Browsing Tag

Rate Parity

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

October 26, 2016 • By


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?


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:

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

January 11, 2016 • By


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:

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

September 29, 2015 • By


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:

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


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

June 21, 2013 • By


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


Guests are likely to visit 13 sites before making a purchase.

April 26, 2013 • By

TambourineNumbersforNinjas13%The internet has changed travel consumer buying behavior dramatically. Guests now research and compare more than ever before… consulting up to 13 or more different sites before making a purchase!

How does this affect your marketing?

  1. 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.
  2. Image parity: conveying consistent brand, rooms and amenities imagery across all online channels will comfort savvy consumers
  3. Mobile-friendly websites are essential: up to 25% of your web traffic is coming on mobile/tablet devices.
  4. Social proof is critical: consumers are deeply affected by reviews, awards and engaging social content. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
  5. Take your best shot: consumers are more deal-conscious than ever. Make a compelling offer to gain consideration

And if you’re wondering which sites your customers are looking at other than yours… check out your website analytics stats each month for a complete list of the sites that arriving visitors are coming from… you might be surprised!