When it comes to hotel internet marketing, accurate website tracking is one of the key tools in the internet marketer’s toolbox. Intelligent tracking gives your marketing team essential data about what visitors are doing on your site and feedback on how your marketing is affecting your hotel website usage and revenue. Notoriously difficult to get right on hotel websites and booking engines, planning out your data collection strategy in advance can bring big rewards in gleaning useful, actionable business data.
So, how hard could it be to set up Google Analytics on your hotel website? In this two part series we look at four Analytics traps and how to avoid them.
The Big Pass Off
Many hotels pass their traffic to their booking engine site to check availability and make the booking. Without proper cross domain tracking this can falsely inflate your website visits and strip the Google Analytics conversions of valuable attribution data. In a nutshell, if this isn’t set up correctly, visitors moving from your hotel website to your booking engine are like visitors leaving and re-joining your website. Your traffic goes up, your conversion rate goes down and all your booking appear to be attributed to a “referral” from your own domain
- Your first step is to ensure that you have linking set up correctly in your Google Analytics. The “Allow Linker” option should be set to true in your tracking code, or set to active in you GA tag in Google Tag Manager.
- The second step is to make sure your Internet Booking Engine IBE has this setting activated as well.
- Finally, add both your domain and your IBE domain to the referrer exclusion list in GA. If you still see all your IBE traffic from self-referrals check that the URL when you move from your site to the IBE is “decorated” that is it has “ga=” and a number included. If it does, check with your IBE to ensure that their part is set up correctly.
Goals as Events
It’s easy to set goals in Google Analytics, but not everything should be a goal. Goals should align with your business goals and would match what you measure as success on your site. For example, completing a contact form on your hotel website site is a goal, the site has had success in winning a customer contact. Joining a loyalty program and signing up for a newsletter could also be goals. On the other hand, in most cases, viewing a video on your site isn’t a goal. It’s not the aim or purpose of the site. It is useful however, to know how much of a share that video took in influencing your sales.
Make good use of Google Analytics Events. These Events are grouped in Categories, Actions and have a label. How you use these categories are up to you, but it’s good to group similar actions together. You may categorise a video as “Site Usage”, with the action of “View a Video” and the label being the video name. Downloading pdfs and clicks out to partner hotels are all good examples of events which should be recorded in your Google Analytics.
Starter Goals & Events
Use these events and goals to start a conversation with your team as to what you should be recording on your hotel website.
|Examples of Goals||Examples of Events|
Plan out a list of business goals your website must support. They may include bookings, contact forms and tap-to call actions. These will become your goals. Then plan out things that can happen on your website which could be part of a visitor’s journey. Group these together into logical sections where the categories are similar, such as a “Wedding Lead” category, or a “Discovering the Hotel” category. This will help you segment your actions in a way that is logical and usable.
Getting your website analytics right can take time and patience, but it’s certainly worth the work. Planning as a team what you will record, why, and how ensures that you have the business intelligence you need to monitor the success of your Hotel Internet Marketing.
Recording accurate website visitor information can be a challenge for hotels, but is essential for building an actionable, intelligent view of how your potential guests use your site, and the effectiveness of your hotel’s digital marketing. In this two part series, we’re looking at four common pitfalls for hotels when using Google Analytics and how you can avoid them.
The WiFi Landing Page
A frequent question we get from hotels is “what is a good conversion rate” and there are so many influencing factors in this that it becomes a difficult question to answer. There is one big culprit for lowering conversion rates, and that is your hotel WiFi landing page. Most hotels provide free wifi for their guests, and often when a guest uses the access point they are directed to the hotel home page. Most visitors instantly bounce, leaving your site and going to the website they intended. This boosts the traffic, lowers conversion and raises your bounce rate, potentially hiding useful data.
The simplest solution to removing this fake data is to create a duplicate home page and use it as your wifi landing page, ensuring that your Google Analytics tracking code isn’t included on that page. An even better solution is to create a custom wifi landing page. It gives you an opportunity to show a book-direct message, to promote your hotel restaurants and bars, highlight an interesting blog post or let the guest provide feedback. Any guests clicking on a link on this digital concierge page enter the main site and are again fair game for tracking. Don’t forget to create a custom remarketing list for people who visit your wifi page. These are guests who have been in your hotel and will include people who booked through an OTA.
Missing IBE and Booking Mask Insights
When a potential booker uses your booking engine or booking mask to search for dates, they are giving you invaluable data. They are in effect telling you what date they have in mind to stay. They are revealing their consumer needs and recording that data and using it for your digital marketing is a great way to boost your direct sales. For example, the way you communicate to someone who has used your booking engine to look at prices for a stay in December would be very different to the way you communicate to someone who is looking to stay in January. The offers and images which would prompt a sale change completely. Similarly, a visitor using the booking engine for a price for 2 people, and someone booking for a family would be encouraged to book direct with different language and offers. A person booking for 7 nights has a different commercial value than someone booking for 3 nights. Also, recording when site visitors are getting no availability messages and the dates they were looking for can help your revenue manager plan which inventory is given to the OTAs and how much to hold back for direct bookers.
Using a Data Layer on your booking engine allows you to record extra data into you Google Analytics and into your Remarketing lists. Working with your IBE to ensure you’re capturing the most useful data possible from your site can help you market your hotel intelligently and to greater success.
The data you collect from Google Analytics can be invaluable to your hotel in improving your messaging and marketing. Getting the right data and understanding what that data is telling you can form a solid base for making decisions and choosing the right direction to take in boost your direct online bookings.
As part of our Hotel Internet Marketing service Up can help you track the data from your hotel website and interpret it in a logical and useful way. Contact our team of experts to start getting actionable audience data for your property.