Browsing Tag

hotel marketing budget

Are Siri and Alexa Interrupting Hotel Search Marketing?

June 27, 2017 • By
Hotel search engine marketing is changing… are you ready?  image1 Key Takeaways:
  • Voice search and voice assistants are gaining popularity with no signs of slowing down.
  • This fundamental shift in search behavior impacts your current SEO strategy and will influence conversions and content discovery.
  • People using voice search tend to ask questions using long-tail keyword phrases, driving the need for relevant content addressing those questions.
“Siri, what is the biggest marketing trend that impacts my hotel’s search rankings?” Just within the past few years, voice-driven search and virtual assistants (also referred to as ‘digital assistants’) have experienced a meteoric rise as more and more people turn to Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Google Home or Amazon’s Echo to research information. In fact, the Echo and the Echo Dot were Amazon’s best selling products in 2016. Now, with Apple’s recently announced Apple HomePod (to be released December 2017), virtual assistants will be making their way into more homes and into our daily lives, routines and reality. According to Google, 20% percent of searches are completed by voice. With 11 billion daily searches being conducted on Google, that equates to 2.75 million Google voice searches each day.  And, that number is expected to rise exponentially over the next few years. Virtual assistants and voice searches are actively shaping the future of hotel SEO and changing how hotel marketers view their keywords and content. Plus, they are already poised to play a bigger role in driving conversions. Voice Search Strategies to Implement Now  This increasingly vocal world and continual evolution of search engine results will present challenges for hotels and will force hotel marketers to rewrite their content and SEO playbook. Fortunately, changes have been gradual and we’re not seeing a full-blown disruption just yet. This buys hoteliers more time to prepare for changes in hotel search that are on the horizon. Here’s what hotels can do right now to address this fundamental shift in how consumers are conducting hotel searches:
  1. Study Your Hotel’s Keyword Trends The fundamental rules of SEO still apply: hotels must understand how guests are finding them via voice search and the type of phrases they use. The clearest trend driven by voice search is the rise of long-tail keyword phrases. Unlike a typed Google search, people tend to ask virtual assistants questions (“What’s a good business hotel in the Gold Coast in Chicago?” vs “gold coast business hotel”). What are guests asking about hotels in your area and your hotel specifically? What are guests asking about travel to your destination? Optimize for these long-tail keyword phrases.
  2. Create a FAQ Page Addressing These Long-Tail Questions Hotels should set up FAQ pages on their websites that match the voice queries people use to find them online. Address these voice queries with mobile-friendly property and destination guides that give guests the information they are asking for. Hotel brands that address the ‘who, what, when, where and how’ questions and provide relevant answers will outrank their compset. image2
  3. Extend FAQ Strategy to Other Content Build valuable content around your audience’s voice search keywords and build in answers to those phrases and questions in your hotel’s web pages, social media posts, and blog posts.
  4. Stay on Top of Evolving Search Trends Monitor and stay up-to-date on your hotel’s real-time search insights. Which search phrases are being asked more or less often? What is happening in your destination or hotel that impacts what people are asking? Frequent monitoring allows you to be nimble and often gives you an edge.
  5. Write Conversationally Not only will your guests enjoy your brand more with a natural voice, but this is the language spoken by voice search. Content won’t rate with Google Now or Siri if it's not written in a natural voice. People are likely to ask Siri, ‘What hotel offers a free shuttle to the Miami airport?’ versus ‘free shuttle airport Miami.’ Google has been trying to minimize the relevance of keywords in search, with so many marketers over-optimizing and stuffing in keywords anywhere and everywhere they can. Voice search offers an opportunity to focus more on the language and tone we use naturally.
  6. Brace for Future Google Algorithm Updates Google has a history of driving SEO professionals crazy by constantly changing the set of rules that prioritize search rankings. While Google hasn’t announced any penalties for hotel websites that don’t cater to voice searches, there is always the possibility of that changing in the near future.
  7. Don’t Dismiss Traditional Search Consider voice search as a vital supplement to your SEO strategy, not a replacement. For now, despite the rise of voice assistants, the majority of search is conducted through typed queries on a mobile device or desktop. Both text searches and voice searches have a place in hotel marketing, so cater to talkers and typers alike.
Also see: The Painful Truth About Hotel SEO 

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

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

Why 70% of Hotel Marketing is Out of Control

June 20, 2017 • By
Flagged properties have surrendered control of their marketing. What happens if results are poor? image1 Key Takeaways:
  • 7 out of 10 hotels in the US are flagged, but the brand's national marketing team can’t reach specific target markets on a TIMELY basis, convey unique property experiences or synthesize authentic local culture.
  • Most flagged hotels are still relying on their brand’s standard marketing program, which is duplicated for every other sister hotel in the region.
  • Hotels need to augment their brand’s core program with timely campaigns and custom direct “vanity” websites that help fill periods of need.
Pop quiz… Imagine three hotel properties: A beachfront resort in Santa Monica. An urban high-rise in Atlanta steps from the convention center. A historic, mountain lodge in Vail. Would you: A. Market and drive bookings to these hotels using identical hotel websites, booking engines, marketing campaigns and marketing promotions? B. Or, custom tailor hotel marketing strategies based on each hotel’s unique target markets, amenities, travel seasons and destination? If you selected B, congratulations! You’re already making wiser decisions than thousands of flagged hotels who rely on the standardized, generic marketing (created by a remote marketing department) to drive ALL their business. Relying exclusively on your brand to completely market your unique property limits your ability to achieve the financial goals set forth by the owner/asset manager. Here’s Why:  You Are Not Differentiated Your brand’s marketing team is servicing hundreds of hotels (often several in the same city) and providing the same tools to all of you. Think about that–every hotel in the brand family is getting the same marketing and sales templates, the same loyalty database, the same hotel website design and hotel booking engine. You all receive the same assets, regardless of your amenities, your destination, or your target audience. A convention hotel in downtown Denver presents the same marketing material as their sister property in South Beach, Miami. Worse yet, when a visitor to your listing on brand.com enters the brand.com booking environment, they are often shown nearby properties flying the same flag… essentially making brand.com an OTA sending business to your co-branded regional neighbors!  image2 You’re Still Accountable If your property falls short of its revenue goals, do you think your brand’s marketing team will go to bat and be held accountable for missing the mark? Probably not. This is why it’s important to take marketing into your own hands and augment your brand’s core marketing assets with your own to  aggressively pursue direct bookings. When you rely on your brand’s marketing team, you relinquish control over vital revenue-drivers like:
  • Filling sudden periods of need.
  • Attracting regional groups and events.
  • Creating timely packages or special.
  • Posting and marketing special events.
  • Publishing user-generated social media content.
  • Creating retargeting ads to bring people back to your site.
Normally, this would require you to fill out a request form with your brand’s marketing team and wait days or weeks for ‘your turn,’ losing potential bookings in the meantime. Your remote brand team is simply unable to deploy effective campaigns capturing your hotel’s unique essence in a reasonable amount of time Your Direct Hotel Website is Generic Flagged hotels don’t actually have robust websites… they have listings on brand.com. When your hotel is simply plugged into a brand’s basic template website, there is nothing – besides photos and snippets of copy – that distinguishes your hotel’s individual story, destination, or personality. You cannot customize every element that conveys your hotel’s unique experience, F&B outlets, meeting and event space, surrounding neighborhood, local culture, etc. Imagine if the largest event in your destination is the Outdoor Summer Concert Series, which draws in thousands of visitors. Your brand.com’s basic website will not mention the concert series, nor convey how close you are to the event… leaving you to miss out on hundreds of potential room nights. When you manage your own hotel vanity site, you can showcase relevant events, speak directly to the right audiences and capture business with targeted campaigns. Your SEO Stinks Leaving hotel marketing to your brand will also place limits on your SEO and traffic generation campaigns. While your brand may conduct search engine marketing campaigns on your hotel’s behalf, they only scratch the surface. For instance, your brand’s efforts may help you rank for “Hyatts in Seattle.” But, it’s unlikely they are optimizing your page for more targeted search terms that would generate the highest return, such as “hotels near Capitol Hill” or “Space Needle hotels.” You’re Not Authentic Today, people are investing their travel dollars in authentic experiences that immerse them in the local culture and lifestyle. They’re hungry for local secrets, bold adventures and seeing parts of the city that most tourists don’t see. When your brand has control of your online marketing, they won’t be able to connect with your visitors or convey that local mindset. First off, because they’re not even there. They don’t know what makes your destination so special. They don’t understand the culture, the awesome mom-and-pop stores and restaurants that give your neighborhood character, or know the local secrets. Only you and your local marketing staff can tell a compelling story that will actually drive bookings.

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

Business, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

Father Knows Best: Three Hotel Marketing Lessons From Dad

June 13, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing lessons from dear old dad… image1 While Mom gets a lot of the credit for imparting life lessons, it’s time for fathers to be acknowledged for their own wise insights. In honor of Father’s Day, every year we celebrate our favorite ‘dadisms.’ And, we found that pops has some serious hotel marketing wisdom! Here are hidden hotel marketing messages behind some of your father’s repeated quotes: 1. “Will You Kids Please Shut Up?” Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: When marketing your hotel, resist the urge to drone on and on about your property’s physical features. 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 hotel website 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.  image2  2. “Hold Your Head Up...” Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Toughen up, kid. Sometimes you get dreadful guests. Sometimes you’re hit with awful reviews. Sometimes your creative marketing ideas fail miserably. Instead of crying over spilled milk, remember that the most successful and brilliant hotel marketers are those who take risks and try new ideas. If you’re not making any mistakes, that probably means you are simply repeating the same things year after year. Not taking risks or finding new ways to reach your guests will make your marketing stale and crummy. And, that’s something to cry about. 3. “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees!”  Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Think carefully about how you spend the marketing dollars entrusted to you by ownership. And by all means… ask for the resources you need to accomplish the revenue goals assigned to you! If you need more marketing staff or outsourced vendors to help you achieve your hotel’s revenue goals, then ask for them. If your hotel is in dire need of upgrades and updates in order to effectively compete with newer properties and win market share, then ask for them. If you depend on another department’s performance to help you reach your targets, then ask to oversee them. Here’s an example of what that request could look like: “For me to achieve the revenue targets set forth by ownership… I need $_______ in funding, specific hotel upgrades to be made, and _______ new staff (contractors). Plus, I would like ________ department to report to me.” The road to achieving your property’s revenue goals begins with your ability to ask for what you need. Show your management team that without these items, you won’t be able to deliver the results they’re looking for.

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

Business, Direct Bookings, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

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

May 23, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing has never been so cluttered and noisy. image1 Every week it seems as if there is something new and important competing for your attention and causing FOMO (fear of missing out) stress. With all this marketing overload, it’s easy to forget what is really important and which marketing assets actually have the biggest impact on results. We’re here to help... Of course every property has unique demands and market conditions, but we want to try and free your mind from all the nonsense, hype and clutter and review the 10 things that should TRULY matter (in our humble opinion) to the majority of hotel marketers right now: 1. Having a Remarkable Product Boundless creativity, clever marketing concepts and even a robust marketing budget are essentially useless if your hotel is crap. Great marketing can only begin with a great product. If your hotel is showing its frayed edges and providing lackluster experiences (or no real experience at all), no amount of brilliant marketing will save you from a downward spiral. Scour your hotel reviews and find out what guests complain about the most. Then, present this to your owners and champion the improvements your hotel needs to turn the tide and rise above the comp set. 2. Telling a Compelling Story  There is a reason why “storytelling” has become a hotel marketing buzzword over the last several years. Storytelling captivates your audience, draws them in emotionally and entices them to want more. Travelers – both leisure and business – don’t need to be sold on your thread count, the hours of your fitness center or the square footage of your ballroom. When they research hotel options, they are really looking for how your hotel will impact their lives during and after their stay. Follow these steps to use storytelling to win over the hearts and wallets of your target hotel audience.   image2 3. Integrating Systems and Technology Using different providers for each of your critical marketing technology needs (i.e. CRS, website, hotel booking engine, PMS, and CRM) is a recipe for disaster. Many hotels are missing out on countless reservations because of one simple reason: they don’t have integrated technology. The key is to work with as few providers as possible to make sure each component of your marketing can seamlessly speak to each other and simplify reporting for stressed-out hotel revenue, marketing and sales execs who are tired of system incompatibility and reporting nightmares. 4. Measuring Cost-per-Booking  Think you’re impressing your hotel owners with news about your social media followers, your cool new marketing videos or your rebranding initiatives? Think again. 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 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). 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. Avoid the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition. 5. Consolidating Vendors The more hotel marketing vendors you work with, the more chaos and confusion you should expect.  Hiring multiple, disconnected vendors to handle separate hotel marketing tasks, like hotel website design, hotel email marketing, hotel social media and hotel PPC campaigns, will halt your property’s success in so many ways. First, you’re paying way too much for vendors handling only one function. Second, you’ll spend most of your day relaying messages from one vendor to the next. And, lastly, no one vendor can ever be held accountable for your marketing success or failure, since they can easily point fingers at each other. Smart hotel marketers avoid juggling vendors… thereby reducing stress and gaining time to spend on proactive campaigns. 6. Sticking to a Plan Marketing to everyone will get you nowhere fast. Smart hotel marketers have a roadmap with a breakdown of exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. This enables the firm to correlate its separate investments in marketing for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B. The best hotel marketers understand that generic, aimless and ‘pretty’ marketing won’t cut it. Every marketing activity they create is built with the intention of drawing direct business from one or more of a hotel’s pre-defined guest segments. This will allow you to delegate the proper amount of investments to market to group, corporate, leisure/transient or F&B business. Every marketing activity you craft should be built with the intention of pulling in direct business from one or more of your target guest segments. 7. Consistency Across All Channels  Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining rate, image and promo parity is vital to your hotel’s bottom line. Smart hotel marketers also know that their USP (unique selling proposition) has to be consistent across all brand touchpoints and channels. If consumers see your property described as “urban chic” in one place and “a traditional business hotel” in another… dissonance occurs, causing erosion and attrition. Consistency matters. Whether it’s sending out email offers on a steady cadence, updating your hotel’s social media accounts or communicating with your group clients, it’s critical to set schedules and maintain consistency regardless of season or current results. Your core marketing activities need to be sacred and deserve to be given the attention, resources and budget required. 8. Stunning Photography  Awe-inspiring photos are worth a thousand bookings. Evocative images provoke an emotional response and directly contribute to booking decisions. Your images prepare potential guests for what’s to come. Along with your hotel's website design, they convey your experience with a single glance. So, be ruthless and replace all bland property images, including those that are old, grainy, dark or fail to convey a remarkable guest experience. Hire a hotel photographer trained in shooting real estate or architecture. Even better, complement those professional images with authentic and free photos taken by your hotel’s best photographers – your own guests. 9.  Simultaneous Promotions Across All Channels  Filling periods of need is not easy… which is why smart hotel marketers launch promotions across all channels simultaneously. (See #7: Consistency, above.) Imagine you are the general of all your forces, you’d want them to coordinate operations and move in unison! Launching the promo on every channel AT THE SAME TIME gives consumers comfort and avoids confusion. If guests see different special offers for your hotel on a 3rd party channel than what is shown on your own direct hotel website, they will get uncomfortable with the inconsistency and find another hotel that gives them greater mental comfort. 10. Continuing to Boost Online Guest Sentiment Guests will always trust other guests more than you. This is why past guest reviews are one of the most influential factors impacting your hotel’s future success. Whether glowing or scathing, every review is an opportunity to stumble or shine. Get rid of the canned corporate responses and strive to always answer genuinely and authentically. Graciously own up to any mistakes and correct mistaken guests with grace. Even offer solutions for problems you can’t control, like the noisy nightclub across the street or the construction next door. Keep all of your responses thoughtful and they’ll have a greater chance of turning negative reviews into shining moments that make your hotel even more likable and worthy of a visit.

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

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

7 Lessons Your Mom Taught You about Hotel Marketing

May 10, 2017 • By

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

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

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

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

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

2. Mom: “Just be yourself.”

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice

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

You win some, you lose some.

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Business, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

Friday Freebie: Remember The 4Ps Every Day

March 31, 2017 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

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

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

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

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

1. Price

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

2. Product

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

3. Promotion (i.e. Advertising)

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

4. Placement

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Direct Bookings, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, OTA, Uncategorized

Stop Dangling the Wrong Carrots: How Revenue Incentive Plans Hurt Profits

March 7, 2017 • By

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Occupancy is high. You’re crushing your RevPar Index. And, you’re on pace to surpass your quarterly revenue targets as well as last year’s revenue.

From the look of things, your revenue team (this includes marketing and revenue management) is blazing to success and should be credited and applauded for driving huge profits to your property.

But, wait.

Look closer. It’s NOT increased profits your revenue team produced. It was increased revenue.

Right now, most revenue teams aren’t driven to optimize profitability at their properties. Instead, they are incentivized to boost revenue – profit margins and rising costs be damned.

The fault doesn’t lie entirely with your marketing and revenue team, however. Perhaps it’s time to critically examine your RM incentive plan structure instead?

The Hidden Risk of Current Revenue Management Incentives

To achieve a bonus today, most revenue managers are only tasked with exceeding top-line targets, like revenue variance to budget and variance to last year’s revenue. Plus, a favorite metric that hotels use is RevPar index, suggesting most owners want to see performance relative to the compset, instead of internal benchmarks. 

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“However, by incentivizing revenue managers to work on boosting revenues only, they’re essentially taking their eyes off of high expenses and any rising costs,” said Jeff Spaccio, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing In Residence at Tambourine. “Revenue doesn’t equate to profit.”

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While revenue managers are ultimately responsible for delivering profits to their properties, current incentive programs motivate RM teams to prioritize driving up revenues over the bottom line.

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Take an Honest Look at Channel Costs

Revenue managers must be cognizant of, and accountable for, costs and how they impact the bottom line, Spaccio said.

One of the biggest missteps under current incentive plans is that revenue managers aren’t motivated to pay close attention to which channels are costing the hotel the most and on the other end, which channels offer the most value.

Hotels should champion all efforts to drive direct bookings from their lowest cost channel – their own brand website, Spaccio recommends. This also means investing in hotel social media marketing, hotel search engine marketing and hotel PPC campaigns to drive traffic to the site.

Plus, don’t be hypnotized by the seemingly high revenues that OTA bookings can deliver. With commissions of 15 – 30%, third party websites are by far a hotel’s most expensive distribution channel.

In the end, driving bookings through your own website will have the greatest impact on optimizing profits.

The Vital Bottomline: Revenue Managers Should Impact Profits, Not Just Revenue

It’s time for hotels to maximize their profits by restructuring their revenue management incentive plans.

“After all, owners can only take profits to the bank,” Spaccio said.

First, motivate revenue managers to get well-acquainted with costs and learn where to reduce wasteful spending. They should be well aware of the cost per booking and your hotel should establish how much those reservations should cost.

Then, at the minimum, a revenue manager should meet or exceed your gross operating profit projections BEFORE being paid a bonus off the top-line incentive.

Continue to reward revenue managers for generating revenues beyond the forecasted targets, but in the end, incentives should be driven by the ability to exceed profitability.

It’s only with the proper incentives in place that revenue managers will pay more attention to the true net of any booking and prioritize boosting your bottom line.

 

 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

Business, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice

7 Signs Your Hotel Marketing is Out of Control

February 28, 2017 • By

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It’s easy to see how things can go off course in hotel marketing.

With an array of channels, disparate vendors and multiple audience segments to manage, it’s inevitable that some things may fall through the cracks, questions will go unanswered and mistakes could quickly multiply.

The good news is that even if your hotel marketing is out of control from time to time, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost control.

You are still at the helm and can turn things around whenever you decide to acknowledge the wrong turns you’ve made and the missing pieces you overlooked.

Here are a few of the telltale signs that your hotel marketing might need a reality check… and how to turn things around:

1. You’re Clueless About How Much You Pay OTAs

Sooner or later, your owners or managers will ask you, “How much are these OTA bookings really costing us?” It’s a question that all hoteliers dread. Why? Because OTA commissions are often opaque. They generally pay a net rate to the hotel, after collecting their commission. Unfortunately, this means the fees being paid to OTAs will never show up as an expense on your P&L statements.

Not only do these invisible marketing expenses cost significantly more than direct bookings, they also pose a threat to your other marketing assets as well. When owners look at the budget to see which marketing costs to scale back on, the first thing on the chopping blocks are the expenses that are actually shown, even if they produce profitable bookings, such as your hotel website.

So hidden OTA costs are allowed to continue, while your other marketing investments are reduced. You should specifically examine and document how much each OTA booking costs vs the actual cost per booking of alternative channels.

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2.  Too Many Vendors, Too Much Chaos

The more marketing vendors you work with, the more complications and chaos you can expect. Managing several, disconnected vendors to handle separate marketing functions, like advertising campaigns, hotel website design, email marketing or social media, can hurt you in several ways: First, you’re most likely paying more for each vendor’s separate services. You’re wasting time by managing and relaying messages from vendor to vendor. And, worst of all, no single vendor is held accountable for overall success. Instead, they likely point fingers at each other.   

The key is to consolidate.

Narrow down your marketing partners to those who you trust the most, who produce the best and those who can handle multiple critical functions.

3. You Can’t Measure Your Contributions

Hotel owners and managers expect their marketing teams to contribute to their revenue targets IN MEASURABLE WAYS. However, many hotel marketers still shy away from being accountable for any revenue responsibilities. Instead, they lavishly tout their “rebranding initiatives,” number of social media followers or new hotel photography.

This continued disregard for numerical evaluation will put you in a difficult position next year, when you attempt to request a larger marketing budget. Without measuring your success, owners and managers will be more apt to cut back on marketing expenses and staff, believing that your intangible branding results can be achieved with less.

To show how your marketing efforts are contributing to the hotel’s revenue, calculate your marketing cost per booking (MCPB). Use this figure to prove your team’s value and make sure you’re given the proper correlated amount of marketing funds next year. 4. You’re Unable (or Afraid) to Discuss Property Upgrades With Owners

For the past few years, major hotel brands have invested millions in revamping their current properties or launching new collections in response to the expectations of modern travelers. With so many of these new or freshly renovated/re-imagined properties vying for your guests’ attention, it’s more important than ever to keep up and stay competitive by offering remarkable experiences, aesthetics and amenities.

It’s vital that your ownership is on board to invest in the necessary renovations, redesigns and upgrades. Or else, don’t be surprised when guests pass you over for the newer kid on the block. No amount of creativity and provocative marketing can mask an aging and tired property.

Remind your ownership of that unavoidable reality in the nicest possible way.

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5. You Fail at Rate Parity

We get it.

Managing rates can get complicated. Setting rates every day, for every room, on every channel can easily get overwhelming and confusing. And, not just for you, but your customers, as well. 

Maintaining rate and market parity is vital to your bottom line. If you and your revenue managers fall asleep at the wheel, you can bet you’ll quickly be surrendering revenue.

This is about diligently staying on top of all the channels, using the right automation tools and working with a conscientious revenue manager. Monitor your comp set’s rate strategy weekly to ensure you have market parity.

6. You Are Unable to Increase Meetings and Events Lead Flow Meetings and events are often a hotel’s game changer. And, you know that a single group’s spend on event venues, F&B, guest rooms and other ancillary services can quickly help you meet budget.

But, what if your group sales numbers remain stagnant, leads consistently go cold and sales calls fail to produce interest?

Something is wrong, but it’s nothing that you – a bold, brilliant and boundless hospitality leader – can’t fix. There are numerous ways to get in front of meeting planners, earn their trust and compete for and win their event contracts.

If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to freshen up your sales approach with new tactics. Some of our favorites include:

7. Your Guest Sentiment is Plummeting

Every hotel has their share of negative reviews. But, this doesn’t give you a hall pass to shrug them off. How a hotel decides to manage guest reviews will determine if that property shines or stumbles in the future.

Notice your TripAdvisor score declining or stagnating? This means your owners and management staff have largely ignored the golden nuggets of feedback that guests leave for them. Do guests express their irritation with the noisy air conditioners in the rooms? Are there several complaints about the lackluster breakfast buffet? Do guests often mention a rude staff member?

Frankly, if you receive the same complaint twice, that is already one time too many. Bad service, bad sleep, bad food options and a host of other things can essentially ruin a guest’s opinion of you and their decision whether or not to come back.

Consider your guests as your eyes and ears to the problems that are holding your hotel back. When something is broken, actually fix it. Don’t just promise to ‘look into it,’ then walk away.


 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

Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, OTA, Uncategorized

5 Hotel Sales Tactics to Jumpstart 2017

January 10, 2017 • By

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A fresh New Year brings a new opportunity to delight ownership with big results in group/event sales…but only if you start off with velocity.

Here are five proven tactics for jumpstarting your hotel sales performance in 2017 and establishing momentum for the next 12 months:

1. Have a Kick-Ass Kick-Off! Seize this moment to fire up your group sales team and send them off hustling, motivated and inspired to hit their revenue goals each month. An epic sales kick-off is your one chance to launch with real velocity and energize your team on a grand scale. The key is to get your team pumped and primed to kill it in the year ahead. So, avoid a boring presentation of last year’s numbers (snore). Book an exciting outside speaker, hold interactive education sessions addressing the challenges they faced last year, get the team up and moving during breakouts, and sprinkle in some high-energy team building activities. And remember, all of this initial enthusiasm and education can wear off by the following month, so reinforce the main ideas throughout the year in your regular weekly meetings. 2. Have a Simple Roadmap. Booking group business without a sensible business plan is like playing darts with a blindfold on and crossing your fingers that you’ll hit the bullseye.                                                                                                     image2 3. Hope is Not a Strategy. Don’t leave your revenues to chance or expect your sales team to make up for your lack of organization. You should map out the primary underlying drivers that justify the sales targets you are projecting for ownership. How many trade shows, sales visits, planner events, marketing and sales campaigns are required? What are the main threats to achieving your sales goals? Your plan doesn’t need to be long and formal, but it should convey all the main waypoints on your road to sales success. It should also be a living tool, so don’t stick it up on a shelf to gather dust. Instead, review it every month to make sure you’re on track. And allow yourself the flexibility to adjust throughout the year if something isn’t working or if you want to try a clever new tactic. 4. Who’s Driving Leads? This is one of the most significant components of your sales plan. It’s vital that your sales team sprints out in Q1 and pounds the pavement to build their sales pipeline, as that will set the pace for the rest of the year. Outline specific prospecting activities and lead generation quotas for each sales person. Make sure the proper folks have access to your prospecting tools, or invest in tools such as Knowland or Groups360 to capture business intelligence and identify new prospects. 5. Go Big…Early! Shore up your pipeline and boost the year with a strong foundation by taking inventory of key group accounts. Which accounts brought in the most business last year? Which planners have the potential to add incremental business and multi-year contracts? Call on these planners early on, remind them of the benefits of partnering with your hotel as their venue and offer even more value by incentivizing them to book early. Creating this foundation leaves room for better forecasting and revenue management yield strategies. Then, continue to nurture these existing clients throughout the year, recognize them for their loyalty and show a genuine interest in their success to strengthen the relationship. 6. Rethink Your Sales Materials. The needs of modern meeting planners are constantly changing. Review your sales and marketing materials to make sure they are speaking to the concerns of today’s planners, not just generically touting your venue space. Meeting planners have challenges…so make sure you're marketing messages crafted to offer event “solutions.” Do you need separate materials and messaging for corporate planners vs associations? Does your value proposition resonate with current customers? (You might be surprised if you simply ask a few of your best customers their opinion of what makes your property unique.)When meeting planners source venues, they often collect sales and marketing collateral from several venues, then review later. Make sure your marketing materials stand out from your comp set.A lot can happen in a year. So, if you are re-using sales materials from last year, it’s already time for a second look. Planners today appreciate authenticity, so update your materials with guest-sourced photos, videos and testimonials. No matter how inspiring or charismatic your sales team is, they must be armed with stunning sales materials to make an impression on planners and to help differentiate your property.

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

Business, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

DOSM Checklist for 2017

January 3, 2017 • By
image1 2017 is going to be a game changer for hotel DOSMs. This year, you need to maximize every advantage you have to meet your revenue targets and outperform your comp set. It’s easy to start off the year with a burst of explosive energy, like a sprinter at the start line. But staying in front of the pack throughout the year requires you to maintain a disciplined daily routine of revenue-centric tasks. That’s why we’re bringing back our annual Tambourine DOSM Checklist, which suggests daily activities that will make it easier for you to achieve your revenue goals. Here are the 10 things we recommend to hotel DOSMs for 2017:

1. Assess Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

Successful DOSMs scrutinize their monthly and yearly group business goals and know where they stand on any given day. Leave the fluffy weekly sales meeting to the other hotels. Keep track of the progress towards your group sales goals by meeting with your team everyday. Review top opportunities, get a no BS status on critical deals and determine what the sales person can do that day to edge them 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 room night goals each month and the rest of the year. image2

2. Improve 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. The restaurant’s uninspiring menu? Cluttered spa entrance? Dismal hallway lighting? 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. Review the Metrics Owners Care About the Most

Every day, you should be checking key performance indicators that hotel owners and asset managers consider high priority, such as MCPB (marketing cost per booking), DRR (direct revenue ratio), and your STR index vs the comp set. 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. Check In On 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 the hotel on social media, such as photos taken by guests and posted to Instagram or Facebook. These posts can be extremely revealing and can show you what guests consider the highlight of their stay and in some cases, what they were disappointed by. Notice what comes up most often, then outline how you and other management staff can make improvements.

5. Empower and Encourage Your Team’s Creativity

Today’s travelers are drawn to what is different and remarkable. This requires your team to come up with fresh and innovative ways to market your property and wow guests. Brilliant brings bookings. Encourage your marketing and sales staff to bring a new idea to the table everyday. Then, actually give them the freedom and permission to run with the concepts that seem the most feasible. The key is to not belittle or reject ideas, no matter how outlandish or lousy they may seem at first. That will only discourage innovation. It may take many tries before uncovering an idea that could lead to a breakthrough idea. Empowering your staff goes a long way in boosting job performance and team morale, which will undoubtedly reflect on hotel revenues. image3

6. Speak to Meeting Attendees and 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! 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 bookings or group business in the future.

7. Meet With Your Revenue Manager

The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager each 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.

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 and are replacing trips to major 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, or unique off-site group options.

9. Study Your Comp Set

In the battle for bookings, never take your eyes off the competition.  In addition to monitoring rate, checking in on your comp set 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 sales person, too. (Each sales person at your property should follow their counterparts at competing hotels.) What is getting the most engagement? What are they bragging about? What value are they bringing to LinkedIn? 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. image4

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.

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

Business, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice