Browsing Tag


How Boutique Hotels Win vs. Big Box Brands

July 12, 2016 • By


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

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

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

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

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

Authentic experiences usually fall in these major categories:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Invite Locals and Guests to Mix and Mingle

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

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

4. Get Real About “Personal Service”

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

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

 About Tambourine

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


Use Your Guests’ July 4th Social Media Posts to Expand Your Marketing Reach

July 1, 2016 • By


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

This week’s freebie: leverage your 4th of July guests’ social media posts to expand your marketing reach.

The barbecues. The fireworks. The high occupancy. Independence Day is a day of celebration – both for guests and hoteliers. This holiday weekend is prime time for travel across the nation, with guests joyfully filling up hotel rooms and reveling in summer and 4th of July fun. Of course, your guests will be taking photos. And, of course, they’ll be posting to their social media accounts. So, make sure that you are included, mentioned and properly tagged in all of those posts.

Promote a special 4th of July hashtag to be used by all of your guests this weekend, and remind them (via signage at the front desk, in the elevators, etc) to tag you in all of their posts. Incentivize them to do so by running a contest that will award two or three guests who post to social media a complimentary return stay to your hotel. Let them know that you will even count posts from those who are out and about in your city, just as long as they tag your property to show that they are staying with you.

In the end, these guests will be your weekend’s brand ambassadors and an unofficial extension of your marketing team. Plus, their social networks will get to see the full guest experience of visiting you and exploring your city by someone they trust.

Get More: 7 Hotel Marketing Tips for 4th of July

 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:

How Hotels Make Their OTA Addiction Worse

June 28, 2016 • By


The cycle of OTA dependence is all too real and aggravating. But, it’s time to face the facts. It’s your fault, not the OTA’s, if an OTA-driven guest doesn’t come back and book direct the next time around.

Some hoteliers are dropping their pitchforks and getting smart about their relationships with OTAs by leveraging them as a customer acquisition tool. We agree with this approach. It’s time to embrace OTAs as a channel (albeit an expensive one) that gets new business in the door. But once that OTA guest checks in, it’s now up to you and your staff to make an extraordinary impression on them to keep them loyal from that stay forward.

In other words, you should only be paying for that OTA customer ONCE. Then, use these tactics to keep the guest coming back to you, not the OTA, for a return visit:

1. Deliver a Remarkable Experience

Today’s hotel guests want amazing experiences. They want more than your amenities and creature comforts, more than packaged entertainment and big-ticket attractions. Out-of-the-ordinary experiences are what will ultimately compel guests to return to you again and again. Look at what your comp set is doing to stand out. How can you top their offerings and stand out amongst the crowd? Get creative and brainstorm ways to wow

image2your guests in unexpected ways. Some stellar ideas we’ve seen in the industry include a chocolate buffet, a running concierge, complimentary photo memory books and a fun-loving dog you can adopt for the day.

Extraordinary experiences do more than just urge the OTA guest to book direct for a return visit.  These experiences compel guests to share stories and brag to their friends, family and social networks, giving you even more exposure to new business.

2. Build a Culture of Great Service

Even with a remarkable experience, it's the staff that can really make or break a guest’s stay. Encourage managers and employees to personally connect with guests and build relationships. Make it clear to the front desk that a guest is a guest, no matter what channel they came from. Often, guests who book through an OTA are assigned to the lowest room product, which can often cause major friction and cause them to feel as if they are being punished. Why punish a new customer? Even worse, that guests will leave your hotel believing that your worst rooms are the BEST you have!

Because most OTA guests don’t understand the nuances of their reservation, they may not even be aware of what else your hotel has to offer. Mention larger room types that you have available and upgrade them when space is available (the loyalty you will engender is greater than the cost of any net operational revenue you might incur). Offer them local tips on how to make their stay even better. Make sure your front desk conveys to these guests how happy you are that they chose you. Treat them like VIPs, as you would any other guests, at every touchpoint.

3. Collect Their Email Address Upon Check-In or Check-Out

We can’t stress this enough. Don’t let OTA guests walk away without leaving their email address! This is the only way you can market to these guests later and stay on top of their mind. But, you have to give them a good enough reason to do so. Offer to send them their receipt directly to their email. Ask for their email address when they log-in for Wifi. Offer to send them an exclusive offer via email.

4. Communicate the Benefit of Booking Direct While On Property

It is your responsibility to educate your guests on all the reasons why it’s worth their while to book direct. Leverage the one thing that OTA doesn’t have – personal interaction with the guests. Have your front desk mention all the perks of booking direct casually upon check-in and check-out. Print out the benefits on keycards, hotel brochures and even the signage in the elevator. Email the guests post-stay thanking them for their business and offering them an exclusive offer to return. Every OTA guest should walk away aware of the privileges they’ll receive if they book direct the next time around.

 About Tambourine

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

What Would You Do With $5,000 Extra In Marketing Budget?

June 21, 2016 • By
shutterstock_137249807 Even after crafting a well-thought out marketing strategy, getting creative with resources and watching obsessively over every marketing dollar, it’s still common to wish your hotel marketing budget was more flush with cash.

So, just say, by the grace of the accounting gods, that your marketing department is granted an unexpected windfall of $5,000. How would you like to spend it? Or, rather, how should you spend it? Here’s what our team, with 30+ years of bringing in direct revenue for hotel clients across the country, recommends doing with that $5,000 to drive more bookings.

Put Your Money on Your Destination

Run a campaign that showcases your destination and aligns your hotel as the property that will give guests coveted front-row access to your city’s locally inspired and authentic moments. After all, modern travelers are not looking to stay in a hotel simply for the room and a bed. They want to immerse themselves in a sense of place and to experience things they won’t be able to replicate at home. The key is to focus your new marketing funds on answering this market need.

Here’s What We Would Do: 

1. Identify Slow Periods Start off by looking at your calendar and noting which months or weeks need the most boost in occupancy, group bookings and ancillary revenue. For most hotels, you will have several need periods all year-round. In this case, cast a wide net and try to capture a full continuous month – or even a season – rather than staggered dates that run at different times of the year.

2. Select an Attraction/Event Close to Your Property Now, comb through the attractions that are closest to your hotel, or a major local event that people are known to travel to. Whether it’s a landmark exhibit at your contemporary art museum or a new attraction, this will be the focus and star of your campaign, so gather as much information as you can for marketing. While it would be ideal (and give you the most visibility) to be an official partner as the host hotel, this is usually a pay-to-play transaction, and your funds can be better used elsewhere.

3. Create a Landing Page on Your Website That Focuses Exclusively on the Attraction/Event Many hotels make the mistake of creating campaigns solely in social media or email, linking them directly to the booking engine or to their homepage, hoping it's enough to usher the prospect to making a purchase. By doing so, these hotels leave a bulk of visitors floundering as they don’t know where to go next, or they start to question if the campaign is still running. Adding a landing page to your hotel website sustains the excitement of the event or attraction and its content can give the visitor even more reason to stay with your property if they want to join in the experience. And make sure to add a map on the landing page that shows distances form your hotel to the attraction/event!

4. Invest in Drawing Traffic to That Landing Page The bulk of your $5,000 budget should now be invested in reeling in online traffic to that landing page. Use targeted methods, such as a direct paid search and a Facebook ad campaign, using specific keywords in your advertising. Piggyback those efforts with emails to past guests who have stayed in that time period before.

Identify the market these travelers historically have come from in your PMS. If for example, most of the last few year’s mid-week July guests all came from local drive markets, export that guest data from your PMS, repeat guest email marketing and use those lists to build Custom and Look-alike Audience campaigns in Facebook. Start all of these marketing efforts a few months beforehand to build momentum and to garner as much exposure to the landing page and your hotel as possible. And finally, make sure your local CVB or tourism board knows that you’re investing in the campaign. They may be doing something as well, and may mention your property as a recommended place to stay for the event.

 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:

Father’s Day Lessons For Hotel Marketers

June 13, 2016 • By


Dear old dad. We tested his patience. We emptied his wallet. We admired him and we feared him.

While it is easy to give most credit to our moms for the timeless life lessons we adopted, dads deserve to be acknowledged for their own impact on our lives. In fact, their endless lectures to us have also turned out to be some pretty darn good hotel marketing advice!

In honor of Father’s Day, we’re presenting our favorite "dadisms" that prove that your pops – whether he knew it or not – has serious marketing advice. Here are our favorite, wise hotel marketing insights hidden behind your dad’s most repeated quotes:

Dad: As Long As You’re Under My Roof, You’ll Follow My Rules

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Your branding - and all it promises - matters. It’s what sets you apart from every hotel in your comp set. It’s what will catch your audience’s attention and make them remember you from the clutter of other marketing messages. It guides your hotel’s entire experience, even before a guest checks in.

Too often, we see hotels who lack a specific brand or message. They truly don’t know who they are in their market, what personality they should exude online, or what images and words would communicate their unique message best. Even worse, new marketing staff or vendors, who may not have studied your brand standards thoroughly, end up creating assets or content that don’t align with your brand at all, which only confuses travel consumers further.

Protect your brand and your image. It’s all you truly own in the fight for market share online.

Dad: I’m Not Yelling At You. I’m Helping You Hear.

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice:  Don’t be quick to get defensive or write off those negative guest reviews. After all, your hotel product is the most important part of your marketing! While it’s certainly true that you can’t please everyone, underneath every bad review lies a kernel of truth. Most especially if the same complaint comes up more than once. In that case, fix the problem pronto! The key is to not ignore negative reviews.  Plus, don’t respond to them using a robotic, corporate response which communicates that you have no true intention to do anything about it. While it may be difficult to keep up with all the reviews that come in everyday, at the very least, make it part of a weekly or bi-monthly routine to comb through all the recent reviews and make notes on every issue that comes up.

Track what is coming up the most and make the necessary changes. By listening to your past guests, you can make your guest experience even more remarkable.

Dad: Will You Kids Please Shut Up For Once?

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice:  This is something every hotel marketer should be reminded of every once in a while. It’s not about you. A majority of hotel marketing campaigns are decidedly self-centered, only touting their hotel’s beauty and benefits. But, in reality, modern travelers aren’t booking your hotel for your luxury bedding or your 24-hour room service. They come for the experience. Their experience. So, stop talking about yourself! Your marketing should answer every guests’ universal question: “What’s in it for me?” Showcase what can make your guests’ stay unforgettable and remarkable. Make your hotel campaigns about them, not you.

Dad: Stop Crying. You’re Not Bleeding.

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Pull your chin up, kid. Marketing is all about trying new ideas and new ways of doing things. Don’t be upset if a marketing campaign that you poured money and staff hours into fails miserably or doesn’t produce the results you were betting on. See it as a learning opportunity and move on. Some of the most successful hotel marketers are those who continue to take risks and try new ideas. If you’re not making any mistakes whatsoever, that probably means you’re doing things the same way you have for years and years. This stationary position means other hotels are adopting new tactics, attracting more guests, and leaving you in the dust. And, that will be something to cry about. 

Dad: Who Cares What Those Other People Think?

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: No matter what you want to believe, your hotel does not attract everyone. Nor is it meant to. Every hotel has a certain audience who is most likely to book a stay. So, don’t waste your time or your marketing budget on creating campaigns that are meant to convert anyone and everyone. The highest chance of success comes when you narrow in on a specific market, then come up with brilliant and well-thought-out campaigns to reach that audience. Take the time to create specific buyer profiles for your top three customer segments – down to age, gender, and lifestyle characteristics – and create all of your marketing assets to address one of those guest types.

Dad: They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To.

Hidden Hotel Marketing Advice: Modern hotel advertising looks nothing like it used to. Gone are the times when you could count all the ways to attract guests using just five fingers: direct mail, billboards, public relations, broadcast media and print media. Now, technology has created a complex web of channels, platforms and online possibilities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the new tools and technology out there to reach your next guest, from CRM software, to search engines, to the latest social media platforms. We recommend assigning one or two of your marketing staff to keep up-to-date with all the upcoming marketing trends in hospitality and other industries. Then, report quarterly to the rest of the team so everyone can collectively decide if any are worth pursuing now or later. 

 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:

Three Things Hotel Marketers Can Learn From Uber

June 6, 2016 • By


Over the last 10 years, industry disruptors have rocked the business world in ways we’ve never seen before, and leading the charge is disruption’s poster child, Uber. 

Not only has it streamlined getting anywhere in the world’s major cities, Uber‘s visionary business model is a goldmine of lessons for hotel marketers. Their model nourishes their own growth, with their incredible way of combining a smooth payment system, customer-focused service delivery and smart and nimble use of mobile technology. This has left taxi companies reeling from a drastic loss in market share, customer loyalty and brand security with every passing day.

Uber is undeniably a case study in business brilliance. Here are their principles hotel marketers should consider replicating:

1. Simplicity

We’re going to wager that no one enjoyed calling a cab, hailing a cab, waiting for a cab or paying for a cab. Modern consumers value customer service and convenience more than ever before. They want what’s easy and Uber instinctively locked into that preference from the very beginning. They address all of those commonplace annoyances that come with taking a cab and took them out in a single shot using a stunningly simple interface. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said it best: “Uber doesn’t sell transportation. Uber sells time.” They understand how much easier it is to pay with your phone, without having to dig around your bag for your wallet. The app’s clean and uncluttered design allows you to request the nearest driver and pay for your ride with just one button. It’s as simple as you can get.   

What can hotel marketers learn from Uber’s simplicity? Examine your booking experience and consider how you could simplify even the smallest of details. Minimize any hurdles to making a reservation. Are you cluttering your booking engine with too many options, text or fields to fill out? Consolidate as many fields as you can to get as close to a one-touch experience as possible. Pre-fill certain fields if they are a returning guest. Streamline your mobile booking site so a user can book a room with just one hand holding their smartphone.

2. The Importance of Technology 

It all comes down to making your customers’ lives easier with brilliant technology. Uber harnessed the technology we were already using, mobile phones and mobile apps, to address an antiquated necessity – transportation. Think about the aging technology you normally see in taxi cabs, including their mileage trackers and credit card readers that often are broken at the most inconvenient times. Uber allows you to pay without the awkwardness of counting out change or figuring out a tip. Plus, they email you a receipt, which makes it easier for business travelers to track their travel expenses.

Uber continues to be a leader in innovation. They recently launched UberEats, delivering lunch and dinner from popular restaurants to users in under ten minutes. With their new UberPool option, users can opt to share a ride with another user nearby who is traveling along the same route, transforming a solo ride into a social experience.

What can hotel marketers learn from Uber’s tech-savviness? Be open to technology that will enhance your guest experience and help you reach guests in more places online. Consider mobile check-in apps, keyless entry, and offering live updates to the room bill that guests can check via their smartphones. Invite guests to ask questions via an online chat option on your Website. Automate marketing emails to past guests who stayed during slow seasons or to visitors who visited your website, but left before booking a room.

3. Deliver a Great Service/User Experience 

First and foremost, Uber focused on creating the best experience for their customer. It took taking a taxi, an act that many people dreaded, and made it fun and enjoyable from beginning to end. With the app, you know exactly where your driver is, what their name is, and how their car looks like. When they arrive, they greet you by name, have an impeccably clean car, and give you a free bottle of water (sometimes even candy!). Uber’s rating system, which allows both drivers and passengers to rate each other, keeps everyone accountable. It gives drivers the incentive to offer the best customer service and keep their vehicles pristine. It also gives passengers the incentive to not be rowdy, disrespectful, or uncontrollably drunk. These small details have made grand strides in delivering an experience that the taxi industry has yet to match.

What can hotel marketers learn from Uber’s service experience? Put yourself in your guest’s place. What would make their experience so much more valuable or more brag-worthy? Consider waiving Wifi fees, offering a complimentary happy hour featuring local craft brews and food items, or delivering happiness to them, such as Four Seasons Chicago’s traveling Martini Man, Ice Cream Man and Hot Chocolate Doc. Another popular option is allowing guests to text customer service requests, instead of dialing 0 from their room phones and being put on hold.

 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:

Are Your Bookings Getting Lost In Translation?

May 24, 2016 • By


Travel is a hot commodity worldwide. Just within the past decade, the U. S. hotel industry has seen an uplift in international travelers, with large increases in visitors hailing from China and South Korea. This adds to the already steady stream of visitors from Canada, Mexico, UK and Japan, who have been investing in travel to American cities for decades. 

This growth in global guests and the ease of digital marketing across borders has given hotels massive opportunities to expand into new markets and succeed internationally.

However, when it comes to your hotel going global, it doesn’t make sense to stick with a one-size-fits-all hotel web design or booking engine. Every culture has its own assumptions, ideals and values. What works in one country may flop in another. So, you have to do it with style, requiring a comprehensive vision, strategic game plan and most of all, a localized hotel website and booking engine experience.

Before getting started, think about your feeder markets. Is your hotel located in a sunshine state where Canadians like to escape to during frigid winter months? Does your city offer major theme park attractions that are on all the agendas of Japanese tour companies? And, don’t overlook airlift. Is there a direct flight to your destination from London, Sydney or Mexico City?

The intent of localizing your hotel’s website for international visitors is to create an online experience that mirrors that of your domestic guests, which will make your global guests want to return to your destination time and time again. Stay consistent, stay sensitive and stay smart about cultural nuances that can make the difference between bouncing or booking.

Here are the four key elements to attracting guests from around the globe:

1. Get a Real Translation

If international visitors go to your hotel’s site and just see English, it sends a message that their business isn’t important or that you don’t care to make their online experience an inviting one.

Don’t make the lazy mistake of Google translating all of your website copy, then calling it a day. Reaching international travelers will take much more than a lazy word-for-word replacement. It requires taking into account the nuances, the cliché phrases and the style of language of your specific target. In marketing, we call this “transcreation,” which refers to a re-creation of your marketing material so that it speaks the everyday language of your intended audience, both emotionally and literally. Reaching another culture authentically means communicating with guests on their terms, in the casual language they speak. As a result, hotels that successfully transcreate their website content usually have higher conversion rates and higher user engagement.

2. Currency and Payment Options

Once you have overseas visitors hooked with a successfully localized hotel website, don’t lose them to an all-American, all-English booking engine that displays room rates only in U.S. dollars.

Here at Tambourine, we’ve made it extremely simple for our hotels’ online visitors to make booking decisions in a currency they are accustomed to. We use a geo-detection software that will automatically default to the user’s local currency and language depending on where they are located. Currently, there are 17 languages available, including both simple and traditional Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese.

"With this capability, guests recognize that the hotel wants their business," said Noelani Berkholtz, Tambourine’s Director of Business Development. “The guest then understands all aspects of the reservation and the hotel’s amenities, and as a result, spends more money with the hotel.”

The same principle goes for guest room and suite measurements. Most of the world uses the metric system, so don’t describe rooms with feet and inches. 

3. Dates and Times

Avoid confusion by displaying the times and dates in the preferred local format. This also guarantees a seamless user experience for international guests who are accustomed to different formats than what your American guests are acquainted with.

Surprisingly, the format of MM/DD/YY is unique to the U.S. (and oftentimes used in Canada too, adding to the confusion). While Japan uses YY/MM/DD and most of Europe uses DD/MM/YY.

4. Enable Language Toggle

We can’t always assume a guest’s native language based on where they live. For instance, there are large communities of expats in countries like Germany, United Arab Emirates or Singapore. Similarly, many countries are officially multi-lingual, such as India, Switzerland or Belgium.

If Canada is one of your target markets, make note that Canadian English is not the same as British English or U.S. English. Or, that a majority of the country speaks Québécois (Canadian French). So, it makes sense to enable guests to specify and toggle the language that suits their personal booking experience. 

 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:

The 25 Most Important Features Of Your Hotel Website

May 2, 2016 • By
Your hotel website is THE most important asset in your entire marketing arsenal. It's the least costly channel of revenue and most likely the first impression prospective guests have of your property, so it makes sense to invest in getting it right. Make sure you don't forget these 25 must-have features!


 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:

10 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years Of Hotel Marketing

April 18, 2016 • By

shutterstock_234721312When Jim Zito started in hotel marketing, the internet was still a few years away, most marketing campaigns were printed and Milli Vanilli was up for a grammy. After 25 years in the industry, Jim has seen the rise and fall of many hotel marketing tactics, tools and techniques. So, we asked him for the ten most important lessons he’s learned over his impressive career. Here’s what he told us:

1. Collaborate With the Revenue Team, Don’t Just Work With Them

It may sound like common sense, but since the hospitality industry has embraced the discipline of revenue management, (formerly yield management, formerly stagnant seasonal rates created once a year by the reservations and sales team), there can be tension between sales and revenue personnel. That tension is a good thing if used creatively and collaboratively. 

Healthy debate and discussion between DOSMs and  DORMs are productive.  Before you bring a piece of business to a DORM, look at it from their perspective. If you look at a piece of business closely, you usually know if a piece of business does not make sense.  Sometimes, sales just wants to book and move onto the next piece without really thinking it through.  On the other side of the coin, taking a piece of business sometimes has some long-term strategic value that you need to champion, and it’s not only about the revenue from that one time event.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Continually Adjust Your Segment Mix

We start off each year with our defined goals by day, by week, by market segment, and sometimes… we get so caught up in achieving these goals that we don’t see the forest for the trees.   

“Markets change, and you need to adapt.” 

What we thought in September is often not true in May, (sometimes, it’s not true in January). There can be unanticipated market events like a sporting event or changes in market demand.  Make ongoing adjustments to your plan. Ongoing reviews can help you gain market share, increase revenue and lift ADR by making ongoing adjustments. 

Your market and the market segments will dictate the frequency of the need for adjustment.  Work with your DORM. You can find ways to adjust segmentation to mitigate potential shortfalls and to find opportunities to grow the business.

3. Use Web Analytics

One of the more under-utilized tools accessible to a DOSM is your hotel’s website analytics.  Your website is a source of one of the most cost effective form of distribution, but did you know it is also a source of potential group and corporate leads?

Once a month or quarter, take a look at your hotel’s referring domain report.  This is the report that tells you which websites are sending traffic to you when their users click on a link to go to your website. If tagged correctly, you can see revenue by each referring domain.  Not only can these reports help you measure success from PR efforts and digital advertising, but you may encounter additional direct sales channels you may not have been aware of.  Wedding planner websites who are referring customers, or local music, food & wine festivals that are linking to your hotel because of your proximity to an event.  They may not have negotiated a block, so reach out for a partnership or contract.  You may not always find something, but you may be surprised by what you do find!

4. Trust, But Verify

I cannot take credit for this catchy little phrase, but it is something I did long before I heard it.  In this increasingly digital age, we assume that everything is set up correctly to distribute our rates and inventory. 

“Random spot checks and scheduled audits can reveal many opportunities”

Also know that things can and will always go wrong, so something that was once working can “break” for many reasons, and ongoing audits can find these problems.  How do your rates and property appear on the GDS’s or corporate booking tools?  Set a reminder for quarterly screen shots and audits!

5. If You Can’t Measure It, Don’t Do It

Wherever you can,  find ways to quantify your efforts.  Just as you would evaluate a piece of business, (stay pattern, rate, ancillary services), find a way to quantify all your marketing initiatives. 

“Before you act, ask yourself, 'How do I measure success?'” 

Capturing ROI on your programs and having quantifiable results makes requesting resources and the budgeting process easier.  What did you generate from that ad? What did you book from that trip or trade show?

6. OTA as an Acquisition Tool

Some hotels can rely on the OTA channel as a panacea, but if you are practicing rate parity across all channels and can attract NEW guests who would otherwise not discover you, OTAs are a sensible and meaningful channel.  Treat the margin as a cost of doing business, and when that guest arrives to the hotel, create a proactive program to collect their personal information for remarketing post departure, incentivizing them to book direct on subsequent visits.

7. PMS Data

Work with your front office team and go through the arrivals daily.  Do not just look for existing clients, look for the people you don’t know. Look at their email addresses; you may find opportunities to negotiate corporate accounts! Talk with the front desk, they will recognize the repeat customers who may be booking directly at the desk each time they depart or alternatively book through another channel.  Reviewing this data, talking with the front desk and asking the right questions can often create new leads. 

If you are fortunate enough to have a CRM system, work with the database administrator to look at customer profiles, especially their stay patterns. Incentivize referrals from your loyal (non-corporate) customers to create new business.

8. Selling Property Enhancements

We all love to see enhancements to our properties

Having something new to sell is exciting. It gives a DOSM something to talk about and enhances the story. But how do you champion these enhancements to asset managers and owners?   

Information and data are your best tools.  Collect feedback from customers on what they want. What business can you get by adding to or updating the existing product?  What business will you save by making updates?  Having this information at your fingertips can help you proactively support the operations team when requesting the resources to enhance or update your hotel(s).

9. Talk to Your Call Center

The voice channel is an amazing resource of information. Call center agents can be the first to hear when something is not working  (e.g. website). They also know when there are gaps in the information, (e.g. “people always ask how high the ballroom ceilings are.”) 

If they are not geographically close, schedule a trip, bring them food and make them feel part of the team. They are also motivated by incentives for things like up-sells, suite bookings and identifying new corporate leads.

10. Pick Up the Phone

I know your clients can choose how, if and when they want communication from you, but in this age of email and texting, some of your newer team members may rely a bit too much on electronic methods to prospect and communicate. More misunderstandings happen — and delays in resolution can be minimized — if you would just pick up the phone. If you have to go back and forth more than twice to come to a resolution or understand an issue,  pick up the phone.

About Jim Zito

Partner, Z2 Group

image1Jim Zito has been building and leading award-winning marketing and digital teams in the luxury and lifestyle hospitality industry throughout his 25-year career. He is a partner in Z2 Group, hospitality and technology consultants.

Before founding Z2 Group, he was Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer with Chelsea Hotels. Prior to that, he was the Corporate Vice President of Digital with Morgans Hotel Group and launched his career with Denihan Hospitality. He has been fortunate to work with iconic hotels both domestic and international including Hotel Chelsea and The Benjamin in New York, Delano and The Tides in South Beach, and the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

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:

The Gloves Are Off: Big Brands Throwing Direct Booking Punches

March 7, 2016 • By


Hotel industry giants have had enough. Like you, they appear to be sick of the big commissions, the declining customer loyalty and the loss of revenue to OTAs.

But, instead of grumbling under their breaths, two big brands have been publicly investing their marketing dollars in mass media campaigns to drive the message: Book with us, not with them.

Hilton Unveils Largest Campaign Ever to Win Back Market Share

The global audience first got a glimpse of Hilton’s monumental marketing campaign during the February 15 Grammy’s broadcast. Entitled “Stop Clicking Around, the campaign showcases travel consumers trolling their phones in a futile search for the best travel deals to the tune of Rolling Stone’s "Satisfaction."

The big call to action? Get the lowest prices and biggest value online at 

This is Hilton’s latest calculated move to win back direct bookings. Last year, Hilton started offering exclusive HHonors deals — up to 10 percent off published rates — but only at certain destinations, properties and brands. They negotiated with OTAs and wrangled for lower commissions, the elimination of OTAs’ last room availability and the opportunity to offer Hilton’s most loyal guests with preferential pricing.

Now with the launch of their new campaign, Hilton can extend these exclusive discounts for HHonors members to about 98 percent of their entire worldwide portfolio. Marked as the biggest campaign the company has launched in its 97-year history, this shows that Hilton is pulling out all the stops to win back market share.

In addition to offering the lowest prices online, Hilton’s campaign is aiming to show consumers that they could have more of a personalized experience and value by booking directly with Hilton. They’re strongly pushing their Hilton HHonors program, where members can earn points that will go towards free Wifi, complimentary room nights, digital room keys and the opportunity to select their room ahead of check-in.

Marriott Targets Millenials With Lighthearted Youtube Campaign

Similar to Hilton, Marriott last year negotiated with OTAs to allow them to offer Marriott Rewards members with a best rate guarantee. With this BRG, Marriott states that if a Marriott Rewards member finds a lower rate someplace else, they’ll then match the rate and offer an additional 25 percent discount. They also are encouraging travelers to sign up as Marriott Rewards members to get perks like complimentary Wifi, mobile check-in and the opportunity to earn points for free roomnights.

To show travelers the virtues of booking direct, Marriott recruited the talents of popular YouTube star and comedian Grace Helbig in a digital campaign called “#itpaystobookdirect.” Playing on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, the campaign’s six videos show Helbig in a variety of humorous situations where she shows people that it makes more sense to book direct. Since its launch, the campaign has garnered more than 8 million views on YouTube and showed the brand’s desire to increase direct bookings and invigorate its stodgy image.

With both Hilton and Marriott investing big talent and big media placements, its clear the companies are getting bolder and bolder in their attempts to drive more direct bookings and take back market share from OTAs. Plus, they’re using a combination of preferred rates and personal, privileged perks to do it. We’re excited to see what other creative campaigns hotel brands come up with and are looking forward to helping all of our partners win back bookings along the way!

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: