Browsing Tag

Online bookings

It’s Valentine’s Day: What Are Hotel Marketers Loving?

February 13, 2018 • By

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 • By

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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

Friday Freebie: Stop Giving Money Away, Kill the Promo Code Box Today

January 26, 2018 • By

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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 giving away money in your booking engine… kill the promo code box!

Modern travelers are savvy, deal-seekers.

If a hotel deal exists, they’ll find it, use it, then expect it every time.

Such is the case with that prominent ‘promo code’ field found on practically every hotel’s booking engine. That prominent discount or promo code field makes online visitors doubt their purchase decision and will convince them that if they start trolling coupon sites, they can get money off of the room rate.

If they’ve made it far in the booking process that means they were likely dead set on completing the reservation before the irresistible appeal of a promo code field sent them off on a search for elusive promo codes!

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There IS a place for promo codes in smart hotel marketing.

Here’s How to Use Them Instead:

1. To Lure Back Unfinished Reservations

When travelers don’t complete their reservations, which can happen for several reasons, lure them back by offering a promo code through your reservation abandonment system and retargeting ads. This way, promo codes will only be shown to a highly engaged audience and will not show up in search results across the web. Use the principle of scarcity to make this even more appealing by adding a deadline to use the promo code before it expires. For example, “Come back and complete your booking within 24 hours and we’ll take 15% off.”

2. Create Your Own Page of Current Promos and Link Back to It

Macy’s has a brilliant solution to keeping shoppers on their hotel website while they’re looking for promo codes. Next to their Promo Code box, they invite shoppers to take a look at all of their current promotions and provide a convenient link to the list of codes. In your hotel’s case, include a direct link back to your special offers page where travelers can look at all of the promos you have available at the moment. By offering an internal link to your own promotions, you’ll reduce the number of visitors who would have abandoned their reservation to search for a discount or promo code on another site. Plus, you’re also showing transparency to the guest by letting them know you are willing to help them find travel savings.

SEE MORE: The Perils of Promo Codes

3. Track and Measure Advertising ROI

You can use coupon and promo codes to track and measure the success of your advertising. The concept is easy – just publish a different code for your different ad buys. For example, use a different code in your email marketing versus Facebook versus pay-per-click. This way you can track how many sales are generated from your various media placements.

Get Rid of the Promo Code Box All Together and Replace with Auto-Fill

Customize your advertising links so that if there is a promo code available, the inbound ad link into your website will take prospects directly to your booking engine where the promo code will automatically be plugged in. This way, you don’t have to have the promo code box on your hotel website at all. Which means, shoppers won’t leave your site to go find a discount somewhere else on the web.


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: Do This Instead, Tap into Consumer Fears about OTAs

January 19, 2018 • By

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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 competing on rates. Win back bookings from OTAs…

by reminding guests of how unreliable, uncertain and problematic OTA reservations can be. 

Think hotel consumers are always driven by the lowest price?

Think again.

Travel decisions are also based on emotions, not just practicality. And, there’s one emotion that hotel marketers need to tap into more: FEAR.

According to a recent JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, people are more likely to have a bad hotel experience (ie: hidden fees, unfair cancellation policies, and canceled reservations) if they booked through a third-party, like Expedia or Travelocity.

In fact, it doesn’t take long to find legions of complaints and horror stories of travelers left in the lurch because of strict OTA policies or apathy from OTA call centers. Travel plans are likelier to be unraveled by OTAs, not hotels.

So, tap into that fear to remind customers that you offer two things that OTAs don’t:

  1. A reliable reservation from a trusted source
  2. AND a staff that actually cares about them

We should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play. That your family vacation, business trip or long-awaited romantic weekend is too important to risk in any way!

Hotel marketers should communicate this critical message in key touchpoints with prospective guests during the research phase of their purchase journey:

• On your direct hotel website home page

• In your search/PPC ads

• In your retargeting ads that follow consumers after they visit your website

• In social media posts

• In call/reservations center training

• Inside your booking engine, where most abandonment occurs

Get more: We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs


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

10 Killer Hotel Website Conversion Hacks

January 16, 2018 • By

Hotel website conversion is key to any direct booking strategy. image1

There’s a good chance you’re killing the conversion rate of your hotel website.

Right now, potential guests are bouncing off your hotel website as you read this.

What good are your brilliant marketing strategies if you can’t hold onto the customers’ attention once they get there?

Your hotel product is not to blame.

Most likely, there are holes that need to be taken care of on your hotel website.

Make these fixes and watch your conversions increase.

Hack 1: Use Dynamic Personalization

Too many hotel websites use sliding graphics to showcase different messages, amenities and promotions. If the first screen isn’t right for the visitor… maybe the next one will be!

Unfortunately, it turns out that sliders kill conversion rates. Instead, we recommend using simple dynamic personalization to deliver the right message/promo to each visitor.

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An example of dynamic personalization welcoming past direct bookers with their previous date search.

For example:

By using campaign tracking codes to identify various inbound traffic sources, you can customize the messaging of your homepage to be more relevant to your visitors. For example, if you are promoting an in-state resident sale, you can dynamically set your home page to detect website visitors from your state and display that promo first.

• You can prevent abandonment to OTAs by dynamically showing gated/loyalty rates (see example above) to users who are automatically identified as consumers who have used your direct booking engine.

• When a guest from London visits your website and moves into the booking engine, your website can automatically pass the user’s location and localize room rates in the booking engine to the guest’s native currency (i.e. instead of charging $100 USD for a room, you could charge 100 British Pounds, which is worth $1.32).

Hack 2: Keep Offers Consistent

Using promos across all your digital channels to drive traffic is nothing new, but if you don’t keep the offer consistent throughout the purchase journey, you are causing dissonance and inhibiting your direct hotel website conversion rate.

This is especially critical when guests expect to see the promo they clicked on reflected in the pricing inside your hotel booking engine. If an offer disappears during the booking engine conversion process, visitors can lose confidence in their purchase and abandon their checkout.

Here’s a great example from Couples Resorts showing a 7th Night Free promo on their Specials page, then carried forward all the way through into the booking environment:

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The jump between your website to your booking engine is a dangerous place. If the transition isn’t seamless, it’s notorious for causing people to ditch their reservations. One thing to blame for the abandoned reservations: Mismatched online experiences.

The best booking engines are the ones that go unnoticed by the guest. If you transfer guests to a booking engine with a different design, different colors, different fonts than that of the website, it will cause guests to feel uneasy about moving forward. Even the smallest of differences can be jarring to the customer and will slowly chip away at the trust that you worked so hard to establish. So, keep things consistent to boost both customer trust and conversion rates.

Hack 3: Keep Messaging Consistent

Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining STORY 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.

People are often distracted and impatient when they’re shopping for travel online. They’re eager to find information that gives them confidence in their purchase decisions. In the early days of the web, researchers at the Xerox PARC laboratory in Palo Alto defined this as “information scent.”

According to the conversion gurus at Unbounce, people follow visual and information clues that help them find what they’re looking for. If they lose the scent, they’ll abandon the trail. If the information scent is strong, they’ll keep going. The question is: How consistent is the information your hotel provides across all your digital channels?

Hack 4: Offer Live Chat

Smart customer service can give you a serious bump in bookings. A recent study found that 62 percent of online customers are more likely to make a purchase if you offer live customer support.

Let’s be real:

Most of the people who visit your website will have questions. Don’t assume they will read every word on your website to find the answer. They want answers now. And offering them instant responses and open dialogue will make them more confident in booking. Online chat is even more important within your booking environment itself. Up to 98 percent of guests looking for availability on a hotel website will end up NOT BOOKING. Invest a few dollars a month in online chat to reduce attrition and guide your most valuable prospects to booking.

Hack 5: Fix Your Clunky Checkout

The faster a guest can get through the booking process, the higher your conversions. A long and complicated booking process can derail all of your efforts to get the guest across the finish line. Studies show that 28 percent of customers abandon their online purchases because they were frustrated with the long checkout. So, simplify, simplify, simplify. Take out irrelevant steps, mandatory sign-ups and upsell pages. Reduce the number of room types. Pare down as much as you can.

Also, sometimes the simple reason shoppers don’t complete a purchase is that their preferred credit card wasn’t accepted in your booking engine. Smart hotels offer multiple payment options, going beyond Amex, Visa and Mastercard to include as many forms of payment as possible, including third-party online payment services like PayPal. Some even take it a step further like Couples Resorts, who offer a “loveaway” payment plan.

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.

Hack 6: Be Very Picky About Photography

Don’t shrug off hotel photography as simply pretty pictures. They carry far more influence than that: They convey your experience with a single glance. A study by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management found that travelers thoroughly inspect photography to see if your room rates match your experience. And, that photography has the potential to change a guest’s mind. So skip the old, dated, blurry photos and kill the cheesy stock images. Invest in a legit, professional hotel photographer with a compelling portfolio of previous work at similar properties.

Hack 7: Harvest Social Proof 

Modern travelers, especially millennial and affluent guests, are highly driven by user-generated content. In fact, a recent marketing study found that UGC is 20 percent more influential than any other type of marketing when driving purchases among millennial shoppers. Leveraging your guests’ own images (especially images from Instagram) in your marketing materials not only shows authenticity, it brilliantly demonstrates ‘social proof.’

Also, potential guests turn to sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook and OTAs to research what others are saying about your property. Our advice: Beat them to it. Select and showcase some of your best reviews directly on your hotel homepage to amp up conversions. Scour through guest feedback for the most poignant reviews, skip those that are too generic or lack-luster. The idea is to add credibility with authentic guest feedback, as well as build excitement about what’s in store.

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Hack 8: Automate Your Best Rate Guarantee

Having a Best Rate Guarantee badge on your website is no longer enough. Instead, smart hotel marketers now show 3rd party rates alongside their own direct rates, so that customers aren’t tempted to leave and compare prices on other sites. Widgets like TripTease make it easy for hoteliers to show rates form third parties… and (shameless plug) our very own booking engine takes the concept a step further by auto-matching third-party rates when direct rates are showing higher than third parties.

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Booking engines, like Tambourine’s, can now auto-display third-party rates and auto-correct direct rates when they are out of parity.

Hack 9: Speed Things Up!

Attention spans online are at an all-time low.

If you want to turn lookers into bookers, every second counts. The ramifications of a slow hotel website are swift, and often permanent as well. About 25 percent of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Almost 50 percent will abandon if the site takes more than 10 seconds to load. Worse, once they leave, they will likely never come back. Today’s consumers expect immediacy online, so this is essential to your conversion rate.

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Hack 10: Be Mobile-Friendly

Mobile bookings are up. According to eMarketer, by 2021, half of all digital travel sales will be made from smartphones or tablets. So, why aren’t your mobile bookings climbing, too? It’s not enough for your website to just ‘come up’ on a smartphone or tablet. Or, to merely offer a mobile version of your hotel website. Your hotel’s mobile experience has to match the expectations and habits of today’s consumers on-the-go. So, streamline the booking funnel. Design for one-hand navigation. Allow for alternate payments. Then, watch your mobile bookings rise.


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: Recognize Your Hotel’s Expensive Marketing Channel

January 12, 2018 • By

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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: Start smart in 2018. Examine and document how much your hotel pays for each OTA booking versus other marketing channels. 

Even if you were to scour each line of your P&L statement, it’s unlikely you’ll find your biggest marketing cost – OTA commissions. With fees of 15-30%, the cost of working with third-party websites surpasses all other marketing channels. But most hoteliers don’t acknowledge this expense, simply because it doesn’t show up as an expense!

OTA commissions are opaque. Hotels generally receive a net rate, only AFTER the OTA collects their commission.

Here’s the Danger:

Because these high marketing costs are invisible, they remain undetected. Even when they cost your hotel significantly more than direct bookings. They’re a threat to your other marketing expenses, too. When owners cut back on your marketing budget, they’ll start chipping away at the legit marketing costs (that do show up on the P&L) even when they are responsible for driving more lucrative direct bookings.

This includes hotel social media, SEO, PPC campaigns and your hotel website.

This year, pull these OTA commissions out of their hiding place and get clear on exactly how much you’re spending on those lower value OTA bookings. Calculate the marketing cost per booking (MCPB) for all of your marketing channels and stack these costs up to actual conversions.

Start tracking and documenting these costs now. By turning the tide on what marketing channels your hotel invests in, you’ll considerably increase profitability. Plus, come budget time, hotel owners will see how much more lucrative it is to invest in channels other than third parties.

Get more: The Big Squeeze: Why Hotel Owners are So Concerned About Marketing Costs


About Tambourine

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

DOSM Checklist for 2018

December 26, 2017 • By

Portrait of happy mature man wearing spectacles and looking at camera outdoor. Man with beard and glasses feeling confident. Close up face of hispanic business man smiling.

15 essential activities for hotel sales and marketing leaders.

We work with a lot of DOSMs across a wide variety of properties of all sizes in many countries.

Some are good, some are great… and some are working hard to improve.

What do the great ones have in common?

Which activities and disciplines deliver better results?

The answers might surprise you!

Based on our experience, here are the 15 things we recommend to hotel DOSMs seeking better results in 2018:

1. Assess Your Top 20 Sales Opportunities

Successful DOSMs constantly scrutinize their monthly and yearly group business goals and know where they stand on any given day with each pending opportunity. Leave the fluffy weekly sales meeting to the other hotels; instead, keep track of the progress toward your group sales goals by meeting with your team every day. Review top opportunities, get a no-B.S. status on critical deals and determine what each salesperson can do that day to edge closer to winning that piece of business.

Do you know your current closing percentage? And how long the average deal takes to close?

You should!

A daily check-in is paramount to hitting your group room night goals.

2. Be Vigilant About Your product

With all the sales and marketing strategies and technology you have in place, at the end of the day, it’s an exceptional guest experience that will attract bookings again and again. So, it makes sense to get your head out of the computer and leave your office to simply walk your property at least once a day.

Be mindful and try to see the property with fresh eyes. Talk to guests!

Scrutinize any flaws or opportunities for improvement. Notice what’s missing or what is possibly holding your property back. Is it the restaurant’s uninspiring menu? Or a cluttered spa entrance? Or dismal hallway lighting? Maybe it’s outdated staff uniforms or procedures? No amount of brilliant marketing can cover or compensate for property shortcomings, so it’s up to you to start there first. Submit a report to ownership at least once a year detailing the product shortcomings that are affecting results.

3. Embrace the Metrics Owners Care About the Most

Every day, you should be checking key performance indicators (KPIs) that hotel owners and asset managers consider high priority, such as marketing cost per booking (MCPB), direct revenue ratio (DRR) and your STR index vs. the compset. Monitoring these KPIs will help you and your owner understand how your sales and marketing team is actually contributing to the hotel’s revenue targets. Plus, these numbers will ultimately drive performance each day. Most hoteliers tend to wait until a slow season to pay attention to these metrics, then scramble to frantically catch up when the numbers reveal how behind they are in reaching the hotel’s goals.

4. Monitor Guest Sentiment

In addition to speaking to real-life human guests, online guest reviews are another direct link to your hotel’s future success. They tell you what went wrong (and right) in the past, and what you need to do moving forward. Even if it is someone else’s job to read and respond to guest reviews, successful DOSMs need to know what guests are saying as well. Do the same with mentions of your hotel on social media, such as photos taken by guests and posted to Instagram or Facebook. These posts can be extremely revealing and give an unfiltered view of guest sentiment. Notice what comes up most often, and then outline how you and other management staff can make improvements.

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5. Speak to Actual Guests

Pardon us for repeating ourselves: Resist the urge to stay glued to your computer or attend your own meetings all day. Get out and talk to guests, especially attendees of groups and events if that segment represents a large chunk of your revenue projection!

You are a host, first and foremost. So, talk and mingle with the people who really matter: your guests. Chat with guests in the lobby, or walk the meeting space and chat with attendees during their downtime. Start a conversation and see how things are going. Ask what could make their stay or meeting experience even better. Discover what really matters to them. Jot down and collect their responses, and use that as inspiration to drive your sales and marketing efforts. All of this intelligence can be used to attract more transient bookings or group business in the future.

6. Build Your Story

Travelers are no longer drawn to facts, promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about.

Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what can truly attract travelers to you. However, it’s a common problem for many hoteliers to not know what their story is, much less how to convey it.

Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity so that you can convey it poignantly across all your marketing channels.

7. Get Closer to Your Revenue Manager

The most successful DOSMs confer with their revenue manager almost every day, not simply once per week. Just like your top sales opportunities, you need to stay on top of your hotel’s pace reports, upcoming low periods, performance vs. budget and the strategies to drive more revenue from ancillary products. The days of sales/marketing operating in separate silos from revenue management are firmly over. Check out this brief article on how to connect all the departments that affect your property’s revenue.

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8. Wrap Your Property in Local Color

The desire for unforgettable and authentic travel experiences isn’t going away anytime soon. Modern travelers want to experience a destination like a local would, and are replacing trips to cliched attractions with visits to mom-and-pop shops, farmers markets, art walks and hidden local spots. And, they’re looking to pick a hotel at the epicenter of all those things. Don’t sit back and simply rely on your concierge to stay abreast of all the local activities that are possible. Stay on top of it by skimming the publications that locals tend to read, such as weeklies like San Diego Reader or city magazines like Seattle Met. This will give you ideas for possible partnerships, room packages and unique off-site group options.

9. Study Your Compset

In the battle for bookings, never take your eyes off the competition. In addition to monitoring rate, checking in on your compset gives you insight into the smart moves they’re making to draw more direct bookings and more group business. One of the easiest ways to keep up with competition is to follow their social media accounts, not just for the property itself, but of each salesperson, too. (Each salesperson at your property should follow their counterparts at competing hotels.) What is getting the most engagement? What are they bragging about? Then, read their latest guest reviews and find out what their guests love and hate about their experience. Use this data to gauge what their customers and guests respond to and determine if you can use their successes to inspire change at your property as well.

10. Stress Balance and Reduce Stress

Smart DOSMs also find ways to reduce stress at work. They hire positive, high-achieving staff and fire negative, poor performers. They set expectations clearly with those below and above them. They eliminate vendor fatigue by consolidating their needs with as few vendors as possible. They surround themselves with people who can get things done with little to no hand-holding. And most importantly, they know that despite their non-stop, 24/7 job, work should never be their only source of pride and enjoyment. The most successful DOSMs have vibrant, fulfilling lives outside of work, balancing the demands of their work life with family, friends, exercise and travel.

11. Tech Enable Your Sales Team

Group planners/buyers are now using digital methods for some 80% of their pre-purchase research and planning, so hotel DOSMs need to scrap the traditional, relationship-based methods of the past and arm themselves with every digital tool available. This includes gathering customer data from social media, blogs and other aspects of their respective digital footprint, as well as tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Knowland Group’s market intelligence. It also means syncing sales efforts with the hotel’s marketing team, especially through marketing automation and a joint customer relationship management (CRM) system.

12. Stop Competing with OTAs on Price

Instead of making price parity your lead strategy for combatting the online travel agencies (OTAs), recent data suggests another tactic can be much more effective: targeting consumer fears regarding using OTAs.

It turns out that OTAs have built a lousy reputation for poor customer service, and many travelers worry about reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds when booking through OTAs. In response, you should harness the power of emotional messaging across all transient marketing touchpoints, reminding prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play, and you have a 100% commitment to customer service in the event something does go wrong.

13. Augment Your Brand’s Basic Marketing Program

Brand affiliation offers many potential sales and marketing advantages; however, these benefits aren’t often enough all on their own, as each brand’s national marketing team generally can’t reach specific target markets on a timely basis, convey unique property experiences or synthesize authentic local culture. Hotels need to augment their brand’s core program with timely campaigns and custom direct “vanity” websites that help fill periods of need, instead of solely relying on their brand’s standard marketing program, which is duplicated for every other sister hotel in the region. Take a proactive approach that focuses on differentiating your property, customizing your website, boosting your search engine optimization (SEO) and social media efforts and elevating the authenticity of your marketing message.

Also, if your property heavily depends on group revenue, consider adding technology, training and lead generation tools from outside vendors.

14. Consolidate Vendors

Working with multiple hotel marketing vendors means none are accountable. Meanwhile, hotel marketers waste a lot of time delivering messages from vendor to vendor, in a struggle to get everyone on the same page. Then further complicating things is the issue of vendor technology often not working well with others, blocking real-time data from being shared amongst the entire team.

The solution?

Pare-down your vendors to as few as possible, favoring hospitality marketing partners who have an expertise and proven success in several areas—not just one—so they can optimize multiple marketing functions. Most importantly, ask them the necessary questions to find out if they have the chops and systems in place to drive bookings and deliver ROI.

15. Know Your Cost-Per-Booking 

Today, hotel owners expect their hotel marketing departments to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be measured. Without tracking and showing the numerical evaluation of your marketing efforts, you’re going to face a difficult time later in the year when you need to request next year’s marketing dollars.

To prove how your marketing efforts are adding to the hotel’s revenue, you’ll need to calculate your marketing cost per booking (MCPB) by segment. Use this number to show your marketing team’s value and to ensure you’re given the proper amount of marketing dollars to continue bringing in business for the hotel. Be especially vigilant to know your cost-per-booking from OTAs as well… avoiding the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition.


About Tambourine

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

The Official Gift Guide for Hotel Marketers

December 20, 2017 • By

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Forget the silly gadgets and fancy chocolates!

Listen up hotel owners and asset managers, we know what hotel marketers really want for the holidays…

Here’s our annual list of the things that hotel marketers tell us they crave the most:

1. They Want to Be Rewarded for Driving Measurable Revenue 

Hotel owners expect their marketing team to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be tangibly measured.

And hotel marketers are responding!

By tracking their marketing cost-per-booking (MCPB) and return on ad spend, they are showcasing the marketing team’s direct ROI… this new breed of “revenue marketer” is moving away from the squishy, legacy metrics of hotel marketing into a new era of accountability (and hopefully increased compensation)!

2. They Want the Budget Correlated to Targets

Nothing would make hotel marketers happier this holiday season than a budget that was actually correlated to the targets being set for them (by segment)! Unfortunately, there are still many hotel owners who believe their sales and marketing teams can hit increasingly lofty revenue targets with less money and resources than the year before.

This year, hotel marketers are hoping to convince upper management that their ambitious revenue goals need to be supported with bigger budgets (and maybe even more staff). Let’s hope hotel owners realize that investing in marketing is one of the smartest moves they can make to boost revenue.

3. They Want Continued Investments for Direct Booking Campaigns

The launch of major campaigns by industry giants this year further reinforced the industry’s message on the benefits of purchasing directly through a hotel website rather than an OTA. But to rely solely on the AHLA, Marriott and Hilton to communicate these advantages to travelers is insufficient. Every property, regardless of size, affiliation or location, should be showcasing the benefits of booking direct and changing their message to expose the real weakness of OTAs.

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4. They Want Standardized Metrics That Really Matter

Instead of leaning on squishy metrics, most hotel marketers crave consensus on KPIs that will actually measure important things, including:

  1. MCPB (Marketing cost per booking): Tracks the cost of each sales and marketing channel versus actual conversions. (Try using this for OTA commissions as well… and see how that channel stacks up versus your other campaigns.)
  2. DRR (Direct revenue ratio): Measures percentage of online revenue from direct sources (your website) versus pricey third-party sources, like OTAs. If you’re not generating more than 60 percent of your transient revenue from direct reservations, you still have work to do!
  3. Website Conversion Rate (from unique visitor to entrances into the booking environment): Converting a higher percentage of visitors into booking searches (or phone calls) is critical to reducing your cost of revenue and MCPB.
  4. Variance from Revenue Target BY SEGMENT: This metric showcases revenue goals versus actual results.
  5. TripAdvisor Sentiment Score: Using a reputation/sentiment monitoring tool allows hotels to measure guest satisfaction. This reflects whether your guests are enjoying your product, along with alerting you to hotel deficiencies. A bad hotel experience will outweigh any of your clever sales and marketing tactics.

5. A Better Product… Please!

Successful hotel marketing depends on a great product.

Period. Full stop.

If you’re trying to sell a tired, flawed, aging or otherwise inferior hotel experience, no amount of marketing – no matter how innovative or brilliant – can avoid the inevitable downward spiral.

There are far too many hotels that continue to sink millions of marketing dollars to over-compensate for or to cover up an aging, lackluster, or grungy hotel product. Sadly, as long as owners delay investing in the appearance, service or amenities of the property, hotel marketers will continue to fight an uphill battle in attracting and retaining guests.

6. They Want to Celebrate Authentic Local Experiences

The vast majority of hotel marketers understand that today’s traveler cares as much or more about the EXPERIENCE than the thread count of the hotel’s sheets or the convenient parking. But not everyone is on board with converting the focus of a hotel’s marketing to focus on life-enriching experiences. Hotel marketers unanimously tell us they crave more time, resources and freedom to celebrate their properties’ connection to local experiences.

7. They Want Better Photography!

Like it or not, we’ve become a very visual society.

Just as important as a hotel’s service, extraordinary hotel digital marketing requires extraordinary photography because it plays such a strong role in consumers’ travel purchase process, from the inspiration phase to booking. Images define guest expectations and poor quality shots are the equivalent of telling potential guests that the hotel’s offerings are subpar, especially if the competitive set has better visual content on its website.

8. They Want to Decrease Their Dependence on OTAs

Yes, we know… statement of the obvious.

Everyone wants this, but rather than complaining, it’s time to change the overarching hotel industry strategy from emphasizing price parity to tapping into consumer fears of OTAs.

Instead of obsessing about Best Rate Guarantees, we all need to start focusing instead on how reservations, cancellations, changes, room selection and refunds are perceived by consumers when they book direct vs indirect.

Many consumers (especially older ones) have preexisting concerns about third-party bookings and fear that one mishap with an OTA could unravel their travel plans in seconds.

9.  Can We Get a Little Acknowledgment Please?

It’s not about ego.

It’s about progress… Marketers aren’t looking for a pat on the back!

What they want is for executives, owners, and hotel asset managers to understand all that falls on the shoulders of marketing. Because, when management truly understands the resources required, the marketing department usually gets the resources and the budget required to keep up with their compset and meet the revenue requirements of ownership.

10. They Want an End to the Rising Cost of Guest Acquisition!

Owners can’t control many of their rising costs, particularly debt service, brand fees and credit card fees. That’s why hotel owners and asset managers are looking more closely than ever at marketing costs—particularly the cost of guest acquisition—which are also rising fast.

According to experts, acquisition costs commonly in the range of 5% to 10% less than a decade ago have jumped to between 15% and 25%. If a hotel cannot acquire guests at a tolerable, sustainable rate, then the property is worthless as a long-term asset.

And one of the reasons that marketing costs are rising so quickly is because hotel marketers are often unable to create perceived value in their product, which ends up being treated like a commodity instead. Part of the problem lies with the brands, many of which have become redundant, overdone and difficult to distinguish from one another, prompting travelers to book solely based on price.

Happy holidays!

We hope all your wishes come true this holiday season too! 


About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: Copy This Tactic From Luxury Hotels

December 8, 2017 • By

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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: Luxury hotels know how to focus on health and wellness-enhancing amenities… but now, hotels up and down the chain scale are taking this page out of the luxury segment playbook to drive bookings.

Behind every luxury hotel is a marketer who understands exactly what the affluent customer seeks in a travel experience.

Besides VIP treatment, exclusive amenities, remarkable cuisine and unfettered access to service staff, affluent guests expect luxury hotels to enhance their health and wellness, from arrival to departure.

Luxury properties continue to answer this call with complimentary outdoor yoga classes, farm-to-table organic meals, guided nature walks and sumptuous spa treatments.

But offering the benefit of wellness isn’t just for luxury properties with deep budgets or wealthy guests. Industry research reveals that just about EVERY traveler these days wants to stay healthy on the road and is drawn to hotels that offer unique ways to do that.

Even if your hotel can only offer complimentary bike rentals or cucumber water in the lobby, emphasize any and all of your healthy offerings on your hotel website to stimulate consideration.

Here are some ideas:

  • Provide maps and photos of where guests can explore the area on bike or by foot
  • Emphasize any local ingredients and where they are sourced from in your menus
  • Do your rooms have air purifiers or organic bathroom amenities?
  • Create partnerships and packages with local yoga, pilates, barre and other fitness studios
  • Have specialized equipment in your fitness center? Highlight what they are instead of loosely describing it as ‘state-of-the-art equipment.”
  • Create an online list of vendors offering ways guests can stay active, including bike tours, paddle board lessons, snowshoe rentals, etc.

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


Hotel Marketers and Accidental Narcissists

December 5, 2017 • By

Always-on, empowered consumers require a new digital strategy.
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The rise of digital and mobile and its impact on commerce has given consumers more information, and consequently more power, than ever before, as well as an ever-increasing expectation for instant gratification.

Marketing experts have dubbed this mass-consumer evolution happening right before our eyes “The Age of Assistance,” and adapting to it is currently one of the greatest challenges marketers face, in virtually all commercial industries.

The hotel business is no exception, and in some ways, is at the forefront of this metamorphosis.

In the past, consumers undertook greater effort to research expensive and/or important purchases, like homes, cars, major appliances, etc. But nowadays, experts say all kinds of purchases are being researched online, regardless of size, making online authority crucial for companies, as customers move through each stage of the sales funnel without salespeople (or human travel agents) involved.

The hotel business is particularly entrenched in this revolution, since traveling has always been a research/planning-heavy purchase, and there are more resources than ever at your guest’s fingertips.

In a recent article in Forbes, well-known author, Brian Solis points out that: “In the age of assistance, consumers are now relying on what they find in mobile-first “micro-moments” to help them take the next step. They’re seeking utility, information, direction and not classical marketing.”

“I refer to this new generation of mobile, connected customers as “accidental narcissists.” It’s a term of endearment. Everything they want, they can have, in any moment. Literally, there’s an app for just about everything, consumers are plugged into an on-demand economy that delivers products, services, experiences, validation, gratification, et al., in the moment. This presents an opportunity (and a need) for marketers to become truly customer-, not marketing- or technology-, centric.”

So how do hotel marketers deal with this new age marketing scramble? How do we provide these “accidental narcissists” what they need to engage with our properties?

1. Know Their profile 

You can’t assist potential guests unless you understand them first. You should have a fairly detailed “profile” of your ideal guest (or meeting planner or corporate buyer).

You should know:

– Where they live
– How often they visit
– When they visit
– Which guests are most lucrative
– What they like (and don’t like) about your property

2. Know Their Media Habits

Starting with mobile, you need to learn about the discovery process used by your customers, starting with where they go to find their information, what they are searching for, where those searches take them, what engages or converts them from there and where they visit next.

For more insight, try using Google’s insightful micro-moments playbook.

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3. Think Like a Publisher

Armed with greater knowledge of your customer, their journey and research process, you can then begin tailoring content that engages them.

Your content should offer solutions, versus selling rooms. And promise to change the viewer’s perspective on the destination and enrich their lives.

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 website and marketing content 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.

You need to show what experiences guests can look forward to and which are within reach. What cool wine bars or quirky, local coffee shops are within walking distance? What local secrets can your staff share? What should guests know about your immediate neighborhood?

4. Know What Your Guests Want

This next directive pertains to embracing data and listening to what your guests (and your compset’s guests) are saying in public spaces. By paying attention to keyword searches, social media posts, Trip Advisor reviews, CVB data and responses to your post-stay surveys, savvy hotel marketers can see threats and trends that will define how guests want to “be assisted.”

– Are your guests complaining about certain aspects of your property?
– Are travelers to your destination talking about the new museum?
– Is there a rapid spike in keyword volume for hotels near a certain hot neighborhood?
– What are the top attractions near you (and how are you partnered with them)?

These are priceless digital breadcrumbs for you in building a consumer path to your door!

5. Assist During the Transaction

Consumers also expect their transaction experience to be seamless. Hotels are expected to simplify life, not confuse it… especially at the most critical point in their purchase journey! So make sure your hotel website booking experience is flawless, by avoiding these pitfalls:

•  Accessible Communication
Giving people what they want quickly and easily amps up your value. Follow the example of luxury hotels and resorts, who offer instant access to reservations staff using online chat, phone or email.  Consumers are always more likely to pay a premium to properties that respond quickly to questions and establish high service expectations BEFORE the guest even arrives.

• Hidden Costs and Sticker Shock
Studies show that nothing kills a sale – and trust – like unexpected costs. Mostly surprise hidden costs that many hotels like to sneak into the transaction right before asking for credit card information. Today’s travelers have no patience with additional charges and will be ruthless in abandoning any property that tries to spring on pesky fees.

•  Your Mobile Experience is Poor
Google studies show that 36% of business travelers and 40% of leisure travelers book hotel rooms on their mobile phones. And, bookings originating from users on iPads and other tablet-sized devices are growing fast.

•  It’s Too Frustrating to Make a Reservation
It’s a lesson hoteliers rarely hear, but should immediately heed: Your booking engine must be a simple process. Visitors are already uncomfortable giving out their information online, if your forms are cumbersome, consumers will exit before a purchase is completed. Yet, thousands of hotels are still cluttering their booking engines with too much text, too many pages and endless steps.

•  Slow Means No
25% of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Almost 50% will abandon if the site takes more than 10 seconds to load. In our fast-paced, instant-gratification culture—fueled by high-speed internet—consumers expect your web pages to load immediately!

•  You’re Not Speaking Their Language
This seems painfully obvious, but far too many hotels treat everyone as an English-speaking American. Imagine the frustration of your overseas website visitors when they enter a booking environment that is not automatically defaulted to their native language or currency.

•  Limited Payment Options
Smart hotels offer multiple payment options, going beyond Amex, Visa and Mastercard to include as many forms of payment as possible, including third-party online payment services like PayPal. Some even take it a step further like Couples Resorts, who offer a “loveaway” payment plan.


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