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Hotel Marketing Budgets: How Much is Actually Enough?

September 18, 2018

Hotel marketing budgets: how much is actually enough?

According to a recent study, Booking.com and Expedia return $16 for every dollar spent on marketing. This looks great on paper, but the reality is that over the last decade OTAs’ return on marketing investment decreased by 15%. 

This explains why Booking.com dramatically decreased its advertising spend. 

The same story is playing out across the hotel marketing landscape… cost-per-acquisition is soaring, and if the Goliaths of the industry had to change their strategies, it’s probably time to sit down and address the elephant-in-the-room: how much should you be spending on marketing? 

First: What’s in the Marketing Budget?

Allocations within the marketing budget vary from company to company. According to The CMO Survey sponsored by Duke University, Deloitte LLP, and the American Marketing Association, “less than half (47.9 percent) of companies include expenses for marketing employees in their marketing budgets. Most companies (61.3 percent) include direct expenses for marketing—such as advertising, trade promotions, and direct marketing—in their marketing budgets, but this varies by industry (See below):

What does your hotel or resort include in its annual marketing budget? Do you include employee or outside agency costs in your budget? How about OTA commissions or GDS fees?

This is a critical definition that will determine how much you need and how your results are perceived by ownership.

THE INVERTED U-CURVE

Hotel marketers can learn a valuable lesson from Malcolm Gladwell in his inspiring book David and Goliath. In the book, Gladwell talks about “inverted U-Curves:”

“Inverted-U curves have three parts, and each part follows a different logic. There’s the left side, where doing more or having more makes things better. There’s the flat middle, where doing more doesn’t make much of a difference. And there’s the right side, where doing more or having more makes things worse,” according to Gladwell.

The curve has been around for over a century and it has been applied to a wide range of different situations:  

Money: Scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier after they exceed $75,000 per year

Class Size:  Contrary to popular belief, a class size decreases beyond an optimal number, learning effectiveness decreases. Apparently, the optimum number is 18-24 students per class

Punishment and Crime: Past a certain point, cracking down on crime and locking people up stops having any effect on criminals, makes crime worse and the juvenile delinquency rate increases

Similarly, hotel marketing budgets have an inverted U-curve; doing too little will result in sub-optimal results, but doing too much is often wasteful.

So how can you identify this sweet spot? 

WHERE ARE YOU ON THE CURVE?

Hotels on the left side of the curve (usually large branded properties) typically allocate little to no budget in marketing beyond their brand fees. 

They often have a lackluster brand.com web page, no outside marketing investments and their distribution relies almost entirely on third-parties. The good news is that if your flagged hotel is on that part of the curve, any additional marketing investment will help you move to the flat middle of it, where investments and return are in balance and your profitability is at its zenith. 

The majority of hotels fall between the left side and the flat middle of the curve (and need to spend more to achieve their goals. However, if you categorize OTA commissions as marketing costs, virtually every hotel immediately moves to the right side of the curve, where spending more often delivers diminishing returns. As Kalibri Labs notes in their recent report: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace: “if you’re growing top-line revenue —but you’re spending a lot to do it—then you’re ultimately less successful in contributing to overall profits. Not an optimal strategy.”

However, if profit is not your primary goal (i.e. hotels rebranding, new openings, brand awareness projects, etc.) spending MORE may be the correct strategy, but for the vast majority of hotels (if you believe Malcolm Gladwell) it is not. 

So, how much is too much when it comes to hotel marketing?

Marketing effects profitability

According to a recent Gartner Research study, companies spend an average of 12% of their annual revenue on marketing. A recent CMO Survey comes to similar conclusions, highlighting how tech companies are among the biggest spenders (14%) when it comes to marketing. The hotel industry, however, seems to pay an even higher price (up to 25%, according to Kalibri Labs).  Tom Klein, the former CEO of Sabre, recently stated in a Tnooz interview that Travel “is not 90% margin like many of the businesses that Google and Facebook and others are in.” With OTAs’ average commission at 19% and direct booking cost-per-acquisition growing year after year, industry margins are under siege. 

So while ADR and RevPAR are important metrics, you should also focus solely “ProPAR” (Profit per Available Room): the revenue generated per room minus the investments needed to acquire the guest. Here again, we strongly recommend categorizing OTA commissions as marketing costs to get a true picture of your marketing budget and its effect on profitability!

WHAT ABOUT DIRECT BOOKINGS?

Because of high 3rd party acquisition costs, there has been a lot of attention on building direct channels, just think about Hilton’s Stop Clicking Around campaign:

The unavoidable truth is that it is also very easy to overspend when it comes to direct booking investments and you can find yourself on the right side of the inverted-U curve without even realizing it. Similar to the OTA channel, direct reservations also have growing costs. 

Special discounted rates, loyalty programs, hotel digital marketing, PPC, metasearch engines and social media ads to name a few. Our advice to clients has always been: “you should have an unlimited budget for things that work…”

This philosophy requires a near-manic obsession with ROI tracking and analytics that requires serious software and some intensely nerdy data, scientists. As the CMO Survey reinforces: when respondents were broken into three groups—high, medium and low usage of ROI analytics— marketing budgets were 70 percent larger in the high group than the low group.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Before you can determine how much to budget for marketing, hotel execs need to answer three critical questions:

1.  What are the revenue targets by segment? (more on this here)

Without a concrete understanding of targets by segment, hotel marketers cannot quantify (or deploy) their budgets properly… leading to misalignment with ownership and missed targets.

2. Where is the property in its lifecycle?

Recently opened hotels, or properties which went through a rebranding, in fact, should be less focused on return on investment and more on building awareness. In cases like these, 20-25% of annual revenue spent on marketing is common. If, on the other hand, your hotel has matured to a more advanced stage and it’s been in business for 3+ years, then 8-15% of your annual revenue on marketing should be more than enough to guarantee you a good balance between profit and visibility. 

3.  How much revenue is marketing accountable for…?

As the CMO Survey points out: Marketing is responsible for leading revenue growth at 38.4 percent of companies. These companies have larger marketing budgets as a percentage of the overall company budget than companies that do not assign primary responsibility for revenue growth to marketing.”

Friday Freebie: Feed Foodie Wanderlust

March 23, 2018

Feed Foodie Wanderlust: boost upscale/luxury bookings.

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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: Upscale and luxury hotel marketers know that consumers’ increasing fascination with food is a delicious path to profits! Tap into this growing trend by showcasing your unique F&B offerings and quintessential local food experiences. 

Lingering over great food and drink is considered one of the best parts of traveling. From splurge-worthy tasting menus to food tours, to local farmers markets. Foodie or not – modern travelers crave discovering a city through its unique tastes and cultural elements. And, they’re drawn to the hotels that give them front-row access to these culinary opportunities.

Luxury hotels understand this well. 

In fact, most luxury hotel websites celebrate their food and drink, just as much as they highlight their rooms and amenities. Visit any luxury hotel website and you’ll find their restaurants positioned as vital components to the travel experience.  Follow some of their proven tactics:

  • Highlight the local/sustainable ingredients in food and drink menus
  • Showcase partnerships with organic markets and purveyors
  • Share your chef’s background, their inspirations and influences
  • Offer tips on how guests can bring the local flavor home
  • Offer a food map showing your hotel’s proximity to authentic foodie finds, like farmers marketers, ethnic eateries, and hidden local restaurants

Get More: 10 Secrets of Luxury Hotel Websites


About Tambourine

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

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

Why Do Some Hotel Marketers Get Everything They Want?

March 13, 2018

Smart hotel marketing pros are using simple math get more budget.

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With the hotel industry enjoying a period of record performance, posting all-time highs for occupancy, ADR and RevPAR, one of the most talked-about ways to improve performance (and delight ownership) are to reduce the cost of guest acquisition.

And that begins with fully understanding a vital metric: your hotel’s CLV-to-CAC ratio.

But unlike many other industries that have already embraced the concept, too many hotel marketers are still unable to quantify their CLV-to-CAC formula.

This can be overcome with a little effort, offering a major potential boost to the bottom line and a far stronger bargaining position when asking ownership for more marketing dollars (and a raise)!

What Does It Mean?

To get started, there are some basic principles to know, beginning with terminology.

CLV stands for “Customer Lifetime Value,” meaning the revenue your hotel can expect to earn from each guest over the lifespan of that customer’s relationship with you. CAC, meanwhile, is short for “Cost to Acquire Customer,” or your total sales and marketing spend to attract each customer and obtain the aforementioned CLV. The premise behind the CLV-to-CAC formula is to maximize that ratio as much as possible.

There are multiple benefits from having a strong CLV-to-CAC ratio, including enabling hotel marketers to ask owners for more investment dollars, for example, imagine being able to tell ownership: “We spent $300,000 last year to attract 5,000 NEW guests, who represent a LIFETIME VALUE of three million dollars in revenue… in other words, for every dollar you give me, I’m giving you ten dollars back in gross revenue.”

So how do hoteliers calculate their CLV to CAC ratio?

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According to Kissmetrics, a well-known web/data analysis company, Starbucks CLV is more than $14,000.

Here are the core steps:

1. Making the Calculations

To come up with your CLV, first, consider how many times a guest typically stays at your hotel(s) over a multi-year period. Then, deduce the total value of those stays. Multiply that value by the total amount of visits per guest and that is the CLV you will use in the formula.

Next, to arrive at a value for CAC, simply divide the TOTAL amount your property spends on sales and marketing for each segment (ie: transient vs group vs corporate) by the total number of guests from that segment.

EXAMPLE:
So, if a hotel attracts 1,000 new guests this year and spends $100,000 to do it, the CAC equals $100.

2. What to include in CAC?

When calculating CAC for each demand segment, be sure to include salaries, expenses, technologies, advertising and any other investments made specifically to attract bookings for that specific segment. That may include, for example, a customer relationship management (CRM) system and trade show booth that is part of the CAC for your hotel’s sales efforts for attracting the corporate business segment.

Other costs, like Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, and social media fees should be attributed primarily to transient guest CAC calculations. On the other hand,
your hotel’s website, the salary for your director of sales and marketing (DOSM) and other “shared” costs can be distributed evenly across all segments that your property targets.

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3. The Results:

Using the calculations described above, divide the CLV by the CAC to arrive at the ratio.

For example, if a hotel has a CLV of $5,000 per transient guest and the CAC for each transient guest equals $100, then the CLV-to-CAC ratio is 50x. In other words, for every dollar spent on sales and marketing to target that guest, the hotel will earn back $50.

That is the kind of return owners love!

And that is the kind of math that separates serious hotel marketers from those just focused on pretty pictures!

Now compare results to your OTA costs!

Once you know your own CLV-to-CAC ratio, you can compare it to the CLV-to-CAC of bookings derived from third-party online travel agencies (OTAs).

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You’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised by what you find: Typically, OTA-driven guests are less loyal and will have a lower CLV as a result. Also, the commissions on those bookings may be higher than the CAC you are achieving on your own.

So, in the quest to drive hotel profitability even further into the stratosphere, make it a top priority today to learn your CLV-to-CAC ratio for each customer segment you target. By offering such compelling insight, the CLV-to-CAC ratio can be an incredibly powerful stat for hotel marketers to cite to owners when requesting more marketing dollars.

You’ll be much more likely to obtain the budget you need when your owner is assured their investment will lead to a far better payoff down the road.


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: Stop Obsessing Over This Hotel Marketing Metric

March 9, 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: Stop obsessing about the quantity of traffic and visitors to your hotel website…instead, focus on how many actually enter the booking environment!

It’s every hotel marketer’s reality:

We have loads of stats to track…from website stats, search rankings, to social media likes and email open rates. And we know that gathering data is instrumental to finessing our marketing campaigns and being accountable to ownership and upper management.

However, some metrics can be dangerously misleading. One of those often-deceptive metrics happens to be extremely popular in hotel marketing: Online traffic and visitors to your hotel website.

Why is it misleading?

While a gradual, sustained increase in website traffic is a great thing, don’t let the numbers mislead you into thinking your site is performing better than it really is (conversely, if it drops, don’t freak out and think the sky is falling.)

The following are just a few of the factors can cause your traffic/visitors to create a “false echo” and send you off trying to fix (or replicate) something that it is out of your control:

  1. Seasonality can affect traffic up and down.
  2. A major PR story about your property can cause traffic to spike.
  3. PPC and Promo campaigns (avoid Groupon please!) can increase traffic and cause it to drop when its over.
  4. Local/regional events nearby your property will cause it to spike & drop.
  5. Changes in the way Google displays their search engine result pages (SERPs) can actually cause LESS traffic to come to your site (because users are getting their answers right on Google’s SERPs!

Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of traffic, not quantity.

And there are three primary keys to attracting QUALITY traffic:

  1. Tell the story only your property can tell: If you want to find the right guests who will buy and return, then you have to give them a truthful, relevant reason to consider you! You must understand your ideal guest persona and communicate your UVP across every marketing touchpoint.
  2. Stop using cheap tactics: Lots of unsavory digital “publishers” sell access to cheap traffic. But what good does it do if your traffic is coming from click-robots in Kazakhstan? Your digital team (or ask your guests!) should be able to easily explain which media they actually consume on their purchase journey.  (And do we really need to talk about the poor quality traffic from flash sale providers like Groupon?)
  3. Invest in long-term organic hotel SEO content: Choose the right keywords to start building long-term content around: You will never rank on page 1 of Google for “Hotels in Boston” but you have a decent shot of ranking for “Hotels near Fenway Park” if your SEO and content team is producing content EVERY MONTH with that “long-tail” focus.  Another simple trick: your content can bring you loads of quality search traffic if it answers the questions of your potential customers… you can use this handy/cheap tool to see what questions people are actually typing in about your market and compset

REMEMBER: If you have to pick one thing to focus on to measure the performance of your website, track entrances into your hotel booking engine and calls to your reservation center. 

Get more examples: We Need to Talk About Hotel Metrics


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 Every Flagged Hotel Should be Rethinking Instagram

March 6, 2018

Flagged hotels enjoy an established presence in the global marketplace and the trust that goes along with that. But… despite the common misconception that the brand is entirely responsible for driving every flagged property’s bookings, successful hotel marketing is a joint effort at both the brand and property level.

Remember: 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.

Every same-branded property receives the same marketing assets, regardless of amenities, destination, or target audience.

But every flagged hotel has its own unique story to tell and few platforms are as well equipped to convey those stories as Instagram.

Instagram represents an opportunity for flagged hotels to shift travelers’ perceptions of a boring, me-too branded property to a unique travel experience not found anywhere else. The content is universal, shareable and easily understood by a wide range of audiences.

Tambourine’s Social Media Director Elle Andress details 4 ways Instagram can help social media teams at flagged hotels differentiate their properties:

Elle Andress, Director of Social Media at Tambourine

Elle Andress, Director of Social Media at Tambourine

1. Avoiding sterility

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.

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When your corporate brand team has control of your online marketing, they won’t be able to convey those local gems. 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.

Instagram is the ideal platform to showcase the images that make your flagged property unique in the eyes of potential guests and avoid perceived “sterility.”

2. Monitor on-property problems…

Every day, there are good and bad things posted about your hotel on Instagram.

You can be reactive and monitor people who comment or tag your hotel’s Instagram “handle” (your actual Instagram account name) in a picture. You’ll receive a notification and you can respond accordingly.

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But there are more proactive ways of monitoring guest sentiment on Instagram. By typing the generic name of your hotel (see illustration above) or property specific hashtags in the search bar, you can discover additional content that guests have posted about your prop.

If you don’t have the time or resources to monitor your hashtags and geotags, Tools like Tout allow you to find and license the content with ease.

3. Celebrate past guest experiences

By sharing past guest stories, reviews (and best of all videos) on your hotel’s social media channels, you can turn your past guests into a perpetual army of experience evangelists.

Harvest their good times!

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An example of capturing guest-generated social proof from The St Regis in San Francisco.

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.

4. Paid Instagram stories

In addition to running an ad in the Instagram feed, hotel social media marketers now have the added option of running paid Instagram stories.

The 15 to 30-second full-screen experience can showcase still imagery or a video clip, appearing in Instagram’s story feed, alongside the stories posted by a user’s following so that the organic experience is never disrupted for the user. “With paid Instagram stories, properties can reach a much larger audience, including users who aren’t already followers,” Elle explained.

Here, properties can promote time-sensitive offers such as a new restaurant menu or a seasonal event to a broader audience than the property’s existing Instagram followers.

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An example of using highly visual Instagram stories from The St Regis in San Francisco.


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: Reduce Booking Abandonment with This Easy Fix

February 23, 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: Showcase all room/property fees upfront. Nothing kills trust and transactions faster than hidden costs.

Today’s travelers are looking for honest, seamless transactions.

However, many hotels are still making a terrible mistake: Throwing in fees (Resort fees, we are looking at you!) at the most critical point in the purchase journey – right before asking for credit card information! 

This greatly increases abandonment and plants the seeds of distrust in the minds of potential guests. Worse, by encouraging abandonment at the very bottom of your booking funnel, your conversion rate will also suffer (and conversion rate is a key metric many hotel marketers are held accountable for).

As a hotel, you’re expected to simplify life, not confuse it. Nor, manipulate potential guests. Modern consumers want truthfulness and become unsettled at the first hint of any dissonance. They are usually ruthless in abandoning any property that tries to sneak in pesky fees.

Instead, be upfront.

Present any costs, such as a resort fee, as early as possible. Don’t wait until they press ‘book now’ to spring on extra charges.

Get more: Hotel Marketers and Accidental Narcissists


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

Friday Freebie: When Guests Want to Pay… Get out of the Way

February 9, 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: Stop blocking bookings – be flexible and allow as many payment methods as possible. 

A booking in progress is a fragile and fickle thing. So many factors could derail the process and cause people to abandon their reservation and head over to another hotel or OTA. In fact, often it’s a complicated hotel booking engine process that pushes people to walk away from their reservation.

This is especially true at the moment of truth… at checkout!

Most hotels are smart about giving their guests options – from room types to upgrades. However, many hotels don’t extend their flexibility when it comes to paying. Instead, they offer a rigid set of payment options.

Solution: Provide speedy, simple payment experiences. Offer multiple ways to pay beyond the typical Visa, AMEX and Mastercard transactions. Accept as many other forms of payment as possible (like PayPal). Some hotels even accept Bitcoin these days!

And some go even further – Couples Resorts offers the Love Away payment plan which allows guests to place a $100 deposit, then enter into a layaway plan for their getaway.

Also, don’t forget to mention security clearly on your checkout page, otherwise you run a serious risk of abandonment. Customers need to feel confident that their payments will be handled securely. A statement of secure payment (or security badges) reassures your customers and could be the difference between a new guest and a lost sale.

Get more: Mobile Bookings are up. Why Aren’t Yours?


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

Rebranding Your Hotel? Five Marketing ‘Gotchas’

February 6, 2018

Hotel rebranding requires more than pretty pictures…

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Successfully rebranding a hotel isn’t usually as simple as just putting up a new sign outside the property and slapping a new logo everywhere the old logo used to be…

A true rebranding is a massive shift in philosophy, company culture and audience targeting, which has widespread implications for all marketing efforts going forward under the new identity.

There are, unfortunately, some specific aspects of the rebranding process where marketing commonly goes astray. These “gotcha” moments include the following five blunders, which hotel marketers should avoid at all costs:

Gotcha #1: Before rebranding, forgetting to properly debrand!

The first step in a rebranding strategy is to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

That entails removing all collateral, signage, uniforms, advertising and marketing materials (online and off) that reference the hotel’s previous branded identity, including images, logos and words or catchphrases. You’ll also need to revise your presence on all digital platforms and sales channels, like Tripadvisor, the OTAs, AAA, etc., and share the news of the impending change with your local travel and tourism ecosystem, such as CVB partners, area vendors, chambers of commerce and the like.

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Gotcha #2: Failing to build your new brand around the TRUTH!

Just like your mom used to say… Don’t try and be something you aren’t.

Instead, root the identity of your rebrand in experiences and amenities you can actually deliver. Travelers are no longer drawn to sterile facts, puffy 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. However, many hoteliers simply don’t 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 you can convey it poignantly across all marketing channels. Cement that strategy by taking the time to author a brand manifesto, or brand promise document.

Gotcha #3: Not having enough time and money.

Just take a deep breath and remember: You only get one chance to launch.

Celebrate it! And expect to spend money.

It’s costly to create and activate new websites, digital media, advertising, signage, collateral, sales material and messaging for a rebranding. If you are transitioning from a brand to independent, make sure you have the team in-house, or external vendors, who can replace the vital marketing services your remote brand team was performing for you. This also includes managing the redirect schema of your legacy search engine rankings. Not to mention, meetings are booked years in advance, so you’ll need to publish new sales/meeting collateral ASAP.

Gotcha #4: Failing to retain legacy assets.

Don’t get too carried away when purging the hotel’s past.

Make sure you keep all assets from the hotel’s former brand days that you may need to reuse, like photos, video, newsletter templates, guest email databases, web addresses (for redirects), social media accounts, TripAdvisor and metasearch log-ins and Google Analytics data. These valuable assets (and legacy performance results) will help your marketing efforts in many ways going forward, particularly in reducing time and expense, regardless of the name change.

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Gotcha #5: Forgetting what really matters….

No amount of marketing, no matter how clever it may be, can make up for a lackluster product. There are far too many hotels that attempt to rebrand to over-compensate for or to cover up an aging, lackluster, or grungy hotel product. Sadly, as long as those hotels delay improving or – in some cases – completely overhauling their hotel appearance, service or amenities, they will continue to have an uphill battle when attracting and retaining guests.

As Robert Stephens (founder of Geek Squad) famously said: “Advertising is the tax you pay for an unremarkable product.” Marketing can only do so much. The less you pay attention to improving your service and your hotel product, the more you’ll be spending in marketing and advertising to make up for it.

Serve your guests better by working on your hotel first. By refusing to cut corners, investing in quality from the front desk to the back of the house, and by presenting the best guest experience that your staff can deliver, guest sentiment will go up, your number of repeat guests will go up, profits will go up and your marketing cost per booking will go down.


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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