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Google Analytics – Follow the Money

At 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…

Please Don’t Look At My Website

"Please don't look at my website," said no B&B owner, ever. But if you take a stroll through the garden of delights found by searching on B&B's, you wouldn't think that was the case. Some look like they were built by the neighbor's child back in the 1990's, while others have been updated, but have only made it to the 2005 era. But looking around you will find that there appears to be a correlation between the most successful properties and the professionalism and quality of their websites. Hmmm. Could it be a trend? What makes a website effective? And why is an effective website important (do you really have to ask?)? What should you consider when deciding on hosting and building a new website? To some extent this discussion is prompted by the announcement from BBOnline, discussed in detail in the recent blog post from our friends at Acorn Internet Services, that BBOnline will stop supporting hosted websites May 1. Apparently the sites will remain active, but they can no longer be updated(!). Clearly some people will need to find a new home for their websites! How High Quality Should Your Website Be? Before embarking on a discussion of the considerations when choosing a new host and design for a website, let's briefly consider quality (and yes, that usually means expense). Think about this: how many of your guests tell you they found you online? At least 90%, right? OK, now of those 90+% of your guests, how many say something like, "Nope, I never saw your website."? None, right? Of course - they all saw your website. I know, and all the guests said how great it was, so why should you get a new site design? After all, this one was just re-designed, oh, two or three…

Maximum Return on Limited Marketing Resources

It's the classic conundrum, isn't it? We know we need to market to raise awareness of our brand, or to simply be found by those searching for lodging in your area. But resources are very limited, so you need to get the maximum return on limited marketing resources. Time and Money [caption id="attachment_896" align="alignright" width="300"] Vacancy on the loop by C X 2 on flickr[/caption]But it isn't only about limited financial resources. It is about time, too. You can hear the advice to do dozens of things to be sure you show up well in search engines - keep your content fresh, use the right keywords, update your titles, write weekly blog posts, etc., etc., etc.! Then there is social media. You have a Facebook page and you post frequently and interact with guests (if anyone ever responds!). You have a Twitter account. And an Instagram account. You sometimes post there, too. You have a YouTube channel, but who knows how to post videos? That's not to mention all the usual B&B directories where you've paid to be listed. Ordinary Results Is it enough? What do your Google Analytics (or Intell-A-Keeper, or, or, or...) statistics show? They usually show that your number one source of bookings is Google, then TripAdvisor and/or some of the paid B&B directories. What else? Where is the result of all that effort? Where is your blog? Where is Social Media? Typically they are almost invisible. I saw an innkeeper post (with great excitement!) on a forum in the past few weeks that they had finally received their very first booking from Facebook. This after years of being involved. So, let's see, several years of effort yields a night or two booking. Is that the "maximum return on limited marketing resources" you were looking for? Changing…

A Consistent Marketing Message – How Often Should I …

Most innkeepers seem to have an awareness of a need to present a consistent marketing message. They want their website to appear uniform from page-to-page. They want their blog to look like their website - even if it is hosted separately. They want the style of their newsletters or their booking engine to match the style of their website. Going a bit farther, maybe they even want their Facebook page, Google+ page, or other social media pages to resemble their website theme. [pullquote]Think of it from the perspective of your guests...[/pullquote]If you have done all (or most) of these things, you have presented a consistent marketing message in one sense - a consistent appearance. Some refer to this as "branding". But today we will be looking at a different type of consistency in the marketing message - one which is not often mentioned in the B&B world - the frequency with which it is delivered. In doing so we'll step back a bit from the technical, and look into the murky uncertainty of the psychology of the guest, to consider the impact of our choices. When we build our website, we may update it with new photos, a new recipe from time-to-time, etc., but for the most part it remains static. Whether we like to think so or not, it is essentially an online brochure for our business (and yes, it is possible to feed changing content to the website from the blog, Facebook page, etc., to keep it current - but that is not our topic for today). Let's look, instead, at things that require repetitive publication: blogs, newsletters, and social media. In previous posts, we've discussed ways to automate posting of blog posts to social media - there are many tools for that (including plug-ins for your blogging…

BBOnline – Could Things Be Looking Up?

Is there any new information on the decline in traffic from directory BBOnline? We've been interested to see if traffic from BBOnline has improved over time, since the huge decline observed beginning in November, 2011, and lasting about a year. If you haven't see the earlier discussion of the lost traffic (up to 90% drops, in some cases), just click on the "Directories" tab at the top of the page. Recently another property owner emailed to ask if there was any new information on BBOnline. That's normal, of course, as seasonal properties whose busy season is summer begin to get ready for the new year, and want to be sure they are spending their marketing dollars effectively. Checking Google Analytics for our Freeport, Maine B&B we found a pleasant surprise! In our stats, looking at September 1, 2012 through April 15, 2013, and comparing it with the previous year, we found that BBOnline's traffic had increased over 200% (other directories declined during the same period). Before we get too excited about that, the traffic had declined almost 90% the year before, so a 200% increase after that drop does not bring it back to its former levels. It does, however, return it to being competitive with other directories, and to a more acceptable level. Certainly, if this increase continues, we could see traffic from BBOnline getting back to the old "normal" as time goes on. Have you seen increases (or decreases) in your traffic from BBOnline? If you would like to help us provide more comprehensive information, please send an email to scott at AboutTheInn.com. We'll keep your information anonymous, but if we get enough to provide useful information, will include it in a post that updates this information.

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