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Friday Freebie: Solving the latest hotel website curveball from Google

April 20, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This week’s Freebie: 

Google’s new security standards could threaten your hotel’s website traffic. Here’s how to solve the problem:

In hopes of fostering a safer internet, Google has moved toward new security standards for its Chrome browser, which requires a significant update to hotel websites in order to achieve compliance.

Under the new specifications, Google now requires all websites that collect any type of personal data (i.e. forms, email addresses, credit card info, etc.) to migrate websites to HTTPS and upgrade their security technology in the form of “SSL Certificates,” or suffer the consequences.

Right now, that consequence is a security alert, which Chrome users see when they reach a web page that Google has deemed a “Non-Secure environment” when the mandated SSL certificate isn’t present. Considering roughly 60% of web surfers currently use Chrome, this is no matter to take lightly; it’s best to make the required changes as soon as possible, to ensure your site traffic isn’t at risk and/or potential guests being scared away.

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This may seem like a small detail, but it may have a huge impact on hotel website conversion rates. You don’t want to scare away customers with an unsecured website. Google has indicated that warnings may become even more pronounced in future browser updates.

You also don’t want your customers’ data being compromised because you failed to provide a secure setting. As recent data breaches among numerous major hotel companies have proven, hacks can cause extensive damage to brands and they erode consumer trust, which can be disastrous to the bottom line. Given those risks, taking the steps to comply with the SSL/HTTPS standard is a no-brainer.

The Solution:

The first step in meeting the standard is for hotel digital marketers to obtain an SSL Certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). The certificate permits your website to communicate using encrypted, non-corruptible data, while also acting as a stamp of approval.

Many providers offer free SSL/TSL certificates; (Shameless plug: Tambourine provides SSL certificates for all clients included in our monthly service package).

With an approved certificate in place, the next steps are to conduct a full backup of your hotel website site, change all your internal links, check code libraries, update external links and create a 301 redirect. It’s also important to claim all four versions of your site URLs (HTTPS, HTTP, www. and non-www.) on Google Search Console Analytics, AdWords and other paid ads, plus social profiles and business citations. Since there are multiple complex steps, you definitely want your digital marketing team or external hotel digital marketing firm to handle this.


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

Bad Habits: 5 things hotel marketers should stop right now

April 17, 2018

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Usually, we offer insight on the hotel marketing tactics, tools and strategies you should adopt to drive more revenue to your hotel: add chat to your hotel website. Focus on this webpage as your SEO secret weapon. Try these tips on your mobile website, etc…

Today, we want to turn things around and recommend a few things NOT to do!

From our experience, here’s five negative habits inhibiting hotel marketers from reaching their full revenue-generating potential:

1) Using the wrong message to fight OTAs

Travelers aren’t as obsessed with low prices as you may believe. According to a recent JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, customers who booked on third-parties are more likely to face problems (like last-minute changes and canceled reservations) and be dissatisfied with their hotel experience. 

A common review from an unhappy OTA customer…

A common review from an unhappy OTA customer…

So, instead of using price to win back OTA customers, focus on a common fear: Fear of a ruined travel experience.

It’s no secret that OTAs have left thousands of travelers in the lurch with their cancellation policies and ability to change/reassign hotels at their own discretion.

So, use that your advantage. Remind customers that booking direct with your hotel is the SAFER option. Unlike OTAs, you have a staff that actually, truly cares about them and will do all that’s possible to avoid and quickly amend any issues.

2) Tolerating an Inferior Product

Not even the most creative hotel marketing strategies, sophisticated hotel booking engine, or targeted hotel ppc campaigns can compensate for a sloppy hotel experience. Just as the saying goes, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig,” you can’t cover the signs of your hotel’s frayed edges or lapses in service. Travelers are more sophisticated than ever and they’re well aware of their options, especially with so many shiny and new boutique hotels stealing their attention.

No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product

No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product

While you can’t decide what gets fixed and replaced, that shouldn’t stop you from diligently pointing out to your owners what guests are complaining about. Each year, leverage your guest reviews that show the shortcomings that are deterring guests and hindering revenue growth. Convince your owners that property upgrades and enhancements are urgent if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.

3) Working in a Silo

It’s a common scenario playing out in hotels across the globe:

Hotel marketing departments that don’t communicate, share resources or vital updates.

The result?

Marketers left in the dark about upcoming periods of weakness. Group sales managers with no leads. Revenue managers clueless about why marketing continues to target one audience (or date period) over another.

It’s time to end this disconnect.

Smart hotel marketers break down silos and work closely with sales and revenue management

Smart hotel marketers break down silos and work closely with sales and revenue management

Your entire hotel and its financial success depend on all three pillars of the sales & marketing platform working together in unison and towards the same revenue goals. One easy way to break down these silos is to schedule an all-team meeting every week. This meeting should include ALL associates, not just managers. Share your current priorities, upcoming projects, recent discoveries, ask for feedback and share resources.

This not only gives every team member access to what’s happening outside of their department, but it also fosters teamwork and enhances collaboration that results in success across all S&M departments.

4)  Ignoring the sales team

Meetings and events account for a major portion of your hotel’s revenue.

Yet, hotel marketers tend to solely focus on driving leisure business, leaving sales managers to generate their own group leads.

This is a dangerous habit, as more and more hotel owners and asset managers become less impressed with your branding initiatives or your hotel’s number of social media followers and more obsessed with how much you contribute to your property’s revenue.

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So start using your skills in digital marketing for hotels to champion the sales team’s efforts and drive group business. Smart hotel marketers do three fundamental things to support their sales teammates:

a.  Run campaigns that consistently engage the sales team’s high-value targets (HVTs) with relevant and entertaining content
b.  Deploy marketing automation tools to alert sales managers when HVTs are on the hotel website and what pages they are looking at…
c.  Optimize the meetings and events pages on the hotel direct website with ALL the resources meeting planners need… AND create compelling content showcasing your destination as an exciting locale for meetings and events attendees

5) Focusing on meaningless stats

Because the best hotel marketers know they’re only as good as their metrics, measurement and tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs) are an ongoing commitment.

However, with more sophisticated technology comes more data.

While analytics are vital for doing what we do, we’re also burdened with an avalanche of irrelevant KPIs stealing our attention from the metrics that actually matter.

Don’t get dragged down trying to keep up with useless numbers, such as bounce rate, online page views and social media followers.

Instead of leaning on metrics that only sound impressive on paper, pay attention to the numbers that will actually measure your contribution to hotel revenues. Every day, you should be checking the KPIs that actually matter to your hotel’s owners and asset managers, 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 garnering 40 percent of your 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: This metric showcases revenue goals versus actual results (by segment).

 


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: Rate parity matters… but so does Promo Parity

April 13, 2018

Behold the Power of SPAC…

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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: Rate parity matters… but so does Promo Parity.

It’s not easy filling your hotel’s need periods. These low periods can break your annual budget. Avoid what many panicked hotel marketers do… “spray and pray” offers all over the digital landscape.

You need to be deliberate and focused.

Just like a general in charge of an army – you need to coordinate your operations and move your forces in unison.

This is why smart hotel marketers launch one promo across all channels simultaneously. We call this SPAC: Simultaneous Promotion Across All Channels.

Not only will your promo have the best chance of massive outreach and conversions, it also squashes any chance of confusion and skepticism in your market.

Think about it:

If Offer A is running on your Facebook page, Offer B is running on a 3rd-party channel and Offer C is running on your website, guests will be leery of what’s real or what’s current. Prospects will experience dissonance… enough to turn them away looking for another more consistent and mentally-calming hotel option. Consumers are uncomfortable with inconsistency.

Lesson: Consistency matters. Maintaining parity among your offers, not just rate, is vital to your bottom line.

Get More: Stop the Noise: The 10 Things That Matter to Hotel Marketers Right Now


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: Want More Business/Corporate Transient? Try this.

March 30, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This week’s Freebie: 

Start applying basic digital marketing tactics to enhance traction with the corporate/business transient segment.   

2018 is going to be a hot year for corporate travel.`

The Global Business Travel Association and Carlson Wagonlit Travel 2018 forecasts predict corporate travel spending will increase by 6.1 percent this year, up from the expected 2017 increase of 5.1 percent.

However, despite the growth, don’t expect corporate travelers to be drawn to your hotel on their own. You’ll need to sharpen your plan to attract their business.

Here are FOUR easy ways to grow your hotel’s business travel bookings in 2018:

  1. Make Your Business Benefits Obvious

According to a report by Concur and GBTA, 7 out of 10 travelers booked outside of their company’s channels at least once in 2017. So, even if you are a leisure property, it makes sense to showcase your business amenities thoroughly to this massive segment.

Create a page on your hotel website just for business travelers. Offer solutions and packages for corporate travelers, such as offering free early/late checkout, complimentary in-room WiFi, and complimentary breakfast.

  1. Send Only Targeted Email Campaigns to Corporate Travelers

Generic emails promoting resort services are not relevant to business road warriors. Instead, tout your airport shuttle, morning breakfast buffet, parking and nearby transportation options, business center, list of company headquarters in your area, ironing and laundry services, area eateries with grab-and-go options and your 24-hour fitness center.

      3. Optimize Your Website With Corporate Search Terms
Be deliberate with your hotel website content and write in terms that are relevant to corporate travelers. Create a business FAQ page that answers questions that business travelers are apt to ask. Highlight all of your amenities that are vital to corporate travel. Not only are you offering relevant content to this audience, it can be a magnet for SEO traffic.

      4. Create a “Bleisure offer”
Create an offer solely for business travelers that extends the corporate rate a few days before and after their reservation. Then, consider adding on simple perks during those extra days that address “bleisure needs such as complimentary breakfast, a late check-out, passes to a nearby gym (if your property doesn’t offer a fitness center) and a calendar of unique/authentic local events happening nearby.

Once the offer is created, use your CRM system to share the offer with all guests marked with corporate rate codes in your PMS before their stay. Include the offer in their pre-stay email, remind them at check-in and if possible… leave them a note during their stay.


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: Feed Foodie Wanderlust

March 23, 2018

Feed Foodie Wanderlust: boost upscale/luxury bookings.

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue.
This week’s freebie: Upscale and luxury hotel marketers know that consumers’ increasing fascination with food is a delicious path to profits! Tap into this growing trend by showcasing your unique F&B offerings and quintessential local food experiences. 

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

Luxury hotels understand this well. 

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

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

Get More: 10 Secrets of Luxury Hotel Websites


About Tambourine

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

The GM Checklist for Hotel Marketing

March 20, 2018

General Manager’s (GM’s) are more involved than ever in hotel marketing.

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The cost of guest acquisition is on everyone’s mind these days, which means GM’s are feeling pressure from ownership, asset managers and their hotel management companies to maximize the ROI from their marketing investments.

GM’s have responded in two positive ways:

1. GM’s are now holding their marketing teams accountable for contributing – in a tangible, measurable way – to revenue goals and generating leads.

2. GM’s are also championing their marketing team’s efforts and investing more time than ever before in improving their understanding of the complex challenges facing their hotel marketing team

To support this effort, here’s our list of 10 significant hotel marketing elements that every GM should be familiar with:

1. The Four Marketing Pillars: Price, Product, Promotion and Placement

A smart, easy place for every GM to start is understanding the four traditional pillars of marketing that directly drive the success of your hotel:

Product 
The most important of the four, classic marketing “P’s”: How does your product differentiate you? Consider both the hotel’s physical product (rooms, restaurant, meeting space, amenities, spa, etc.), as well as the service experience. GMs need to constantly work with their marketing team to determine if their product or service experience needs improvement (and then ask ownership for the funds)!

Promotion (i.e. Advertising and Traffic Generation)

More than anything else, the GM MUST ensure that the marketing team’s promotional expenses and investments are synchronized with the hotel’s targeted business mix

Placement (Distribution Channels)

GM’s need to know where the business is expected to come from and how the property’s rates and inventory are positioned there? How many groups vs transient do you expect and how much is actually being generated? How much inventory are you allocating to OTAs? Is your team relying too heavily on OTAs to reach revenue goals? Or, are you thoughtfully optimizing your own hotel website and booking engine to attract more profitable, direct bookings?

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Your revenue management team controls pricing, but price is an unavoidably critical element of marketing. GMs need to have consistent, accurate visibility to ADR vs the compset. GM’s should also strongly encourage close cooperation between their marketing and revenue management teams.

2)  What your Marketing Team Needs from YOU to Succeed!

Your marketing team can’t survive without the GM championing their efforts and giving them the right amount of funds, tools and resources to succeed. The key is to simply, and constantly, ask them what they require from you to achieve their goals, then make it happen.

3) The Quality of Your Product 

We want to underscore the importance of your PRODUCT in the marketing mix.

No amount of clever advertising or promotion can overcome an inadequate product or me-too service experience.  Keep in mind this compelling quote by Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, “Advertising is the tax you pay for an unremarkable product.”

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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. The less you pay attention to improving your service and your hotel product, the higher your marketing and advertising expenses will be to make up for it.

GM’s can best serve their marketing teams by driving product improvement first!

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

4) How Marketing Investments Correlate to Projections

Smart GM’s know exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. And they expect their marketing teams to correlate their investments for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B.

Generic, aimless and “pretty picture” marketing won’t cut it. Every marketing activity should be done with the intention of achieving the segmented revenue goals of the overall business mix.

Check back in throughout the year to see how your marketing team is synchronizing their allocated budget and resources to align with revenue projections.

5) Your Property’s Story

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Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what truly attracts travelers. However, many hoteliers don’t know what their story is, much less how to convey it. Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders in agreement about your property’s unique identity so that you can convey it poignantly across all your marketing channels.

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

GMs should be vigilant about their marketing team’s ability to propagate a unique story across all channels.

6) Actual Costs of OTAs vs Marketing Expenses

Every good hotel marketer must know the actual costs and expenses of each channel. OTAs are particularly tricky to track, as their commissions are often hidden, yet are one of the costliest expenses to hit your bottom line (OTAs usually pay a net rate back to the hotel, so the actual cost will never show up in your financials). Lean on your marketing and revenue team to track the real expense of OTA bookings and compare that to the tangible expenses that power more direct booking channels.

7) The Ratio of Direct vs 3rd Party Revenue

This goes in tandem with #6. Many hotels are still relying disproportionately on higher cost channels for business. With rates and occupancy at an all-time high, one of the primary areas GMs can affect is COST of acquisition!

And owners are watching this closely.

GMs should check the pulse on this each month to compare how many bookings came directly through your hotel call center and website versus costly 3rd parties.

8) How to Augment the Brand’s Marketing Program

Brand affiliation offers many benefits… But custom marketing targeted to your specific audiences is not one of them.

Branded/flagged properties 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 the brand’s standard marketing program, which is duplicated for every other sister hotel in the region. Your marketing team should be proactively differentiating your property, customizing your website, and boosting your search engine optimization (SEO) and social media efforts.

9) Marketing KPIs 

Get familiar with the KPIs your marketing team is responsible for while ensuring they are not spending too much time tracking vanity metrics. Metrics should offer insight that GMs and the property owners consider high priority (like how much your marketing team is actually contributing to the hotel’s revenue targets). Hotel marketers should be able to share vital KPIs like direct revenue ratio, leads generated for the sales team and marketing cost per booking (MCPB).

10) Why You Lose Business to the Compset

Winning is easy.

Losing requires painful introspection.

A majority of hotel sales and marketing teams fail to ponder why people chose another property. Whenever your team loses a major group deal or market share, the GM needs to ask the team: Why did we not win this business?

What went wrong… How could we have done better?

This simple follow-up could dramatically empower, alter, and inform your future sales efforts.

Also, your team should never lose track of what your comp set is doing. In fact, there are so many tactics and tools at your disposal, that a competitor’s success should never come as a surprise. Keeping tabs on your compset will give you the insight to finesse, and possibly pivot, your own 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

How Guests Decide Whether to Buy on Your Hotel Website

February 20, 2018

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Psychology plays a deeper role in online hotel booking decisions than you may think, particularly when it comes to building trust among hotel consumers. And creating that trust, experts say, is not as simple as just touting your brand affiliation or Trip Advisor rating.

Ultimately, your sales will suffer if you fail to foster trust with your hotel website visitors and give them psychological motivation to buy. According to a recent Western University study recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review, that begins with understanding the two methods of reasoning customers use when making online purchases, depending on the level of risk involved with that decision.

Parallel Processing

There are two different, yet complementary “parallel” means in which humans decide to buy. On the one hand, potential customers use logical, rules-based “deliberative” system of reasoning when making small, low-risk purchases.

That means that when buying lower-priced items online, shoppers are mostly looking for the standard signs of business legitimacy, like a secure checkout, a strong search-engine presence, online reviews, etc. Buying in this situation is a deliberate, informed choice that satisfies a very basic customer need.

But for more expensive, complicated transactions where personal comforts are associated (ie hotel stays), humans tend to rely on what is called “associative” reasoning, which is far less structured and rules-based than the deliberative process. Associative reasoning relies more on the individual’s own intuition and personal experience, and here is where building virtual trust becomes so important. Instead of creating a bond in person through your sales charisma and the reassuring experience of meeting your client in person at your office or storefront, you need to find the online aesthetics instead that trigger the same associative customer trust.

But how?

Here are three proven ways to build trust and increase your hotel website conversion rate:

1. Actually be authentic

You’ll never connect with consumers with a generic, cookie-cutter hotel website that fails to convey a truthful story. But there are also a number of subtle visual cues, as well as content features, that can go a long way toward enhancing a sense of authenticity that eases suspicion and fosters trust. Some useful tips include:

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The great ad man David Ogilvy reminds about the importance of being truthful in our marketing

  • Be truthful

Travelers are no longer drawn to sterile facts, puffy promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about. Telling a meaningful, TRUTHFUL story is what can truly attract travelers. Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity, so you can convey it poignantly across all marketing channels. Also, be truthful in how you tailor your messaging, language and imagery. Avoid using models in photos who don’t look anything like your typical visitors. And write your copy with language that speaks to your intended audience.

  • Avoid stock photography

Those dull, lifeless stock images that are used all too often on the web do little to motivate buyers or convince them they should do business with you. Instead, try and use your own unique photos. If that means hiring a professional photographer in order to create quality images, then go ahead and budget for that. And most importantly, every hotel should be capturing guest-generated content and repurpose it across every marketing channel

  • Get hyper-local

Give visitors the most authentic personalized content and recommendations you can. Offer “Staff picks” on great places to eat, “in-the-know” events and other local suggestions that go beyond the typical tips already available online for your area. Position your hotel website as the epicenter of the destination!

2. Provide social proof

Social proof can have a huge effect on building trust, because it taps into that fuzzy human logic that drives associative reasoning, including the fear of missing out (FOMO). Some core methods of providing social proof include:

  • Celebrate Past Guest Experiences on Social Media

Travel consumers are heavily influenced by “social proof” (this is why TripAdvisor is so popular). By sharing past guest stories, reviews (and best of all videos) on their hotel’s social media channels, you can turn your past guests into a perpetual army of experience evangelists.

Harvest their good times!

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

  • User Testimonials

Post glowing past guest reviews directly on your website (especially for meeting planners). If possible, include a photo of the person leaving the review, which enhances the perceived legitimacy of the testimonial

  • Media Labels

Showcase awards on your hotel website from the reputable news or travel industry organizations who’ve recognized your property. The equity of these organizations creates buyer confidence at a quick glance

  • Partner Logos

Also display the logos of the businesses and organizations you partner with, even if they are smaller, less easily recognized brands. This bolsters credibility and draws other partners and customers to you

3. Create helpful content

Research has shown that people are more likely to do you a favor if you do something for them first. In marketing, this is called reciprocity, the principle of give and take. If you offer something of value upfront, travelers will have an innate desire and obligation to return the favor.

So when planning and executing content strategies for your site, create content purely for the sake of being useful to your customers. Don’t make content a thinly-veiled sales pitch. That’s a surefire recipe for a rapid bounce rate (how quickly someone clicks on a link and then leaves) and is a general turn-off for viewers, who see right through this tactic.

Design content to help solve problems and address customer pain points. Local area guides, FAQ pages, area events calendars etc are all examples of selfless content that conveys helpfulness and generates trust

For more on the psychology of buying as it pertains to the hotel booking process, check out our in-depth series on “The Surprising Psychology Behind Successful Hotel Websites,” Part One and Part Two.

 


About Tambourine

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

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

February 13, 2018

Hotel marketing folks are infatuated with these 7 things…

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Each year around Valentine’s Day, we ask clients, partners and industry insiders what they are feeling warm and fuzzy about… here are the 7 things they’re smitten with right now:

1. A Strong Economy and Positive Industry Forecasts 

The smart folks at STR, CBRE and PWC all generally agree that 2018 will be another year of steady growth for the hotel industry. (You can download STR’s detailed breakdown by market here.) Fueled by a strong global economy, relatively low gas prices and limited supply growth, the US hotel industry is once again expected to enjoy positive RevPAR and ADR growth. And since all boats rise with the tide… hotel marketers are riding the wave to happiness and career growth.

image22. Robust Career Opportunities

Speaking of career growth… hotel marketers are seeing more opportunities than ever. Industry results have expanded budgets and created new roles. While the allure of the hotel industry and the fast-tracked promotional opportunities make hotel marketing and hotel social media jobs some of the most coveted in the country.

3. Elevated Consumer Awareness of Direct Booking Benefits

Thanks to the massive media outreach by Hilton and Marriott’s direct booking campaigns, we’re seeing heightened public recognition of the benefits of booking direct. The idea is to educate travelers and chip away at the myth that OTAs save guests money. With the stage set, more and more hotels are following in Hilton and Marriott’s footsteps with their own hotel marketing campaigns enticing audiences to book direct.

Plus, hotel marketers at properties of all sizes are now armed with new digital hotel marketing tools and previously unaffordable technology that can help them drive direct room revenue, instead of settling for costly OTA bookings. The momentum of the “book direct movement” is growing and hotel marketing folks are excited to see where it’s headed.

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4. Owners’ Investment in a Remarkable Product

New hotels with bold concepts and fresh guest experiences are springing up in all directions, so hotel owners need to invest in their properties to keep up with modern expectations.

Thankfully, more and more hotel owners are realizing that the best hotel marketing investment they can make is in enhancing their property, the experience and the service.

If your property is providing a lackluster experience with frayed edges, outdated décor, and musty smells, no amount of brilliant marketing can save you from the downward spiral of lost revenue.

5. Social Evangelism

Hotel social media managers are feeling blessed to have guests who gush and brag about their stay on Facebook and post foodie pics to Instagram. Not only have they made marketing travel engagingly personal and authentic, they come at no cost to the hotelier.

Over the last few years, storytelling and “user-generated content (UGC)” has become one of the most popular (and cost-effective) ways for hotel marketers to win guests’ hearts and wallets.

Why?

Because consumers no longer trust advertising… they trust each other. As this article in AdAge so aptly put it: “Your brand is defined by the interactions people have with it.”

User-generated content, especially photos, videos and posts about on-property experiences are more authentic, less sales focused… and let’s face it, usually more creative than anything hotel social media folks could ever dream up.

6. Metasearch: An Attractive and Less Expensive Option

It’s easy to see why travelers love metasearch, such as Google and TripAdvisor: They receive all the key details needed to research and book their stays all in one place, like real-time pricing, availability, hotel information, guest reviews and location.

But, hotel marketers are loving metasearch too.

They are using these sites to boost direct bookings instead of relying on OTAs and paying high commissions. You can pay-per-click or pay booking commissions (still less expensive than traditional OTA fees) – all while getting brand exposure and access to travelers who are just entering the consideration and booking funnel.

7. Digital Personalization

Every year, new hotel website and booking engine technology allows hotels to know more about who’s looking, booking and bouncing. With this robust analytics and demographic data, hotel offers are now personalized and optimized to reap the biggest ROI.

And hotel marketers are smarter than ever about crafting hotel marketing campaigns that are tailored to the right travelers and delivered to the right place, at the right time. And, best of all – everything is measurable, which provides tremendous power to hotel marketers when it comes time for annual performance and budget reviews.


About Tambourine

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

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

February 9, 2018

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

This Week’s Freebie: Stop blocking bookings – be flexible and allow as many payment methods as possible. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Rebranding Your Hotel? Five Marketing ‘Gotchas’

February 6, 2018

Hotel rebranding requires more than pretty pictures…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead, root the identity of your rebrand in experiences and amenities you can actually deliver. Travelers are no longer drawn to sterile facts, puffy promises of a wonderful stay or mentions of your recent industry awards. They want to be a part of something that intrigues them, connects with them and gives them something to brag about. Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what can truly attract travelers. However, many hoteliers simply don’t know what their story is, much less how to convey it.

Correctly telling your story means knowing your audience, being honest about your assets and getting all stakeholders into consensus about your property’s unique identity, so you can convey it poignantly across all marketing channels. Cement that strategy by taking the time to author a brand manifesto, or brand promise document.

Gotcha #3: Not having enough time and money.

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

Celebrate it! And expect to spend money.

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

Gotcha #4: Failing to retain legacy assets.

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

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

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Gotcha #5: Forgetting what really matters….

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

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