How to Evaluate Your Paid Listings in Five Minutes or Less

[caption id="attachment_433" align="alignright" width="164" caption="Stopwatch by Casey Marshall"][/caption] A frequent concern among innkeepers is how to evaluate the effectiveness of B&B directories and other paid listings. Google Analytics provides a simple but effective way to help you see this with only a few minutes effort. Segment Everything Google Analytics ninja Avinash Kaushik points out the value of Advanced Segments, saying, "Segment everything." This is great advice, and it is the approach we will use to clarify the results we see from our directories or paid listings. Here are the steps to follow: 1. Log in to your Google Analytics account, and click the Advanced Segments button near the top left. 2. To the bottom right of the new section which appears is a button reading "New Custom Segment" - click it. 3. Give the new segment a name that will help you identify it by filling in the Name field at the top. 4. Add the Source fields you want to include. This will be the domain names of the directories or paid listings you want to include. First set the green section to Source, then add the domain name to the directory to be included. Google Analytics will suggest domains from your existing Sources as you type. 5. Continue by adding "OR" statements, set the "dimension" (the green part) to Source for each additional Source directory you want to track. 6. If you want, you can test your segment by clicking the "Test Segment" button to see how many matches each of your conditions (sources, in this case) it matches. 7. Save the segment by clicking the Save button, and you'll see your usual search results are now limited to only the sources listed in your new advanced segment. To turn it on or off, go to the Advanced…

5 Ways B&Bs Can Use QR Codes

This week's post is a guest post from David Mitchell. David is the founder of webmarketing4hoteliers.com - a website dedicated to B&B owners and Inn Keepers serious about ‘getting more beds filled’ and 'making more money’ through effective marketing on the internet. For those seeking 'how to' information on QR codes, you may want to look at our article on getting started with QR codes. B&B marketing can be quite a challenge as the competition is always tight no matter what star rating a B&B has or in what country it’s located. Marketing your B&B is no longer just about letters, email flyers and an effective website. A very high number of B&B searches and bookings are completed on Smartphones and Tablet PCs – these are the new ways of the world. The ‘age’ of the simple "mobile phone" that cannot connect to the internet is nearly over. Smartphone shipments exceeded those of "basic mobile phones" for the first time in the most recent three months and accounted for 52% of the 42m units sold. Professionals, businessmen, students and working Mum’s all have these high tech communication devices. Not like the old Jurassic cellular phones or worse, the pagers, a Smartphone can literally do everything your desktop PC can. You can e-mail, chat, make a phone call, surf on the Web, listen to your kind of music, watch videos, create documents and spreadsheets etc.. and all these features in a machine that’s just about the size of your hand. The latest mobile marketing trend is the QR code. Abbreviated from Quick Response code, it is similar to a barcode where an information or a text is encoded in it. QR codes can be read when scanned by a Smartphone or a QR barcode reader. This kind of code has made…

Getting the ‘Word of Mouth’ Recommendation

Closing the circle in this series on the process guests use to book lodging properties is what WIHP Hotel Marketing calls the Second Moment of Truth - the arrival of the guest at your property. We have already discussed the four-step booking decision process, how the guest becomes aware of your property (the Discovery or Stimulus step), how guests make the decision to visit your website (the Zero Moment of Truth), and the process of deciding to book with your property (the First Moment of Truth). In this article we consider the guest at your property (and beyond). [caption id="attachment_408" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Ready to share?"][/caption]Just as the process begins with the discovery of a property to be considered, by using "word of mouth" -- review sites, social media, or recommendations from "real" friends and family, the guest will become the recommender. Their reaction at your property (the Second Moment of Truth) will determine whether they recommend your property positively or negatively (or at all). How do you get word of mouth recommendations that will bring more guests? If review sites and social sharing are the sources of discovery, then we definitely want our guests to have a positive experience, and to share that experience. How do we go about doing that? 1. The Positive Experience People usually have a good experience when it meets or exceeds their expectations. Conversely, when the experience falls short of their expectations, it isn't usually a good experience. How are expectations set for prospective guests? Proceeding through the booking process we've been discussing, some expectation is created by the initial recommendations or reviews. These are refined further by the visit to your website and booking process. The Second Moment of Truth is when the guest arrives at your property and learns whether or not those…

Conversions – Getting Your Website to Do Its Job

This is the fourth article in a series examining how B&B guests proceed through the decision process for booking a stay. Based largely on research from WIHP Hotel Marketing, the first article describes the four-step process for booking, the second describes how a guest discovers your property, and the third examines how to provide information to get the guest to your website. This article discusses how to get the conversion - to capture the booking - once the guest has come to your site. What is the purpose of your website? Have you ever given that some thought? Is it to (a) show off your beautiful property, (b) get people to call you for more information, (c) get people to call to book, (d) get people to book online, or (e) other? For most lodging properties, we would venture to say that the primary purpose is to get people to book online, and, secondarily, to call to book. Is it doing those things well? The Guest Arrives at Your Website Our guest has decided where they want to go for their getaway, they have discovered your property (and, probably, up to 10 others), they have done some initial research and learned a little about your property, and have now arrived at your website. WIHP calls this the First Moment of Truth. What happens in the next few seconds will determine whether you get the booking or not. [pullquote]You have between 3-7 seconds to convince the visitor that your property has what they want.[/pullquote]For years analysts have been telling us that you have only seconds (reports we've seen range from less than a second, to about 10 seconds) to convince the visitor to continue with your site. The data for lodging websites from WIHP indicates that you have between 3 and…

How to Provide the Information Guests Want

Our first post in this series provided an overview of how guests find and book a lodging property, based on research from WIHP, a hotel marketing agency. The four step process assumes the future guest has selected a destination area and then proceeds through the steps of (1) discovery of a particular property, (2) seeking information about the property to see if it is a good prospect (the zero moment of truth), (3) the guest on your website (the first moment of truth), and (4) the guest at your property (the second moment of truth). Our second post discussed the process by which a guest "discovers" (or learns of) your property as a possible place to stay. Our topic today, then, is the "Zero Moment of Truth," or the time when the guest has decided on a location to visit, has learned of your property as a possible place to stay, but has not yet seen your website, and wants to find out more about your property. [pullquote]Around 80% of searches for more information are on a search engine. Ignore that at your peril.[/pullquote] The findings from WIHP indicate that nearly three-quarters (72.9%) of all prospective guests will look for your property on a search engine. Another 9.6% will look on a mapping website. Since most (but certainly not all) mapping sites are affiliated with search engines, this amounts to around 80% of all searches for more information going through a search engine. That is a statistic to be ignored at your peril. Another 7.3% seek information from a review site (such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.). After that the numbers fall off radically for travel guides (3%) and social media sites (0.8%). Just a side note - if you're counting on your social media sites (Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) to…

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