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Friday Freebie: Can You Describe Your Typical Guest?

January 6, 2017

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

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: Sharpen your marketing’s effectiveness by first determining exactly who your target audiences are.

Surprising fact: Most hoteliers don’t know who their target market is. It’s all too easy to say you want to market to “everyone” including business travelers, couples, families, golfers, city explorers, foodies, outdoor adventurers…you get the picture.

But, brilliant hotel marketing doesn’t happen by mistake.

If you want to bring in more revenues to your hotel, you’ll have to face the truth: Your property is not everything, to everyone. 

Only a few types of people are consistently attracted to your hotel. First, determine who books your property the most. Who are they? How old? What do they like/dislike? Why do they book with you? What’s their personality and lifestyle like?

Outline the characteristics of your top guests and you’ll be better equipped to find others like them.

This is called building guest personas, which entails creating a fictitious guest profile based on information and characteristics of real-life past guests. You can build personas for your typical guests, meeting planners, or travel planners.

A typical guest profile/persona might look like this:

  • 35-54 professional couples looking for a romantic “staycation” within one hour drive of their home.
  • They have kids, jobs and busy lives.
  • They enjoy cocktails in the bar and discovering neighborhood “hidden gems.”
  • They book with you because you provide free bikes and curated neighborhood maps.

Getting a deep understanding of who your property’s customers really are will help you tailor your marketing messages and create offers that will truly resonate the most with those audiences.

Get more: Hotel Marketing Lessons from Mom


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: Engage Meeting Planners In LinkedIn Groups

December 9, 2016

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

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: Get prime exposure in front of meeting planners by being a relevant and regular participant in meeting industry LinkedIn groups.

Boosting your hotel’s group business revenues comes down to one thing: Relationships. The more (and higher quality) relationships your sales team builds and maintains with meeting and event planners, the more group business you’ll book and the higher likelihood for repeat business.

Luckily, industry LinkedIn groups allow group sales managers to connect daily with thousands of meeting planners who are seeking feedback, advice and resources.

There are 200+ LinkedIn groups focused on meeting and event planning. Some of the more active groups include:

Event Planning and Event Management

Event Planning Professionals

Events and Hospitality Network By Cvent

BizBash – Event Planners Gather

Every sales manager should visit these groups to offer useful posts and relevant responses to planners’ questions And remember, this is social media, not “selling media.” The key is to position your team as a trusted and knowledgeable resource, not as sales-minded spammers. 


Get More: Are You on LinkedIn? 5 Ways Hotels and Destinations Use LinkedIn to Drive Group Revenues


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: The First Step In Converting OTA Guests Into Direct Bookings

November 4, 2016

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

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: Convert OTA guests into future direct bookings by capturing their email address.

We can understand the frustration hoteliers have with business booked through an OTA. Not only do you pay hefty prices for one reservation, but OTAs don’t share the customer’s email address when it arrives in your PMS, barring you from digitally remarketing to these customers later.

But, there’s an extremely easy solution to this. Smart hotels simply ask the guests directly for their email address and give them a good reason to do so.

Here are a couple of ideas. Ask for the guest’s email address to:

  • Receive an email receipt of their stay.
  • As a log-in for Wifi.
  • To send them exclusive deals for future stays.

The bottom line: Don’t let an OTA guest walk away without collecting their email address. That is the only way you can market to them in the future and stay on their radar for other travels.

Get More: How Hotels Make Their OTA Addiction Worse


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: How To Convince Owners To Upgrade Your Hotel Product

October 28, 2016

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

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: Build a convincing case for 2017 product upgrades using past guest reviews.

The hotel experience has evolved so much just within the past several years. Because today’s travelers demand authentic, local, immersive and multi-sensory experiences, new hotel concepts are launching while savvy, older hotels are now investing in resources to upgrade their product to meet travelers’ emerging needs. 

However, not all hotel marketers are lucky enough to work for a shiny new hotel, or for a hotel that believes in investing in improvements. Perhaps your hotel owners believe they can hold off on enhancements for a few more years or that your hotel’s aging carpet, old-fashioned bed spread and dated design don’t really have an impact on the bottom line.

Our advice? Let your guests show them otherwise.

Comb through your guest reviews and find the common themes that you believe are dragging down your appeal. Is it the fading wallpaper in the rooms? The clunky furniture that is taking up too much space? The high price tag for Wifi? The stodgy feeling as they walk through the hallways?

Present these findings to your owners as a sort of digital customer advisory committee. Provide dates, the number of times the same issue is presented, and especially the number of times a guest declares that “they would never stay there again.”

As the expression goes, “you cant put lipstick on a pig forever…” And  even the most brilliant hotel marketing folks can’t compensate for a hotel that is aging, crumbling and showing signs of disarray and decay. So, leverage your guest reviews to convince your owners that enhancements and property upgrades are not just imperative, but urgent, if they want to effectively compete.


Get More: What Every Hotelier Should Be Doing Before 2016 Ends


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

 

6 Ways To Survive Hotel Budget Season

September 6, 2016

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As budget season approaches, we’re here to help you plan for a profitable 2017 with six smart hotel sales and marketing budget strategies.

The most vital component of your budget planning is taking time for thorough introspection, honest reviews of what is currently working and not working, and open conversations with your hotel owners, colleagues, sales staff, guests and even your comp set. This due diligence will give you real information and real numbers to build your budget, instead of blindly relying on your gut for what will work and what won’t.

Here are six proven best practices from our in-residence DOSM, Jeff Spaccio, to help you navigate hotel budget season:

1. Find out Exactly What Hotel Owners/Managers Expect From You

Before you can carefully consider what resources you need for 2017, you must determine exactly how much your hotel owners/management company expects you to contribute to overall revenue targets. This discussion should occur early in the process. The more questions you ask, the more insight and clarity you will get. Typically, corporate-level execs and senior management already receive direction early in the budgeting process, so talking with them first will save you from wasting time and making costly assumptions and guesses.

A common budgeting mistake that hotel marketers make is leaving it up to their owners or managers on how much funds get allocated to marketing. By telling your management team, “I’ll do the best with whatever money you can give me,” you are actually placing your entire marketing team in a dangerous position, as they will now be tasked with producing the impossible and will be held responsible when you can’t make that goal. Instead, use your management team’s revenue goals and outline exactly what is needed to achieve that figure. In addition to outlining how much money you’ll need, tell them whether you will require new staff or if hotel product improvements are needed to achieve their targets.

2. Expand on Your Recent Success

Before drafting a budget, take a step back and evaluate this year’s performance and reflect on what brought you the most success in 2016. What trends, markets, promotions and tactics produced the most revenue? Whatever drove the most bookings and highest profits, continue that in 2017.

Too often, hotel marketers are so eager to be innovative and ahead of their competition that they invest only in all-new ideas, tools and trends each year. Or, even worse, they play it too safe and stick to “what we’ve always done” whether it is working or not.

While you shouldn’t ignore promising new trends, the best budget strategy is to focus on what is driving your largest amount of conversions right now. You also need to show hotel owners and managers how your work has contributed to this current year’s revenue. By calculating this year’s marketing cost per sale (MCPS), you can leverage this figure to help you justify what’s required to reach your 2017 revenue targets.

3. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

The idea of keeping budgets simple and straightforward is an often overlooked characteristic of successful budgets. Complicated budgets don’t create profits. They will only leave you weighed down and flustered throughout the year.

Instead, base your budget on a handful of quality initiatives and resources, not on a bevy of disjointed marketing ideas that will create small bursts of revenue. Simple, uncluttered budgets have the most impact on your hotel. Not only will they keep you organized and frictionless, they will allow you to be nimble and make quick decisions if opportunities arise or if certain programs become less profitable throughout the year. 

4. Gather Valuable Intel From Line Staff

There’s no reason why your group sales, front desk staff and catering staff shouldn’t be involved in budget planning. In fact, some of the best insight for your budget will come from front line staff who interact with guests and group clients and know what guests are looking for and complaining about. DORM’s and DOSM’s don’t often have enough personal contact with guests and meeting planners, so talking with staff will cover those blind spots.

Unless you ask, your staff is unlikely to willingly share their perspective or knowledge. So, leverage budget season as a forum to gather feedback from these valuable employees.

Further, don’t ignore your own marketing staff, even those in entry-level positions. Your hotel’s marketing success and profitability is directly connected to the people who execute the campaigns and help generate bookings. Ask them what is needed to amplify their efficiency, and what can make their job easier and more impactful. Give them the freedom to tell you what they need, what worked for them, what didn’t and their own ideas to drive more profits.

5. Talk With Your Competition

This may seem counterintuitive, but DOSM’s and senior management should have strong relationships with their comp set. Reach out to peers from your comp set and discuss market perceptions, direction of the economy, future capital improvements and any anomalies they see in the upcoming year. These peer-to-peer discussions will broaden your budget outlook and unearth components you may not have considered.

6. Leverage Guest Reviews to Justify Budget Requests

In the end, it’s all about your guest. Understand what is currently impacting the guest experience for better or worse this year by combing through TripAdivsor, social media reviews and any other direct guest feedback.  Knowing what your guests want and need will help you determine your marketing budget in a more thoughtful way. If your hotel product requires additional investment to effectively compete for more direct bookings, now is the time to bring it up and back it up with guest reviews.

For more information on how to survive hotel budget season, download our free hotel marketing budget worksheet


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

5 Ways To Attract Last-Minute Labor Day Bookings From Your Drive Markets

September 1, 2016

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Millions of travelers will be packing their bags and hitting the roads this Labor Day weekend to take advantage of summer’s last official weekend.

While most travelers will already have their travel plans booked, you still have a chance to attract last-minute vacationers from your drive markets using Facebook advertising, your own email subscriber lists and social media accounts. 

Here’s a list of our favorite hotel marketing tips to amplify the number of Labor Day travelers checking in this weekend:

1. Play Up Summer Fun

Amplify all things summer that guests can enjoy at your hotel –  soaking up some sun by the pool, the close proximity to the beach, outdoor activities and crisp cool drinks on the balcony. The idea of going back to school and the responsibilities that usually come in fall and winter are already fresh on people’s minds, so it shouldn’t be much of a challenge to evoke a wanderlust for the last remnants of summer.

2. Include Parking

Because of continued low prices at the gas pumps, millions of travelers are road-tripping to Labor Day destinations. It’s the perfect opportunity to create a clever end-of-summer road trip package offering complimentary parking. Is parking already free at your property? Then flaunt it good and often this week! Entice your audience to quickly round up a few friends or family for one last getaway to enjoy the final golden days of summer.

3. Leverage Last-Minute Travelers’ FOMO

There are two types of FOMO that you can incite this week: 

  1. Fear of missing out on the last days of summer.
  2. Fear of missing out on your last room availability.

Starting today, use your social media accounts and marketing emails to address one or both of these. This is a good use of the scarcity principle to make people aware that yes, summer is almost over. And yes, you still have rooms available. But, no, they will not last long. For instance, “Say goodbye to summer with one last sun-soaked getaway! We’re down to our last 12 rooms this weekend. Get ‘em while they’re hot.”

4. Feed the Foodies

AAA Travel studies show that more than half of Labor Day travelers listed dining as their top activity. Create summer-inspired F&B promos, such as a “So Long Summer Sips” menu of summer cocktails or “Final Flavors of Summer” breakfast or lunch featuring seasonal ingredients. Or, highlight farmers markets, authentic eateries, or events close to your hotel where guests can experience the local flavors of the season.

5. Give Them All the Reasons to Take a Last-Minute Getaway

Create a fun “before the summer ends” bucket list that features fun activities that every traveler should experience before autumn arrives at your destination. Or, put together a Top 10 list of drive-worthy restaurants, outdoor activities or attractions within close proximity to your hotel that Labor Day visitors should experience when they stay with you. Add a personal touch by curating these lists straight from your staff themselves.

6. Encourage Them to Bring the Dog!

Holiday weekends are a great time for regional guests to get away, but what about their dog? If your property is pet-friendly, remind potential bookers that pets are welcome and encourage them to bring Fido along for the ride!


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: Convert Business Travelers to Bleisure Guests

August 19, 2016

FridayFreebie-Tambourine

Welcome to the Friday Freebie! Each week we share one free, impactful hotel marketing tactic that you can implement immediately to drive more direct bookings.

This week’s freebie: How to convince business travelers to stay longer with a targeted bleisure offer:

Of all three travel segments that bring dollars to your property, the corporate market holds the most year-round promise. Corporate travel is often the most dependable year after year, and business guests tend to spend more at your property since they get reimbursed for most of their costs. 

Want more corporate business? Convince your business travelers to extend their stay even longer, and even invite their family!

Here’s one way to do it:

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

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

Get more tips on how to urge business travelers to extend their stay: Turning Business Into Pleasure


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

Want More Bookings? Give Consumers Less To Choose From

August 15, 2016

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Your guests live in a world overloaded with content, chaos and way too many choices.

Just think of the last time you shopped on Amazon.com. Your seemingly simple search for a “red jacket” no doubt led to hundreds of results. Faced with a barrage of options, you most likely examined a few before resolving to think more about it later. Or, perhaps you left Amazon.com altogether and opted just to go to Macys.com since they made it so much easier to buy with only four red jackets to choose from.

Now, you can see the dilemma facing travelers today when deciding on a hotel room. Many hotels – with all the best intentions – go out of their way to help guests customize their experience once they are inside your hotel booking engine. Do you want a city view king, city view double queen, or city view double queen deluxe, deluxe king with balcony? Want to enhance your stay with a bottle of champagne, flowers, attraction tickets, daily breakfast, or an e-bundle package?

While you may think all of these options are benefiting the guest by giving them exactly what they want, research proves the opposite:

The Psychology of Choice

Studies show that consumers are most often overwhelmed when faced with too many choices. This can lead to action paralysis, meaning they will delay making a decision, or worse, not make one at all.

If you offer too many options (such as room types, add-ons, possible upgrades) that guests are required to choose before moving forward with the reservation, they may get so confounded that they end up abandoning the booking all together!

Frustration and Buyer Remorse

After a reservation has been made, the last thing you want your guests to feel is frustration. However, an abundance of room choices can do just that. Not only can too many options delay or block decision making, they can also make your guests feel WORSE after they finally book a room. Why? Because by presenting too many possibilities, you’ve raised their standards and they will mull over how much more desirable the other choices are. No matter which room type, which enhancement or which upgrade they chose, they will always wonder what else they are missing out on.

More choices require increased effort and time. This can lead to excessively high expectations, anxiety, self-blame and regret if the choices don’t work out.

– Harvard Business Review

Here’s our advice: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.

Not only will this make it easier for guests to complete the booking process, it will leave them feeling empowered and satisfied with their purchase and decision to stay with you.

Here are several other ways to increase revenue from your hotel booking engine:

• Choose what you put in your booking engine wisely.

• Pare down on all unnecessary content, including copy and photos.

• Use reformatting to simplify the look of your booking options. Go from four columns to three. Or, use one color, not five.

• Rename almost-identical room types. Give room types distinct names so it is easier to choose and identify.

• Reduce the number of room types as much as possible.

• Always be testing. In some cases, more options can be better than less. It’s your responsibility to find that sweet spot for your target audience.


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

3 Big Reasons Hotels Need To Track Inbound Phone Calls

July 25, 2016

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We all know how important it is to monitor data from digital marketing campaigns that boost hotel direct bookings. However, usually those analytics only track online activity and engagement. One of the best ways to bridge the gap between your online and offline marketing activities is by tracking your phone calls using simple new digital tracking technology.

Travelers often want to know more about the experience they’re about to embark on. And, they want to interact with someone on your hotel staff or reservation center to get the answers. This is especially true at resorts or destination properties, where it is extremely common for guests to call and want to speak with someone personally before pulling out a credit card to make a reservation.

Here are three key reasons to start using digital tracking technology to analyze phone calls for your call center or reservation agents:

1. Listen and Win

You may already have sufficient intelligence about your guests. However, call tracking offers even more powerful insights to understand them like never before. Most phone tracking vendors now enable management to “listen in” to recordings of any/all calls. What makes this feature so impactful is that you are hearing from the guest firsthand, using their own voice and words to express their concerns and wants. This insight will show you how customers are actually interacting with your hotel—in their own words—and what is needed to win the guest’s trust.

2. Monitor Your Reservations Team

Taking #1 a bit further… by “listening-in” to recorded phone calls, you can see how well your guest service team deals with guests and what needs improvement. How is your guest services team handling simple and complex inquiries? How are they conveying your hotel’s unique experience over the phone? Are they up-selling properly and easing the guest along towards booking a reservation? The idea is to boost conversion rates and guest satisfaction by fine-tuning your guest engagement and customer-facing experiences.

3. Measure Your Marketing

If you’re only measuring your digital results, you’re missing a significant KPI of success: phone calls!  Again, simple new technology is readily available and allows you to attach a custom phone number to each of your hotel marketing campaigns – both offline and online – and see which are driving the most phone calls. You can apply phone tracking to a variety of assets including PPC, social advertising, display advertising, press releases and marketing videos. Even your hotel website can have its own number to gauge how much phone traffic it generates. You can track which numbers/campaigns are generating more calls and the length of the calls.


 About Tambourine

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

How Boutique Hotels Win vs. Big Box Brands

July 12, 2016

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In today’s world, where travelers are willing to invest in whatever is remarkably authentic and local, boutique hotels are coming out on top.

Comfortable tried-and-true hotel experiences offered by the world’s largest brands aren’t as appealing as they once were. Nor is their generic décor (meant to appease all tastes), predictable amenities, or restaurant menu of American “favorites.” In fact, those familiar big brand experiences are now seen as mundane, and travelers (including business and “bleisure” travelers) are more than eager to break out of the boring.

Travelers want to be immersed in the destination. They want to do, see, savor and explore everything that makes your region amazing, unique and unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. This is what makes their travels meaningful, memorable and worth bragging about.

Now’s the time to get creative and get bold in how you connect your guests to your destination. Here are some of our suggestions to transform your hotel into a genuine destination experience focused on the people, food, and local culture that define your region:


1. Gather All the Local and Cool Experiences In One Place

Authentic experiences usually fall in these major categories:

  • Interacting and tasting the local food and drink, including farmer’s market visits, tastings, restaurant tours and cooking classes with local chefs.
  • One-on-one, personal interactions with local residents.
  • Visits to off-the-beaten path places or activities that usually only locals know about, instead of overcrowded and already-famous tourist attractions.

Take stock of all the offerings in your region, including those who you can partner with for experiential packages and promotions, such as a family-run vineyard or a mom-and-pop-owned niche tour company.

Promote these local experiences on your hotel website, instead of the major attractions that are already heavily advertised by every other hotel in your city. Write blog posts about each one, tout them on social media and educate your staff (not just the concierge team) about these. Stop over-promoting your property and start celebrating your destination.

2. Go Hyper Local: Focus on Small Amazing Moments Nearby

Whatever neighborhood your hotel is located in, own it. Too often we see hotel staff recommending whatever is the well-worn path and least likely to offer a bad experience – even if it requires a cab ride – instead of suggesting something within walking distance. We can see the virtue in only telling your guests about what’s most stable, but today’s travelers are bolder and more willing to get out there for the sake of adventure.

So, if a guest asks for a recommendation on where to grab some coffee, don’t simply usher them to Starbucks. Instead, point out your favorite locally owned coffee shop that serves your favorite concoction. Instead of suggesting the tried-and-true restaurant that offers commissions to your concierges, give guests the names of a couple hole-in-the-wall eateries that the locals swear by.

3. Invite Locals and Guests to Mix and Mingle

Don’t fret if your hotel doesn’t offer crystal chandeliers, premium Egyptian cotton sheets or custom-built furniture. A majority of today’s travelers look past these frills for something more appealing – community building. Guests want to feel as if they’re part of the local community and landscape. 

Some visionary boutique brands have already started capitalizing on this by turning their lobbies into gathering spaces for locals and guests alike, such as the Ace Portland and Ace New York. Instead of leaving their lobby simply as a place to pass through, they created opportunities for co-working via large community tables and lounge-like spaces for people to hang out for drawn-out discussions. Plus, they hold events that are open both to guests and the public. Other brands have created rooftop bars that locals flock to or playrooms, such as Hotel Zetta’s in San Francisco, where locals and guests can get together to play larger-than-life Plinko or Nintendo Wii.

4. Get Real About “Personal Service”

The term “personal service” used to be an overused cliché that hotels and every other customer-driven business would throw around, but not really commit to. Guests want a personal connection to your hotel, not just an empty suggestion to “ask anyone at the front desk and they should be able to help you!” Prior to visits, consider new marketing automation and hotel CRM tools that reach out to each guest via email, signed by an actual member of your staff with a direct email/telephone number to contact them in case of any questions.

Similar new tech tools enable you to text guests after check-in to make sure everything is okay and remind guests that they can text any requests personally to them at any time. Have staff update guest profiles as much as they can with personal preferences they catch on to. Greet guests by their first names (Mr. and Mrs. is much too formal, and sounds awkward and stiff). Remember, to your guests, YOU are the local, so make them feel like treasured friends with every opportunity. 


 About Tambourine

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

 

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