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hotel marketing blog

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

January 9, 2018 • By

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

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

Worldwide name recognition and consumer trust.

Access to millions of loyalty members.

Exposure on the Brand.com global website.

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

New advancements in hotel social media can help.

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

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

1. Targeting Loyalty Program Members

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

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Elle Andress: Director of Social Media at Tambourine

 2. The 28-Day Pixel

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

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

3. Reach & Frequency

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

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Thomas McDermott: Director of Content Marketing at Tambourine

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

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

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

4. Canvas Ads

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

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

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

Bonus: What Facebook tactics should you stay away from? 

Tom and Elle also suggested which tired practices to avoid:

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

– Elle

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

– Tom


About Tambourine

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

DOSM Checklist for 2018

December 26, 2017 • By

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

15 essential activities for hotel sales and marketing leaders.

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

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

What do the great ones have in common?

Which activities and disciplines deliver better results?

The answers might surprise you!

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

1. Assess Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

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

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

You should!

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

2. Be Vigilant About Your product

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

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

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

3. Embrace the Metrics Owners Care About the Most

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

4. Monitor Guest Sentiment

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

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5. Speak to Actual Guests

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

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

6. Build Your Story

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

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

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

7. Get Closer to Your Revenue Manager

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

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8. Wrap Your Property in Local Color

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

9. Study Your Compset

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

10. Stress Balance and Reduce Stress

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

11. Tech Enable Your Sales Team

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

12. Stop Competing with OTAs on Price

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

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

13. Augment Your Brand’s Basic Marketing Program

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

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

14. Consolidate Vendors

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

The solution?

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

15. Know Your Cost-Per-Booking 

Today, hotel owners expect their hotel marketing departments to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be measured. Without tracking and showing the numerical evaluation of your marketing efforts, you’re going to face a difficult time later in the year when you need to request next year’s marketing dollars.

To prove how your marketing efforts are adding to the hotel’s revenue, you’ll need to calculate your marketing cost per booking (MCPB) by segment. Use this number to show your marketing team’s value and to ensure you’re given the proper amount of marketing dollars to continue bringing in business for the hotel. Be especially vigilant to know your cost-per-booking from OTAs as well… avoiding the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition.


About Tambourine

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

The Official Gift Guide for Hotel Marketers

December 20, 2017 • By

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Forget the silly gadgets and fancy chocolates!

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

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

1. They Want to Be Rewarded for Driving Measurable Revenue 

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

And hotel marketers are responding!

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

2. They Want the Budget Correlated to Targets

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

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

3. They Want Continued Investments for Direct Booking Campaigns

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

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4. They Want Standardized Metrics That Really Matter

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

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

5. A Better Product… Please!

Successful hotel marketing depends on a great product.

Period. Full stop.

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

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

6. They Want to Celebrate Authentic Local Experiences

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

7. They Want Better Photography!

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

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

8. They Want to Decrease Their Dependence on OTAs

Yes, we know… statement of the obvious.

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

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

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

9.  Can We Get a Little Acknowledgment Please?

It’s not about ego.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays!

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


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It: Showcase Your Best Reviews!

December 15, 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: Curate your best guest reviews to build social validation and encourage new bookings.

No matter how brilliant your marketing, how stunning your photography or witty your marketing copy, it’s the authentic, unvarnished opinions of past guests that hold a large sway over future bookings.

If you’re going above and beyond for your guests, you’re likely pulling in wonderful reviews that perfectly and poignantly sum up your hotel experience.

That’s good news!

The bad news: In just a few days, those 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor will get buried and forgotten once new reviews come in.

Instead of allowing those ultra-positive reviews to be pushed further and further down within the review sites, publish the best of them directly on your website.

Instead of using TripAdvisor’s automated widget on your website (which shows ALL reviews – both negative and positive), scour through your reviews and personally select 4-6 of the best to showcase on your website.

Here’s an example from Hotel Hugo in NYC

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The best reviews are the ones that are brief, yet thorough enough in describing why they enjoyed their stay so much. Skip the reviews that are generic, such as, “It was the best! I loved everything!” And try to identify reviews from the key segments that drive your business: romantic getaways, families or business travelers.

Posting several glowing reviews directly onto your homepage will not only build immediate trust with your online visitors (social proof), but it will also discourage those visitors from leaving your site entirely to check on TripAdvisor themselves.

For more social validation, showcase accolades or awards that your hotel or staff have won.

Highlight, don’t hide, the positive opinions that others have of you.

Get more: The 5 Dumbest Hotel Website Design Mistakes


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

SSL: The Latest Threat to Your Hotel Website

December 12, 2017 • By

Hotel digital marketers have yet another headache to deal with…. 

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Here we go again….

In hopes of fostering a safer internet, Google has moved toward new security standards for its Chrome browser, which requires a significant update to hotel websites in order to achieve compliance.

Under the new specifications, Google now requires all websites that collect any type of personal data (i.e. forms, email addresses, credit card info, etc.) to migrate websites to HTTPS and upgrade their security technology in the form of “SSL Certificates,” or suffer the consequences.

Right now, that consequence is primarily a security alert, which Chrome users see when they reach a web page that Google has deemed a “Non-Secure environment” when the mandated SSL certificate isn’t present. Considering roughly 60% of web surfers currently use Chrome, this is no matter to take lightly; it’s best to make the required changes as soon as possible, to ensure your site traffic isn’t at risk and/or potential guests being scared away.

Can Someone Please Explain Why This is Happening?

The new Google security standards are intended to safeguard sensitive personal information exchanged over the internet, making it harder for hackers to steal this data.

The data lockdown is achieved by migrating websites from the unsecure HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) platform to the safer HTTPS (hypertext transfer protocol secure) format. In order to make the switch to HTTPS, websites need an SSL/TSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer and Transport Layer Security) in place.

An SSL connection offers enhanced security because it encrypts data to hinder eavesdropping, protects data integrity to prevent corruption during transfer and enables authentication, ensuring users only communicate with the intended website. Some of the security risks that the HTTPS/SSL standard hopes to mitigate include:

  • Intruders attempting to exploit unprotected communications to trick your users into providing sensitive information or installing malware (“phishing”).
  • Hackers and/or legitimate companies attempting to insert their own advertisements into your website.
  • Intruders who passively listen to communications between your website and your users.
  • Hackers who look at the aggregate browsing activities of your website’s users, in order to make inferences about their behaviors and intentions, and to thereby de-anonymize their identities.

The new security standard is also becoming a prerequisite for a number of leading-edge technologies, which are increasingly requiring permissions obtained in a secure setting. SSL/HTTPS is considered the future for all web communication, so it pays to get on board now.

The Penalties

At the moment, Google is “motivating” hotel website owners to comply with the new standard by placing an information icon in the Chrome address bar that warns “Your connection is not secure” when site visitors arrive at a page not using HTTPS.

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This may seem like a small detail, but it may have a huge impact on hotel website conversion rates. You don’t want to scare away customers with an unsecure website. Google has indicated that warnings may become even more pronounced in future browser updates.

You also don’t want your customers’ data being compromised because you failed to provide a secure setting. As recent data breaches among numerous major hotel companies have proven, hacks can cause extensive damage to brands and they erode consumer trust, which can be disastrous to the bottom line. Given those risks, taking the steps to comply with the SSL/HTTPS standard is a no-brainer.

The Solution

The first step in meeting the standard is for hotel digital marketers to obtain an SSL Certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). The certificate permits your website to communicate using encrypted, non-corruptible data, while also acting as a stamp of approval.

Many providers offer free SSL/TSL certificates; (Shameless plug: Tambourine provides SSL certificates for all clients included in our monthly service package).

With an approved certificate in place, the next steps are to conduct a full backup of your hotel website, change all your internal links, check code libraries, update external links and create a 301 redirect. It’s also important to claim all four versions of your site URLs (HTTPS, HTTP, www. and non-www.) on Google Search Console Analytics, AdWords and other paid ads, plus social profiles and business citations. Since there are multiple complex steps, you definitely want your digital marketing team or external hotel digital marketing firm to handle this.


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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Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice

Friday Freebie: Copy This Tactic From Luxury Hotels

December 8, 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: Luxury hotels know how to focus on health and wellness-enhancing amenities… but now, hotels up and down the chain scale are taking this page out of the luxury segment playbook to drive bookings.

Behind every luxury hotel is a marketer who understands exactly what the affluent customer seeks in a travel experience.

Besides VIP treatment, exclusive amenities, remarkable cuisine and unfettered access to service staff, affluent guests expect luxury hotels to enhance their health and wellness, from arrival to departure.

Luxury properties continue to answer this call with complimentary outdoor yoga classes, farm-to-table organic meals, guided nature walks and sumptuous spa treatments.

But offering the benefit of wellness isn’t just for luxury properties with deep budgets or wealthy guests. Industry research reveals that just about EVERY traveler these days wants to stay healthy on the road and is drawn to hotels that offer unique ways to do that.

Even if your hotel can only offer complimentary bike rentals or cucumber water in the lobby, emphasize any and all of your healthy offerings on your hotel website to stimulate consideration.

Here are some ideas:

  • Provide maps and photos of where guests can explore the area on bike or by foot
  • Emphasize any local ingredients and where they are sourced from in your menus
  • Do your rooms have air purifiers or organic bathroom amenities?
  • Create partnerships and packages with local yoga, pilates, barre and other fitness studios
  • Have specialized equipment in your fitness center? Highlight what they are instead of loosely describing it as ‘state-of-the-art equipment.”
  • Create an online list of vendors offering ways guests can stay active, including bike tours, paddle board lessons, snowshoe rentals, etc.

Get more: 10 Secrets of Luxury Hotel Websites


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


Hotel Marketers and Accidental Narcissists

December 5, 2017 • By

Always-on, empowered consumers require a new digital strategy.
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The rise of digital and mobile and its impact on commerce has given consumers more information, and consequently more power, than ever before, as well as an ever-increasing expectation for instant gratification.

Marketing experts have dubbed this mass-consumer evolution happening right before our eyes “The Age of Assistance,” and adapting to it is currently one of the greatest challenges marketers face, in virtually all commercial industries.

The hotel business is no exception, and in some ways, is at the forefront of this metamorphosis.

In the past, consumers undertook greater effort to research expensive and/or important purchases, like homes, cars, major appliances, etc. But nowadays, experts say all kinds of purchases are being researched online, regardless of size, making online authority crucial for companies, as customers move through each stage of the sales funnel without salespeople (or human travel agents) involved.

The hotel business is particularly entrenched in this revolution, since traveling has always been a research/planning-heavy purchase, and there are more resources than ever at your guest’s fingertips.

In a recent article in Forbes, well-known author, Brian Solis points out that: “In the age of assistance, consumers are now relying on what they find in mobile-first “micro-moments” to help them take the next step. They’re seeking utility, information, direction and not classical marketing.”

“I refer to this new generation of mobile, connected customers as “accidental narcissists.” It’s a term of endearment. Everything they want, they can have, in any moment. Literally, there’s an app for just about everything, consumers are plugged into an on-demand economy that delivers products, services, experiences, validation, gratification, et al., in the moment. This presents an opportunity (and a need) for marketers to become truly customer-, not marketing- or technology-, centric.”

So how do hotel marketers deal with this new age marketing scramble? How do we provide these “accidental narcissists” what they need to engage with our properties?

1. Know Their profile 

You can’t assist potential guests unless you understand them first. You should have a fairly detailed “profile” of your ideal guest (or meeting planner or corporate buyer).

You should know:

– Where they live
– How often they visit
– When they visit
– Which guests are most lucrative
– What they like (and don’t like) about your property

2. Know Their Media Habits

Starting with mobile, you need to learn about the discovery process used by your customers, starting with where they go to find their information, what they are searching for, where those searches take them, what engages or converts them from there and where they visit next.

For more insight, try using Google’s insightful micro-moments playbook.

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3. Think Like a Publisher

Armed with greater knowledge of your customer, their journey and research process, you can then begin tailoring content that engages them.

Your content should offer solutions, versus selling rooms. And promise to change the viewer’s perspective on the destination and enrich their lives.

Modern travelers are driven to book based on what lies outside your hotel walls, not just what’s inside. They want to experience your destination like a true local and crave front-row access to cool discoveries and remarkable experiences, unlike anything they can find at home.

So, your website and marketing content should not only focus on your property; It should share the spotlight with your destination. Your hotel website should position your property as the epicenter of your destination.

You need to show what experiences guests can look forward to and which are within reach. What cool wine bars or quirky, local coffee shops are within walking distance? What local secrets can your staff share? What should guests know about your immediate neighborhood?

4. Know What Your Guests Want

This next directive pertains to embracing data and listening to what your guests (and your compset’s guests) are saying in public spaces. By paying attention to keyword searches, social media posts, Trip Advisor reviews, CVB data and responses to your post-stay surveys, savvy hotel marketers can see threats and trends that will define how guests want to “be assisted.”

– Are your guests complaining about certain aspects of your property?
– Are travelers to your destination talking about the new museum?
– Is there a rapid spike in keyword volume for hotels near a certain hot neighborhood?
– What are the top attractions near you (and how are you partnered with them)?

These are priceless digital breadcrumbs for you in building a consumer path to your door!

5. Assist During the Transaction

Consumers also expect their transaction experience to be seamless. Hotels are expected to simplify life, not confuse it… especially at the most critical point in their purchase journey! So make sure your hotel website booking experience is flawless, by avoiding these pitfalls:

•  Accessible Communication
Giving people what they want quickly and easily amps up your value. Follow the example of luxury hotels and resorts, who offer instant access to reservations staff using online chat, phone or email.  Consumers are always more likely to pay a premium to properties that respond quickly to questions and establish high service expectations BEFORE the guest even arrives.

• Hidden Costs and Sticker Shock
Studies show that nothing kills a sale – and trust – like unexpected costs. Mostly surprise hidden costs that many hotels like to sneak into the transaction right before asking for credit card information. Today’s travelers have no patience with additional charges and will be ruthless in abandoning any property that tries to spring on pesky fees.

•  Your Mobile Experience is Poor
Google studies show that 36% of business travelers and 40% of leisure travelers book hotel rooms on their mobile phones. And, bookings originating from users on iPads and other tablet-sized devices are growing fast.

•  It’s Too Frustrating to Make a Reservation
It’s a lesson hoteliers rarely hear, but should immediately heed: Your booking engine must be a simple process. Visitors are already uncomfortable giving out their information online, if your forms are cumbersome, consumers will exit before a purchase is completed. Yet, thousands of hotels are still cluttering their booking engines with too much text, too many pages and endless steps.

•  Slow Means No
25% of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Almost 50% will abandon if the site takes more than 10 seconds to load. In our fast-paced, instant-gratification culture—fueled by high-speed internet—consumers expect your web pages to load immediately!

•  You’re Not Speaking Their Language
This seems painfully obvious, but far too many hotels treat everyone as an English-speaking American. Imagine the frustration of your overseas website visitors when they enter a booking environment that is not automatically defaulted to their native language or currency.

•  Limited Payment Options
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.


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: “Bridge the Chasm” To Improve Your Website Conversion Rate

December 1, 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: A jarring transition from your website to booking engine environment is one of the biggest causes of online booking abandonment. 

The “chasm” between your hotel website and your booking engine needs to be seamless and frictionless!

Even the smallest details can derail a booking in progress.

The best hotel booking engines are the ones that load quickly and give the viewer no indication that they have been sent to another environment (usually managed by another vendor entirely as well). They are seamless: with the same look and feel as your hotel website – down to color, to font size, to photos.

Consistent user experience (UX) is vital to eCommerce transactions, especially for a marketplace as competitive as the online hotel marketplace.

If your booking engine loads slowly, projects a different look from your website experience or fails to present the expected promo/package/rates…. you will create dissonance and customers will feel uneasy and doubtful about their purchase decision.

Don’t give guests a reason to abandon their reservations.

Keep their confidence high by delivering a smooth and uninterrupted transition once they decide to book.

Get more: The Hidden Chasm: Why Your Bookings Keep Falling into the Abyss


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 Hotel Marketers Are Thankful for This Thanksgiving

November 21, 2017 • By

Hotel marketing pros are counting their blessings…
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For most, Thanksgiving is a time for football, traveling to see relatives and diet-busting feasts.

It’s also the time of year we ask clients, colleagues and industry experts what they are feeling good about. And once again, we heard that the economy, industry dynamics and hotel consumer behavior are working in our favor like never before.

Based on our informal survey, here are 5 things hoteliers are feeling thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. Evidence That Direct Booking Campaigns Are Working 

In 2016, major hotel brands and smaller hotels went after OTAs with a fervor and pushed aggressive campaigns to convince travelers that booking direct was best. Now, we finally have proof that the preaching paid off. Kalibri Labs compiled data from more than 12,000 U.S. hotels and 52 million transactions during the run of these highly publicized campaigns.

In their recent report “Book Direct Campaigns: The Cost & Benefits of Loyalty,” Kalibri measured a significant net revenue benefit due to a shift in bookings from OTAs to Brand.com. While this certainly calls for a massive celebration, the momentum shouldn’t stop here. Experts agree that discounting to create loyalty can’t be the end-all, be-all of your book direct strategy; creating online and on-property experiences that the OTAs cannot must be the neverending quest for hotel marketers seeking to reduce OTA dependence and improve bottom line profitability.

2. Owners’ Willingness to Invest in the Product

Hotel marketers know this best: No amount of brilliant marketing, guest data, or up-to-the-minute technology can compensate for an aging and run-down hotel property. Now, with property values on the rise and an overall healthy real estate market, hotel owners have the renewed confidence in investing in upgrades, redesigns and renovations that will help hotel sales and marketing teams compete with the new supply entrants in their market.

And with so many major hotel brands launching new or re-imagined brands, it’s more vital than ever to keep up and hold onto your market share by offering compelling amenities, aesthetics and experiences. 

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3. Demand and RevPar Still Going Strong

Despite the threat of Airbnb’s climbing success (especially with their new focus on offering a complete travel experience, both in and outside of their hosts’ homes) and a ballooning hotel supply, RevPAR and demand are still holding steady.

Based on a strong economy, hotel occupancies are still at an all-time high and the hotel industry is still experiencing an unprecedented string of record results. To date, RevPAR has increased year-over-year consecutively for 92 months, according to STR.

4. Social Evangelism

Over the last few years, storytelling and “content marketing” 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 an article in Ad Age so aptly put it: “Your brand is defined by the interactions people have with it.”

User-generated content (UGC), especially photos, videos and posts about on-property experiences are more authentic, less sales focused… and let’s face it, more creative than anything you could ever dream up yourself.

Hotel marketers 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.

5. 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.


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: A Creative Way to Offset Shorter Booking Windows

November 17, 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:  Counteract shrinking booking windows with a smart (and simple) reservation recovery campaign. 

Smartphones, deal-hungry consumers, last-minute booking apps and penalty-free reservations.

These are just some of the reasons why people are now booking hotels closer and closer to their check-in date. In fact, according to most experts, booking lead times have shortened dramatically, with last-minute U.S. travel consumers making up 13% of all bookings in their recent study.

If your hotel constantly leans on these last-minute bookings, especially those booked on OTAs, you’re sacrificing revenue and losing even more (fast!) by paying expensive third-party commissions.

Here’s one way to deal with this new reality of the rapidly shrinking booking window:

Put Intelligent Reservation Recovery to Work…

Rather than fretting about shrinking booking windows, focus on converting your best prospects SOONER with a dynamic reservation recovery campaign.

Every day, hotels ignore millions of consumers WITH LONG BOOKING WINDOWS at the very edge of converting to real revenue. Prospects who have already visited your website and searched the booking engine for travel dates that coincide with your traditional periods of weakness.

There is a massive opportunity to re-engage those lost visitors, convert them to bookings and ameliorate the periods that suffer from extremely short booking windows!

Here’s How You Can Use Reservation Recovery to Mitigate the Effects of Short Booking Windows: 

1. Know the Booking Window for Every Day of the Year

Your booking engine, CRS or PMS provider can easily provide you with book-to-arrival data for every day of the year. Armed with this, you can identify the days/weeks that cause internal panic and low ADRs

2. Use Reservation Recovery Tech That Immediately Captures Email Addresses

Once an online visitor searches for their dates and chooses a room type, smart reservation recovery technology will require their email address as the first field in the booking process. That way, you now have the contact info necessary to retarget them if they abandon their booking.

3. Create a Custom Campaign for the Periods with the Shortest Booking Window (and Lowest ADR)

After a visitor abandons a booking that falls in your target low period, your reservation recovery system should send out a specific email with a personalized greeting that thanks them for considering your property and offers a limited-time incentive for booking with you directly. Sure, these incentives eat into net room revenue, but they are still far less than the commissions on OTA bookings or other sources of last minute bookings.

By Incentivizing the Visitors Who Have Already:

  1. Demonstrated their willingness to book farther out
  2. Nearly completed a booking in a target period

You can close more bookings sooner… alleviating “short-booking window anxiety” for everyone on the revenue management and marketing teams! Studies have proven that reservation recovery systems can recapture millions of dollars in lost revenue… in some cases, up to 30% of abandoned bookings were reactivated!


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