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Increase Direct Bookings

An April Fools Guide to Hotel Marketing

March 30, 2015 • By
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)  

Get out of your comfort zone and copy these 3 OTA secrets

July 1, 2014 • By
hotel-marketing-secrets It’s so frustrating. It makes hotel marketers want to rip up all their OTA agreements. But it wouldn’t help. The OTAs charge you big fees. And you never feel good about how they represent you. But you can’t seem to break free. You know guests flip back and forth from their websites to yours. Yet when it comes time to book they head back to the OTA to complete the purchase.

Why do guests go back to the OTA to book?

Because OTAs do something that is so against every hotelier’s nature, I’m almost afraid to tell you. You will rebel against this idea. You won’t want to do it. But hear me out. This is important.

Unlike you, OTAs love making guests uncomfortable. And to compete, you must make them uncomfortable too.

Wait! I know the words “uncomfortable guest” causes a little indigestion. Of course, you want them to have comfortable stays. However, while they’re booking, they should be uncomfortable with their own indecision. That is where OTAs excel, and hoteliers often fail. When you spend your life focusing on comfort, this mind shift is difficult. You know direct booking is best for you and your guest. So, think of it as the little discomfort you cause them upfront that helps them in the end.

3 Tips to Make Guests Uncomfortable

(Bet you never thought you’d see that line on a hotel marketing blog)
  1. Limit their booking page options: Once a traveler reaches your initial booking page, you should start eliminating choice. Remove your menu bar from these pages. Make going through with the booking process the only option. They’ve already made their decision. Encourage them to stick to it (Tambourine CRS, a fast-growing CRS/hotel booking engine, does this well). Expedia uses a popup. After hitting ‘Book’, you have two options: Pay now or Pay at hotel.  Orbitz gives you one option: ‘Continue booking’.
  2. Make it cutthroat: Travelers are doing more than booking rooms on OTAs. They compete with other guests. Booking.com tells the guest who else is looking at the room. Orbitz has a bubble that tells you ‘Two Rooms Left’. This isn’t booking. This is a battle and your hotel website is the frontline. Even if you can’t imagine inundating your guests with pop-ups and brightly colored buttons, add a line to the top of your booking page that states, “While you’re online booking travel plans, it’s likely someone else is too. Our rooms book up quickly. We’d hate for someone else to get your room. Book now to guarantee your spot.”
  3. Push them to checkout: You advise your guests to checkout on time, so they don’t incur a fee. Consider doing the same when they checkout of your website. Although they may pay the same wherever they book, remind them that they will enjoy more flexibility and better customer service when they book direct. Include the word, ‘Now’ on your booking page. Explain the benefits of booking immediately. Expedia warns guests to “Hurry! Prices and inventory are limited.” You may want to tone it down to match your brand. However, you need to create urgency. Remind your guests that it behooves them to book now.

Are you ready to celebrate your independence?

If so, share this post on social media. Let them know you ready to stand up and fight for your guests—even when it’s a bit uncomfortable.

 About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 30th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com