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Are comments about your hotel falling on deaf ears?

May 1, 2018

Hotel social media monitoring needs to go way beyond Trip Advisor

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Hotels take reputation management seriously when it comes to guest feedback on TripAdvisor but often underappreciate the need to closely monitor other social media channels.

This is a lost opportunity to gain short-term insight and long-term goodwill.

Here are 3 reasons hotels need to prioritize social listening:

1. Instant karma

Social Media is a two-way communications channel; you can talk to guests, and guests can talk back. You can have a real conversation with an individual. Not so with TripAdvisor: By the time you respond, the damaging review may already have been posted.

Not to mention, social media trains consumers to expect an immediate response, and an already irritable customer can get more irritable if they don’t receive a response in an adequate amount of time. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It can often exacerbate the situation.

Most negative posters on hotel social media channels are still on the property when they post.

And they aren’t doing it for their own enjoyment, either: 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour, according to a study by Lithium. By monitoring and responding ASAP, hoteliers can potentially engage these dissatisfied guests during their stay—and win them over—before they turn their vitriol into permanent TripAdvisor or OTA reviews.

Another instant benefit of social listening for hotels is the ability to glean insight on guest experience and product/service issues— both positive and negative.

If your hotel makes the mistake of ignoring positive comments about your property, you’ve just lost out on valuable testimonials you can utilize, as well as gaining useful feedback and a chance to strengthen relationships with users. And if you ignore negative comments, you’ll damage your brand and foster negative social proof.

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Further, by listening to social media channels and acting quickly, hotels are often able to delight guests with unexpected surprises that create long-term loyalty and evangelism. These opportunities—which are fleeting and must be capitalized on almost immediately—can offer significant branding value, at minimal cost.

One company making tremendous strides to this end is Marriott, which has tasked its M Live team with constant monitoring of social channels, for the sake of surprising guests with enhanced service touches, like a free bottle of champagne delivered on-site for guests who got engaged while staying at a property.

2. Complete strangers are talking about you…

It’s not just your fan base that you have to worry about.

Non-fans and non-followers are talking about your brand too. It’s crucial to listen to these potential influencers as well.

Surprisingly, 96% of the users who discuss brands online don’t actually follow those brands’ profiles, according to a Brandwatch report.

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You can be reactive and ONLY monitor people who directly comment or tag your hotel’s Instagram “handle” (your actual Instagram account name) in a picture. You’ll receive a notification and you can respond accordingly.

But there are more proactive ways of monitoring ALL relevant sentiment on Instagram. By typing the generic name of your hotel (see illustration above) or property specific hashtags in the search bar, you can discover additional content that guests have posted about your prop.

If you don’t have the time or resources to monitor your hashtags and geo-
tags, Tools like Tout allow you to find and license the content with ease.

3. Discover (and celebrate) the evangelists

Hotel social media monitoring isn’t just about catching people bashing your hotel: It’s equally valuable when guests are celebrating their experiences on channels such as Instagram.

Over the last few years, storytelling and other forms of user-generated content (UGC) have become some of the most popular and cost-effective methods for hotel marketers looking to harness digital and social media and put more heads in beds.

capturing guest-generated social proof from The St Regis in San Francisco

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

This is driven by a decline in consumer trust in advertising; instead, consumers now look to one another for credibility. UGC such as photos, videos, and posts about hotel experiences are viewed as more authentic and less sales-focused, so using that content to your advantage can offer tremendous benefits.

By monitoring things closely, you can locate and celebrate those brand ambassadors who are taking pictures of their property experience, allowing you to benefit from what is essentially free positive publicity.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Bad Habits: 5 things hotel marketers should stop right now

April 17, 2018

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Usually, we offer insight on the hotel marketing tactics, tools and strategies you should adopt to drive more revenue to your hotel: add chat to your hotel website. Focus on this webpage as your SEO secret weapon. Try these tips on your mobile website, etc…

Today, we want to turn things around and recommend a few things NOT to do!

From our experience, here’s five negative habits inhibiting hotel marketers from reaching their full revenue-generating potential:

1) Using the wrong message to fight OTAs

Travelers aren’t as obsessed with low prices as you may believe. According to a recent JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, customers who booked on third-parties are more likely to face problems (like last-minute changes and canceled reservations) and be dissatisfied with their hotel experience. 

A common review from an unhappy OTA customer…

A common review from an unhappy OTA customer…

So, instead of using price to win back OTA customers, focus on a common fear: Fear of a ruined travel experience.

It’s no secret that OTAs have left thousands of travelers in the lurch with their cancellation policies and ability to change/reassign hotels at their own discretion.

So, use that your advantage. Remind customers that booking direct with your hotel is the SAFER option. Unlike OTAs, you have a staff that actually, truly cares about them and will do all that’s possible to avoid and quickly amend any issues.

2) Tolerating an Inferior Product

Not even the most creative hotel marketing strategies, sophisticated hotel booking engine, or targeted hotel ppc campaigns can compensate for a sloppy hotel experience. Just as the saying goes, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig,” you can’t cover the signs of your hotel’s frayed edges or lapses in service. Travelers are more sophisticated than ever and they’re well aware of their options, especially with so many shiny and new boutique hotels stealing their attention.

No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product

No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product

While you can’t decide what gets fixed and replaced, that shouldn’t stop you from diligently pointing out to your owners what guests are complaining about. Each year, leverage your guest reviews that show the shortcomings that are deterring guests and hindering revenue growth. Convince your owners that property upgrades and enhancements are urgent if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.

3) Working in a Silo

It’s a common scenario playing out in hotels across the globe:

Hotel marketing departments that don’t communicate, share resources or vital updates.

The result?

Marketers left in the dark about upcoming periods of weakness. Group sales managers with no leads. Revenue managers clueless about why marketing continues to target one audience (or date period) over another.

It’s time to end this disconnect.

Smart hotel marketers break down silos and work closely with sales and revenue management

Smart hotel marketers break down silos and work closely with sales and revenue management

Your entire hotel and its financial success depend on all three pillars of the sales & marketing platform working together in unison and towards the same revenue goals. One easy way to break down these silos is to schedule an all-team meeting every week. This meeting should include ALL associates, not just managers. Share your current priorities, upcoming projects, recent discoveries, ask for feedback and share resources.

This not only gives every team member access to what’s happening outside of their department, but it also fosters teamwork and enhances collaboration that results in success across all S&M departments.

4)  Ignoring the sales team

Meetings and events account for a major portion of your hotel’s revenue.

Yet, hotel marketers tend to solely focus on driving leisure business, leaving sales managers to generate their own group leads.

This is a dangerous habit, as more and more hotel owners and asset managers become less impressed with your branding initiatives or your hotel’s number of social media followers and more obsessed with how much you contribute to your property’s revenue.

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So start using your skills in digital marketing for hotels to champion the sales team’s efforts and drive group business. Smart hotel marketers do three fundamental things to support their sales teammates:

a.  Run campaigns that consistently engage the sales team’s high-value targets (HVTs) with relevant and entertaining content
b.  Deploy marketing automation tools to alert sales managers when HVTs are on the hotel website and what pages they are looking at…
c.  Optimize the meetings and events pages on the hotel direct website with ALL the resources meeting planners need… AND create compelling content showcasing your destination as an exciting locale for meetings and events attendees

5) Focusing on meaningless stats

Because the best hotel marketers know they’re only as good as their metrics, measurement and tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs) are an ongoing commitment.

However, with more sophisticated technology comes more data.

While analytics are vital for doing what we do, we’re also burdened with an avalanche of irrelevant KPIs stealing our attention from the metrics that actually matter.

Don’t get dragged down trying to keep up with useless numbers, such as bounce rate, online page views and social media followers.

Instead of leaning on metrics that only sound impressive on paper, pay attention to the numbers that will actually measure your contribution to hotel revenues. Every day, you should be checking the KPIs that actually matter to your hotel’s owners and asset managers, 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 garnering 40 percent of your 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: This metric showcases revenue goals versus actual results (by segment).

 


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

5 Things Modern Hotel Marketers Can Learn From Vintage Travel Posters

April 4, 2018

Hotel marketing hasn’t changed much in 100 years…

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In the Golden Age of travel in the early part of the 20th century, there were no online banner ads. Nor guest analytics, marketing technology, mobile apps, retargeting campaigns, email offers, Insta-influencers, or search engines.

Instead, airlines, CVBs, resorts and railway companies relied on one of the most powerful mediums of their time – the travel poster.

These travel posters shared common characteristics: exuberant colors, a gorgeous single graphic, and bold eye-catching lettering that all evoked a lust for travel and exploration with a single glance. In fact, these poster designers have been nailing it for more than a century. These vintage travel posters are still provoking inspiration for adventures far and wide today.

There’s a lot we can learn from these beautiful illustrations.

Decades before the creation of modern hotel marketing, poster designers inherently understood and integrated five key elements of successful hotel marketing:

1. Take time to CRAFT your story

Your hotel is different.

You may know that, but your prospective buyer doesn’t.

So, you need to make it obvious. Your hotel marketing needs to deliver relevance and intrigue immediately. A mistake many hotel properties make is ‘me too’ marketing that is cliché and already overused by many of their compset neighbors. For example, describing your hotel as ‘in the heart of New Orleans’ or ‘oceanfront hotel,’ making it difficult for travelers to differentiate your property from other central New Orleans properties and oceanfront hotels.  Ditch these overworked marketing messages and present something brilliant and provocative, instead of bland and predictable.

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This poster for a French hotel tells a unique story of mountain air and healthy activity!

2. Tell It Succinctly
The marketing concept behind travel posters is simple: combine one vibrant image and bold text to create a uniquely effective marketing medium that inspires travel.

These posters were easily understood and were perfect for capturing the attention of people on the go. Today, attention spans are at an all-time low, so every second of your hotel marketing counts. Hotel marketers need to be cognizant of the first five seconds that a visitor lands on a property website, that short span of time determines if the person will book, bounce or return. So, you need to squeeze performance out of every second for higher chances of conversion and revenue. Cut the clutter, get rid of slow-loading graphics, keep things simple.

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Is there any question where this Rio hotel is located?

3. Be Visually Arresting

Your marketing images and hotel photography should be more than just pretty pictures. Just like the eye-popping colors and a single image on a travel poster, your images should catch attention in seconds and convey your experience in a single glance.

In fact, studies show that travelers spend time scouring through hotel images before making a decision. And, that your hotel photography has the power to change a buyer’s mind, for better or for worse. Ditch the stock images or dated blurry photos. Invest in a photographer experienced in shooting interior design, real estate, architecture or other hotels. Plus, leverage your hotel’s best FREE photographers – your own social media-savvy guests. Instagram enthusiasts are producing images on par with paid professionals for their personal channels.

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Sometimes, the best image for a hotel is not the hotel at all… it’s the nearby attractions!

4. Keep messaging consistent

Back in the heyday of travel posters, hotels could not change messages very often… so they were forced into being consistent in their marketing.

Today, rate parity isn’t the only consistency your hotel should be vigilant about. Maintaining your hotel’s STORY parity is also vital to your bottom line. Smart hotel marketers know their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) has to be consistent across all touchpoints and marketing channels. If consumers see your hotel described as ‘cosmopolitan and sophisticated’ on one channel, then as ‘central and family-friendly’ on another, potential guests will be confused and leery of moving forward. Consistency builds trust and trust turns into buyer confidence.

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For many years, the Outrigger hotel in Hawaii used images of guests enjoying the surf with the locals. They were the early advocates of celebrating authentic local experiences!

5. Be Intentional with Time and Place 

The biggest boon of marketing technology is the ability to target and automate campaigns, allowing you to reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.

Use it.

The most popular travel posters were commissioned by airlines and railway companies and were respectively displayed in airports and train stations touting resort destinations, thrilling cities, and weekend getaways. Today, consider where and when to deliver your marketing messages. For example, consider the impact of a billboard promoting a Caribbean resort and its sunny beaches displayed in New York City during the bone-chilling months of winter.

 


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: Stop Obsessing Over This Hotel Marketing Metric

March 9, 2018

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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: Stop obsessing about the quantity of traffic and visitors to your hotel website…instead, focus on how many actually enter the booking environment!

It’s every hotel marketer’s reality:

We have loads of stats to track…from website stats, search rankings, to social media likes and email open rates. And we know that gathering data is instrumental to finessing our marketing campaigns and being accountable to ownership and upper management.

However, some metrics can be dangerously misleading. One of those often-deceptive metrics happens to be extremely popular in hotel marketing: Online traffic and visitors to your hotel website.

Why is it misleading?

While a gradual, sustained increase in website traffic is a great thing, don’t let the numbers mislead you into thinking your site is performing better than it really is (conversely, if it drops, don’t freak out and think the sky is falling.)

The following are just a few of the factors can cause your traffic/visitors to create a “false echo” and send you off trying to fix (or replicate) something that it is out of your control:

  1. Seasonality can affect traffic up and down.
  2. A major PR story about your property can cause traffic to spike.
  3. PPC and Promo campaigns (avoid Groupon please!) can increase traffic and cause it to drop when its over.
  4. Local/regional events nearby your property will cause it to spike & drop.
  5. Changes in the way Google displays their search engine result pages (SERPs) can actually cause LESS traffic to come to your site (because users are getting their answers right on Google’s SERPs!

Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of traffic, not quantity.

And there are three primary keys to attracting QUALITY traffic:

  1. Tell the story only your property can tell: If you want to find the right guests who will buy and return, then you have to give them a truthful, relevant reason to consider you! You must understand your ideal guest persona and communicate your UVP across every marketing touchpoint.
  2. Stop using cheap tactics: Lots of unsavory digital “publishers” sell access to cheap traffic. But what good does it do if your traffic is coming from click-robots in Kazakhstan? Your digital team (or ask your guests!) should be able to easily explain which media they actually consume on their purchase journey.  (And do we really need to talk about the poor quality traffic from flash sale providers like Groupon?)
  3. Invest in long-term organic hotel SEO content: Choose the right keywords to start building long-term content around: You will never rank on page 1 of Google for “Hotels in Boston” but you have a decent shot of ranking for “Hotels near Fenway Park” if your SEO and content team is producing content EVERY MONTH with that “long-tail” focus.  Another simple trick: your content can bring you loads of quality search traffic if it answers the questions of your potential customers… you can use this handy/cheap tool to see what questions people are actually typing in about your market and compset

REMEMBER: If you have to pick one thing to focus on to measure the performance of your website, track entrances into your hotel booking engine and calls to your reservation center. 

Get more examples: We Need to Talk About Hotel Metrics


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 Guests Decide Whether to Buy on Your Hotel Website

February 20, 2018

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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:

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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!

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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.

 


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

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

February 13, 2018

Hotel marketing folks are infatuated with these 7 things…

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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.

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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

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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: 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

Friday Freebie: How Smart Hotel Marketers Convince Owners to Reinvest

February 2, 2018

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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: 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

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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: 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

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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