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social media marketing

Friday Freebie: Do This to Turn up the Heat on Summer Bookings…

May 26, 2017 • By
FridayFreebie-Tambourine-600x600 Welcome to the Friday Freebie! Each week we share one impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more conversions and more revenue. This Week’s Freebie: Rake in more summer bookings by building a tiered minimum stay promotion leveraging your onsite amenities, instead of simply handing out summer discounts.  The good news: Today launches the unofficial start of summer. Even better news: Millions of travelers are pulling out their credit cards and packing their bags for summer vacays. But, don’t rejoice just yet. The competition for summer travelers is fierce and hotels will be pumping out summer discounts in every direction to get their attention. Our advice? Hold back from joining the pack and giving out those standard 10-15 percent discounts. They’re boring and your compset is probably doing the same thing. To get the most revenue out of this summer season, you need to stand out in the sea of summer sameness. Here’s how to do it: Create tiered minimum stay promotions using your onsite amenities as incentives for longer stays. Start off with small, no-cost add-ons, like free late checkouts or early check-ins. Then, increase your offerings with each day added onto the reservation. These can include room upgrades, free parking, free bike rentals, dining credits, spa credits, tickets to local attractions, etc. The best part is, unlike straight price discounts, these value-ads strategically help you drive incremental revenue by enticing guests to stay longer and spend more money at the restaurant or spa, which they may not normally do. Get more: Put Some Sizzle In Your Summer ADRs 

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

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

Friday Freebie: Nudge Your Happiest Guests to Leave a Review

May 19, 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: Convince more happy hotel guests to leave good reviews by reminding them at several touch points. 

See those guests who wrote a TripAdvisor review of your hotel?

They make up a teeny, tiny percentage of guests who actually stayed with you. They represent the few who either remembered to leave a review OR felt compelled to because of an extraordinary experience (or a horrible one). 

Now, imagine how much better your TripAdvisor rankings would be if more happy and satisfied guests wrote a review of their stay. The good news: It only takes a simple reminder. 

Stop leaving your guest reviews to chance. Here are a few ways to gently remind your guests to share their experience on TripAdvisor:

Post Stay Emails Every hotel should have an automated process that emails every guest asking for feedback after the guest checks out. And don’t be afraid to put a link leading directly to your TripAdvisor profile. This will likely increase the overall number of reviews you accumulate and show your commitment to transparency! 

Approach Your Social Advocates Turn to your hotel’s brand advocates – those who have posted to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter before. Research shows that hotel properties that reach out to their loyal guests to build up reviews will see not only higher rankings, but increased online sentiment. Remind Guests During Their Stay, Not Just At Check-Out If your staff hears a guest complimenting the hotel in any way, have them encourage the guest to share that tidbit in a review.

Place Your TripAdvisor Link In Your Email Signature Any email you send to guests or to whoever else, should have a link to your TripAdvisor profile.

Get more: Want Better TripAdvisor Rankings? Do These 3 Things


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

Friday Freebie: Want More Weddings? Get Real…

May 12, 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: Attract more wedding business by sharing real-life wedding stories on your hotel website.

Modern brides, like today’s travelers, are obsessed with authenticity.

Today, they’re inspired by the genuine images, videos, and opinions of other brides and newlyweds, not photo shoots with models.

And smart hotel marketers have taken notice.

Instead of expensive staged photo shoots or using stock photos, many hotels are now showcasing more real-life past events, displaying the food, dresses, décor, etc. from successful weddings at the property.

Most previous brides will be thrilled to be featured in your materials, so follow-up with them or the wedding photographer for permission. Or, use one of the latest social media capture tools to locate, capture and license actual wedding photos shot on your property… these can provide you with a deep archive of authentic wedding photos for your hotel website and other event marketing collateral.

Get more: 7 Ways to Attract More Weddings To Your Hotel


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

20 Surprising Digital Marketing Stats Every Hotel Marketer Should Know

April 11, 2017 • By

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

Hotel Email Marketing

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

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

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

Hotel Digital Display Advertising

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

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

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

Hotel Social Media Marketing

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

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

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

Hotel Mobile Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Content Marketing

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

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

About Tambourine

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

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

Friday Freebie: How to Use the World’s Best (Free) Hotel Photographers

April 7, 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: Infuse your hotel marketing with a big dose of authenticity and stunning imagery with Instagram photos from your actual guests.

Modern travelers no longer trust blatant advertising or anything that looks forced, contrived or fake coming from hotel brands.

This is especially true for your hotel photography.

Gone are the days with fake ‘guests’ smiling awkwardly in lobby photos or hiring models to glam up your pool images.

Today, the most trusted source of travel photography are Instagram users, not your hotel itself.

The good news: Many of your guests are shooting and posting beautiful images onto Instagram right now as you read this.

Even better news: You can leverage their genuine images and add them to your own hotel marketing campaigns, whether that’s posting to your website, hotel social media accounts or marketing emails.

Using Instagram images is a smart way to implement ‘social proof,' the idea that people buy into what others are buying.

Here’s How to Do it:

Search for your hotel’s geotag on Instagram and it will pull up all the Instagram images that users have posted from your property. Select which images you’d like to keep for marketing purposes and message each user individually to ask for their permission.

(NOTE: shameless plug.) This process can be time consuming and tedious… if you want a quicker way, you can use our new tool, Tout, and we’ll take care of all of these steps for you.

Click here for details: New Tool Helps Hotels Harvest Guest Generated Content


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

How do Smart Hotel Management Firms Actually Handle Guest Reviews?

April 4, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

1. Positive Reviews = Flag Happiness = More Deals for the Flag and the HMG

One of the primary reasons that HMG operations execs place such high emphasis on reputation/review management is because positive guest scores and reviews ultimately lead to more deals. If an HMG has a reputation for quality service in their hotels, everyone benefits.  In the case of a flagged hotel, more franchise agreements are written for the brand and more management agreements are given to the HMG.

2. Property Operators are Busy

Hotel General Managers no longer have the freedom to delegate all tasks.  They are working with their teams’ hands on to help run the property. Additionally, they need to be guest facing as much as possible. The more time a GM can spend on the floor ensuring a positive guest experience, the less negative reviews a property will have. This is where their time is best spent versus spending their time responding to reviews reactively.

3. Escalation Effect

What happens if a GM is busy while a scathing negative review, that could potentially escalate into something very damaging to the property, comes in? A hotel’s vendor/partner can quickly be called to help do damage control. Part of a hotel management group's responsibility is to safeguard the asset on behalf of the owner. A hotels reputation is one of the most crucial components of the asset.   

One of the biggest tasks hotel management firms face is managing the reputation of their portfolio properties. And it often requires different policies, processes and people than what might be occurring at the property level…

Reputation management software that monitors and responds to guest reviews makes things easier, but software alone can’t manage a hotel’s reputation.

People do that.

The Property Owner, General Manager, Operations Manager, management company and often an outside vendor drive these efforts.

How do hotel management companies handle this complex issue?

We asked a few for their advice.

A Common Bond

image2“Guests want acknowledgment,” says Delana Meyer, Vice President of Digital Strategy, Crescent Hotels & Resorts. “Whether complaining, praising or just commenting, they have taken the time to tell you and you, in return should acknowledge, empathize and, at minimum, say thank you, your feedback will help us be better.”

“The question is not 'what's the value of reputation management?' but rather, 'what's the cost of not participating?,'” she says. Hotels want guest feedback while they’re on property so issues can be taken care of right away. But that’s not always the case, and tools like Twitter, text messaging and Expedia's Real Time Feedback make it easier for guests to communicate their needs without coming to the front desk.

Still, these tools need managing, and an instant response is an expectation.

“We are constantly reviewing and updating our policies on guest reviews, responses and monitoring and have corporate (as well as brand) tools in place to assist with that,” says Meyer.

Don’t Go it Alone

Should hotel management firms handle reputation management at the property level or the management company level, or should they outsource it all?

A Forbes interview with Don Sorensen, the online reputation management expert, suggests the last, primarily because professional reputation management firms have the advantage of “leveraged knowledge” from working with numerous companies.

Another essential is a designated contact person to coordinate a seamless response. The biggest challenge hotels face is how to hire and train employees on property to professionally manage the increasing volume of guest reviews across multiple mediums. What happens if the position turns over? The property is back to square one. This is a fundamental benefit of outsourcing to a professional hotel reputation management firm.

An anecdote from Michael Cady, Vice President of Marketing for Charlestowne Hotels, attests to the value of such seamlessness.

Charlestowne uses proprietary software called InstantComments to facilitate guest feedback. When guests sign in to the on-property internet, a simple feedback request pops up. The hotel’s executive team receives the feedback in real time, and if there’s a problem, responds immediately.

Case in point: Last year, when InstantComments “asked” a guest about her stay, she said she wasn’t feeling all that well and the tissues available in the room were actually aggravating her condition.

The GM took immediate action, sending “one of his team members out to get the best tissues he could find, and within an hour of her comment, an attendant knocked on her door with a new box of super-soft tissues on a silver platter,” Cady recounts.

“We’re trying to deal with any issue while guests are on-property, especially ones that wouldn’t normally warrant a call to the front desk. That way when they leave, they’re praising us all the more,” Cady adds, noting positive reviews have a direct correlation to revenue, “no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

image3Where Charlestowne uses a social media aggregator called Revinate to track its properties’ scores, 1859 Historic Hotels uses ReviewPro, says Josh Henegar, Corporate Revenue Director.

Revinate and ReviewPro are two of many software options that collect online reviews and guest satisfaction scores across multiple platforms, funneling them to a dashboard hotel executives use to handle guest feedback.

ReviewPro features a metric called Global Review Index used to benchmark a hotel or group of properties, reflecting guest satisfaction scores across all social media channels including Expedia, Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Say a guest has an issue with an F&B item, registering his or her complaint on TripAdvisor. The alert goes to the GM, the F&B Director and the Executive Chef, who “operationally figure out what happened, respond right away and do whatever they can to make it right,” according to Henegar.

Set up to trigger alerts whenever a guest satisfaction score registers at three or less, the system “works well assuming we’re on the other end to respond,” he says. “The more people on alert, the better chance we have of knowing right away and being able to respond to them.”

image4The Human Touch

Intelligent software is essential but it doesn’t stand on its own. Synergy among owner, asset manager and management company is also critical. Its lack can be costly, suggests a well-informed HotelNewsNow opinion piece written by Paul Breslin and Julia Zhang.

Also, enhance your brand by stressing what’s unique about it. Each property in the 1859 Historic Hotels portfolio has its own lore, says Henegar, noting some can effectively tell stories of their particular neighborhood, their atmosphere, even reputed ghosts. “Guest reviews constitute our reputation,” he says.

“Nothing will come close to what guests actually say about their experience and their satisfaction… what guests say about their experience, I would say, is the backbone of our reputation.”

Word-of-mouth no longer means face-to-face, but it’s still crucial.


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

Friday Freebie: Remember The 4Ps Every Day

March 31, 2017 • By

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Welcome to the Friday Freebie!

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

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

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

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

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

1. Price

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

2. Product

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

3. Promotion (i.e. Advertising)

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

4. Placement

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

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

The Painful Truth About Hotel Loyalty Programs

March 28, 2017 • By

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Key Takeaways:

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

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

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

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

However, new research may prove otherwise….

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


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


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

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

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

Single Bookings Spur Hotel Growth

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong, says Sharp.

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

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

The Painful Truth: Guests Shop Around

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

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

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

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

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

More choices and new technologies.

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

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

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

Social Media Engagement: Not as Vital as You Thought?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Marketing’s Critical New Battleground

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

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

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

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

Boosting Exposure is Vital to Boosting Growth

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

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

Advertising, answers Sharp.

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

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

When crafting advertising experiences, think of your two audiences:

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

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

Stop Dangling the Wrong Carrots: How Revenue Incentive Plans Hurt Profits

March 7, 2017 • By

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Occupancy is high. You’re crushing your RevPar Index. And, you’re on pace to surpass your quarterly revenue targets as well as last year’s revenue.

From the look of things, your revenue team (this includes marketing and revenue management) is blazing to success and should be credited and applauded for driving huge profits to your property.

But, wait.

Look closer. It’s NOT increased profits your revenue team produced. It was increased revenue.

Right now, most revenue teams aren’t driven to optimize profitability at their properties. Instead, they are incentivized to boost revenue – profit margins and rising costs be damned.

The fault doesn’t lie entirely with your marketing and revenue team, however. Perhaps it’s time to critically examine your RM incentive plan structure instead?

The Hidden Risk of Current Revenue Management Incentives

To achieve a bonus today, most revenue managers are only tasked with exceeding top-line targets, like revenue variance to budget and variance to last year’s revenue. Plus, a favorite metric that hotels use is RevPar index, suggesting most owners want to see performance relative to the compset, instead of internal benchmarks. 

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“However, by incentivizing revenue managers to work on boosting revenues only, they’re essentially taking their eyes off of high expenses and any rising costs,” said Jeff Spaccio, Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing In Residence at Tambourine. “Revenue doesn’t equate to profit.”

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While revenue managers are ultimately responsible for delivering profits to their properties, current incentive programs motivate RM teams to prioritize driving up revenues over the bottom line.

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Take an Honest Look at Channel Costs

Revenue managers must be cognizant of, and accountable for, costs and how they impact the bottom line, Spaccio said.

One of the biggest missteps under current incentive plans is that revenue managers aren’t motivated to pay close attention to which channels are costing the hotel the most and on the other end, which channels offer the most value.

Hotels should champion all efforts to drive direct bookings from their lowest cost channel – their own brand website, Spaccio recommends. This also means investing in hotel social media marketing, hotel search engine marketing and hotel PPC campaigns to drive traffic to the site.

Plus, don’t be hypnotized by the seemingly high revenues that OTA bookings can deliver. With commissions of 15 – 30%, third party websites are by far a hotel’s most expensive distribution channel.

In the end, driving bookings through your own website will have the greatest impact on optimizing profits.

The Vital Bottomline: Revenue Managers Should Impact Profits, Not Just Revenue

It’s time for hotels to maximize their profits by restructuring their revenue management incentive plans.

“After all, owners can only take profits to the bank,” Spaccio said.

First, motivate revenue managers to get well-acquainted with costs and learn where to reduce wasteful spending. They should be well aware of the cost per booking and your hotel should establish how much those reservations should cost.

Then, at the minimum, a revenue manager should meet or exceed your gross operating profit projections BEFORE being paid a bonus off the top-line incentive.

Continue to reward revenue managers for generating revenues beyond the forecasted targets, but in the end, incentives should be driven by the ability to exceed profitability.

It’s only with the proper incentives in place that revenue managers will pay more attention to the true net of any booking and prioritize boosting your bottom line.

 

 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, hotel marketing, Hotel Marketing Advice, Hotel Revenue, Marketing Advice