Follow the MoneyAt last week’s Hospitality Marketing Summit Conference in Denver, Colorado, I presented several sessions on Google Analytics for Innkeepers. The first of those sessions, entitled Follow the Money, gave an overview of how Google Analytics can help innkeepers evaluate their paid marketing to see if they are getting good value for the investment, that is, to see if they get an adequate return on investment.

The slideshow is below. Beneath it is a description based on my HMS Conference session. I hope you enjoy it!

Slide 1: Title

Slide 2: Overview – the presentation will cover (1) reasons people give for not using analytics; (2) a case study; and (3) some words of caution.

Slide 3: Here are several (bad) reasons people give for not using Google Analytics. The link is to a prior post on this blog, with even more reasons.

Slide 4: What do you, the Innkeeper, really want to know about visitors to your website? The answer is generally the same: What sites send visitors (and how many), what sites send bookings, and how does one paid source compare with other paid sources.

Slide 5: Bear in mind, that while sites that send lots of traffic are nice, visits are not bookings. You can’t spend visits. By themselves, they don’t produce income. There are a lot of reasons people visit your site but do not book.

Slide 6: If you can learn which sites send visitors who book, then you can find the return on investment (ROI) for a paid listing, and compare the actual value of your paid listings.

Slide 7: How do we evaluate this? Many innkeepers go by “feel” – they “feel” that a site isn’t providing bookings. Others ask the guests, and we know that isn’t reliable information!

Slide 8: The better way to do this is to follow the money! Use Google Analytics to track actual bookings by source, calculate the ROI for the source, and compare referral sources.

Case Study: We have three directories, charging different annual rates. We question whether the highest cost directory is worth it, as it is so expensive that we don’t “feel” it sends enough bookings to justify the cost. Similarly, the least expensive directory sends so little traffic that we don’t think it is worthwhile.

]Slide 10: In Google Analytics you can track bookings by using Ecommerce tracking, or by using Goal tracking. Ecommerce tracking is more accurate, but Goal tracking is an alternate way of getting some usable information.

[pullquote]If your booking engine doesn’t support Ecommerce, consider changing to one that does.[/pullquote]Slide 11: Ecommerce tracking requires a booking engine that supports it (not just support for Google Analytics). Very few support this. Five years ago, it was acceptable to say you support GA but not Ecommerce (yet). Five years have passed. If your booking engine doesn’t support Ecommerce tracking, consider changing to a booking engine that does support it.

Slide 12: When a visitor completes a booking, GA tracks it as either a Goal completion, or an Ecommerce transaction. Use one or the other. Using both will cause duplicate revenue calculations.

Slide 13: Using Ecommerce tracking, Directory1 shows revenue of $10,808, while Goal tracking shows $7,363. The difference is because Ecommerce shows the value of the actual transactions, while Goal tracking uses the value of an “average” booking.

Slide 14: Directory2 shows a Goal value of $774 and an Ecommerce value of $646.

Slide 15: Directory3 shows a Goal value of $774 and an Ecommerce value of $935.

Slide 16: The chart shows the cost, number of visitors from each directory, the Ecommerce revenue and ROI for the directory.

Slide 17: Recall that our impressions were that Directories 1 & 3 were not worth keeping, but Directory2 was not in question. Based on the chart, both Directories 1 & 3 produce several times their annual cost, while Directory2 barely pays for itself.

Slide 18: Be careful not to jump to conclusions based only on the financial results – important as those may be. Our information does not consider offline bookings (phone, etc.), and other value-added services the directory produces. Take these into account before dropping a paid source.

Slide 19: Another reason for poor directory performance can be that you have not updated your listing, you are at too low a level with the directory, your photos and text are not performing well, etc. Be sure to consider these factors as well before making a decision.

Slide 20: Conclusion: Google Analytics, and following the money, can help you make better informed decisions, but be sure you consider all the facts.