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Rate Parity

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

May 23, 2017 • By
Hotel marketing has never been so cluttered and noisy. image1 Every week it seems as if there is something new and important competing for your attention and causing FOMO (fear of missing out) stress. With all this marketing overload, it’s easy to forget what is really important and which marketing assets actually have the biggest impact on results. We’re here to help... Of course every property has unique demands and market conditions, but we want to try and free your mind from all the nonsense, hype and clutter and review the 10 things that should TRULY matter (in our humble opinion) to the majority of hotel marketers right now: 1. Having a Remarkable Product Boundless creativity, clever marketing concepts and even a robust marketing budget are essentially useless if your hotel is crap. Great marketing can only begin with a great product. If your hotel is showing its frayed edges and providing lackluster experiences (or no real experience at all), no amount of brilliant marketing will save you from a downward spiral. Scour your hotel reviews and find out what guests complain about the most. Then, present this to your owners and champion the improvements your hotel needs to turn the tide and rise above the comp set. 2. Telling a Compelling Story  There is a reason why “storytelling” has become a hotel marketing buzzword over the last several years. Storytelling captivates your audience, draws them in emotionally and entices them to want more. Travelers – both leisure and business – don’t need to be sold on your thread count, the hours of your fitness center or the square footage of your ballroom. When they research hotel options, they are really looking for how your hotel will impact their lives during and after their stay. Follow these steps to use storytelling to win over the hearts and wallets of your target hotel audience.   image2 3. Integrating Systems and Technology Using different providers for each of your critical marketing technology needs (i.e. CRS, website, hotel booking engine, PMS, and CRM) is a recipe for disaster. Many hotels are missing out on countless reservations because of one simple reason: they don’t have integrated technology. The key is to work with as few providers as possible to make sure each component of your marketing can seamlessly speak to each other and simplify reporting for stressed-out hotel revenue, marketing and sales execs who are tired of system incompatibility and reporting nightmares. 4. Measuring Cost-per-Booking  Think you’re impressing your hotel owners with news about your social media followers, your cool new marketing videos or your rebranding initiatives? Think again. Today, hotel owners expect their hotel marketing departments to contribute to the hotel’s revenue targets in ways that can be measured. Without tracking and showing numerical evaluation of your marketing efforts, you’re going to face a difficult time later in the year when you need to request next year’s marketing dollars. To prove how your marketing efforts are adding to the hotel’s revenue, you’ll need to calculate your marketing cost-per-booking (MCPB). Use this number to show your marketing team’s value and to ensure you’re given the proper amount of marketing dollars to continue bringing in business for the hotel. Be especially vigilant to know your cost-per-booking from OTAs as well. Avoid the trap of viewing OTA bookings as purely revenue with no cost of acquisition. 5. Consolidating Vendors The more hotel marketing vendors you work with, the more chaos and confusion you should expect.  Hiring multiple, disconnected vendors to handle separate hotel marketing tasks, like hotel website design, hotel email marketing, hotel social media and hotel PPC campaigns, will halt your property’s success in so many ways. First, you’re paying way too much for vendors handling only one function. Second, you’ll spend most of your day relaying messages from one vendor to the next. And, lastly, no one vendor can ever be held accountable for your marketing success or failure, since they can easily point fingers at each other. Smart hotel marketers avoid juggling vendors… thereby reducing stress and gaining time to spend on proactive campaigns. 6. Sticking to a Plan Marketing to everyone will get you nowhere fast. Smart hotel marketers have a roadmap with a breakdown of exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. This enables the firm to correlate its separate investments in marketing for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B. The best hotel marketers understand that generic, aimless and ‘pretty’ marketing won’t cut it. Every marketing activity they create is built with the intention of drawing direct business from one or more of a hotel’s pre-defined guest segments. This will allow you to delegate the proper amount of investments to market to group, corporate, leisure/transient or F&B business. Every marketing activity you craft should be built with the intention of pulling in direct business from one or more of your target guest segments. 7. Consistency Across All Channels  Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining rate, image and promo parity is vital to your hotel’s bottom line. Smart hotel marketers also know that their USP (unique selling proposition) has to be consistent across all brand touchpoints and channels. If consumers see your property described as “urban chic” in one place and “a traditional business hotel” in another… dissonance occurs, causing erosion and attrition. Consistency matters. Whether it’s sending out email offers on a steady cadence, updating your hotel’s social media accounts or communicating with your group clients, it’s critical to set schedules and maintain consistency regardless of season or current results. Your core marketing activities need to be sacred and deserve to be given the attention, resources and budget required. 8. Stunning Photography  Awe-inspiring photos are worth a thousand bookings. Evocative images provoke an emotional response and directly contribute to booking decisions. Your images prepare potential guests for what’s to come. Along with your hotel's website design, they convey your experience with a single glance. So, be ruthless and replace all bland property images, including those that are old, grainy, dark or fail to convey a remarkable guest experience. Hire a hotel photographer trained in shooting real estate or architecture. Even better, complement those professional images with authentic and free photos taken by your hotel’s best photographers – your own guests. 9.  Simultaneous Promotions Across All Channels  Filling periods of need is not easy… which is why smart hotel marketers launch promotions across all channels simultaneously. (See #7: Consistency, above.) Imagine you are the general of all your forces, you’d want them to coordinate operations and move in unison! Launching the promo on every channel AT THE SAME TIME gives consumers comfort and avoids confusion. If guests see different special offers for your hotel on a 3rd party channel than what is shown on your own direct hotel website, they will get uncomfortable with the inconsistency and find another hotel that gives them greater mental comfort. 10. Continuing to Boost Online Guest Sentiment Guests will always trust other guests more than you. This is why past guest reviews are one of the most influential factors impacting your hotel’s future success. Whether glowing or scathing, every review is an opportunity to stumble or shine. Get rid of the canned corporate responses and strive to always answer genuinely and authentically. Graciously own up to any mistakes and correct mistaken guests with grace. Even offer solutions for problems you can’t control, like the noisy nightclub across the street or the construction next door. Keep all of your responses thoughtful and they’ll have a greater chance of turning negative reviews into shining moments that make your hotel even more likable and worthy of a visit.

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

Do Hotel Sales Teams Have a New Secret Weapon?

May 16, 2017 • By

Smart hotel marketers are using new, affordable marketing automation tools to close more group and meetings business.

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Marketing automation technology is one of the biggest advancements in the marketing world over the last ten years.

And hotel marketers were among the early adopters.

The vast majority of hotels use basic forms of marketing automation to improve relationships with leisure segment guests: automatic booking confirms, post stay surveys and reservation recovery emails have been deployed by hotel marketing departments for many years.

But now, thanks to new, more affordable and simplified software, marketing automation could very well be your group sales department’s new best friend and the catalyst for driving more meetings and events to your property. 

Marketing automation can send the right message at the right time to the right meeting planner or group lead. And keep your sales team informed as your target prospects engage with your website and marketing materials!

First, here’s a simple explanation of how marketing automation works for hotel sales and marketing departments:

1. A small piece of code from your marketing automation vendor or agency is embedded in your hotel website’s code. This code allows your marketing automation platform to monitor every visitor who comes to your direct hotel website.

2.  Each visitor’s behavior, actions and referral source is now tracked, collected and viewable via your marketing automationplatform.

3. You can trigger automatic actions to occur when a visitor or lead meets a specific condition. This can be anything from an emailbeing sent, a retargeting ad being delivered or an alert being sent to a salesperson.

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Now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the specific things marketing automation can do to accelerate group revenue:

1. Engage New Group Prospects

Once you get a meeting planner’s email address (usually submitted via an RFP form), marketing automation can ensure that every new lead receives an instant personalized response. Surveys have shown that a surprising number of inbound leads are often ignored… simple marketing automation eliminates this risk by sending these new leads a welcome email that summarizes your hotel’s entire group experience, gives them easy links to see venue photos and images of past events, contact information and bios of sales managers, sample group itineraries, virtual venue tours, etc.

The purpose of this email is to give the meeting planner a reason to interact with your website. From there, marketing automation tools can track their behavior on your website and collect data to refine future campaigns.

2. Create a Steady Drumbeat of Awesomeness

Meeting planners love to book venues they trust. And one way to build trust is by communicating consistently in a selfless, helpful way. Hotel marketers can use marketing automation tools to establish a steady “drip” of stories, photos and content that helps prospects understand the destination better and do their job more effectively. But under no circumstances should the content be self-serving!

Your content “stream” does not have to be restricted to email or digital content. Direct mailing personal notes and helpful material often breaks through the clutter and differentiates you from the thousands of emails your prospects receive each week!

Creating this cadence of content will establish you and your property as a trusted resource and position you as THE leader in your destination!

3. Segment Messages By Group/Event Type

Based on where meeting planners are located and/or what they click on in your onboard/welcome email (and subsequent visits to your hotel website), marketing automation software can determine if they are planning a family reunion, a corporate retreat or a large customer conference. Were they looking at a virtual tour of the largest ballroom? Or, spending a lot of time on the activities pages?

Marketing automation can separate each prospect into smaller buckets and send more customized marketing campaigns with relevant images and copy that match their interests.

4. Perfect Timing…

Meetings and events often follow a pattern throughout the year. For example, many associations generally hold annual conferences in the fall or winter. Meanwhile, the more price-sensitive SMERF market (social, military, educational, religious, fraternal) tend to meet off-season (usually holiday months or summer) when there are more discounts to leverage. Marketing automation can schedule campaigns to be released at the right time, with season-specific images and copy, to target group planners way in advance leading up to their site selection.

Even better, marketing automation enables hotel marketers to send increasingly specific messages as each prospect's behavior intensifies. For example: if one of your meeting planner leads spends 20 minutes on your website two days in a row, she probably should receive different (and more urgent) calls-to-action than the planner who has not visited in months!

5.  Retarget

Retargeting is another form of marketing automation used by many hotels to drive leisure business from consumers who have visited the hotel website before. Similarly, if a meeting planner’s visit to your hotel website doesn’t result in an RFP, you can set up retargeting advertising campaigns (typically through display ads) to follow them and remind them what makes your venue a viable option for their group. The idea is to stay top of mind and get them back onto your site, so that you’ll have a second chance of converting them. You can make your retargeting efforts even more effective by personalizing each with the information you have already collected, for example: dynamically populating your retargeting ads with the actual event dates provided by the prospect.

Have questions about using marketing automation for your hotel sales department? Ask us… we love to talk about this stuff!


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, 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

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

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

Six Things Scaring The $%#@ Out Of Hotel Marketers This Halloween

October 26, 2016 • By

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For Halloween, we asked hotel marketers from coast to coast, representing properties of all sizes, what they’re most spooked about right now. Here is what they said:

1. Unrealistic Goals on Tight Budgets

Hotel marketers have always had notoriously full plates. Now, those plates aren’t just full – they’re stacked sky-high with multiple marketing priorities to oversee, manage and implement. This upcoming year, the number of channels, campaigns, audiences, assets and tools will only get bigger and wider. This obviously calls for more marketing dollars, more staff and more assistance, right?

Not exactly.

More and more hotel owners are holding their managers and marketers accountable for driving measurable conversions… and demand they somehow top last year’s results. Yet, those same owners are not opening their wallets any wider to fund the needed resources to reach those higher revenue targets. This leaves hotel marketers under an avalanche of pressure to produce more with less.

Read: How Much Should Your Hotel Marketing Budget Be?

2. Shrinking Margins

Growing supply, Airbnb, fewer overseas visitors and growing OTA bookings all continue to affect margins, leaving hoteliers with less net revenue each month. Hotel marketers have to step up and double down on their efforts to drive bookings from their own direct channel. Otherwise, hotel managers and asset managers will be left wondering why they’re seeing eroded margins, even as your hotel enjoys all-time high ADRs and steady occupancies. It is up to you to explain why your bookings are coming from costly channels vs direct.

3. Predicted Slowing Pace in ADR and RevPAR

While overall hotel demand in the U.S. is predicted to remain strong in 2017, increasing supply growth is projected to cause occupancy levels to begin to level off. And according to STR, lower growth in the overall economy means a noticeably decelerating pace in RevPAR as well. How will owners react to the beginning of the end of a historically successful cycle? Will hotel marketers be expected to pull rabbits out of their hats?

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4. Airbnb

After their merger, Marriott and Starwood have now become the world’s largest hotel chain with 5,500 hotels and 1.1 million rooms worldwide. However, they are still eclipsed by one other lodging giant – Airbnb, which now boasts 1.5 million listings across 190 countries. Add to that the millennial traveler’s desire for authentic and local experiences outside the traditional hotel model and now you have a force to be reckoned with.

It’s still hard to believe a guest would ever choose a room in a stranger’s house over your renovated guestrooms, valet parking, curated artwork and award-winning restaurants. But Airbnb’s appeal of "live with a local" experiences have managed to steal hundreds of thousands of room nights away from U.S. hotels. Plus, this year Airbnb advanced even more into capturing business travel bookings. BCD Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and American Express Global Business Travel now integrate Airbnb For Business into their platforms.

5. The End of Rate Parity

Wait, isn’t the demise of rate parity a reason to celebrate, not cower in fear? Well, it should be. However, thousands of hotels across the country have come to rely on OTAs as a crutch for bookings so much that the fear of the unknown would overshadow any jubilation. If hotels were to eventually break free from rate parity and are suddenly handed full control of their own pricing and discounting, they’re nervous that their own lackluster marketing efforts won’t be the magic bullet they assumed it would be.

The end of rate parity is slowly approaching, with France being the first country to completely abolish the practice from its tourism industry. While no other country has taken all the steps to achieve the same, Germany and Italy have already made strides in that direction.

6. Shaky Job Security

Hotel marketers are expected to know more, do more and react faster than ever before. Hotel owners are mounting more pressure on hotel marketers to contribute their share of the revenue pie. This continued stress on marketers has resulted in an all-time high turnover rate averaging 23 months. Owners now expect bigger payoffs, with a shorter amount of time and funding. Meanwhile, hotel marketers have to fight to stay relevant by mastering rapidly evolving marketing technology, leaving them struggling to keep up, flustered and overwhelmed with an avalanche of marketing channels and tools.


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


ADR, AirBnb, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, RevPar

Hotel Marketer’s 10 Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions

January 11, 2016 • By

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Based on feedback from your peers, here are the 10 most popular new year's resolutions from hotel marketers around the globe.

Repeat after us: this is the year I will…

1. Stop Blaming OTAs and Rate Parity for All My Problems

It’s easy to make third parties and their stringent contract restrictions out to be the arch enemy of the hotel industry. After all, they whittle down the margins of each booking with their high commissions, hold onto their customer data and commoditize the hotel experience. Why shouldn’t we point fingers at them? Because there’s more to filling vacant rooms than just relying on OTAs.

What are YOU doing to drive direct bookings? Are you presenting a unique story in the market, creating unique experiences for guests or investing in building a direct booking audience? There are so many points in the travel journey where your hotel can regain control. Focus on what you can do, rather than merely pointing fingers.

2. Refine My Property’s Unique Story

Your guests have nearly endless options when looking for accommodations. From competing hotels, to Airbnb, to staying with nearby relatives. The only way to stand out is to spotlight what’s truly unique about your property and doggedly sharing that in every marketing touchpoint. Is it the locally sourced breakfast in the morning? Your storied past? Your funky décor? Build a personality around your unique selling point, add on complimentary experiences and celebrate the heck out of it.

3. Be Steadfast Regarding Budgets

We’ve seen it before. Management and ownership making sales goals higher and harder to achieve with an already dwindling budget. This is your year to put an end to it. Part of it is educating management on what can be reasonably achieved with your funding and staff. Then, raising the bar and showing them the ROI that’s possible given more resources. Don’t simply accept the amount they offer to you. Fight to align the revenue goals with your hotel marketing budget!   

4. Commit to Flawless TripAdvisor Reviews

Guest reviews play a major part in every guest’s decision to purchase. In fact, reviews have more power to influence others than all of your best marketing tactics combined! So, work with your staff to aim for happy guests and glowing reviews. And, when someone does leave a negative comment or asks a question within a review, respond that same day. Don’t address them a month later with a canned response. Travelers know better.

5. Gently Advocate for Product Improvements

There’s nothing worse than being old, dusty and dated in a sea of shiny and new. Unfortunately, thousands of hotels are dealing with this situation right now. Don’t let this happen to your property. With new brands being built from the ground up, whose DNA was created to appeal directly to modern travelers (think: Canopy by Hilton, Virgin Hotels, 1 Hotels and Resorts), older properties can’t ignore their need for upgrades any longer if they want to stay in the game. No amount of marketing can mask a dated hotel product.

6. Talk to More Guests and Meeting Planners

Think you know what matters to your guests while staying hidden behind your office doors? The best way to know what’s lacking and what’s working at your property is to walk your property and talk to your customers face-to-face. Commit to doing this every day for at least 10 minutes.

7. Make Decisions Based on Data, Not on Instinct

The smartest hotel and resort marketers lean on hard numbers and figures, not intuition. Analytics and tracking can reveal insight into your bookings and your guests in a way that no gut feeling can. Can your intuition tell you your exact demographics, who your top three geographic markets are, which guests spend the most money, which sites give you the most leads, or how well your comp set is doing?

8. Stop Depending on My Flag/Brand Team

Your remote, flag/brand sales and marketing team handles dozens of other properties (many in your region). They don’t really know your property or your specific market segments. This year, take back ownership of your property’s success and augment the basic marketing assets your flag affiliation gives you. Invest in a hotel vanity site, create and publish timely packages and specials, and launch campaigns targeting key groups and local events.

Read: Why So Many Flagged Hotels Are Taking Marketing Into Their Own Hands

9. Get Comfortable With Owner KPIs

There are many opinions on the key metrics for hotel S&M teams, and they can vary depending on your property's location and key segments. Here are the six we recommend monitoring:

- MCPB (marketing cost per booking)

- Revenue variance from target

- Sentiment score on TripAdvisor

- DRR (direct revenue ratio)

- RevPar Index vs compset

- Website conversion

Read: The Six Metrics Every Hotel Owner Cares About!

10. Try to Have More Fun and Worry Less!

This isn’t the insurance industry we’re working in. We’re here to sell worthwhile experiences and make visitors happy. Plus, people will never lose their desire to explore and discover. You will have a part in that no matter what. And, that alone is enough to smile about. ;-)

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

Digital Marketing, Direct Booking, hospitality, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice, Marketing Mistakes, Marketing Plan

What Is Wrong With Your Best Rate Guarantee And How To Fix It

September 29, 2015 • By

blog

Even as hotels around the globe are adopting cool technology to enhance the guest experience – such as mobile check-in and all-encompassing touch screen remotes to control lighting, TV, music, service requests and room temperature – your hotel is most likely using a tired and antiquated tool meant to persuade guests to book directly.

The Original Brilliance of the Best Rate Guarantee Created as a way to compete during the early days of online travel agencies, the Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) was meant as a hotel’s solid reassurance to travelers that their prices were the lowest throughout the internet. 

The idea itself was brilliant, yet straightforward. If a guest found a cheaper rate on an OTA, the hotel would match that rate and sometimes sweeten the deal with an additional incentive such as complimentary breakfast, parking, or in some cases, a free night’s stay.

Since the cost of these incentives or discounts were much less than the commissions paid to the OTA, hoteliers wrote them off as a justifiable expense. 

BRGs get hacked…

Over the years, it became apparent that hoteliers weren’t the only group to find major opportunity with Best Rate Guarantees. Hotel “promo hackers” soon started cataloging and rampantly sharing hotel chains’ Best Rate Guarantees to take advantage of free nights and free perks.

Not to be abused, hoteliers then responded by tightening the restrictions on their Best Rate Guarantees by implementing more rules and limitations.

The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of hotel shoppers ignore your BRG by shopping your rates regardless, and they certainly don’t want to invest the time to take advantage of it. Modern travelers want to find the lower price immediately, not hours later. 

As further evidence on how outdated BRGs have become:

An entire DECADE ago, Cornell researched low price guarantees and came to the conclusion that BRGs “have little value to the consumer.” It also argued that a new model was necessary so that guests will be driven to make a reservation without the need to search for a lower price elsewhere. Again, they said this a DECADE ago!

The Best Rate Guarantee remains a noble concept. It’s the implementation that renders them impotent. Under the current format, customers are required to search for cheaper rates elsewhere, submit a lengthy email form, then wait around for a response. Is that any way to guarantee great rates to our guests?

The Solution

There’s really only one way to regain all the benefits of a lucrative Best Rate Guarantee program. It must be built-in and automated by your hotel booking engine itself, where current 3rd party rates are displayed alongside your own rate. The best hotel booking engines prevent customers from leaving the booking engine to go look elsewhere for better rates. If prices are out of parity, the booking engine will automatically match your rate to the lower 3rd party rate.

Now that’s a Best Rate Guarantee that makes everyone happy.

For more, read: How to Recapture Abandoned Bookings

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

Best Rate Guaranteed, Direct Bookings, Guest Experience, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, search engine optimization

Surprise! 10 ways your hotel website is killing your business. Part 2

February 21, 2014 • By
Tambourine: 10 ways your hotel is killing you

Think your website is “good enough?” Think again… Here’s the second half of our list of ten ways your hotel website may be insufficient and underperforming:

Read Part 1 Here
  1. You fail to showcase your special promos:   Hotel consumers have been conditioned to expect a deal. Groupon, Travelzoo, the OTAs, dozens of other flash sale and deal-of-the-day players have made travel consumers less loyal and more price-conscious than ever before. Fight Back! Showcase your best offers prominently… not only on your website, but also across all your digital channels: mobile, search, social and email to past guests.
  2. Your photography is boring:   We live in a world where image is everything. On the web, people look at images first and read only if they like what they SEE! Simply “taking” photos of your rooms and amenities is not enough… you need to MAKE photos. Check out this photo from Four Seasons Mumbai as an example of how compelling a photo can be. Not every property has the blessed locality of this one, but every property deserves to look its best to engage website viewers. Hire the best photographer you can afford and a stylist. This investment will come back many times over.
  3. You fail to delight meeting/event planners:   If your property has no meeting facilities and receives limited revenue from groups/weddings/events… feel free to skip to #9. But if you depend on those market segments for any substantial amount of revenue, you need to make sure you are delighting meeting and event planners when they arrive at your site. Do you have content to engage these demanding folks? 360º videos of your facilities? Diagrams and spatial dimensions of the meeting rooms? Photos of previous weddings? Sample menus? Maps to nearby entertainment venues? All these and more will make the difference between getting a lead or missing out on lucrative business.
  4. You are not optimized for all devices:   Virtually every travel consumer (especially if they are affluent) uses two or three different screens in their purchasing cycle. If your website is not utilizing fully responsive website design best practices (ie, auto-reconfiguring itself depending on the screen size of the visitor) you are losing bookings. Your site needs to be stunning on big screen desktop computers, easy to navigate and read on a tablet (both portrait and landscape) and of course on any smartphone. Recent data shows exponential growth in tablet bookings, so make sure your tablet experience has been vetted, optimized and tested.
  5. You are overspending on traffic until you fix conversions:    The push to shift dependency on OTAs and increase direct bookings has inspired hotels of all sizes to spend billions on driving traffic to their own website. Sadly, its mostly wasted… hotel owners and their marketing teams would be better served by focusing instead on CONVERTING a higher percentage of their existing visitor stream, no matter how small it is. From architectural link/URL planning to “big-data” personalization and “smarter” booking engines, there are important new innovations and techniques available to catapult your website conversion and capture more direct revenue.

Improving your website "look-to-book" conversion rate should be at the very top of every hotel marketer’s list in 2014.

Your website is the first impression guests have of your property, it will shape their perception of your value and determine if they will buy from you, surf away to your competition or book your property through a costly OTA.

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit Tambourine.com.  

Website

2013 will be a record-breaking year for online bookings!

June 21, 2013 • By
NumbersForNinjas300B According to Richard Lewis, CEO of Best Western Hotels in England, 2013 will be a record-breaking year for online bookings! Mr Lewis revealed this amazing number at a recent industry event.

Are you capturing your share of the exploding online channel?

Here's 5 quick ways to make sure you're getting your fair share:
  1. Search prominence: Almost all travel begins with search. If you're not listed on page one of Google results for relevant key phrases (i.e: "Boston boutique hotels"), it's time to invest in proven, long-term SEO-tactics.
  2. Mobile-friendly websites are essential: up to 40% of your web traffic is coming on mobile/tablet devices. If your site is not optimized for mobile, you're losing bookings.
  3. Past guest reviews: consumers are deeply influenced by past guest reviews. Are you responding to all TripAdvisor comments?
  4. Take your best shot: online consumers are more deal-conscious than ever. Make a compelling offer to gain consideration.
  5. Rate parity is essential across all online channels: any rate dissonance will confuse and repel prospective guests. Make sure any discounts or flash sales are available on your website, where most consumers prefer to book directly.
The online channel is growing fast… with a little effort on your part, you can increase direct online bookings with no OTA/3rd party-commissions!

About Tambourine

Tambourine drives revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide using advanced marketing technology. The firm is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. For more information, visit Tambourine.com.  

destination marketing, mobile advertising, search engine optimization, SEO Tactics