A Beginner’s Guide to Online Analytics for Hotels
Hotel and accommodation owners in every market face similar threats. The amount of competitive property listings is increasing beyond all expectation, due in large part to online marketplaces like AirBnB and VRBO allowing any homeowner to offer private rooms at competitive rates — AirBnB alone has over 5 million listings throughout the world.
In addition to the widening stream of new competitors, online travel agent (OTA) sites (Expedia & Booking.com for example) have cut down the revenue potential of a room booking, pressuring hotel owners to connect to their services by offering improved searchability in exchange for a 20–30% share of reservation costs.
It doesn’t take a bachelor’s degree in business to recognize that more competition and smaller revenue margins is a recipe for disaster — so what can today’s competitive hotelier do to win the battle against these difficult odds?
Getting a Grasp on Google Analytics and How It Can Help
A better online presence and more direct bookings starts with understanding your hotel website analytics. Even if you’re not a tech-savvy person, getting a basic understanding of your website, learning where your traffic comes from, and knowing ways to improve your analytic numbers will lead to higher rates of direct bookings and more money in your pocket.
Here are 3 simple checks you should be doing, along with techniques on how to easily improve your numbers:
1. Understanding Traffic Sources
Start by looking at your Google Traffic. analytics.google.com is free, easy to set up, and extremely useful when making decisions to increase website traffic.
The Acquisition, Source/Medium page is where you can go to understand how customers are finding your hotel.
A line graph shows upward and downward trends in overall website visitors. Pay attention to any massive unexpected changes (keep in mind typical “shoulder season” corrections) to learn how often your potential customers are landing on your hotel’s website, what months are most popular, and vice versa.
Next, look at your traffic Source / Medium column, which shows how visitors are finding your website. In the example below, you can see that google / organic search is bringing in the most traffic, followed by (direct), cpc (or online paid-ads), and then facebook / referral. Without getting too far into the weeds, what this example shows us is that our traffic from Google search is healthy, but we should spend a little more time trying to get traffic from Facebook and the other sources listed below it.
There are many other useful bits of information on this page, such as Pages / Session and Session Duration, but in this article we’re just covering the basics.
2. Increasing Hotel Business with Better SEO
Now that you know where your traffic is coming from, and where you should push content to increase it, let’s talk about how to increase it.
You’ve heard the term search engine optimization (SEO) before and you know that it helps your website appear higher on search engines like Google, but what can you do to actually optimize your hotel’s website?
Answering Search Intent with Your Online Content
When you write any text (aka content) for your hotel, whether it’s website copy, online advertisements on Facebook, or a blog post, first think to yourself “What would I type in the Google search bar if I wanted a hotel in my area?”
Writing text that addresses this question is called answering search intent, and it’s a must-do to rank your hotel’s website on any platform. However, don’t assume you know what questions are most common. There are plenty of online tools that can help you discover the questions that people most commonly ask their search platforms.
One website we recommend for hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, and multi-property chains, is called Answer the Public. You get a limited number of free queries per day, and if you simply type in some basic keywords such as “Hotel Vancouver” you’ll get a list of common Google Searches to base your content around.
In the example above, we see a lot of searches around hotels and the Vancouver airport. What this tells us is that if we create content for our hotel page that addresses proximity to the Vancouver airport, people are more likely to find our page after a Google search.
Of course, if your hotel isn’t close to the airport, you can always write a post or advertisement that shares different ways visitors can get to your hotel from the airport — whether by rental car, cab, or public transit.
This is just one example. By writing content that answers all of the questions that potential customers might type in their search bar, you’ll start seeing your website’s overall traffic rise steadily.
That hardest part? Finding time to write it all.
3. Improving Conversion Rates with Better User Experience
Now that you know what your content should be about, and where you should be publishing it, it’s time to convert those online visits into customers.
Website conversion rate is a vital statistic for any hotel business. In the same Google Analytics tab you’re in (Acquisition, Source/Medium) you’ll see a total Ecommerce Conversion Rate percentage as well as a breakdown per traffic source.
Looking at the conversion rate above shows us that 1.12% of visitors to this hotel’s website are reserving rooms.
Fastbooking.com recently reported that the average hotel website conversion rate is 2.2%, with the top 20% of hotels having an average conversion rate of 5.6 % and the bottom 20 % having a conversion rate of 0.3%. This means our example hotel’s website is well below the industry average — there is work to be done.
How do we improve hotel conversion rates?
User experience (UX) design is essential to raising your Ecommerce Conversion Rate. Hotel owners and booking software providers must work together to ensure that reserving a room in your hotel is a simple, seamless process.
The less resistance and clicks that it takes for your customers to get from checking out your website to reserving a room, the higher your conversion rate will grow.
If reserving a room at your hotel is too complicated, change it. If the ability to book a room is not on the homepage, add it.
Here are 5 well-known principles that you can follow when designing the booking experience on your hotel’s website:
- Be consistent — it should look like your brand.
- Be intuitive — it should be easy to get from end-to-end.
- Less steps is better — don’t make customers fill in unnecessary fields.
- Use simple language — throw away the thesaurus.
- Function over flashy — simplicity is more important than aesthetics.
The easiest way to test out your booking experience is to ask your youngest and your eldest relatives to try booking a room at your property. If at any point they stop to ask for help, record exactly what their difficulty was, and then find a way to make it simpler for them.
Once both your youngest and eldest relatives can get from the homepage to completing a room booking without any help, you can safely assume that your booking experience is improved.
You can also consider signing up for a free trial with OnRes, as our team continually strives to raise conversion rates with a simple online experience for guests that want to reserve at your hotel. In addition, OnRes automates confirmation and check-in reminder emails so that your guests feel taken care of, even before they arrive.
The battle to win customers online requires hard work and dedication, but before anything, you need to get a grasp on how your hotel website analytics work. Understanding what the numbers mean and how you can use them to make strategic decisions will lead to higher traffic across all sources, better conversion rates, and more revenue in your pocket.
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