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Hotel Marketing Budgets: How Much is Actually Enough?

September 18, 2018

Hotel marketing budgets: how much is actually enough?

According to a recent study, Booking.com and Expedia return $16 for every dollar spent on marketing. This looks great on paper, but the reality is that over the last decade OTAs’ return on marketing investment decreased by 15%. 

This explains why Booking.com dramatically decreased its advertising spend. 

The same story is playing out across the hotel marketing landscape… cost-per-acquisition is soaring, and if the Goliaths of the industry had to change their strategies, it’s probably time to sit down and address the elephant-in-the-room: how much should you be spending on marketing? 

First: What’s in the Marketing Budget?

Allocations within the marketing budget vary from company to company. According to The CMO Survey sponsored by Duke University, Deloitte LLP, and the American Marketing Association, “less than half (47.9 percent) of companies include expenses for marketing employees in their marketing budgets. Most companies (61.3 percent) include direct expenses for marketing—such as advertising, trade promotions, and direct marketing—in their marketing budgets, but this varies by industry (See below):

What does your hotel or resort include in its annual marketing budget? Do you include employee or outside agency costs in your budget? How about OTA commissions or GDS fees?

This is a critical definition that will determine how much you need and how your results are perceived by ownership.

THE INVERTED U-CURVE

Hotel marketers can learn a valuable lesson from Malcolm Gladwell in his inspiring book David and Goliath. In the book, Gladwell talks about “inverted U-Curves:”

“Inverted-U curves have three parts, and each part follows a different logic. There’s the left side, where doing more or having more makes things better. There’s the flat middle, where doing more doesn’t make much of a difference. And there’s the right side, where doing more or having more makes things worse,” according to Gladwell.

The curve has been around for over a century and it has been applied to a wide range of different situations:  

Money: Scholars who research happiness suggest that more money stops making people happier after they exceed $75,000 per year

Class Size:  Contrary to popular belief, a class size decreases beyond an optimal number, learning effectiveness decreases. Apparently, the optimum number is 18-24 students per class

Punishment and Crime: Past a certain point, cracking down on crime and locking people up stops having any effect on criminals, makes crime worse and the juvenile delinquency rate increases

Similarly, hotel marketing budgets have an inverted U-curve; doing too little will result in sub-optimal results, but doing too much is often wasteful.

So how can you identify this sweet spot? 

WHERE ARE YOU ON THE CURVE?

Hotels on the left side of the curve (usually large branded properties) typically allocate little to no budget in marketing beyond their brand fees. 

They often have a lackluster brand.com web page, no outside marketing investments and their distribution relies almost entirely on third-parties. The good news is that if your flagged hotel is on that part of the curve, any additional marketing investment will help you move to the flat middle of it, where investments and return are in balance and your profitability is at its zenith. 

The majority of hotels fall between the left side and the flat middle of the curve (and need to spend more to achieve their goals. However, if you categorize OTA commissions as marketing costs, virtually every hotel immediately moves to the right side of the curve, where spending more often delivers diminishing returns. As Kalibri Labs notes in their recent report: Demystifying the Digital Marketplace: “if you’re growing top-line revenue —but you’re spending a lot to do it—then you’re ultimately less successful in contributing to overall profits. Not an optimal strategy.”

However, if profit is not your primary goal (i.e. hotels rebranding, new openings, brand awareness projects, etc.) spending MORE may be the correct strategy, but for the vast majority of hotels (if you believe Malcolm Gladwell) it is not. 

So, how much is too much when it comes to hotel marketing?

Marketing effects profitability

According to a recent Gartner Research study, companies spend an average of 12% of their annual revenue on marketing. A recent CMO Survey comes to similar conclusions, highlighting how tech companies are among the biggest spenders (14%) when it comes to marketing. The hotel industry, however, seems to pay an even higher price (up to 25%, according to Kalibri Labs).  Tom Klein, the former CEO of Sabre, recently stated in a Tnooz interview that Travel “is not 90% margin like many of the businesses that Google and Facebook and others are in.” With OTAs’ average commission at 19% and direct booking cost-per-acquisition growing year after year, industry margins are under siege. 

So while ADR and RevPAR are important metrics, you should also focus solely “ProPAR” (Profit per Available Room): the revenue generated per room minus the investments needed to acquire the guest. Here again, we strongly recommend categorizing OTA commissions as marketing costs to get a true picture of your marketing budget and its effect on profitability!

WHAT ABOUT DIRECT BOOKINGS?

Because of high 3rd party acquisition costs, there has been a lot of attention on building direct channels, just think about Hilton’s Stop Clicking Around campaign:

The unavoidable truth is that it is also very easy to overspend when it comes to direct booking investments and you can find yourself on the right side of the inverted-U curve without even realizing it. Similar to the OTA channel, direct reservations also have growing costs. 

Special discounted rates, loyalty programs, hotel digital marketing, PPC, metasearch engines and social media ads to name a few. Our advice to clients has always been: “you should have an unlimited budget for things that work…”

This philosophy requires a near-manic obsession with ROI tracking and analytics that requires serious software and some intensely nerdy data, scientists. As the CMO Survey reinforces: when respondents were broken into three groups—high, medium and low usage of ROI analytics— marketing budgets were 70 percent larger in the high group than the low group.

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Before you can determine how much to budget for marketing, hotel execs need to answer three critical questions:

1.  What are the revenue targets by segment? (more on this here)

Without a concrete understanding of targets by segment, hotel marketers cannot quantify (or deploy) their budgets properly… leading to misalignment with ownership and missed targets.

2. Where is the property in its lifecycle?

Recently opened hotels, or properties which went through a rebranding, in fact, should be less focused on return on investment and more on building awareness. In cases like these, 20-25% of annual revenue spent on marketing is common. If, on the other hand, your hotel has matured to a more advanced stage and it’s been in business for 3+ years, then 8-15% of your annual revenue on marketing should be more than enough to guarantee you a good balance between profit and visibility. 

3.  How much revenue is marketing accountable for…?

As the CMO Survey points out: Marketing is responsible for leading revenue growth at 38.4 percent of companies. These companies have larger marketing budgets as a percentage of the overall company budget than companies that do not assign primary responsibility for revenue growth to marketing.”

Friday Freebie: You have one chance to make a good impression

May 4, 2018

A hotel marketing lesson from mom….

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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:

Mom was right.

Our moms are always dishing out sage advice. And, it turns out their quips hold a lot of hotel marketing wisdom. In honor of Mother’s Day and all our wonderful mothers out there, we’re celebrating one of our favorite mom quotes:

“You have one chance to make a good impression.”

And the valuable, hidden hotel and resort marketing message behind it?

Your words matter.

You have seconds to capture your customer’s attention and make an impression. EIGHT seconds, to be exact. Studies show that’s the average attention span in our age of streaming content and smartphones.

So, you have to get your message across – quick.

To entice, engage and convince within that tiny time frame, every word has to be intentional, poignant and clear the first time around. Or else, risk losing the customer who doesn’t have time to ‘get it’.

Don’t expect a second chance to repeat yourself.

Here’s how to write hotel copy that sells to today’s consumer::

  • Succinctly present your core value proposition on your hotel website homepage in a way that appeals to the emotional truth your property delivers (EX: “Create unforgettable family memories at ____ Resort.”)
  • Assume customers are going to scan, not read
  • Put your most important points at the beginning
  • Keep paragraphs short, about 2 sentences long
  • Use bullet points, subheads, bold or design elements to break up text
  • Leave plenty of white space

Get More: 7 Lessons Your Mom Taught You About Hotel Marketing


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

Are comments about your hotel falling on deaf ears?

May 1, 2018

Hotel social media monitoring needs to go way beyond Trip Advisor

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Hotels take reputation management seriously when it comes to guest feedback on TripAdvisor but often underappreciate the need to closely monitor other social media channels.

This is a lost opportunity to gain short-term insight and long-term goodwill.

Here are 3 reasons hotels need to prioritize social listening:

1. Instant karma

Social Media is a two-way communications channel; you can talk to guests, and guests can talk back. You can have a real conversation with an individual. Not so with TripAdvisor: By the time you respond, the damaging review may already have been posted.

Not to mention, social media trains consumers to expect an immediate response, and an already irritable customer can get more irritable if they don’t receive a response in an adequate amount of time. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It can often exacerbate the situation.

Most negative posters on hotel social media channels are still on the property when they post.

And they aren’t doing it for their own enjoyment, either: 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour, according to a study by Lithium. By monitoring and responding ASAP, hoteliers can potentially engage these dissatisfied guests during their stay—and win them over—before they turn their vitriol into permanent TripAdvisor or OTA reviews.

Another instant benefit of social listening for hotels is the ability to glean insight on guest experience and product/service issues— both positive and negative.

If your hotel makes the mistake of ignoring positive comments about your property, you’ve just lost out on valuable testimonials you can utilize, as well as gaining useful feedback and a chance to strengthen relationships with users. And if you ignore negative comments, you’ll damage your brand and foster negative social proof.

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Further, by listening to social media channels and acting quickly, hotels are often able to delight guests with unexpected surprises that create long-term loyalty and evangelism. These opportunities—which are fleeting and must be capitalized on almost immediately—can offer significant branding value, at minimal cost.

One company making tremendous strides to this end is Marriott, which has tasked its M Live team with constant monitoring of social channels, for the sake of surprising guests with enhanced service touches, like a free bottle of champagne delivered on-site for guests who got engaged while staying at a property.

2. Complete strangers are talking about you…

It’s not just your fan base that you have to worry about.

Non-fans and non-followers are talking about your brand too. It’s crucial to listen to these potential influencers as well.

Surprisingly, 96% of the users who discuss brands online don’t actually follow those brands’ profiles, according to a Brandwatch report.

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You can be reactive and ONLY monitor people who directly comment or tag your hotel’s Instagram “handle” (your actual Instagram account name) in a picture. You’ll receive a notification and you can respond accordingly.

But there are more proactive ways of monitoring ALL relevant sentiment on Instagram. By typing the generic name of your hotel (see illustration above) or property specific hashtags in the search bar, you can discover additional content that guests have posted about your prop.

If you don’t have the time or resources to monitor your hashtags and geo-
tags, Tools like Tout allow you to find and license the content with ease.

3. Discover (and celebrate) the evangelists

Hotel social media monitoring isn’t just about catching people bashing your hotel: It’s equally valuable when guests are celebrating their experiences on channels such as Instagram.

Over the last few years, storytelling and other forms of user-generated content (UGC) have become some of the most popular and cost-effective methods for hotel marketers looking to harness digital and social media and put more heads in beds.

capturing guest-generated social proof from The St Regis in San Francisco

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

This is driven by a decline in consumer trust in advertising; instead, consumers now look to one another for credibility. UGC such as photos, videos, and posts about hotel experiences are viewed as more authentic and less sales-focused, so using that content to your advantage can offer tremendous benefits.

By monitoring things closely, you can locate and celebrate those brand ambassadors who are taking pictures of their property experience, allowing you to benefit from what is essentially free positive publicity.


About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 34th year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com

Friday Freebie: How to Uncover Guests’ Hidden Instagram Photos

April 27, 2018

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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: Your guests are creating FREE ultra-creative marketing content almost every day. Here’s how to uncover that treasure trove of evangelism!

Right now as you read this, a guest is documenting their stay at your property and posting it on Instagram for all their followers to see.

From breakfast in bed to epic balcony sunsets, these photos and videos are far more authentic, unique and imaginative than anything the most creative hotel marketer can come up with consistently. Plus, your guests’ posts carry more influence since they are authentic, not manufactured. This SOCIAL PROOF builds validation and inspires their followers to consider a stay. You can collect these posts and use them for future marketing collateral (with permission) or to repost on Instagram to your own audience.

In other words – Your guests’ Instagram posts are precious marketing gold. And, the goodies just keep flowing in. 

Only problem is that many of these photos and videos are ‘hidden.’ You’ll only be notified of a guest’s post if they happen to use your official Instagram account name, otherwise known as a ‘handle.’ So, if a user leaves that out, you may never see their post.

Unless, you get proactive.

Here are three easy and proactive ways to unearth guests’ Insta content:

  1. Search the generic name of your hotel. For example, the Grafton on Sunset (@graftononsunset), should search ‘grafton hotel’ or ‘hotel grafton’ to catch any posts where guests used those names.
  2. Search any property specific hashtags that a guest might have used instead of your handle, like #graftononsunset or #hotelgrafton
  3. Monitor your property geo-tags, an automatic label that is marked when an Instagram user posts from your location.

Monitor these three methods daily to catch any timely content, as well as to catch any feedback or comments that guests make about their hotel experience.

Get More: Why Every Flagged Hotel Should be Rethinking Instagram


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: Solving the latest hotel website curveball from Google

April 20, 2018

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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: 

Google’s new security standards could threaten your hotel’s website traffic. Here’s how to solve the problem:

In hopes of fostering a safer internet, Google has moved toward new security standards for its Chrome browser, which requires a significant update to hotel websites in order to achieve compliance.

Under the new specifications, Google now requires all websites that collect any type of personal data (i.e. forms, email addresses, credit card info, etc.) to migrate websites to HTTPS and upgrade their security technology in the form of “SSL Certificates,” or suffer the consequences.

Right now, that consequence is a security alert, which Chrome users see when they reach a web page that Google has deemed a “Non-Secure environment” when the mandated SSL certificate isn’t present. Considering roughly 60% of web surfers currently use Chrome, this is no matter to take lightly; it’s best to make the required changes as soon as possible, to ensure your site traffic isn’t at risk and/or potential guests being scared away.

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This may seem like a small detail, but it may have a huge impact on hotel website conversion rates. You don’t want to scare away customers with an unsecured website. Google has indicated that warnings may become even more pronounced in future browser updates.

You also don’t want your customers’ data being compromised because you failed to provide a secure setting. As recent data breaches among numerous major hotel companies have proven, hacks can cause extensive damage to brands and they erode consumer trust, which can be disastrous to the bottom line. Given those risks, taking the steps to comply with the SSL/HTTPS standard is a no-brainer.

The Solution:

The first step in meeting the standard is for hotel digital marketers to obtain an SSL Certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). The certificate permits your website to communicate using encrypted, non-corruptible data, while also acting as a stamp of approval.

Many providers offer free SSL/TSL certificates; (Shameless plug: Tambourine provides SSL certificates for all clients included in our monthly service package).

With an approved certificate in place, the next steps are to conduct a full backup of your hotel website site, change all your internal links, check code libraries, update external links and create a 301 redirect. It’s also important to claim all four versions of your site URLs (HTTPS, HTTP, www. and non-www.) on Google Search Console Analytics, AdWords and other paid ads, plus social profiles and business citations. Since there are multiple complex steps, you definitely want your digital marketing team or external hotel digital marketing firm to handle this.


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

Bad Habits: 5 things hotel marketers should stop right now

April 17, 2018

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Usually, we offer insight on the hotel marketing tactics, tools and strategies you should adopt to drive more revenue to your hotel: add chat to your hotel website. Focus on this webpage as your SEO secret weapon. Try these tips on your mobile website, etc…

Today, we want to turn things around and recommend a few things NOT to do!

From our experience, here’s five negative habits inhibiting hotel marketers from reaching their full revenue-generating potential:

1) Using the wrong message to fight OTAs

Travelers aren’t as obsessed with low prices as you may believe. According to a recent JD Power & Associates’ North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, customers who booked on third-parties are more likely to face problems (like last-minute changes and canceled reservations) and be dissatisfied with their hotel experience. 

A common review from an unhappy OTA customer…

A common review from an unhappy OTA customer…

So, instead of using price to win back OTA customers, focus on a common fear: Fear of a ruined travel experience.

It’s no secret that OTAs have left thousands of travelers in the lurch with their cancellation policies and ability to change/reassign hotels at their own discretion.

So, use that your advantage. Remind customers that booking direct with your hotel is the SAFER option. Unlike OTAs, you have a staff that actually, truly cares about them and will do all that’s possible to avoid and quickly amend any issues.

2) Tolerating an Inferior Product

Not even the most creative hotel marketing strategies, sophisticated hotel booking engine, or targeted hotel ppc campaigns can compensate for a sloppy hotel experience. Just as the saying goes, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig,” you can’t cover the signs of your hotel’s frayed edges or lapses in service. Travelers are more sophisticated than ever and they’re well aware of their options, especially with so many shiny and new boutique hotels stealing their attention.

No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product

No amount of “lipstick” can cover up an aging, inadequate product

While you can’t decide what gets fixed and replaced, that shouldn’t stop you from diligently pointing out to your owners what guests are complaining about. Each year, leverage your guest reviews that show the shortcomings that are deterring guests and hindering revenue growth. Convince your owners that property upgrades and enhancements are urgent if they want to compete in today’s marketplace.

3) Working in a Silo

It’s a common scenario playing out in hotels across the globe:

Hotel marketing departments that don’t communicate, share resources or vital updates.

The result?

Marketers left in the dark about upcoming periods of weakness. Group sales managers with no leads. Revenue managers clueless about why marketing continues to target one audience (or date period) over another.

It’s time to end this disconnect.

Smart hotel marketers break down silos and work closely with sales and revenue management

Smart hotel marketers break down silos and work closely with sales and revenue management

Your entire hotel and its financial success depend on all three pillars of the sales & marketing platform working together in unison and towards the same revenue goals. One easy way to break down these silos is to schedule an all-team meeting every week. This meeting should include ALL associates, not just managers. Share your current priorities, upcoming projects, recent discoveries, ask for feedback and share resources.

This not only gives every team member access to what’s happening outside of their department, but it also fosters teamwork and enhances collaboration that results in success across all S&M departments.

4)  Ignoring the sales team

Meetings and events account for a major portion of your hotel’s revenue.

Yet, hotel marketers tend to solely focus on driving leisure business, leaving sales managers to generate their own group leads.

This is a dangerous habit, as more and more hotel owners and asset managers become less impressed with your branding initiatives or your hotel’s number of social media followers and more obsessed with how much you contribute to your property’s revenue.

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So start using your skills in digital marketing for hotels to champion the sales team’s efforts and drive group business. Smart hotel marketers do three fundamental things to support their sales teammates:

a.  Run campaigns that consistently engage the sales team’s high-value targets (HVTs) with relevant and entertaining content
b.  Deploy marketing automation tools to alert sales managers when HVTs are on the hotel website and what pages they are looking at…
c.  Optimize the meetings and events pages on the hotel direct website with ALL the resources meeting planners need… AND create compelling content showcasing your destination as an exciting locale for meetings and events attendees

5) Focusing on meaningless stats

Because the best hotel marketers know they’re only as good as their metrics, measurement and tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs) are an ongoing commitment.

However, with more sophisticated technology comes more data.

While analytics are vital for doing what we do, we’re also burdened with an avalanche of irrelevant KPIs stealing our attention from the metrics that actually matter.

Don’t get dragged down trying to keep up with useless numbers, such as bounce rate, online page views and social media followers.

Instead of leaning on metrics that only sound impressive on paper, pay attention to the numbers that will actually measure your contribution to hotel revenues. Every day, you should be checking the KPIs that actually matter to your hotel’s owners and asset managers, including:

  1. MCPB (marketing cost per booking): Tracks the cost of each sales and marketing channel versus actual conversions. Try using this for OTA commissions as well… and see how that channel stacks up versus your other campaigns.
  2. DRR (direct revenue ratio): Measures percentage of online revenue from direct sources (your website) versus pricey third-party sources, like OTAs. If you’re not garnering 40 percent of your revenue from direct reservations, you still have work to do!
  3. Website conversion rate (from unique visitor to entrances into the booking environment): Converting a higher percentage of visitors into booking searches (or phone calls) is critical to reducing your cost of revenue and MCPB.
  4. Variance from revenue target: This metric showcases revenue goals versus actual results (by segment).

 


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: Rate parity matters… but so does Promo Parity

April 13, 2018

Behold the Power of SPAC…

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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: Rate parity matters… but so does Promo Parity.

It’s not easy filling your hotel’s need periods. These low periods can break your annual budget. Avoid what many panicked hotel marketers do… “spray and pray” offers all over the digital landscape.

You need to be deliberate and focused.

Just like a general in charge of an army – you need to coordinate your operations and move your forces in unison.

This is why smart hotel marketers launch one promo across all channels simultaneously. We call this SPAC: Simultaneous Promotion Across All Channels.

Not only will your promo have the best chance of massive outreach and conversions, it also squashes any chance of confusion and skepticism in your market.

Think about it:

If Offer A is running on your Facebook page, Offer B is running on a 3rd-party channel and Offer C is running on your website, guests will be leery of what’s real or what’s current. Prospects will experience dissonance… enough to turn them away looking for another more consistent and mentally-calming hotel option. Consumers are uncomfortable with inconsistency.

Lesson: Consistency matters. Maintaining parity among your offers, not just rate, is vital to your bottom line.

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


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 Things Modern Hotel Marketers Can Learn From Vintage Travel Posters

April 4, 2018

Hotel marketing hasn’t changed much in 100 years…

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In the Golden Age of travel in the early part of the 20th century, there were no online banner ads. Nor guest analytics, marketing technology, mobile apps, retargeting campaigns, email offers, Insta-influencers, or search engines.

Instead, airlines, CVBs, resorts and railway companies relied on one of the most powerful mediums of their time – the travel poster.

These travel posters shared common characteristics: exuberant colors, a gorgeous single graphic, and bold eye-catching lettering that all evoked a lust for travel and exploration with a single glance. In fact, these poster designers have been nailing it for more than a century. These vintage travel posters are still provoking inspiration for adventures far and wide today.

There’s a lot we can learn from these beautiful illustrations.

Decades before the creation of modern hotel marketing, poster designers inherently understood and integrated five key elements of successful hotel marketing:

1. Take time to CRAFT your story

Your hotel is different.

You may know that, but your prospective buyer doesn’t.

So, you need to make it obvious. Your hotel marketing needs to deliver relevance and intrigue immediately. A mistake many hotel properties make is ‘me too’ marketing that is cliché and already overused by many of their compset neighbors. For example, describing your hotel as ‘in the heart of New Orleans’ or ‘oceanfront hotel,’ making it difficult for travelers to differentiate your property from other central New Orleans properties and oceanfront hotels.  Ditch these overworked marketing messages and present something brilliant and provocative, instead of bland and predictable.

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This poster for a French hotel tells a unique story of mountain air and healthy activity!

2. Tell It Succinctly
The marketing concept behind travel posters is simple: combine one vibrant image and bold text to create a uniquely effective marketing medium that inspires travel.

These posters were easily understood and were perfect for capturing the attention of people on the go. Today, attention spans are at an all-time low, so every second of your hotel marketing counts. Hotel marketers need to be cognizant of the first five seconds that a visitor lands on a property website, that short span of time determines if the person will book, bounce or return. So, you need to squeeze performance out of every second for higher chances of conversion and revenue. Cut the clutter, get rid of slow-loading graphics, keep things simple.

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Is there any question where this Rio hotel is located?

3. Be Visually Arresting

Your marketing images and hotel photography should be more than just pretty pictures. Just like the eye-popping colors and a single image on a travel poster, your images should catch attention in seconds and convey your experience in a single glance.

In fact, studies show that travelers spend time scouring through hotel images before making a decision. And, that your hotel photography has the power to change a buyer’s mind, for better or for worse. Ditch the stock images or dated blurry photos. Invest in a photographer experienced in shooting interior design, real estate, architecture or other hotels. Plus, leverage your hotel’s best FREE photographers – your own social media-savvy guests. Instagram enthusiasts are producing images on par with paid professionals for their personal channels.

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Sometimes, the best image for a hotel is not the hotel at all… it’s the nearby attractions!

4. Keep messaging consistent

Back in the heyday of travel posters, hotels could not change messages very often… so they were forced into being consistent in their marketing.

Today, rate parity isn’t the only consistency your hotel should be vigilant about. Maintaining your hotel’s STORY parity is also vital to your bottom line. Smart hotel marketers know their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) has to be consistent across all touchpoints and marketing channels. If consumers see your hotel described as ‘cosmopolitan and sophisticated’ on one channel, then as ‘central and family-friendly’ on another, potential guests will be confused and leery of moving forward. Consistency builds trust and trust turns into buyer confidence.

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For many years, the Outrigger hotel in Hawaii used images of guests enjoying the surf with the locals. They were the early advocates of celebrating authentic local experiences!

5. Be Intentional with Time and Place 

The biggest boon of marketing technology is the ability to target and automate campaigns, allowing you to reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time.

Use it.

The most popular travel posters were commissioned by airlines and railway companies and were respectively displayed in airports and train stations touting resort destinations, thrilling cities, and weekend getaways. Today, consider where and when to deliver your marketing messages. For example, consider the impact of a billboard promoting a Caribbean resort and its sunny beaches displayed in New York City during the bone-chilling months of winter.

 


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

The GM Checklist for Hotel Marketing

March 20, 2018

General Manager’s (GM’s) are more involved than ever in hotel marketing.

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The cost of guest acquisition is on everyone’s mind these days, which means GM’s are feeling pressure from ownership, asset managers and their hotel management companies to maximize the ROI from their marketing investments.

GM’s have responded in two positive ways:

1. GM’s are now holding their marketing teams accountable for contributing – in a tangible, measurable way – to revenue goals and generating leads.

2. GM’s are also championing their marketing team’s efforts and investing more time than ever before in improving their understanding of the complex challenges facing their hotel marketing team

To support this effort, here’s our list of 10 significant hotel marketing elements that every GM should be familiar with:

1. The Four Marketing Pillars: Price, Product, Promotion and Placement

A smart, easy place for every GM to start is understanding the four traditional pillars of marketing that directly drive the success of your hotel:

Product 
The most important of the four, classic marketing “P’s”: How does your product differentiate you? Consider both the hotel’s physical product (rooms, restaurant, meeting space, amenities, spa, etc.), as well as the service experience. GMs need to constantly work with their marketing team to determine if their product or service experience needs improvement (and then ask ownership for the funds)!

Promotion (i.e. Advertising and Traffic Generation)

More than anything else, the GM MUST ensure that the marketing team’s promotional expenses and investments are synchronized with the hotel’s targeted business mix

Placement (Distribution Channels)

GM’s need to know where the business is expected to come from and how the property’s rates and inventory are positioned there? How many groups vs transient do you expect and how much is actually being generated? How much inventory are you allocating to OTAs? Is your team relying too heavily on OTAs to reach revenue goals? Or, are you thoughtfully optimizing your own hotel website and booking engine to attract more profitable, direct bookings?

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Your revenue management team controls pricing, but price is an unavoidably critical element of marketing. GMs need to have consistent, accurate visibility to ADR vs the compset. GM’s should also strongly encourage close cooperation between their marketing and revenue management teams.

2)  What your Marketing Team Needs from YOU to Succeed!

Your marketing team can’t survive without the GM championing their efforts and giving them the right amount of funds, tools and resources to succeed. The key is to simply, and constantly, ask them what they require from you to achieve their goals, then make it happen.

3) The Quality of Your Product 

We want to underscore the importance of your PRODUCT in the marketing mix.

No amount of clever advertising or promotion can overcome an inadequate product or me-too service experience.  Keep in mind this compelling quote by Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, “Advertising is the tax you pay for an unremarkable product.”

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There are far too many hotels that continue to sink millions of marketing dollars to over-compensate for or to cover up an aging, lackluster, or grungy hotel product. The less you pay attention to improving your service and your hotel product, the higher your marketing and advertising expenses will be to make up for it.

GM’s can best serve their marketing teams by driving product improvement 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.

4) How Marketing Investments Correlate to Projections

Smart GM’s know exactly how much revenue they expect from each segment of the hotel’s business. And they expect their marketing teams to correlate their investments for leisure/transient, group, corporate and F&B.

Generic, aimless and “pretty picture” marketing won’t cut it. Every marketing activity should be done with the intention of achieving the segmented revenue goals of the overall business mix.

Check back in throughout the year to see how your marketing team is synchronizing their allocated budget and resources to align with revenue projections.

5) Your Property’s Story

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Consistently and creatively telling a meaningful, truthful story is what truly attracts travelers. However, many hoteliers 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 in agreement about your property’s unique identity so that you can convey it poignantly across all your marketing channels.

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.

GMs should be vigilant about their marketing team’s ability to propagate a unique story across all channels.

6) Actual Costs of OTAs vs Marketing Expenses

Every good hotel marketer must know the actual costs and expenses of each channel. OTAs are particularly tricky to track, as their commissions are often hidden, yet are one of the costliest expenses to hit your bottom line (OTAs usually pay a net rate back to the hotel, so the actual cost will never show up in your financials). Lean on your marketing and revenue team to track the real expense of OTA bookings and compare that to the tangible expenses that power more direct booking channels.

7) The Ratio of Direct vs 3rd Party Revenue

This goes in tandem with #6. Many hotels are still relying disproportionately on higher cost channels for business. With rates and occupancy at an all-time high, one of the primary areas GMs can affect is COST of acquisition!

And owners are watching this closely.

GMs should check the pulse on this each month to compare how many bookings came directly through your hotel call center and website versus costly 3rd parties.

8) How to Augment the Brand’s Marketing Program

Brand affiliation offers many benefits… But custom marketing targeted to your specific audiences is not one of them.

Branded/flagged properties need to augment their brand’s core program with timely campaigns and custom direct “vanity” websites that help fill periods of need. Instead of solely relying on the brand’s standard marketing program, which is duplicated for every other sister hotel in the region. Your marketing team should be proactively differentiating your property, customizing your website, and boosting your search engine optimization (SEO) and social media efforts.

9) Marketing KPIs 

Get familiar with the KPIs your marketing team is responsible for while ensuring they are not spending too much time tracking vanity metrics. Metrics should offer insight that GMs and the property owners consider high priority (like how much your marketing team is actually contributing to the hotel’s revenue targets). Hotel marketers should be able to share vital KPIs like direct revenue ratio, leads generated for the sales team and marketing cost per booking (MCPB).

10) Why You Lose Business to the Compset

Winning is easy.

Losing requires painful introspection.

A majority of hotel sales and marketing teams fail to ponder why people chose another property. Whenever your team loses a major group deal or market share, the GM needs to ask the team: Why did we not win this business?

What went wrong… How could we have done better?

This simple follow-up could dramatically empower, alter, and inform your future sales efforts.

Also, your team should never lose track of what your comp set is doing. In fact, there are so many tactics and tools at your disposal, that a competitor’s success should never come as a surprise. Keeping tabs on your compset will give you the insight to finesse, and possibly pivot, your own marketing campaigns.


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: Crush the Compset with This Group Sales Tactic

March 16, 2018

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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 ahead of new compset properties. Harvest your city’s special events to get ahead of lucrative group business opportunities

Nothing can shake up your group sales numbers more than a new hotel in your compset. Meeting and group travel planners are hungry for what’s new and will likely include the new space in their consideration set… unless you employ smart strategies to provide your hotel with a constant flow of revenue from other sources.

John Washko, VP of Expo & Convention Sales at Mohegan offers this powerful tip:

Work ahead by keeping close tabs on all the special events scheduled for your city as far in advance as possible; monitor the area’s convention centers, concert venues and CVB websites. Events, such as conventions, sporting events or concerts, almost always bring meeting and/or group opportunities with them.

Your sales team should be researching and reaching out to any related clubs or organizations that would likely travel to attend the event, then directly offer up a block of rooms at a group rate. Your hotel can offer even more value through discounted transportation to the event.

For example, consider a Bon Jovi Fan Club, says Washko. This is a group, typically ages 40 to 50, that are enthusiastic fans of Bon Jovi and travel to his performances. Other examples are car clubs for major races or car shows.

Washko says the key to staying ahead of your new comp set is by being the first to reach out to these groups. So, set up processes with your sales managers to seek out these groups several months in advance.

Get more examples: The New Supply Threat: How Hotel Sales Teams are Fighting Back


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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