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Tambourine Hotel Marketing technology

How Guests Decide Whether to Buy on Your Hotel Website

February 20, 2018 • By

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

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

Parallel Processing

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

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

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

But how?

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

1. Actually be authentic

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

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

  • Be truthful

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

  • Avoid stock photography

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

  • Get hyper-local

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

2. Provide social proof

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

  • Celebrate Past Guest Experiences on Social Media

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

Harvest their good times!

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

  • User Testimonials

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

  • Media Labels

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

  • Partner Logos

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

3. Create helpful content

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

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

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

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

Friday Freebie: The Simple Digital Skill That’s Changing Hotel Group Sales

February 16, 2018 • 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: Cold calling is dead… encourage your group sales team to master new digital business development skills.

Traditionally, hotel sales teams use classic old-school textbook techniques, relying heavily on relationship selling and cold calls to book business.

Today, however, meeting planners are doing 80% of their pre-purchase research in the digital world… relying far less on hotel salespeople for information, instead choosing to educate themselves on potential venues via the web and peer referrals.

Here’s One Proven Way Hotel Salespeople Can Tap into This Trend:

Embracing digital doesn’t mean the longstanding practice of relationship-based selling no longer applies; it’s just moved into a different medium. According to LinkedIn, three out of four B2B buyers now rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions.

More than three-quarters (82%) of B2B buyers say vendor content shared on social channels (like LinkedIn) has a significant impact on their buying decision, while B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry, according to LinkedIn research.

With that in mind, today’s sales teams should be using digital to enable “social selling,” which essentially means building relationships and nudging leads along through the sales process via savvy, helpful, UNSELFISH social media interaction, rather than outdated and ineffective methods like phone calls and email.

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This is primarily done by providing content that solves the problems and answers the questions of customers, as well as by interacting one-on-one with leads through social media. It’s different from wide-swath “shotgun marketing” on social, where branding-related content is shared everywhere in hopes of going viral and building awareness; social selling, rather, makes the customer the key dictator of the type of content shared, based on their specific wants and needs.

And remember, social interaction doesn’t end with that first sale, either.

Social platforms are also employed post-sale to retain and upsell customers, especially by creating a channel for customers to share feedback and vent frustration. Referrals are now essential to lead generation, with 84% of B2B buyers beginning the buying process with a referral and more than 90% of purchase decisions influenced by peer recommendations, according to a 2016 Harvard Business Review article.

Get more:  6 Ways Hotel Marketing Can Generate More Leads for the Sales Team


About Tambourine

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

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

February 13, 2018 • By

Hotel marketing folks are infatuated with these 7 things…

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

1. A Strong Economy and Positive Industry Forecasts 

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

image22. Robust Career Opportunities

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

3. Elevated Consumer Awareness of Direct Booking Benefits

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

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

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4. Owners’ Investment in a Remarkable Product

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

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

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

5. Social Evangelism

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

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

Why?

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

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

6. Metasearch: An Attractive and Less Expensive Option

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

But, hotel marketers are loving metasearch too.

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

7. Digital Personalization

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

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


About Tambourine

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

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

February 9, 2018 • 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: Stop blocking bookings – be flexible and allow as many payment methods as possible. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Rebranding Your Hotel? Five Marketing ‘Gotchas’

February 6, 2018 • By

Hotel rebranding requires more than pretty pictures…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gotcha #3: Not having enough time and money.

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

Celebrate it! And expect to spend money.

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

Gotcha #4: Failing to retain legacy assets.

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

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

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Gotcha #5: Forgetting what really matters….

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

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

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


About Tambourine

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

Friday Freebie: How Smart Hotel Marketers Convince Owners to Reinvest

February 2, 2018 • 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: The most important aspect of marketing is the product itself.

But what happens when hotel marketers are asked to bend steel with their bare hands and meet lofty revenue goals with a tired and inadequate product? How can hotel marketers contribute evidence to ownership that there is a problem and it’s time to reinvest?  

Here’s a few ways to support your case with real data:

1: Show past guest reviews (and aggregated guest sentiment scores) regarding common issues reported at your property, such as uncomfortable beds, old bathrooms, dirty carpets or tired decor.

2: Prepare a summary of new supply or newly refurbished compset properties, as well as your STR index trends against those properties.

3: Pull PMS or CRM data that illustrates the decline in repeat visitation from past guests as a result of inferior product experience.

Without a commitment to property upgrades, hotel marketers are facing an uphill battle, while owners are facing a decline in profits and ultimately… a decline in their property value.

Get more: Hitting hotel owners where it hurts: real estate values


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: Stop Giving Money Away, Kill the Promo Code Box Today

January 26, 2018 • 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: Stop giving away money in your booking engine… kill the promo code box!

Modern travelers are savvy, deal-seekers.

If a hotel deal exists, they’ll find it, use it, then expect it every time.

Such is the case with that prominent ‘promo code’ field found on practically every hotel’s booking engine. That prominent discount or promo code field makes online visitors doubt their purchase decision and will convince them that if they start trolling coupon sites, they can get money off of the room rate.

If they’ve made it far in the booking process that means they were likely dead set on completing the reservation before the irresistible appeal of a promo code field sent them off on a search for elusive promo codes!

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There IS a place for promo codes in smart hotel marketing.

Here’s How to Use Them Instead:

1. To Lure Back Unfinished Reservations

When travelers don’t complete their reservations, which can happen for several reasons, lure them back by offering a promo code through your reservation abandonment system and retargeting ads. This way, promo codes will only be shown to a highly engaged audience and will not show up in search results across the web. Use the principle of scarcity to make this even more appealing by adding a deadline to use the promo code before it expires. For example, “Come back and complete your booking within 24 hours and we’ll take 15% off.”

2. Create Your Own Page of Current Promos and Link Back to It

Macy’s has a brilliant solution to keeping shoppers on their hotel website while they’re looking for promo codes. Next to their Promo Code box, they invite shoppers to take a look at all of their current promotions and provide a convenient link to the list of codes. In your hotel’s case, include a direct link back to your special offers page where travelers can look at all of the promos you have available at the moment. By offering an internal link to your own promotions, you’ll reduce the number of visitors who would have abandoned their reservation to search for a discount or promo code on another site. Plus, you’re also showing transparency to the guest by letting them know you are willing to help them find travel savings.

SEE MORE: The Perils of Promo Codes

3. Track and Measure Advertising ROI

You can use coupon and promo codes to track and measure the success of your advertising. The concept is easy – just publish a different code for your different ad buys. For example, use a different code in your email marketing versus Facebook versus pay-per-click. This way you can track how many sales are generated from your various media placements.

Get Rid of the Promo Code Box All Together and Replace with Auto-Fill

Customize your advertising links so that if there is a promo code available, the inbound ad link into your website will take prospects directly to your booking engine where the promo code will automatically be plugged in. This way, you don’t have to have the promo code box on your hotel website at all. Which means, shoppers won’t leave your site to go find a discount somewhere else on the web.


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

Turnover: The Hidden Killer of Hotel Marketing (and What to Do about It)

January 23, 2018 • By

Hotel marketing is hard enough without constant turnover.

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Sometimes, one of the greatest obstacles to successful hotel marketing lurks within your own office…

Staff turnover, especially when it’s excessively high, can be an absolute killer for most businesses, and your hotel marketing team is no exception. So learning to attract, cultivate and retain marketing staff—instead of churning through them—may have a wider impact than even the smartest of ad campaigns.

At hotels, specifically, there are a number of reasons why turnover of marketing staff makes it hard to achieve ownership’s revenue targets:

1. Consistency Is Vital to Success

In the hotel business—which is built largely upon brands and properties delivering on a standardized promise to meet guest expectations—few things are as important as consistency. Beyond just a flag’s amenities or service experience, that consistency clearly extends to marketing, particularly the frequency and content of consistent product messaging. It’s difficult to achieve that desired consistency if there is a revolving door of staffers creating those messages.

2. Familiarity with Guest Personas, Seasonality and Periods of Weakness

See #3. Learning the nuances of your hotel’s demand patterns requires time and experience, which won’t be the case if turnover is high. By keeping marketing staff long-term, those same patterns will become a cyclical strategy, where marketers know exactly how to fine-tune efforts.

3. New staff Is Hard to Find

There’s a dearth of quality marketing talent in the hotel business, especially digital talent, for a number of reasons. For starters, many top-notch digital marketers have gravitated to other industries or start-ups with a higher “cool factor” or earning potential. Corporate hotel cultures, often viewed as overly traditional, can dissuade younger marketing pros seeking more of a Silicon Valley workplace vibe.

4. New Staff Don’t Understand the Hotel’s Product or Message

It takes time to educate new hotel marketing staff on your property’s unique history, message and product experience. If your marketing staff is perpetually changing, you’re constantly putting new employees through the same learning curve, without reaping the benefits.

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How does a bad hire hurt your organization? Here are the responses, according to a Career Builder study.

5. They Have to Build Relationships with Team Members in Other Departments (I.E. Revenue Management)

No team is an island, and for marketing staff, it is increasingly important to foster and maintain strong relationships and communication with other departments, especially with revenue/yield management personnel. Again, that’s tough to achieve in a high-turnover environment.

6. They Often Have to Pick up (on the Fly) Existing Campaigns, Vendors and Marketing Programs That They Did Not Create

The learning curve for a new marketing staffer is multiplied when they are asked to shoulder—often rapidly—campaigns, agreements and initiatives that were formulated by previous employees. That can lead to a huge difference in vision and background on these projects once the new staffer is in charge. Especially if their predecessor had a jumbled mix of disparate vendors in place.

7. They Inherit Someone Else’s Goals

Marketing objectives can be highly personal (and stressful) to the marketer who set them. When a new employee inherits those goals, it may not be the best fit for that marketer’s skill set and vision for what they hope to achieve at their new post.

8. Departing Staff Take Lots of Proprietary Knowledge and Investment with Them

Sure, you can ask departing staffers to turn over all materials, notes and other information they have before they leave for good, but there will still be untold amounts of knowledge and experience they will invariably take with them when they leave. Sometimes the best solution to this problem is convincing them to stay, or at a bare minimum, asking them to be available to brief their replacement.

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A Study from Paychex revealing why employees leave.

Thankfully, there are ways to combat the turnover dragon. Successful strategies include:

1. Hire Wisely

One of the most effective means of reducing turnover on your hotel marketing team is to make smart hiring decisions in the first place. That means thoroughly interviewing and vetting candidates before extending offers, factoring in the candidate’s compatibility with your office culture, management and fellow staffers.

SEE: The Seven Traits of Great Hotel Digital Marketers

2. Pay Generously

Offering candidates a fair and market-competitive salary and benefits package is another important means of ensuring staff retention. Take some time to research prevailing wages, while brainstorming benefits, perks and incentives to sweeten the deal, if necessary. That may include concessions like flexible work schedules and various bonuses.

3. Revisit Annually

It’s a good idea to review staff salaries and benefits annually, in order to ensure you are keeping up with the marketplace. If possible, tap your HR team as your news pipeline to this end.

4. Get Flexible

Devise methods of offering greater flexibility to your hotel marketing team in order to foster a healthy work/life balance. That may include flexible and/or compressed schedules, telecommuting and on-site daycare. Embrace communications tools like Skype and chat applications such as Slack to keep remote teams/staffers in touch throughout the day.

5. Maintain Interest Levels

An engaged employee is a happy one.

Foster a challenging and rewarding work environment, filled with learning opportunities and potential for advancement, and your employees will thank you. Nurture healthy levels of social action among the staff, as well as proper praise and recognition from management, when deserved. Sometimes little compliments and courtesies go a very long way.

6. Praise Excellence

It’s extremely important to properly recognize employees who are performing well, whether the praise comes in the form of verbal recognition, emails, awards and/or special perks. Monthly company-wide emails detailing team/staff achievements are great, as are peer-recognition programs. Don’t hesitate to report those achievements up the chain to superiors, either; even when emailing a thank you note to a subordinate, consider CCing higher-ups for a added recognition. If you need to get a handle on what to praise, ask staffers for regular updates on their accomplishments, including some data and figures when and where possible.

7. Stress the Big Picture

Help your staffers visualize a future direction for them beyond just their current day-to-day responsibilities. Outline the wider career track they are headed down, spotlighting goals and achievements those staffers should target along the way. Use annual reviews and mid-year check-ins as a means of opening these discussions, as well as spontaneous chats. Always encourage everyone on your hotel marketing team to speak with you regarding any questions or concerns they may have.


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: Do This Instead, Tap into Consumer Fears about OTAs

January 19, 2018 • 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: Stop competing on rates. Win back bookings from OTAs…

by reminding guests of how unreliable, uncertain and problematic OTA reservations can be. 

Think hotel consumers are always driven by the lowest price?

Think again.

Travel decisions are also based on emotions, not just practicality. And, there’s one emotion that hotel marketers need to tap into more: FEAR.

According to a recent JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, people are more likely to have a bad hotel experience (ie: hidden fees, unfair cancellation policies, and canceled reservations) if they booked through a third-party, like Expedia or Travelocity.

In fact, it doesn’t take long to find legions of complaints and horror stories of travelers left in the lurch because of strict OTA policies or apathy from OTA call centers. Travel plans are likelier to be unraveled by OTAs, not hotels.

So, tap into that fear to remind customers that you offer two things that OTAs don’t:

  1. A reliable reservation from a trusted source
  2. AND a staff that actually cares about them

We should remind prospective guests at every opportunity that booking direct is the safer play. That your family vacation, business trip or long-awaited romantic weekend is too important to risk in any way!

Hotel marketers should communicate this critical message in key touchpoints with prospective guests during the research phase of their purchase journey:

• On your direct hotel website home page

• In your search/PPC ads

• In your retargeting ads that follow consumers after they visit your website

• In social media posts

• In call/reservations center training

• Inside your booking engine, where most abandonment occurs

Get more: We’re Using the Wrong Message to Fight OTAs


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

10 Killer Hotel Website Conversion Hacks

January 16, 2018 • By

Hotel website conversion is key to any direct booking strategy. image1

There’s a good chance you’re killing the conversion rate of your hotel website.

Right now, potential guests are bouncing off your hotel website as you read this.

What good are your brilliant marketing strategies if you can’t hold onto the customers’ attention once they get there?

Your hotel product is not to blame.

Most likely, there are holes that need to be taken care of on your hotel website.

Make these fixes and watch your conversions increase.

Hack 1: Use Dynamic Personalization

Too many hotel websites use sliding graphics to showcase different messages, amenities and promotions. If the first screen isn’t right for the visitor… maybe the next one will be!

Unfortunately, it turns out that sliders kill conversion rates. Instead, we recommend using simple dynamic personalization to deliver the right message/promo to each visitor.

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An example of dynamic personalization welcoming past direct bookers with their previous date search.

For example:

By using campaign tracking codes to identify various inbound traffic sources, you can customize the messaging of your homepage to be more relevant to your visitors. For example, if you are promoting an in-state resident sale, you can dynamically set your home page to detect website visitors from your state and display that promo first.

• You can prevent abandonment to OTAs by dynamically showing gated/loyalty rates (see example above) to users who are automatically identified as consumers who have used your direct booking engine.

• When a guest from London visits your website and moves into the booking engine, your website can automatically pass the user’s location and localize room rates in the booking engine to the guest’s native currency (i.e. instead of charging $100 USD for a room, you could charge 100 British Pounds, which is worth $1.32).

Hack 2: Keep Offers Consistent

Using promos across all your digital channels to drive traffic is nothing new, but if you don’t keep the offer consistent throughout the purchase journey, you are causing dissonance and inhibiting your direct hotel website conversion rate.

This is especially critical when guests expect to see the promo they clicked on reflected in the pricing inside your hotel booking engine. If an offer disappears during the booking engine conversion process, visitors can lose confidence in their purchase and abandon their checkout.

Here’s a great example from Couples Resorts showing a 7th Night Free promo on their Specials page, then carried forward all the way through into the booking environment:

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The jump between your website to your booking engine is a dangerous place. If the transition isn’t seamless, it’s notorious for causing people to ditch their reservations. One thing to blame for the abandoned reservations: Mismatched online experiences.

The best booking engines are the ones that go unnoticed by the guest. If you transfer guests to a booking engine with a different design, different colors, different fonts than that of the website, it will cause guests to feel uneasy about moving forward. Even the smallest of differences can be jarring to the customer and will slowly chip away at the trust that you worked so hard to establish. So, keep things consistent to boost both customer trust and conversion rates.

Hack 3: Keep Messaging Consistent

Sure, setting rates and keeping content consistent across the vast array of digital channels can get overwhelming. But maintaining STORY 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.

People are often distracted and impatient when they’re shopping for travel online. They’re eager to find information that gives them confidence in their purchase decisions. In the early days of the web, researchers at the Xerox PARC laboratory in Palo Alto defined this as “information scent.”

According to the conversion gurus at Unbounce, people follow visual and information clues that help them find what they’re looking for. If they lose the scent, they’ll abandon the trail. If the information scent is strong, they’ll keep going. The question is: How consistent is the information your hotel provides across all your digital channels?

Hack 4: Offer Live Chat

Smart customer service can give you a serious bump in bookings. A recent study found that 62 percent of online customers are more likely to make a purchase if you offer live customer support.

Let’s be real:

Most of the people who visit your website will have questions. Don’t assume they will read every word on your website to find the answer. They want answers now. And offering them instant responses and open dialogue will make them more confident in booking. Online chat is even more important within your booking environment itself. Up to 98 percent of guests looking for availability on a hotel website will end up NOT BOOKING. Invest a few dollars a month in online chat to reduce attrition and guide your most valuable prospects to booking.

Hack 5: Fix Your Clunky Checkout

The faster a guest can get through the booking process, the higher your conversions. A long and complicated booking process can derail all of your efforts to get the guest across the finish line. Studies show that 28 percent of customers abandon their online purchases because they were frustrated with the long checkout. So, simplify, simplify, simplify. Take out irrelevant steps, mandatory sign-ups and upsell pages. Reduce the number of room types. Pare down as much as you can.

Also, sometimes the simple reason shoppers don’t complete a purchase is that their preferred credit card wasn’t accepted in your booking engine. Smart hotels offer multiple payment options, going beyond Amex, Visa and Mastercard to include as many forms of payment as possible, including third-party online payment services like PayPal. Some even take it a step further like Couples Resorts, who offer a “loveaway” payment plan.

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

Hack 6: Be Very Picky About Photography

Don’t shrug off hotel photography as simply pretty pictures. They carry far more influence than that: They convey your experience with a single glance. A study by Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management found that travelers thoroughly inspect photography to see if your room rates match your experience. And, that photography has the potential to change a guest’s mind. So skip the old, dated, blurry photos and kill the cheesy stock images. Invest in a legit, professional hotel photographer with a compelling portfolio of previous work at similar properties.

Hack 7: Harvest Social Proof 

Modern travelers, especially millennial and affluent guests, are highly driven by user-generated content. In fact, a recent marketing study found that UGC is 20 percent more influential than any other type of marketing when driving purchases among millennial shoppers. Leveraging your guests’ own images (especially images from Instagram) in your marketing materials not only shows authenticity, it brilliantly demonstrates ‘social proof.’

Also, potential guests turn to sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook and OTAs to research what others are saying about your property. Our advice: Beat them to it. Select and showcase some of your best reviews directly on your hotel homepage to amp up conversions. Scour through guest feedback for the most poignant reviews, skip those that are too generic or lack-luster. The idea is to add credibility with authentic guest feedback, as well as build excitement about what’s in store.

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Hack 8: Automate Your Best Rate Guarantee

Having a Best Rate Guarantee badge on your website is no longer enough. Instead, smart hotel marketers now show 3rd party rates alongside their own direct rates, so that customers aren’t tempted to leave and compare prices on other sites. Widgets like TripTease make it easy for hoteliers to show rates form third parties… and (shameless plug) our very own booking engine takes the concept a step further by auto-matching third-party rates when direct rates are showing higher than third parties.

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Booking engines, like Tambourine’s, can now auto-display third-party rates and auto-correct direct rates when they are out of parity.

Hack 9: Speed Things Up!

Attention spans online are at an all-time low.

If you want to turn lookers into bookers, every second counts. The ramifications of a slow hotel website are swift, and often permanent as well. About 25 percent of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load. Almost 50 percent will abandon if the site takes more than 10 seconds to load. Worse, once they leave, they will likely never come back. Today’s consumers expect immediacy online, so this is essential to your conversion rate.

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Hack 10: Be Mobile-Friendly

Mobile bookings are up. According to eMarketer, by 2021, half of all digital travel sales will be made from smartphones or tablets. So, why aren’t your mobile bookings climbing, too? It’s not enough for your website to just ‘come up’ on a smartphone or tablet. Or, to merely offer a mobile version of your hotel website. Your hotel’s mobile experience has to match the expectations and habits of today’s consumers on-the-go. So, streamline the booking funnel. Design for one-hand navigation. Allow for alternate payments. Then, watch your mobile bookings rise.


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