 90. What did they do that prevented them from reaching 90? What could you learn from them to stretch your own lifespan?

Fitness Gurus/Products

The fitness and health industry is notorious for profiting from people’s survivorship bias’. Consider how many weight loss success stories you see promoting a certain workout, diet, or even the advice of a fitness guru. It’s easy to fall for these testimonials and believe that these extraordinary claims produce consistent results.

Reality Check: These commercials not only show the survivors, but the super-survivors. The extreme and rare positive outcomes, like the person who lost 50 lbs in just a month. At the same time, they hide the failures and even the normal results, like the participant who lost a more stable 5 lbs in a month.

Survivorship Bias is Also Rampant in the Hotel Industry

Think about it.

We have survivorship bias thinking about our own guests and our own hospitality marketing efforts. Most, if not all, of your present data come from the guests or group business clients that successfully made a reservation.

But, what about the people who didn’t?

What about the people who visited your hotel's website, clicked on a couple of pages, then decided to stop looking and left?

Here’s the truth: The guest intelligence you have right now is most likely misleading, over-optimistic data that only focuses on the people who actually made it to your hotel PMS. Most hotel’s guest data leaves out those people who didn’t ‘survive’ the buying journey. You’re overly focused on your known audience, instead of studying the business you lose.

To thoroughly optimize your hotel’s most successful conversion paths, you need to consider the entire audience, not just those who actually converted. In other words, you need to consider not just what’s working, but what’s not working, to drive bookings.

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7 Ways to Prevent Survivorship Bias from Hurting Your Hotel’s Revenue:

1. Stop Copying Successful Hotels It’s easy to look at successful hotels and think their strategy can be replicated in your market. But also take time to consider the other properties that failed in that same location, especially within the same chain scale level. Find out what went wrong, instead of only focusing on what went right for the survivors.

2. Conduct Loss Analysis on Failed Group Business Bids Hotels often focus their sales efforts on seeking repeat business from specific groups, their “best customers.” Then, they proudly proclaim their venue is a ‘favorite’ of medical meeting planners, for example. Or, that their business is made up of mostly annual tech conferences. Instead, ask why other groups haven’t booked your hotel? What other industries are you missing out on?

Whenever you lose a piece of group business, the sales person needs to ask the meeting planner, “What went wrong? Why didn’t our hotel win your event?” This simple move could dramatically alter your sales efforts, sending your sales numbers skyrocketing in the future.

3. Discover Which Companies are Visiting Your Hotel Site You can find out if meeting planners are visiting your website, even if they don’t send a message or fill out an RFP. We at Tambourine (and many other firms) have the ability to identify inbound website visitors by company, enabling our clients’ sales teams to find out which companies are visiting your meetings and event pages. For example, you can find out if someone from Ford or Microsoft started clicking around on your site.

This now-warm lead can act like a trigger for the sales person on your team (in this case, the sales person who is in charge of the Pacific Northwest market since Microsoft is headquartered near Seattle) to reach out to the meeting planning department at that company.

4. Conduct User Testing Don’t fall in the trap of assuming what customers think about your hotel website. The only way to know how potential guests are interacting with your website and booking engine is to engage random, unbiased users to test it. (Shameless Plug: As part of our hotel marketing services, we implement random user testing for clients, and even provide videotape footage of tester's live feedback.)

5. Monitor Points of Abandonment Use your analytics to find out where you start losing potential guests on your website. Do you lose them right on the homepage? Or, when they encounter inconsistency moving from your website to the booking engine? Fixing whatever the problem is means you’re helping more visitors ‘survive’ the purchase journey to book a room.

6. Add More Languages Your hotel is a global product. Or, at least it could be if you allowed your website to ‘speak’ to global audiences. Right now, too many American hotels only use English on their website. So, what if a family from Spain wanted to book a stay? Or, a group of business people from Dubai? You may think your hotel only attracts American travelers (or that virtually everyone speaks English), but that is survivorship bias at work… you only see English-speaking guests! If your website is only written in English, then only English-speaking travelers book your hotel, which leads you to assume that only English speakers want to stay with you. Consider what adding other language translations could do to attract global travelers.

7. Don’t Put Your Marketing on Repeat It may seem like a smart strategy to repeat what worked for you last year, but again, this is survivorship bias at work. It’s even smarter to figure out why certain marketing tactics and campaigns failed. Did you have enough resources? Did the campaigns have enough time to flourish? Or, did you back down and just grab the lowest hanging fruit (relying on OTAs)?

It’s vital to know about ALL of your hotel’s online visitors and potential customers – not just those who successfully booked. This gives you more insight into how potential guests and group business clients engage with your hotel in their research phase. Plus, it will help you identify what to fix and where to make improvements. Examining your losses and avoiding survivorship bias can be the pivotal move that will lead to quicker buying cycles and higher conversion rates.


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: Build Alliances to Create Irresistible Destination Experiences

April 14, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Partner with cool, local purveyors to create remarkable experiences for your guests.

Today’s travelers crave experiences that are local, impactful and unlike anything they can find back home. In fact, a recent American Express survey reported that 72% of participants said they would rather spend money on experiences over things.

What does this mean for hoteliers?

That guests aren’t just booking a hotel room for a place to sleep. They want to have front-row access to adventures and activities that are quintessential to your city and your neighborhood.

Most hotels aren’t in the position to create and execute remarkable experiences on their own. So, one of the smartest and most efficient ways to meet this need head-on is to build partnerships with local experience curators and purveyors.

For instance, partner with a company that takes guests on a tasting tour of local eateries, street food vendors, or the popular farmers market. Work with a family-owned company that offers fun and exciting scavenger hunts in your city. Offer a package with a local art gallery, sailing company, or a trail hiking outfitter.

For example: The French Quarter Inn in Charleston partners with private yachts, carriages, and a helicopter tour company for the “Charleston Perspective” package. While the Collector in St Augustine has a "Girls Gone Mild” Girl’s Getaway package that includes transport, cocktails and local tours.

Create locally inspired, cross-promotional deals to catch the attention of experience-hungry guests.

Get more: Three Ways Hotel Marketers Can Tap Into The Authenticity Trend


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 to Use the World’s Best (Free) Hotel Photographers

April 7, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Infuse your hotel marketing with a big dose of authenticity and stunning imagery with Instagram photos from your actual guests.

Modern travelers no longer trust blatant advertising or anything that looks forced, contrived or fake coming from hotel brands.

This is especially true for your hotel photography.

Gone are the days with fake ‘guests’ smiling awkwardly in lobby photos or hiring models to glam up your pool images.

Today, the most trusted source of travel photography are Instagram users, not your hotel itself.

The good news: Many of your guests are shooting and posting beautiful images onto Instagram right now as you read this.

Even better news: You can leverage their genuine images and add them to your own hotel marketing campaigns, whether that’s posting to your website, hotel social media accounts or marketing emails.

Using Instagram images is a smart way to implement ‘social proof,' the idea that people buy into what others are buying.

Here’s How to Do it:

Search for your hotel’s geotag on Instagram and it will pull up all the Instagram images that users have posted from your property. Select which images you’d like to keep for marketing purposes and message each user individually to ask for their permission.

(NOTE: shameless plug.) This process can be time consuming and tedious… if you want a quicker way, you can use our new tool, Tout, and we’ll take care of all of these steps for you.

Click here for details: New Tool Helps Hotels Harvest Guest Generated Content


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

How do Smart Hotel Management Firms Actually Handle Guest Reviews?

April 4, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

1. Positive Reviews = Flag Happiness = More Deals for the Flag and the HMG

One of the primary reasons that HMG operations execs place such high emphasis on reputation/review management is because positive guest scores and reviews ultimately lead to more deals. If an HMG has a reputation for quality service in their hotels, everyone benefits.  In the case of a flagged hotel, more franchise agreements are written for the brand and more management agreements are given to the HMG.

2. Property Operators are Busy

Hotel General Managers no longer have the freedom to delegate all tasks.  They are working with their teams’ hands on to help run the property. Additionally, they need to be guest facing as much as possible. The more time a GM can spend on the floor ensuring a positive guest experience, the less negative reviews a property will have. This is where their time is best spent versus spending their time responding to reviews reactively.

3. Escalation Effect

What happens if a GM is busy while a scathing negative review, that could potentially escalate into something very damaging to the property, comes in? A hotel’s vendor/partner can quickly be called to help do damage control. Part of a hotel management group's responsibility is to safeguard the asset on behalf of the owner. A hotels reputation is one of the most crucial components of the asset.   

One of the biggest tasks hotel management firms face is managing the reputation of their portfolio properties. And it often requires different policies, processes and people than what might be occurring at the property level…

Reputation management software that monitors and responds to guest reviews makes things easier, but software alone can’t manage a hotel’s reputation.

People do that.

The Property Owner, General Manager, Operations Manager, management company and often an outside vendor drive these efforts.

How do hotel management companies handle this complex issue?

We asked a few for their advice.

A Common Bond

image2“Guests want acknowledgment,” says Delana Meyer, Vice President of Digital Strategy, Crescent Hotels & Resorts. “Whether complaining, praising or just commenting, they have taken the time to tell you and you, in return should acknowledge, empathize and, at minimum, say thank you, your feedback will help us be better.”

“The question is not 'what's the value of reputation management?' but rather, 'what's the cost of not participating?,'” she says. Hotels want guest feedback while they’re on property so issues can be taken care of right away. But that’s not always the case, and tools like Twitter, text messaging and Expedia's Real Time Feedback make it easier for guests to communicate their needs without coming to the front desk.

Still, these tools need managing, and an instant response is an expectation.

“We are constantly reviewing and updating our policies on guest reviews, responses and monitoring and have corporate (as well as brand) tools in place to assist with that,” says Meyer.

Don’t Go it Alone

Should hotel management firms handle reputation management at the property level or the management company level, or should they outsource it all?

A Forbes interview with Don Sorensen, the online reputation management expert, suggests the last, primarily because professional reputation management firms have the advantage of “leveraged knowledge” from working with numerous companies.

Another essential is a designated contact person to coordinate a seamless response. The biggest challenge hotels face is how to hire and train employees on property to professionally manage the increasing volume of guest reviews across multiple mediums. What happens if the position turns over? The property is back to square one. This is a fundamental benefit of outsourcing to a professional hotel reputation management firm.

An anecdote from Michael Cady, Vice President of Marketing for Charlestowne Hotels, attests to the value of such seamlessness.

Charlestowne uses proprietary software called InstantComments to facilitate guest feedback. When guests sign in to the on-property internet, a simple feedback request pops up. The hotel’s executive team receives the feedback in real time, and if there’s a problem, responds immediately.

Case in point: Last year, when InstantComments “asked” a guest about her stay, she said she wasn’t feeling all that well and the tissues available in the room were actually aggravating her condition.

The GM took immediate action, sending “one of his team members out to get the best tissues he could find, and within an hour of her comment, an attendant knocked on her door with a new box of super-soft tissues on a silver platter,” Cady recounts.

“We’re trying to deal with any issue while guests are on-property, especially ones that wouldn’t normally warrant a call to the front desk. That way when they leave, they’re praising us all the more,” Cady adds, noting positive reviews have a direct correlation to revenue, “no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

image3Where Charlestowne uses a social media aggregator called Revinate to track its properties’ scores, 1859 Historic Hotels uses ReviewPro, says Josh Henegar, Corporate Revenue Director.

Revinate and ReviewPro are two of many software options that collect online reviews and guest satisfaction scores across multiple platforms, funneling them to a dashboard hotel executives use to handle guest feedback.

ReviewPro features a metric called Global Review Index used to benchmark a hotel or group of properties, reflecting guest satisfaction scores across all social media channels including Expedia, Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Say a guest has an issue with an F&B item, registering his or her complaint on TripAdvisor. The alert goes to the GM, the F&B Director and the Executive Chef, who “operationally figure out what happened, respond right away and do whatever they can to make it right,” according to Henegar.

Set up to trigger alerts whenever a guest satisfaction score registers at three or less, the system “works well assuming we’re on the other end to respond,” he says. “The more people on alert, the better chance we have of knowing right away and being able to respond to them.”

image4The Human Touch

Intelligent software is essential but it doesn’t stand on its own. Synergy among owner, asset manager and management company is also critical. Its lack can be costly, suggests a well-informed HotelNewsNow opinion piece written by Paul Breslin and Julia Zhang.

Also, enhance your brand by stressing what’s unique about it. Each property in the 1859 Historic Hotels portfolio has its own lore, says Henegar, noting some can effectively tell stories of their particular neighborhood, their atmosphere, even reputed ghosts. “Guest reviews constitute our reputation,” he says.

“Nothing will come close to what guests actually say about their experience and their satisfaction… what guests say about their experience, I would say, is the backbone of our reputation.”

Word-of-mouth no longer means face-to-face, but it’s still crucial.


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: Remember The 4Ps Every Day

March 31, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Stay on top of your hotel’s success each day by reviewing your hotel’s four marketing pillars: price, product, promotion and placement (distribution).

It’s easy to forget what marketing is really all about.

With all the new hotel marketing technology, apps, social networks and fancy lingo we deal with, it’s inevitable that you will be pulled away from the big picture to focus on all the minor details.

If you don’t make an effort to clear that clutter from your mind each day, you’ll lose sight of the CORE FOUR marketing pillars that drive the success of every successful company’s marketing:

1. Price

This is a critical component of hotel marketing. Does your room rate make sense for the value of your guest experience? How do you compare to your comp set? Are you implementing the rules of hotel pricing psychology to reach guests? Are you allowing OTAs to price your hotel too cheaply?

2. Product

The most important of the 4Ps! Consider both the hotel’s physical product (rooms, meeting space, restaurant, spa, amenities, etc.), as well as the service experience. What truly differentiates your guest experience compared to your comp set? Are your hotel’s USPs still relevant to today’s travelers? What needs improvement?

3. Promotion (i.e. Advertising)

This translates to hotel advertising. Are you synchronizing your limited budget to correlate to your targeted business mix? Are you being smart about retargeting abandoned reservations? Have you invested some ad dollars into reaching audiences on social media platforms?

4. Placement

This refers to your distribution channels. Are you allocating too much inventory and relying too heavily on OTAs? Or, are you thoughtfully optimizing your own hotel website and booking engine to attract more profitable, direct bookings?

Each day commit an hour to review each of these pillars. Determine the areas that need more attention and where your team is currently succeeding. Pivot and finesse as needed. Staying on top of these four major areas will assure that you’re headed towards success each and every day.

Get more: April Fools – 8 Ways Hotel Marketers Can Avoid Looking Foolish


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: Create the Ultimate Hotel Team With Praise and Applause

March 24, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Applaud and acknowledge your hotel staff often to amplify the guest experience.

It’s easy to forget to acknowledge your team, but the effects are far-reaching and can be a pretty powerful tool in raising guest review scores and boosting future bookings.

Consider this:

Genuine praise = Happier and empowered hotel employees = An awesome guest experience = Glowing guest reviews

A study by Globoforce in 2013 found that 89% of people felt more inspired when they were told what they did right, versus what they did wrong. For your hotel to crush its revenue goals every employee should be working at their highest potential. So, dish up some praise and thanks to your colleagues often. In return, you’ll get more innovation, enhanced job performance and delighted guests.

Besides buying rewards, here are some quick and easy ways to celebrate and champion your hotel staff:

  • Be quick to praise and acknowledge (both publicly and privately) a staff member’s contribution to the hotel’s success.
  • Be the best listener. Don’t brush off your hotel's employees. Ask thoughtful questions, carefully listen to their responses and show an authentic interest in them.
  • Be generous with your time. Make the effort to go to their department, spend time with them and keep an open door policy.

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


About Tambourine

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

3 Fast, Fresh Lessons Hoteliers Can Learn From Dominos

March 14, 2017 • By

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

Innovation.

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

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

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

1. Take Another Slice of Technology

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

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

2. Your Ingredients Aren’t Tasty Enough

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

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

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

3. Refuse to Play it Safe

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

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

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

Lesson learned?

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


 About Tambourine

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