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An April Fools Guide to Hotel Marketing

March 30, 2015

Tambourine: hotel marketing technology
Every year, on April 1st right around 10am, my wife will call to tell me we won the lottery! Or that she is pregnant. Or that the neighbors have opened a drug rehab facility next door. After nine years, I’m ready for her April Fools’ Day antics!

April 1st can be fun, but it can also serve as a serious reminder that we can’t afford to be foolish in our jobs as hotel marketers.

We’re bombarded all year with squishy data, fancy technology and bold promises… it’s important we’re able to separate fact from fiction and focus on things that drive real revenue.

So, in honor of April Fools’ Day, here are some tried and true ways to avoid being foolish:

1. Know how much budget you need… and ask for it!

When ownership asks you for your budget request, take time to carefully think about your answer. This may be the first and last time you get to ask for the things you really need to achieve the goals they have set for you.

It’s impossible to determine the proper hotel marketing budget without knowing the overall revenue targets AND how each sub-segment is expected to contribute to the total revenue pie. Once you know the actual revenue targets, you can carefully consider the resources you need to “climb the hill” that’s been put in front of you.

Surprisingly, many senior hotel marketing execs think they are restricted to simply asking for advertising money. If you need more people on your staff to achieve the revenue target, then you need to ask and be prepared to make a simple business case for the added overhead.

Same goes for changes to the product; if your physical product or service experience requires additional investment, now is the time to ask! And last but not least, if someone else’s department is inhibiting your results, ask for control of it…. Or forewarn ownership that results may be hampered by folks you have no ability to manage and improve.

 2. Monitor Your Comp Set

Never lose track of your competition. There’s no shortage of tools at your disposal, such as STR reports, Google Alerts and hotel reader boards…. And don’t forget to sign up for their email offers list!

3. Monitor Guest Sentiment & Reviews

Your guests and meeting attendees are the direct window to your hotel experience and your future success. So, pay attention to what they say, what they experienced and how they felt at your property. Reviewing guest sentiment and online reviews doesn’t take a lot of time.

And don’t lock yourself in your office and in meetings all day. Reserve some time to have conversations with your overnight guests and people attending a meeting. Mingle with them. Ask them about their stay and their meeting experience and if there is anything that could make it even better. These opinions matter most to meeting planners, so jot down notes and use the intel to improve your hotel product and secure future group business.

 4. Review Your 4P’s Every Day

Think back to your first marketing class in college when you were introduced to the four “P’s” of marketing: Price, Product, Promotion and Placement (distribution). Take a mental inventory of these traditional marketing pillars each day to determine what activities need attention and which ones are already performing at their best.

5. Keep Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities Top-of-Mind

Where do you stand on your sales team’s top meeting and conference prospects? Sit down with each salesperson and review their top sales opportunities. Go over each prospective meeting planner’s hot buttons and pain points, the competing properties and determine what else can be done to push the decision toward your property.

6. Set metrics-based goals

GMs and property owners no longer want to hear about “branding initiatives” or logo colors… they expect their senior marketing leaders to contribute to revenue in a measurable way, communicate in number-speak and be accountable for tangible results. So it’s important to have complete fluency in the KPIs that affect the bottom line

Successful DOSMs know where they are in relation to their sales goals, on any given day. By tracking your daily progress towards your target numbers, you’ll know whether you’re behind or ahead. How close is each member of your team to their projected room nights?

 7. Love Revenue Management

Statement of the obvious… in a price-sensitive category like hotel rooms, expert revenue management is vital to success. A visit to your revenue management leaders should be on the list of your daily appointments, not weekly. Just like with your sales goals, you need to stay on top of your latest numbers, including your REVPAR & ADR index vs your comp set, upcoming low periods and your property’s pace reports.

8. Fix Your Website

Travel bookings begin with potential guests researching your property online. As your hotel’s digital front door, your website influences your guests’ impression more than any other marketing asset. Even as social media and guest reviews guide decision-making, your hotel website should be flawless and make every prospective guest want to skip the OTAs and book directly with you.

The most successful hotel websites feature a combo of relevant content, rich visual assets that tell your hotel’s unique story and a user-friendly interface that makes it easy for guests to book a room. (For a deeper dive on the ways hotel websites can negatively impact revenue click here.

9. Measure Marketing ROI

Even if business is good, and ‘something’ is working, your marketing ROI should be measured regularly. Make sure you are equipped to measure the six most critical statistics in hotel marketing:

1) MCPB (marketing cost per booking)

2) Revenue variance from target: reflects your ability to achieve revenue goals set in your S&M Plan

3) Sentiment score on TripAdvisor: reflects product acceptance and guest satisfaction

4) DRR (direct revenue ratio): measures % of revenue coming direct vs expensive third-party

5) RevPar Index vs compset

6) Website conversion rate (from unique visitor to converted bookings)


Surprise! 10 ways your hotel website is killing your business. Part 1

February 10, 2014


Surprise! Your Hotel Website may be Killing Your BusinessThink your website is “good enough?” Think again…

Would you buy three-year-old TVs for your rooms?

How about cheap lobby furniture that no one wanted to sit on?

If 1,000 people came into your store and 999 walked out without buying anything, would you rethink your merchandising?

The answers to these questions are obvious. But as strange as it may seem, some hoteliers remain blissfully unaware of their website’s negative impact on revenue.

And it’s a big problem: depending on the targeted ratio of group vs leisure bookings, the typical independent or boutique hotel website could represent more than 50% of the property’s expected revenue production.

Yet, far too many hoteliers still serve up an inferior, antiquated experience to potential and repeat guests. Remember, virtually ALL of your website traffic INTENDS (they rarely stumble into it) to find your site through natural search, paid search or links from other related sites. Then, 99%+ of those highly relevant visitors leave without converting… what does this tell you about your hotel’s website as a vital business asset?

Here’s a quick list of ten ways your hotel website may be insufficient and underperforming:

  1. You treat every website visitor the same:   Business travelers expect and need different treatment than couples seeking a romantic weekend getaway. You don’t treat them in the same way when they are on-property, why treat them the same way when they arrive at your site? Simple new technology allows you to personalize the arrival experience and engage with the most relevant message and offer.
  2.  You treat every booking engine visitor the same:   Once a website visitor performs an availability search and enters your booking environment, it’s even more important to customize their experience. Based on their previous clickstream behavior and demographics, the booking environment should adapt to their profile… preventing reservation abandonment, increasing your conversion and raising your actual ADR. Tambourine’s booking engine making great strides in this area, check it out.
  3.  You’ve never actually watched a human test it:   Amazing things happen when you ask unbiased users (no, not your spouse!) to actually sit down and try using/booking on your site. Check out for cheap, demographically-relevant testers.
  4. Your pricing is confusing:   Ever been in the checkout line when the cashier has to go verify a price? Or been told that the coupon you want to use is no longer available? Or worse yet, you actually buy a product only to learn that it was cheaper at another store. Visitors to your online booking environment expect fast, simple, smooth transactions. Travel consumers will surf away from your site at the smallest hint of pricing friction, lack of price parity or complexity. Your revenue management team can have a deeply profound impact on your web team’s results… make sure the booking environment is carefully monitored and frequently tested!
  5. You have no SEO foundation:   Competing with the OTAs and your compset for high Google rankings is hard enough without handicapping yourself from the get-go by failing to build the site on a best-practices SEO foundation. Your link structure, site map and microdata need to be carefully reviewed and crafted by real SEO practitioners.

Thanks for reading Part 1 of this 2 part series. We hope it was informative. Next week, we’ll tackle the next five reasons your hotel website is killing your business.

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit

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