Browsing Tag

Online bookings

How Can a WWII Scientist Help Your Hotel Survive?

April 18, 2017 • By

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In WWII, Allied planes would often return to their bases with hundreds of holes from enemy guns. This inspired crafty ground crews to bolt on metal plating over the holes to strengthen the planes and prevent future losses. They assumed that the evidence clearly indicated where they should place the extra protection.

But one American scientist wasn’t so sure…  Abraham Wald, a brilliant mathematician and statistician, intervened and pointed out that while the surviving planes had been hit severely, they were still able to fly safely home.

He urged the military commanders to add more armor to the parts of the plane where there was NO DAMAGE. Wald theorized that the planes that didn’t make it back must have been hit in different places than the planes that did make it back.

In other words, it was the other parts of the plane that needed reinforcements – not the parts with obvious holes.

Enlightened commanders adopted Wald’s recommendation and his brilliant intervention would end up saving the lives of thousands of Allied airmen.

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Survivorship Bias: A Universal Human Error

Wald’s mind-blowing theory about the bombers’ weak spots is a classic example of survivorship bias. This is actually a common human error that leads us to pay more attention to survivors and “winners” instead of trying to understand the failures.

Almost everyone has survivorship bias without realizing it. Our entire global culture is about celebrating winners and forgetting the losers.

As author David McRaney writes in his amazing article on Survivorship Bias: If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact that only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view.” As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.”

Think about these other examples of how you (and millions of others) focus solely on “survivors:”

Celebrities

Many children grow up wanting to be famous. After all, the rock stars and TV stars they see everyday are all famous. So, there is plenty of opportunity, right? The truth is that famous actors, musicians, comedians, etc. are only the ones who ‘made it.’ They survived the auditions, the competition and let’s face it – had some good luck or God-given talent. But, what about the millions of others who tried and failed to win the audition, to get that starring role in a sitcom, to even make it past a casting agent? This is a prime example of how we tend to obsess on and worship the winners, rather than the losers. If you understand survivorship bias and you truly want to be a rock star, then you would be better off interviewing failed musicians to understand how they veered off the road to success.

Senior Citizens

The most common question that people who live past their 90’s receive: “How did you do it?” One senior citizen could say they never smoked or drank one drop of alcohol in their life. Another might answer that they drank often, smoked everyday and ate whatever they wanted.

Whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter.

Because, we really should be looking at the millions of other senior citizens who DIDN’T make it past 90. What did they do that prevented them from reaching 90? What could you learn from them to stretch your own lifespan?

Fitness Gurus/Products

The fitness and health industry is notorious for profiting from people’s survivorship bias’. Consider how many weight loss success stories you see promoting a certain workout, diet, or even the advice of a fitness guru. It’s easy to fall for these testimonials and believe that these extraordinary claims produce consistent results.

Reality Check: These commercials not only show the survivors, but the super-survivors. The extreme and rare positive outcomes, like the person who lost 50 lbs in just a month. At the same time, they hide the failures and even the normal results, like the participant who lost a more stable 5 lbs in a month.

Survivorship Bias is Also Rampant in the Hotel Industry

Think about it.

We have survivorship bias thinking about our own guests and our own hospitality marketing efforts. Most, if not all, of your present data come from the guests or group business clients that successfully made a reservation.

But, what about the people who didn’t?

What about the people who visited your hotel's website, clicked on a couple of pages, then decided to stop looking and left?

Here’s the truth: The guest intelligence you have right now is most likely misleading, over-optimistic data that only focuses on the people who actually made it to your hotel PMS. Most hotel’s guest data leaves out those people who didn’t ‘survive’ the buying journey. You’re overly focused on your known audience, instead of studying the business you lose.

To thoroughly optimize your hotel’s most successful conversion paths, you need to consider the entire audience, not just those who actually converted. In other words, you need to consider not just what’s working, but what’s not working, to drive bookings.

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7 Ways to Prevent Survivorship Bias from Hurting Your Hotel’s Revenue:

1. Stop Copying Successful Hotels It’s easy to look at successful hotels and think their strategy can be replicated in your market. But also take time to consider the other properties that failed in that same location, especially within the same chain scale level. Find out what went wrong, instead of only focusing on what went right for the survivors.

2. Conduct Loss Analysis on Failed Group Business Bids Hotels often focus their sales efforts on seeking repeat business from specific groups, their “best customers.” Then, they proudly proclaim their venue is a ‘favorite’ of medical meeting planners, for example. Or, that their business is made up of mostly annual tech conferences. Instead, ask why other groups haven’t booked your hotel? What other industries are you missing out on?

Whenever you lose a piece of group business, the sales person needs to ask the meeting planner, “What went wrong? Why didn’t our hotel win your event?” This simple move could dramatically alter your sales efforts, sending your sales numbers skyrocketing in the future.

3. Discover Which Companies are Visiting Your Hotel Site You can find out if meeting planners are visiting your website, even if they don’t send a message or fill out an RFP. We at Tambourine (and many other firms) have the ability to identify inbound website visitors by company, enabling our clients’ sales teams to find out which companies are visiting your meetings and event pages. For example, you can find out if someone from Ford or Microsoft started clicking around on your site.

This now-warm lead can act like a trigger for the sales person on your team (in this case, the sales person who is in charge of the Pacific Northwest market since Microsoft is headquartered near Seattle) to reach out to the meeting planning department at that company.

4. Conduct User Testing Don’t fall in the trap of assuming what customers think about your hotel website. The only way to know how potential guests are interacting with your website and booking engine is to engage random, unbiased users to test it. (Shameless Plug: As part of our hotel marketing services, we implement random user testing for clients, and even provide videotape footage of tester's live feedback.)

5. Monitor Points of Abandonment Use your analytics to find out where you start losing potential guests on your website. Do you lose them right on the homepage? Or, when they encounter inconsistency moving from your website to the booking engine? Fixing whatever the problem is means you’re helping more visitors ‘survive’ the purchase journey to book a room.

6. Add More Languages Your hotel is a global product. Or, at least it could be if you allowed your website to ‘speak’ to global audiences. Right now, too many American hotels only use English on their website. So, what if a family from Spain wanted to book a stay? Or, a group of business people from Dubai? You may think your hotel only attracts American travelers (or that virtually everyone speaks English), but that is survivorship bias at work… you only see English-speaking guests! If your website is only written in English, then only English-speaking travelers book your hotel, which leads you to assume that only English speakers want to stay with you. Consider what adding other language translations could do to attract global travelers.

7. Don’t Put Your Marketing on Repeat It may seem like a smart strategy to repeat what worked for you last year, but again, this is survivorship bias at work. It’s even smarter to figure out why certain marketing tactics and campaigns failed. Did you have enough resources? Did the campaigns have enough time to flourish? Or, did you back down and just grab the lowest hanging fruit (relying on OTAs)?

It’s vital to know about ALL of your hotel’s online visitors and potential customers – not just those who successfully booked. This gives you more insight into how potential guests and group business clients engage with your hotel in their research phase. Plus, it will help you identify what to fix and where to make improvements. Examining your losses and avoiding survivorship bias can be the pivotal move that will lead to quicker buying cycles and higher conversion rates.


About Tambourine

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

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

20 Surprising Digital Marketing Stats Every Hotel Marketer Should Know

April 11, 2017 • By

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We dug up these 20 digital marketing nuggets (across all industries) to help you benchmark your efforts and determine which efforts are worth while.

Hotel Email Marketing

Despite all the attention given to social media marketing and mobile marketing, email marketing still holds a place as one of the most successful online marketing platforms.

  1. Targeted emails sent to segmented lists generate 58% of all digital revenue (The Direct Marketing Association, 2015).
  2. 86% of consumers prefer companies that send promotional emails monthly, while only 15% would like to receive them daily (Statista, 2015).
  3. 48% of emails are opened using a smartphone (Movable Ink, 2015).

Learn More: 3 Quick Ways to Drive More Bookings from Hotel Email Campaigns

Hotel Digital Display Advertising

Display ads are one of the oldest forms of online hotel advertising. However, today’s audiences have a much different opinion and level of patience with certain digital ads. Here’s what you should know before putting together a plan for online advertising.

  1. 91% of consumers believe ads are more intrusive today than a couple of years ago (HubSpot, 2016).
  2. The average CTR of display ads is 0.06% (HubSpot).
  3. Retargeting campaigns can result in a high ROI (Retargeter). People subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to convert (Digital Information World).
  4. WPP's GroupM, a huge international ad buyer, forecasted that digital will likely account for 77% of total spend in 2017.
  5. Asked to name their number-one challenge, 15% of digital marketers said “meeting the expectations of the always-connected customer,” 14% chose “executing consistent campaigns that drive desired business outcomes” (i.e. leads or revenue) and 13% cited the proliferation of channels across paid, owned and earned media (B2B Marketing Insider).

Learn More: How Smart Are Your Hotel Ads? Hotels Squander Millions by Ignoring Their Best Prospects

Hotel Social Media Marketing

According to Hootsuite, 83% of Americans have a social media account. Social media has drastically changed how hotel brands interact and get in front of their target audiences. Here are some stats to keep in mind when putting together your hotel's social media strategy:

  1. When social media is part of their buyer’s journey, customers tend to convert at a 129% higher rate. They are also four times as likely to spend significantly more than those without a social component (Deloitte).
  2. 61% of companies that invested at least six hours each week in social media marketing saw an increase in their search engine rankings (Social Media Examiner, 2015).
  3. 59% of Instagram’s 500 million monthly users visit the app each day, including 35% who visit their accounts multiple times (Pew Research Center, 2015).

Learn More: How Guests’ Social Media Can Amplify Your Hotel Marketing Budget

Hotel Mobile Marketing

Consumers’ reliance on mobile devices increases each day, with smart phones seeping into almost each moment of their lives. So, optimizing your hotel marketing efforts for mobile should be one of your hotel’s top priorities.

  1. One-third of people say their smartphone is the primary device to access the internet (HubSpot, 2016).
  2. 61% of people are unlikely to return to a brand’s mobile site if they experienced a problem accessing it. On top of that, 40% will visit a competitor instead (McKinsey & Company).
  3. 31% of people say they open and read half of their emails on their mobile device (2015 State of Marketing Report). Meanwhile, about 80% of the time spent on social media sites happen on mobile devices (Marketing Land).
  4.   48% of people start any mobile research with a search engine, instead of an online app (Smart Insights, 2016).
  5.   More Google searches are made on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan (Google, 2015).

Learn More: Is the iPhone Killing Your Hotel Revenue? Hotel SEO

As the rules for search engine optimization continue to morph each year, it’s more important than ever for hotels to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and techniques to increase their placement in an online search.

  1. According to 72% of marketers, the most effective SEO tactic is creating relevant content (Ascend2, 2015).

Learn More: The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO The Painful Truth About Hotel Website SEO Part 2

Hotel Content Marketing

Creating compelling destination and hotel content (blogs, videos, fun visitor guides, etc.) has the power to attract, engage and inform travelers and meeting planners, while also establishing your property as a unique experience provider.

  1. B2C companies that published more than 11 blog posts a month receive 4 times more leads than companies that only blogged 4-5 times a month (HubSpot, 2015).
  2. 43% of people say they skim, not thoroughly read, blog posts (HubSpot, 2016).
  3. Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3 times more than any other type of content (Mass Planner, 2015). (Source: HubSpot)

About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: Remember The 4Ps Every Day

March 31, 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: Stay on top of your hotel’s success each day by reviewing your hotel’s four marketing pillars: price, product, promotion and placement (distribution).

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

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

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

1. Price

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

2. Product

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

3. Promotion (i.e. Advertising)

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

4. Placement

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

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

The Painful Truth About Hotel Loyalty Programs

March 28, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

  • Hotels can’t grow market share by targeting existing customers.
  • In today’s modern environment, even your most loyal guests will shop around.
  • It's vital to focus on boosting your exposure to new audiences.

For years, marketing gurus and experts have taught hoteliers to focus on driving bookings from their loyal customers.

These are the guests who book a few times during the year.

Admittedly, this seems like one of the smartest and most sound hotel marketing strategies around to boost direct bookings – market to the people who already know and love you. The plethora of guest data you now have at your fingertips makes marketing to this current base of customers even easier and seemingly foolproof.

However, new research may prove otherwise….

In his book, How Brands Grow, Professor Byron Sharp of The University of South Australia, applied statistical analysis to sales data to find what truly drives a company’s success. His conclusion sent shockwaves through the marketing world:


”Your customers are customers of other brands who occasionally buy you.”


Companies can’t grow sales numbers significantly by focusing on loyal customers, but instead they must focus on “light buyers” who buy products (i.e. book a room at your property) relatively infrequently.

In other words, loyal guests are not your ideal target audience. Single booking guests are.

To move the needle on your hotel’s growth, you must attract NEW guests, instead of relying on loyal customers to keep coming back.   

Single Bookings Spur Hotel Growth

Sharp cites Coca-Cola as an example of a successful global company that grew, not from Coca-Cola lovers who purchased and consumed the soda everyday, but from the millions of people who only drank it just a couple times a year.

Several other brands have come to rely on steady and strong sales from the masses that only purchase their products occasionally, with long breaks in between where these same customers purchase from competitors.

And let's face it, OTAs, the culture of flash sales and last minute deals has made the travel industry one of the least loyal markets. In fact, 50 percent of American Airlines’ 2015 revenue came from 87 percent of its customers who flew on American Airlines just once that year.

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Overall, data from Phocuswright suggests that – other than elite members – most travelers do not prefer to book direct through hotel websites. Many travelers do not seem to care about the hotel's brand, as long as they get the perception of a good value by booking through OTAs.

However, most hotels today focus on past customer data and ways to reach and re-sell to their existing customers. After all, selling to your own guests appears low-risk, dependable and the quickest way to boost revenue.

Wrong, says Sharp.

He contends that the expense and effort that brands employ to market to their own customers is largely ineffective. 

“Loyalty programs do practically nothing to drive growth,” Sharp said.

The Painful Truth: Guests Shop Around

Companies largely over estimate just how loyal their customers really are.

The McKinsey Global Institute has been studying consumer decision journeys (the often erratic path people take as they move along from brand awareness to purchase), since 2009. Their studies show that the key to top-line growth is understanding the behavior of modern consumers.

Their research uncovered that even your most loyal hotel guests, including members of your loyalty program, consider booking at other hotels more often than you know.

Over the years, McKinsey found that the bond customers have with their favorite brands has been slipping. Active engagement in loyalty programs slipped by 2 percent. Plus, 58 percent of loyalty members don’t even use the program or take advantage of its benefits after signing up.

Why aren’t travelers as loyal as they once were?

More choices and new technologies.

With all the channels and travel sites at a guest’s fingertips, it’s easier than ever before to research and book travel reservations. Hundreds of mobile apps open up a world of hotel options where guests can view and compare prices and amenities, read guest reviews and size up hotels side-by-side.

Also, people are more clued in to what their family and friends are buying, loving, referring (and disliking) via social media.  All of these distractions and online triggers can cause even your best hotel guests to shop around. 

And, suffice to say that in today’s digital world, people can’t help but consider more options.

Social Media Engagement: Not as Vital as You Thought?

Modern customer decision journeys are also challenging the notion of engaging your “loyal” hotel social media followers.

According to Forrester Research, people who join and ‘like’ Facebook brand pages hardly ever interact or click on them thereafter. Their research shows the engagement rate of a Facebook brand page is generally 7 out of 10,000 users and for Twitter the rate is 3 out of 10,000. This lack of engagement is even worse for hotels who fail to produce compelling, fresh, authentic social content every week - 24/7/365.

McKinsey noted that most customers aren’t aware of, and simply not interested in, the differences between your brand or your competitor next door. And, those guests who do have a brand preference may decide to book with another hotel brand if it happens to be cheaper that day.

This fickleness shows that single-bookers (again, the ones who are really driving your success) don’t think of your property as remarkable, or even unique. They’re also not likely fans of your brand, on social media or anywhere else. It’s no surprise then that these buyers aren’t interacting with your brand on social media channels. Engaging and enticing “loyal buyers” to re-engage with you is necessary, but hardly a silver bullet.

In addition to trying to push your existing audience to engage with your hotel on social channels, focus on boosting the broad awareness of your hotel experience instead.

Then, get creative about translating the broad awareness to actual hotel consideration by creating interactive content on your hotel website, including destination guides, Chat-with–the-Concierge tools and powerful galleries of user-generated photos.

Other industry leaders have perfected this concept. For example, L’Oreal offers make-up tutorials instead of simply touting their products, while Charles Schwab offers basic financial planning lessons and investment calculators, in addition to showcasing their products. 

Hotel Marketing’s Critical New Battleground

The shiftiness of guest loyalty suggests that hotel marketers need to focus more on the moments when guests are INITIALLY considering which hotel to book (known as the initial consideration set).

According to McKinsey, the players in the initial consideration set are twice as likely to book versus the ones that pop up later in the guest’s decision-making process.

This confirms the need for hotel marketers to win travelers’ attention at the very beginning of the booking journey. And, drastically changes the dynamic of marketing mainly to guests who have previously stayed at your property, a tactic that hotel marketers have counted on for years.

When marketing to loyal hotel guests, normally you focus on a narrow collection of high-value customers, then use your marketing budget to retain them. In contrast, when marketing to grow your hotel’s exposure in the initial consideration set, you need to cast out a wider net to reach people who have little or no knowledge of your property.

Boosting Exposure is Vital to Boosting Growth

So, if marketing to and engaging with your current customers doesn’t drive growth at your property, what will?

What will reach people who don’t need you and don’t know you, so that when they are ready to book, your hotel comes to mind?

Advertising, answers Sharp.

“Advertising works best when it doesn’t try and persuade, but merely makes us remember a brand at the moment of purchase,” he said.

Advertising opens people’s eyes to your hotel. For instance, by keeping their beverage brand in people’s minds, Coca-Cola ads increase the probability of people buying their product by such a small margin that consumers hardly notice it. For this reason, most consumers claim they are not swayed by advertising.

When crafting advertising experiences, think of your two audiences:

1st Audience: Guests who enjoyed a stay at your hotel in the past, but who have not booked since then. According to McKinsey, these lapsed guests hold high potential since they have some knowledge of the brand, even if their experience was several years ago. You just need to find out why they never returned or if their habits or lifestyle have changed.

2nd Audience: These are the travelers who have no experience with your hotel. They may not understand what you offer, have never considered staying with you before, or perhaps have pre-conceived notions about your guest experience.

For both audiences, the solution is to create a unique story and innovative new services, products and news to stay at the top of their minds. Continue building new packages, guest experiences and amenities to drum up excitement.

Conclusion

While the significance of boosting exposure to new audiences is hardly a cutting-edge concept, research confirms that it now requires a new focus.

Both Sharp and MGI don’t suggest ignoring your most loyal guests to make room for new customers. Rewarding and retaining these repeat guests is still important. In fact, 42 percent of purchases are from customers who had purchased from that brand before.

However, focusing your hotel marketing budget on mainly retaining guest loyalty is a risky move since today’s shop-around mentality means you’ll lose more guests than add new ones.

Instead, boost your hotel’s growth by focusing more on creative products and services for the 87 percent of consumers who are likely to leave your compset in favor of trying out others.

Get more: Hotel Marketing – 10 Things That Worked in 2016


About Tambourine

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

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

Video: Watch What Happens When OTA Users Actually Shop Online

March 21, 2017 • By

Everybody has theories about why so many people prefer to shop for hotels on OTAs… but have you ever actually seen them do it?

To find out why so many guests prefer booking hotel stays on an OTA instead of a hotel brand/direct website, we hired UserTesting.com, a well-known website testing company that records unbiased (but demographically relevant) consumers while they search and book hotels online.

See for yourself!

Here are two videos of actual users (listen to their comments) as they shop for rooms on Expedia and then directly from the hotel's website:

Video 1: Click here to view. Participant using desktop computer. Male | 35–55 | United States | Income $100K–$150K+

Video 2: Click here to view. Participant using smartphone. Female | 35–55 | United States | Income $100K–$150K+

Here Are 3 Key Lessons to Take Away From These Two Customers' Experiences:

1. A Slow Booking Process Will Hurt Revenues

What we found reinforced a lot of what hotel marketers already know: guests think OTAs are easy-to-navigate and appreciated their simple process. In comparison, a hotel’s site was lengthier, not as intuitive and required too much information to complete a booking.

One user said, “Expedia was a lot easier and a quicker process to use. While the hotel’s website experience was not a bad one, it was more …’time-consuming,’ asked for more details. As a busy traveler, I would prefer to navigate through the check out process quickly.”

Consider this: It requires TWO steps to book a hotel on an OTA, inputting personal information and payment details.

To make the same reservation directly from the same hotel found on Expedia, the user had to navigate through SIX steps. This included asking the customer to select optional amenities like wine/champagne or flower arrangements, input a loyalty membership number, request a room preference and enter arrival and departure information.

2. Prominently Showcase Direct Booking Benefits

Your guests are not hotel industry insiders.

They don’t immediately understand why it’s best to book direct. So, it is up to you to tell them WHY they should. After all, once a customer discovers your property on an OTA, the next place they go is to your hotel’s direct website. So, give them legit reasons to book direct rather than returning to the OTA.

Make it obvious if you offer free Wifi, free parking, discounts at the spa and restaurant, or whatever other perks you offer guests REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY BOOK DIRECT OR NOT (sometimes, OTAs fail to showcase these perks)!

People have fleeting attention spans, so it’s important to make these benefits prominent and distinct, not buried in small letters or on an interior page of your hotel's website. Put them on the homepage and make them obvious in as many places as you can.

3. Automate Your Best Rate Guarantee

Besides usability, another OTA benefit that users really appreciated was seeing all the options in one place. These users enjoyed being able to see many hotels and pricing options from one site. 

This is yet another brilliant OTA tactic: Show your competition and their prices, so that customers aren’t tempted to leave your site to compare prices on their own.

Borrow this winning strategy by showing rates from various channels directly on your website. After all, guests don’t know that OTAs offer the same price for a room, nor are they aware of the concept of rate parity.

The best way to tackle this is to place your Best Rate Guarantee into your booking engine itself, where rates from OTAs are displayed alongside your own. Not only does this satisfy a guest’s desire to comparison shop, it proves that booking direct offers the best value.


While it’s easy to point fingers at OTAs for siphoning customers and bookings, let’s not forget who truly drives their success… the customers themselves.


It’s the customers who decide where to research room rates. It’s the customers who decide where to spend their money.

If anything, OTAs need to be credited for their marketing prowess. It’s only because of their careful attention to the user experience and customer preferences that customers are drawn to them in the first place.


 About Tambourine

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

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

3 Fast, Fresh Lessons Hoteliers Can Learn From Dominos

March 14, 2017 • By

In a world of lightning-fast technology and constant industry disruption, one skill has risen as a top necessity for older companies to survive:

Innovation.

We’ll be the first to tell you that refusing to adapt and adhere to modern traveler tastes, behaviors and preferences will be the fastest road to failure.

We love seeing how some older companies in other industries own their responsibility to not only keep up with technology, but to embrace it as a product itself… and Dominos (yes, the pizza maker) is the perfect example of this.

How did this consumer-centric company “toss” aside their old ways, refuse to play it safe and innovate? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review talks about how Domino’s focused on innovation... and reveals a number of important lessons hoteliers can borrow:

1. Take Another Slice of Technology

Dominos in Action: Half of Dominos' headquarter office works on software and analytics. And, the company now proudly proclaims that they are just as much a technology company as a pizza company. This has transformed their customers’ ordering experience, giving them options to order by voice on the Domino app, by text or emoji and allowing them to track their delivery order.

Hotelier Lesson: Not only are your guests’ lives immersed in technology, but their guest experience with you is deeply affected by technology as well. And as millennials become the primary market audience, your ability to present a frictionless “technology experience” will affect your success. Can guests book easily on mobile? Can they order room service from an app or in-room iPad? Can they check in without standing in a line after a long flight?  What are you doing to use technology to remove friction from the booking and stay phases of customer interaction?

2. Your Ingredients Aren’t Tasty Enough

Dominos in Action: Instead of hiding behind inventive marketing, Dominos opted for transparency and some well-placed self-deprecation. When they engineered their comeback, their effort included ads that admitted their pizza wasn’t the best, even producing a commercial featuring customers comparing their pizza to cardboard.

This risky strategy worked in their favor, as it endeared customers and was the catalyst for the chain to reinvent all of their pizzas with better ingredients and an expanded menu that is now worthy of their customers' praise. They now credit their improved pizza product as the centerpiece for their successful rebound.

Hotelier Lesson: Here’s the universal truth: successful hotel marketing strategies start with a remarkable product. You can’t simply rely on marketing dollars to magically pull in more bookings. Too many hotels invest in clever, flashy campaigns, without making any significant improvements to their properties itself or investing in extraordinary experiences that will wow guests. Advertising should never receive blame for a hotel’s failure or credit for its success. No amount of marketing can overcome an inferior guest experience.

3. Refuse to Play it Safe

Dominos in Action: In order for Dominos to engineer such a triumphant comeback, it was essential to scrap their current marketing model and blaze into something totally different. They unleashed a series of innovative ways for customers to interact with the brand and order, including text- and emoji-enabled ordering, a new crowd-sourced delivery car design and an Uber-like pizza tracker that allows customers to track their pizza delivery. This positioned their 56-year-old company as a nimble, tech-enabled disruption machine, instead of the dinosaur they could have been if they had not taken any risks.

Hotelier Lesson: Most owners want to flip their assets reasonably quickly. Asset and management companies want to earn their fees and property-level folks want to keep their jobs... so many hotels are apathetic about innovation. They want to fly under the radar, quietly market their properties without fanfare and stay true to how things have always been done. These are prime examples of ‘omission bias’ (worrying more about the potential consequences of a bad move, rather than the dangers of apathy and inaction) and ‘loss aversion’ (playing to avoid losing, instead of playing to win).

Both of these principles do nothing but stifle your hotel’s creativity and innovation, which (as we stated earlier) is essential to survive in a world of increasing competition and non-stop disruption.

Lesson learned?

Doing nothing and continuing to market your property ‘as usual’ is the riskiest move of them all.


 About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: Your Email Promos are Failing: Change the Subject!

March 3, 2017 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Craft email promo subject lines that entice readers to open! 

Smart hotel marketers know that marketing emails sent to targeted audiences are one of the best tools for driving direct bookings.

However, those emails are worthless if they’re ignored or worse, swiftly deleted without being opened.

There is only ONE way to amp up your email’s chances of being opened: Write a damn good subject line. If it doesn’t get opened, it doesn’t get read… or booked.

Here are our tried-and-true tips for writing arresting subject lines that get your hotel’s marketing emails opened, read and clicked on.

Be Brief and Brilliant People scan their emails nowadays, so keep subject lines succinct and snappy to stand out.

Avoid “Free” SPAM filters are notorious for flagging emails with the word “free” in the subject line (as opposed to “freebie).

Focus on the Benefit Why should a guest open your email? You have to make the benefit very clear. Use “Snag Last-Minute Rooms at 35% Off,” instead of “Last-Minute Deals.”

Create Urgency An effective way to grab a readers attention: creating urgency. This will encourage readers to open, read and act on the email now, rather than later.

Use Numbers Most email subject lines are vague, with ambiguous statements. Including a number is a fantastic way to get your emails noticed. Numbers demonstrate a straight-forward message and also set the right expectations.

Lead with a Verb Actionable email subject lines inspire readers to click by instilling excitement and urgency. For example, compare “Savor an Intimate Seaside Dinner for 2,” compared to “Romantic Oceanfront Dinner.”

Get more: 3 Quick Ways to Drive More Bookings From Hotel Marketing Campaigns


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 marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Marketing Advice, Uncategorized

7 Signs Your Hotel Marketing is Out of Control

February 28, 2017 • By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2.  Too Many Vendors, Too Much Chaos

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

The key is to consolidate.

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

3. You Can’t Measure Your Contributions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. You Fail at Rate Parity

We get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Your Guest Sentiment is Plummeting

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

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

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

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


 About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: Snag Last-Minute President’s Day Weekend Bookings

February 17, 2017 • By

FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600

Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Use FOMO to entice last-minute President’s Day Weekend travelers from drive markets.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real phenomenon. Spawned by social media, FOMO describes the unease and angst people feel when missing out on something interesting or exciting.

You can add FOMO to your list of hotel marketing strategies and leverage it to convert your audience’s restlessness into last minute, drive-market bookings.

Even though today marks the start of the President’s Day Weekend, you still have a chance to attract last-minute weekend travelers using FOMO. 

Here are two types of FOMO you can deploy today:

  1. Fear of missing out on the last three-day weekend until Memorial Day.
  2. Fear of missing out on your last room available or an amazing weekend room rate.

Create marketing messages that focus on what your audience will miss out on and push them out using advertising targeted to your drive markets (EX: your hotel social media channels and targeted email list).

BONUS IDEA: Plus, if you normally charge for parking, consider creating a last-minute room rate that includes complimentary parking. This gives visitors driving in from nearby markets another good reason to book... and avoid FOMO.

Get more: 5 Ways to Attract Last Minute Labor Day Bookings from Your Drive Markets


About Tambourine

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

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

The Hidden Chasm: Why Your Bookings Keep Falling into the Abyss

February 7, 2017 • By

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The guest’s road from your hotel marketing campaigns, to your website and finally to online booking is a delicate, razors’ edge journey filled with several opportunities for the customer to bounce, turn back, and never return.

However, many hoteliers assume a booking is guaranteed once a visitor is on the website and ready to buy. But, beware. There is a dangerous “chasm” between your hotel website and your booking engine, where potential guests can likely ‘fall off”  if you’re not cautious.

Here are the most common ways to lose potential guests transitioning from your Website to your booking engine:

1. Lack of Personalization

Personalization is a big industry buzz word right now. But cutting through all the hype, the one place where personalization can truly make an immediate impact is on your direct website.

How?

When your hotel website and booking engine are integrated by one provider, personalized web experiences can be created instantly and dynamically. You can show gated and loyalty rates to recognized members of any ‘closed group’ your hotel wants to create.

Here are a few more examples:

• When a guest from Argentina 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.

• A past guest (“Alex” in this case) revisits your website after checking dates a week before. You can now present dynamic rate promos only available to loyal past guests.  Check out this example from our client, Cassa Times Square NYC:

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• Your website tracks user behavior and auto-configures the booking engine with images and messages relevant to that demographic (family vs business traveler).

2. A Slow Loading Booking Engine

It takes mere seconds to kill a booking. Research shows that 25% of consumers will leave a website if it takes more than four seconds to load. That figure jumps beyond 50% if your booking engine takes up to 10 seconds to load.

In a world of instant gratification and lightening-fast internet speed, guests expect every part of your hotel’s online experience to load immediately. Every moment of delay gives the customer more and more reason to abandon you in search of something better and faster.

Slow page loads and annoying delays are common when a customer plugs in their dates or a discount rate code into the booking engine. Don’t lose a hard-earned booking because of something as simple as speed.

Test your load times on different browsers and from mobile devices, which is especially important since many guests are now relying on their own cellular connections (non high-speed wifi) to make online purchases.

3. Inconsistent Experiences Between Website to Booking Engine

The best booking engines are the ones that go unnoticed by the guest. Being transferred someplace that looks and feels different to complete a transaction can cause guests to feel uneasy. This is why user experience (UX) is vital for online transactions.

Even the smallest of changes, like different fonts or different colors, can be jarring to your guests and chip away at the delicate trust and reliability that you worked so hard to establish. So, keep guest confidence high with a seamless transition and a consistent appearance.

A continuous, seamless customer experience is one of the major benefits of using one company for both your website and your booking engine. Customers will move smoothly from examining your guestrooms, looking at property photos and reading up on your amenities, to taking out their credit card and making a reservation.


 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


Booking Engine, Direct Booking, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hospitality, hotel marketing