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  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

  • HFTP Report: Hospitality Data Security — Strategy for Data Protection and Regulation Compliance

    This guide from Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP(R)) covers safeguards that can be implemented in hospitality businesses today, tips on how to continuously improve security and data regulation compliance.

  • HFTP GDPR Guidelines: Privacy Policies for Hotels

    This document offers points to consider in the development of a hotel’s privacy policy. In view of the multiple organisational and legal structures under which hotels operate, as well as the complexity of the third party landscape that may be part of the complete guest experience, this document serves as a guideline only.

Article by Dave Spector

Do This To Gain Instant Trust With Hotel Website Visitors

Tambourine · 9 November 2018
Social proof is critical to easing the worries of potential guests. In fact, a study in the Washington Post showed social proof had more influence over customers than a discount. This is why a guest review site like TripAdvisor is so popular and impactful on purchase behavior. As travelers and meeting planners are faced with more and more hotel options, it's vital to win their trust first, to win their heart and their wallets.Here are the four core methods of leveraging social proof online:1. Awards, Accolades and Media LabelsProminently display any accolades or awards from reputable travel industry organizations or media that have recognized your hotel. Just a quick glance can lock in buyer confidence.2. Guest-generated Social Media PostsPhotos and videos increase trust. Today, some of your best property photography and most poignant stories will come from the guests themselves, whether from their Instagram photos, YouTube videos or Facebook Livestreams. Use your geotag to search for these posts, ask permission to use, then re-post or reuse for your own hotel marketing assets.3. User Testimonials & ReviewsSkip the generic "Great service!" reviews and instead showcase testimonials that explicitly share how the hotel and your staff made the stay or the meeting extraordinary, not just pleasant. If possible, include a photo of the person leaving the review, which enhances the perceived legitimacy of the testimonial.4. Partner LogosShowcase logos of partner organizations and businesses, even if they are lesser-known brands. These partnerships will go a long way to bolster credibility and draws other customers and partners to you.

What's Haunting Hotel Marketers This Halloween?

Tambourine ·31 October 2018
Continuing our annual Halloween tradition, we've asked hotel marketers nationwide, across all chain scales and property sizes, what they're most spooked about right now. In past years, the list has included:* Unrealistic goals set by ownership* Product deterioration* The cost of guest acquisition* Shaky job securityMany of those were on the minds of the folks we spoke to this year, however, here are five particularly frightening problems keeping hotel marketers up at night right now:1. Brand Proliferation/DifferentiationMany hotel marketers (and owners) view the industry's numerous and ever-growing assortment of brands as an increasingly frightening issue, especially considering that many of those brands are owned by a handful of massive conglomerates. For some marketers, as more brands enter each competitive marketplace, it becomes proportionally more difficult to convey the identity of their own brand to consumers and build lasting brand loyalty... Further commoditizing hotels in the eyes of consumers.There are hundreds of hotel brands currently operating, according to STR's latest global chain scale list. And as was reported in Skift, at least 30 of those brands are owned by Marriott, AccorHotels owns 25 (not including luxury rental purveyor Onefinestay), 20 are owned by Wyndham and Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group each have 14. The list keeps growing too, as companies add more brands, without removing older brands that may no longer have the same appeal, partly due to the long-term nature of many brand agreements.One solution, according to experts, is to view each property as a brand unto itself, and focus on communicating the unique qualities, location and selling points of that hotel. This way, the hotel stands out on its own merit when searched by travelers, who may be more loyal to a third-party aggregator like TripAdvisor, as well as their own specific wants and needs, than anyone traditional hotel brand.2. Recruiting Digital TalentStaff turnover among job-hopping millennials can limit your hotel marketing successThe hotel industry stands to benefit from high-quality digital marketing even more than many other businesses, yet hoteliers frequently struggle to hire and retain skilled digital marketing professionals. It's partly due to the overwhelming competition for digital talent by multiple industries, the difficulty of marketing competitively against the OTAs and specific issues and perceptions within the hospitality business itself.When trying to attract candidates who might also be considering options ranging from joining Silicon Valley giants to creating hip new startups, hotel marketers often need to combat the (unfair) assumption that hotel marketing is a stagnant, slow-to-change profession. There are also issues with compensation--the hotel industry sometimes lags behind--as well as a lack of candidates who possess both the required digital skills and the experience demanded by owners and their hotel management firms.In addition to these hiring difficulties, you also need to be sure your digital team deeply understands the hotel experience and booking process. Look for hires who have substantial personal travel experience, understand the travel purchasing funnel and have the knowledge and skills to turn that funnel into tangible digital action.3. Integration WoesEven though it's a problem long bemoaned by hoteliers, the continued lack of integration between the numerous and growing list of software applications and vendors used by hotels remains a major nightmare for hotel marketers. Far too many hotels are still operating with a disparate hodge-podge of systems (PMS, CRS, POS, CRM, website, etc.) that each performs their given role, but may not communicate properly with one another.More seamless integration would enhance both the effectiveness of these systems and their reporting abilities, while eliminating some of the job frustration caused by the disparity. Reducing the amount of vendors utilized at each hotel will also boost accountability for each vendor, while saving the time that would typically be spent coordinating and communicating among all the various vendors.This is why it's best to partner with vendors who can potentially satisfy multiple needs under the same relationship and do it well. By paring down your vendor list, you'll be surprised at just how many fewer nightmares you'll experience.4. Vetting Social Media 'Influencers'The rise of hotel social media "influencers"--users who claim sway over a vast legion of social media followers, particularly on Instagram--has resulted in a sustained flood of requests for comp stays at hotels by numerous self-dubbed influencers, some of whom are flat-out scammers. As a result, the process of vetting these requests and determining their potential has become a growing problem for many hotels.Some marketers are now utilizing a standardized process where influencers complete a form when submitting their request. Management can then look deeper into validation metrics, like user engagement on that influencer's posts, which can help determine whether the influencer has real followers, or has purchased them. Once vetted, hoteliers can decide whether the influencer's audience is aligned with the hotel's customer base, and if the influencer's posts can bring pertinent value to the hotel.Hotels and resorts are being bombarded by social media influencers seeking free travel... creating another challenge for already beleaguered hotel marketing decision-makersIf your hotel does partner with social influencers, be sure to communicate in advance what the expectation will be for a return on your accommodations (i.e. the specific amount of posts or content that the influencer will deliver). You also want to be sure the posts will spotlight the features that are the most important selling points for the property.5. Big Data/data securityHotel marketers are increasingly called upon to harness data in the quest to enhance one-to-one consumer marketing, anticipating each potential guest's wants and needs, including the specific times of the year for those needs, amid a customer relationship that will hopefully last a lifetime."Big data" is also great for identifying peak and off-peak times, lucrative customer segments and a host of other analytical applications. However the realities of cultivating and maintaining that data--including keeping it safe--have become more perilous and onerous over time.Over the last decade, the hotel industry has tallied a lengthy list of data breaches, many of which were quite substantial, impacting even the largest hotel companies. Hotel IT staff do all they can to lock down systems and try to prevent future breaches, but the reality is hackers will continue their efforts, making the concept of "security" a constantly moving target.Further complicating the situation is the European Union's 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, mandating that companies receive customer consent before storing, processing or using personal data from all EU citizens, while also providing a means for those citizens to remove their data from databases. For hotels, GDPR compliance is a great excuse to change all data-related processes, regardless of guest nationality; in the future, hotel marketers will be increasingly juggling big data and these heightened privacy and security fears.

What's haunting hotel marketers this Halloween?

Tambourine Blog·30 October 2018
Continuing our annual Halloween tradition, we've asked hotel marketers nationwide, across all chain scales and property sizes, what they're most spooked about right now.

Mastering five key guest touchpoints

Tambourine Blog·19 October 2018
The guest experience is a critical component of driving loyalty and guest satisfaction. So it makes sense to perfect every communication touchpoint.

10 Essentials of a Killer Hotel Website

Tambourine Blog·16 October 2018
What is the most important technology in your hotel? While many would say it’s the PMS or CRS, your direct hotel website is a vital, revenue-generating platform hub that is rapidly growing in importance as hotel marketers struggle to reduce the cost of guest acquisition and shift share from OTAs.

Hotel SEO: How will Google's new EAT Algorithm affect your property?

Tambourine Blog· 9 October 2018
In August, Google rolled out a new algorithm update that is already causing widespread changes in both organic and local search engine rankings.

Resort Marketing: 10 Ways To Dominate the Comp Set

Tambourine Blog· 2 October 2018
Resorts face unique challenges. They are usually more expensive, geographically harder to reach and incur longer stays than standard full-service hotels. Many are built in “clusters” in a destination, too, which can make it tough to differentiate one’s product from the resort next door.

Segment Your Past Guest List For Greater Returns

Tambourine Blog·28 September 2018
This week’s Freebie: Sending the same message and offer to your entire past guest database is a thing of the past. Savvy hotel marketers have invested time and effort in smart segmentation.

Friday Freebie: One Timeless Rule Every Hotel Marketer Should Follow

Tambourine Blog·21 September 2018
Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon Cosmetics, famously said,“In the factory, we make cosmetics. In the store, we sell hope.” It’s all too easy to get caught up in selling rooms each night. Most often, hotel marketers are buried under a barrage of daily marketing tasks that take up most of their time. It’s little wonder then that some hoteliers may start seeing their hotel as a commodity – as a physical product rather than a “creator of emotion.”

Hotel Marketing Budgets: How Much Is Actually Enough?

Tambourine ·20 September 2018
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 Surveysponsored 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-CURVEHotel 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 yearClass 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 classPunishment 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 increasesSimilarly, 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 profitabilityAccording 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."

Hotel Marketing Budgets: How Much is Actually Enough?

Tambourine Blog·18 September 2018
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%.

Why every hotel paid media campaign needs a landing page

Tambourine Blog·14 September 2018
This week’s Freebie: Every marketing campaign should lead to a corresponding landing page. So, you’ve come up with a creative marketing idea to draw in winter bookings. You create catchy marketing emails and witty social media posts to lead people back to your website.

Can paid social media advertising rescue low booking periods?

Tambourine Blog·11 September 2018
No matter how well you run and market your hotel or resort, there’s a good chance you’re going to face some seasonality in your demand patterns, which inevitably manifest themselves as the mortal enemy of hoteliers everywhere: the dreaded low period.

Friday Freebie: If you do anything this budget season... do this

Tambourine Blog· 7 September 2018
This week’s Freebie: The most critical thing you do to ensure success is getting the budget you need to achieve your revenue targets… so you better ask for the right amount!
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Tambourine announces expansion: new east and west coast offices

Tambourine · 3 September 2018
Tambourine, a marketing technology company for hotels, resorts and tourism destinations worldwide, has announced its expansion to new offices on the east and west coast.The expansion will triple the size of the Company's current offices and enable the fast-growing firm to attract expert digital talent on both coasts.As part of its expansion: Tambourine will relocate its headquarters to 25,000 sqft at Trade Center South in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Firm has also recently opened its first west coast office in Carlsbad, California."Our new headquarters location was selected to create a modern, positive working environment for our talented and growing team," noted Tambourine President Rafael Cardozo. "Technology enables our team to provide customized, scalable deliverables that empower the hospitality industry, but our team still thrives on close-knit collaboration and our new office will reflect that."Tambourine's expansion is a result of its rapid growth and popularity with branded and independent hotels, resorts and hotel management companies seeking to drive more direct business and consolidate the complex hotel digital marketing services required to compete for guests in today's hotel market.
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4 Smart (and FREE) Tools To Spy On Your Compset

Tambourine Blog·24 August 2018
This week’s Freebie: Monitoring your hotel’s comp set is key to staying one step ahead. Hotel marketing success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s vital to keep up with all the changes in both the industry and your markets. And, just as crucial to monitor your comp set, their hotel or resort marketing strategies, then improve your own.

What's wrong with your hotel website? Ask your call center team

Tambourine Blog·21 August 2018
Hotel and resort marketers have a powerful secret weapon, which in many cases is grossly underutilized: their call center reservations team. Even for hoteliers with a robust direct website, call centers remain a vital link in the booking and communications chain and are a near boundless source of guest information and insight.

Friday Freebie: Use Data to Get More This Budget Season

Tambourine Blog·17 August 2018
This week’s Freebie: This budget season, you’ll need to prove how much hotel revenue you brought in or risk losing your funds.

What does the #1 hotel in the world know about hotel marketing?

Tambourine Blog·14 August 2018
One way great hotels can get even better is to learn from the best. In this case, we’re proud to be talking about our client, Nihi Sumba, an island resort that has earned the distinction of being the best hotel in the world according to Travel + Leisure readers. As such, James McBride, founding partner and CEO of Nihi Hotels, has a wealth of knowledge that hotel marketing professionals can leverage to grow their own successes.

School Up for The September Slow Down

Tambourine Blog·10 August 2018
When summer travel is in full swing and occupancy (and temps!) is in the 90s, it’s easy to forget what may be looming up ahead… the back-to-school slowdown.

Five ways to avoid the Summer lull in Group business

Tambourine Blog· 7 August 2018
For many hotels, summer can be a time when group business dwindles to a crawl. The large national association and annual company conventions tend to dry up during the summer, and if you're located in a warm-weather destination, convincing guests to bask in the heat may be a tall order.
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Friday Freebie: Three easy ways to tighten the bond between marketing and revenue management

Tambourine Blog· 3 August 2018
The days of hotel marketers and revenue managers working in separate silos are over. Opening up dialogue and combining intelligence between these two departments are the first steps towards becoming a profit powerhouse.
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20 free tools every hotel marketer should know about

Tambourine Blog·31 July 2018
Whether you want to supplement your current paid marketing programs or if your hotel owners didn't allocate enough to your marketing department this year, here are 20 free hotel marketing tools to use: The post 20 free tools every hotel marketer should know about appeared first on Tambourine.
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Friday Freebie: One Secret Your Booking Engine Wants You To Know

Tambourine Blog·27 July 2018
This week’s freebie: Smart hoteliers are pulling the curtain back on their booking engines to find which room types are highest in demand by the day. This vital piece of data allows them to price each room type accordingly for maximum revenue.
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Friday Freebie: Stop Hidden Costs From Driving Customers Away

Tambourine Blog·20 July 2018
This week’s Freebie: Don’t wait until guests press ‘Book Now’ in your booking engine to announce new charges. Present all costs, including resort fees, as soon as possible.
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What is 'programmatic advertising' and why should hotel marketers care?

Tambourine Blog·17 July 2018
Most hotel marketers associate traditional ad buying as a hit-or-miss strategy. Buy space in a magazine… pray for an unknown return. “Programmatic advertising,” which has generated a lot of buzz in the last few years, is data-powered and designed to help hotels target their audience with remarkable accuracy, provide greater insight into who’s responding to the ad and eliminate the guesswork behind hotel ad buys.

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