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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

Friday Freebie: Rate parity matters… but so does Promo Parity

April 13, 2018

Behold the Power of SPAC…

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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: Rate parity matters… but so does Promo Parity.

It’s not easy filling your hotel’s need periods. These low periods can break your annual budget. Avoid what many panicked hotel marketers do… “spray and pray” offers all over the digital landscape.

You need to be deliberate and focused.

Just like a general in charge of an army – you need to coordinate your operations and move your forces in unison.

This is why smart hotel marketers launch one promo across all channels simultaneously. We call this SPAC: Simultaneous Promotion Across All Channels.

Not only will your promo have the best chance of massive outreach and conversions, it also squashes any chance of confusion and skepticism in your market.

Think about it:

If Offer A is running on your Facebook page, Offer B is running on a 3rd-party channel and Offer C is running on your website, guests will be leery of what’s real or what’s current. Prospects will experience dissonance… enough to turn them away looking for another more consistent and mentally-calming hotel option. Consumers are uncomfortable with inconsistency.

Lesson: Consistency matters. Maintaining parity among your offers, not just rate, is vital to your bottom line.

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


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 10 Daily Habits of Highly Effective Hotel Marketers

April 10, 2018

Hotel marketing success requires daily discipline.

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Can we all agree that the cumulative effects of small daily habits—both good and bad—add up to meaningful results over time?

Brush your teeth every day and you’ll avoid cavities. Eat chocolate pie every day, you’ll probably gain weight…

If you were to ask pro athletes and successful business tycoons what made them successful, most would tell you it required many years of hard work and practice.

The same goes for every profession, including hotel marketing; there are no silver bullets or shortcuts to the front of the line.

Just take the example of British cycling coach Sir David Brailsford, whose aggregation of marginal gains philosophy first led his Sky Team to a Tour de France victory in 2012—just three years after its implementation—then fueled subsequent wins in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The core idea, for Brailsford, was to push his riders to work toward a 1% improvement in everything they do, for a cumulative gain that is much more impactful over time.

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British cycling coach Dave Brailsford recommends trying to improve many little things by 1%.

“So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it,” says writer James Clear. “Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about. Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.”

At Tambourine, we live by the same philosophy and urge our clients to embrace Brailsford’s daily method for meeting their own goals for success. Based on our 34 years in hotel marketing, here are the 10 daily habits we see that separate the best hotel marketers from the mediocre:

  1. They check the numbers

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. Savvy marketers are constantly evaluating their efforts, budgets and staff in relation to business mix targets.

image3     2. They plan for times of need

Filling those sporadic gaps in demand requires forethought and careful planning. That’s why successful hotel marketers always make a point to check-in with their revenue management team, far in advance, to identify upcoming, cyclical and ongoing periods of weakness.

     3. They exude positivity

The best hotel marketers know that energy and enthusiasm are contagious. They make sure that everyone on their team, outside agencies, related departments (e.g., revenue management) and upper management are aware and excited about the marketing activities for the hotel. These marketers then celebrate meaningful success (always using metrics, when possible) when that success occurs.

      4. They face the music

While it’s natural to stress the positives, highly effective hotel marketers instead focus primarily on problems and weaknesses (staff, results, product, etc.) that need improvement. They think of ways to streamline processes and campaign execution.

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      5. They stay informed

Each day, hotel marketing all-stars are monitoring the industry and comp-set news, to have a fully informed perspective on both local market conditions and the hospitality industry as a whole. They also read their hotel’s latest guest reviews and feedback scores, to keep abreast of guest sentiment.

      6. They maintain a healthy work-life balance

All-star performers know that to truly function at the top of their game, they need to do more than simply work around the clock. These professionals make sure to also earmark time for exercise, family, vacations and getting a good night’s sleep.

      7. They unplug

There’s more to life than staring at a computer screen.

Skilled marketers also spend time talking to guests, walking the property, listening and learning, and interacting with reservation center/call center agents and the front desk. Sometimes there’s just no replacement for human, face-to-face contact.

      8. They say ‘no’…a lot

The highest-achieving professionals understand that time is money and there is an opportunity cost associated with every endeavor one adds to their plate. Oftentimes, staying productive means saying “no” to distractions like irrelevant opportunities, shiny new utopian technologies and time-sucking projects.

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     9. They know what’s important

Highly effective hotel marketers prioritize objectives for both themselves and their key employees. They correlate their activities and budgets to the business mix projection they provided to upper management.

Also, they understand that achieving a greater goal requires a series of smaller steps all taken in a logical order, and they can communicate that methodology to coworkers. Random busy-ness and the constant putting out of fires is not the path to long-term marketing success.

    10. They demand consistent messaging and execution

Hotel marketing rock stars are vigilant about ensuring that their property’s story and unique value proposition (UVP) is infused in every marketing touchpoint and the operational service experience at the hotel. Communicating that story and UVP to guests is a daily obsession, essential to all sales activity, as well as maintaining a place of distinction in one’s respective marketplace.


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: Crush the Compset with This Group Sales Tactic

March 16, 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:

Stay ahead of new compset properties. Harvest your city’s special events to get ahead of lucrative group business opportunities

Nothing can shake up your group sales numbers more than a new hotel in your compset. Meeting and group travel planners are hungry for what’s new and will likely include the new space in their consideration set… unless you employ smart strategies to provide your hotel with a constant flow of revenue from other sources.

John Washko, VP of Expo & Convention Sales at Mohegan offers this powerful tip:

Work ahead by keeping close tabs on all the special events scheduled for your city as far in advance as possible; monitor the area’s convention centers, concert venues and CVB websites. Events, such as conventions, sporting events or concerts, almost always bring meeting and/or group opportunities with them.

Your sales team should be researching and reaching out to any related clubs or organizations that would likely travel to attend the event, then directly offer up a block of rooms at a group rate. Your hotel can offer even more value through discounted transportation to the event.

For example, consider a Bon Jovi Fan Club, says Washko. This is a group, typically ages 40 to 50, that are enthusiastic fans of Bon Jovi and travel to his performances. Other examples are car clubs for major races or car shows.

Washko says the key to staying ahead of your new comp set is by being the first to reach out to these groups. So, set up processes with your sales managers to seek out these groups several months in advance.

Get more examples: The New Supply Threat: How Hotel Sales Teams are Fighting Back


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

Turnover: The Hidden Killer of Hotel Marketing (and What to Do about It)

January 23, 2018

Hotel marketing is hard enough without constant turnover.

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Sometimes, one of the greatest obstacles to successful hotel marketing lurks within your own office…

Staff turnover, especially when it’s excessively high, can be an absolute killer for most businesses, and your hotel marketing team is no exception. So learning to attract, cultivate and retain marketing staff—instead of churning through them—may have a wider impact than even the smartest of ad campaigns.

At hotels, specifically, there are a number of reasons why turnover of marketing staff makes it hard to achieve ownership’s revenue targets:

1. Consistency Is Vital to Success

In the hotel business—which is built largely upon brands and properties delivering on a standardized promise to meet guest expectations—few things are as important as consistency. Beyond just a flag’s amenities or service experience, that consistency clearly extends to marketing, particularly the frequency and content of consistent product messaging. It’s difficult to achieve that desired consistency if there is a revolving door of staffers creating those messages.

2. Familiarity with Guest Personas, Seasonality and Periods of Weakness

See #3. Learning the nuances of your hotel’s demand patterns requires time and experience, which won’t be the case if turnover is high. By keeping marketing staff long-term, those same patterns will become a cyclical strategy, where marketers know exactly how to fine-tune efforts.

3. New staff Is Hard to Find

There’s a dearth of quality marketing talent in the hotel business, especially digital talent, for a number of reasons. For starters, many top-notch digital marketers have gravitated to other industries or start-ups with a higher “cool factor” or earning potential. Corporate hotel cultures, often viewed as overly traditional, can dissuade younger marketing pros seeking more of a Silicon Valley workplace vibe.

4. New Staff Don’t Understand the Hotel’s Product or Message

It takes time to educate new hotel marketing staff on your property’s unique history, message and product experience. If your marketing staff is perpetually changing, you’re constantly putting new employees through the same learning curve, without reaping the benefits.

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How does a bad hire hurt your organization? Here are the responses, according to a Career Builder study.

5. They Have to Build Relationships with Team Members in Other Departments (I.E. Revenue Management)

No team is an island, and for marketing staff, it is increasingly important to foster and maintain strong relationships and communication with other departments, especially with revenue/yield management personnel. Again, that’s tough to achieve in a high-turnover environment.

6. They Often Have to Pick up (on the Fly) Existing Campaigns, Vendors and Marketing Programs That They Did Not Create

The learning curve for a new marketing staffer is multiplied when they are asked to shoulder—often rapidly—campaigns, agreements and initiatives that were formulated by previous employees. That can lead to a huge difference in vision and background on these projects once the new staffer is in charge. Especially if their predecessor had a jumbled mix of disparate vendors in place.

7. They Inherit Someone Else’s Goals

Marketing objectives can be highly personal (and stressful) to the marketer who set them. When a new employee inherits those goals, it may not be the best fit for that marketer’s skill set and vision for what they hope to achieve at their new post.

8. Departing Staff Take Lots of Proprietary Knowledge and Investment with Them

Sure, you can ask departing staffers to turn over all materials, notes and other information they have before they leave for good, but there will still be untold amounts of knowledge and experience they will invariably take with them when they leave. Sometimes the best solution to this problem is convincing them to stay, or at a bare minimum, asking them to be available to brief their replacement.

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A Study from Paychex revealing why employees leave.

Thankfully, there are ways to combat the turnover dragon. Successful strategies include:

1. Hire Wisely

One of the most effective means of reducing turnover on your hotel marketing team is to make smart hiring decisions in the first place. That means thoroughly interviewing and vetting candidates before extending offers, factoring in the candidate’s compatibility with your office culture, management and fellow staffers.

SEE: The Seven Traits of Great Hotel Digital Marketers

2. Pay Generously

Offering candidates a fair and market-competitive salary and benefits package is another important means of ensuring staff retention. Take some time to research prevailing wages, while brainstorming benefits, perks and incentives to sweeten the deal, if necessary. That may include concessions like flexible work schedules and various bonuses.

3. Revisit Annually

It’s a good idea to review staff salaries and benefits annually, in order to ensure you are keeping up with the marketplace. If possible, tap your HR team as your news pipeline to this end.

4. Get Flexible

Devise methods of offering greater flexibility to your hotel marketing team in order to foster a healthy work/life balance. That may include flexible and/or compressed schedules, telecommuting and on-site daycare. Embrace communications tools like Skype and chat applications such as Slack to keep remote teams/staffers in touch throughout the day.

5. Maintain Interest Levels

An engaged employee is a happy one.

Foster a challenging and rewarding work environment, filled with learning opportunities and potential for advancement, and your employees will thank you. Nurture healthy levels of social action among the staff, as well as proper praise and recognition from management, when deserved. Sometimes little compliments and courtesies go a very long way.

6. Praise Excellence

It’s extremely important to properly recognize employees who are performing well, whether the praise comes in the form of verbal recognition, emails, awards and/or special perks. Monthly company-wide emails detailing team/staff achievements are great, as are peer-recognition programs. Don’t hesitate to report those achievements up the chain to superiors, either; even when emailing a thank you note to a subordinate, consider CCing higher-ups for a added recognition. If you need to get a handle on what to praise, ask staffers for regular updates on their accomplishments, including some data and figures when and where possible.

7. Stress the Big Picture

Help your staffers visualize a future direction for them beyond just their current day-to-day responsibilities. Outline the wider career track they are headed down, spotlighting goals and achievements those staffers should target along the way. Use annual reviews and mid-year check-ins as a means of opening these discussions, as well as spontaneous chats. Always encourage everyone on your hotel marketing team to speak with you regarding any questions or concerns they may have.


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

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

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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

The Big Squeeze: Why Hotel Owners Are So Concerned About Marketing Costs

November 14, 2017

And why hotel marketers are feeling the pinch…

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Hotel owners are feeling the squeeze from rising operating costs, at a time when the U.S. hotel industry is posting record revenues.

Debt service, brand fees, management fees, credit card and intermediary fees and capital improvement programs are all costly contributors that have many fearing that when the next downturn comes, things could get ugly.

Owners can’t really control debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at variable 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.

There are a number of reasons why the cost of acquisition continues to spike (along with the blood pressure of some owners) including:

1. Lack of Differentiation and Low Conversion Rates

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, and bought by consumers on price alone. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become largely homogenous and difficult to distinguish from one another, further prompting travelers to book solely based on price.

But blame also falls on the shoulders of hotel marketers themselves, who often fail to highlight the unique and compelling aspects of their properties. Instead of just listing amenities like an indoor pool and free Wi-Fi, it’s far more effective to focus on unique differentiators like popular or noteworthy foods and services at the hotel, proximity to favorite attractions and neighborhoods, packages that incorporate local products/services and any other aspects that make one’s hotel different from the rest.

If hotel marketers could create a more powerful story in the minds of potential guests and convert lookers to bookers at a higher percentage, their marketing costs would decrease.

2. Fighting the Neighborhood Bullies

One of the main reasons marketing costs are out of control is that (despite the proliferation of tech and channels) there are actually a limited number of places from which hotels can attract significant traffic. Sure, the internet is a big place, but other than the OTAs, the vast majority of relevant traffic and bookings for hotels emanate from metasearch portals, Google and Facebook… where hotels find themselves in a David vs Goliath battle against the mega-budgets of the OTAs yet again!

The deep-pocketed OTAs spend more on marketing than most hoteliers can keep up with. This problem is particularly pronounced in the Google AdWords/pay-per-click (PPC) world, where the OTAs can easily outspend the competition. Therefore, it’s essential to spend wisely, choosing times and places when either the OTA marketing spend is lower, or the payback from outspending the OTAs is high enough to justify the short-term expense.

That philosophy also applies to controlling how much, and when, OTAs are used for bookings, depending on the time of year and the demand factors in the local market. The ideal percentages for third-party distribution can vary widely, and need to be closely monitored either internally or through a manager with acute revenue management skills.

3. OTA Commissions Are Not Viewed as Expenses

Yet another reason marketing costs are running rampant is the apathy of many hotel marketers, who refuse to ditch their OTA crutch and invest more in driving direct revenue through their own proprietary activities. A core reason for this lack of action is the vague at best sense that many operators have as to exactly how much OTA bookings cost, and the impact of that cost on the property’s P&L.

There are other marketing expenses, unfortunately, which are much more tangible on financial statements, including hotel digital marketing, hotel SEO, online media and retargeting, email marketing, advertising, social media and reservation abandonment programs. All of those expenditures can greatly help a hotel drive its own direct revenue, yet since these expenses are more visible on paper, they are generally cut first by owners, rather than OTA expenses, which are largely invisible. In many cases, the reverse tactic would be significantly more profitable.

4. A Focus on Flipping

Ultimately, many owners themselves are partly to blame.

By having short-term goals of flipping the property, many tolerate their property’s dependence on costly OTAs and ignore the long-term benefits of investing in building a healthier inflow of direct revenue. Having such a direct revenue stream only increases the value of the property, by boosting its prominence in the marketplace and fostering a more profitable bottom line.

According to a recent AHLA report, entitled: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace, “revenue retained by US hotels after paying all customer acquisition costs declined by almost .4% or $600 million… That $600M in additional cost would have contributed directly to net operating income. Using an 8% capitalization rate (which most investors require), these additional acquisition costs of $600 million reduced the asset value of the overall hotel industry by at least $7.5 billion.”


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

Why Hotel Sales Teams Need to Up Their Digital Game

November 7, 2017

Hotel group sales teams need better digital skills to capture more deals.

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Advances in digital have dramatically altered the ways group planners/buyers do business.

Today, B2B customers are doing 80% of their pre-purchase research in the digital world. Meeting planners/buyers are relying far less on hotel salespeople for information, instead choosing to educate themselves on potential venues via the web and peer referrals.

These clients no longer want cold calls, or even emails; 90% of C-level executives claim to never respond to these tactics, according to Salesforce.

Quite simply, hotel salespeople have to adapt… and quickly.

Traditionally, hotel sales teams use classic old-school textbook techniques, relying heavily on relationship selling and cold calls to book business. At branded hotels, sales teams often receive very little digital help or “air cover” from their corporate parents (other than lead flow). While Independents tend to be a bit more resourceful, since they’re wholly responsible for leads. But both hotel types need to enhance their digital skills, to keep up with the latest evolution of B2B buyers.

Here are the three most effective ways hotel salespeople can elevate their digital game:

1. Get Data

The first step of a digital sales effort starts with conducting digital research, to obtain key information about both your customers and competition. Discovering where to go on the web and various databases to research potential clients and do your homework on prospects’ needs should be done before you engage with those prospects. Take some time to read their blogs, LinkedIn pages, website and other “digital footprints.”

You can also employ affordable, easy-to-use tools to better understand prospects’ profiles and behavior. Helpful tools include:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator LinkedIn’s subscription-based sales tool helps sales reps target buyers and companies, with features to save leads and create various contact lists. The system contains an algorithm that helps find the best potential leads for each user, while sales research and insight tools help reps study their prospective clients. Communication tools are also built into the software, and it seamlessly logs and imports sales activity to and from CRM systems.
  • Knowland Group DataKnowland Group’s market intelligence products help sales reps find targets that meet their group revenue maximization goals, understand trends in the market and tap into undiscovered opportunities. Their data includes planner buying behavior, group booking patterns and market benchmarking, as well as actionable leads, educational resources and an archive of lead contact data.

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2. Get in Sync with the Marketing Team

Hotel sales leaders need to work closely with their marketing and IT colleagues to create an ideal digital workflow and lead flow. A proven method is to implement a CRM system to track activity, append clean targeting data and track lead behavior. There’s a huge payoff from the approach: An App Data Room and Marketo study found that sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67%.

Both sales and marketing departments should also cooperate on marketing automation, which can send the right message, at the right time, to the right meeting planner or group lead, while keeping teams informed as target prospects engage with company websites and marketing materials. In addition, sales teams should provide marketing with guidance and feedback on which digital channels, social media, etc., that sales prospects are currently using.

3. Get Social

Embracing digital doesn’t mean the longstanding practice of relationship-based selling no longer applies; it’s just moved into a different medium. According to LinkedIn, three out of four B2B buyers now rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. More than three-quarters (82%) of B2B buyers say vendor content shared on social channels (like LinkedIn) has a significant impact on their buying decision, while B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry, according to LinkedIn research.

With that in mind, today’s sales teams should be using digital to enable “social selling,” which essentially means building relationships and nudging leads along through the sales process via savvy, helpful, UNSELFISH social media interaction, rather than outdated and ineffective methods like phone calls and email.

This is primarily done by providing content that solves the problems and answers the questions of customers, as well as by interacting one-on-one with leads through social media. It’s different from wide-swath “shotgun marketing” on social, where branding-related content is shared everywhere in hopes of going viral and building awareness; social selling, rather, makes the customer the key dictator of the type of content shared, based on their specific wants and needs.

And remember, social interaction doesn’t end with that sale, either.

Social platforms are also employed post-sale to retain and upsell customers, especially by creating a channel for customers to share feedback and vent frustration. Referrals are now essential to lead generation, with 84% of B2B buyers beginning the buying process with a referral and more than 90% of purchase decisions influenced by peer recommendations, according to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article.

So now, more than ever, the time you spend on digital sales efforts—especially building and maintaining your social media network and reputation—will have a direct and meaningful impact on your sales pipeline. This is one game you want to be sure you’re playing to win.


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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