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Google Analytics and Your Booking Engine

Several of our previous posts on analytics have dealt with the "how to" aspect of setting up various things you might want to track across your website and your booking engine. A recent online forum discussion among innkeepers about this topic prompts an overview of what things you can track, why you might want to track them, and some potential problem areas. 1. Is your site set up to use Google Analytics? [pullquote]Does your booking engine support ecommerce tracking? Is it set up correctly?[/pullquote]Do you have Google Analytics set up on your website? It should appear on every page (any page that doesn't have it, will not be tracked). How do you verify that it is set up? Open your favorite browser and visit your website. In most browsers, you can press Ctrl-U on the keyboard to view the source code of the page you are viewing. On all you can right-click on the page and select View Source (or something very similar) to see it. Look through the source (or press Ctrl-F to search, if you prefer). You are looking for code which will include "_gaq". By the way, if you find code that includes "_gat" you are using the older, slower, form of Google Analytics, and it should be updated to use what is called the asynchronous code. If you don't find either the "_gaq" or "_gat" sections, you don't have Google Analytics installed. Once you find the code, check to see what it looks like. Basic tracking looks like this (the XXXXX-X is your Google Analytics ID, and don't worry if the lines don't break at the same points): <script type="text/javascript"> var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol…

Online Booking Software Prices: Part Two

Last week we looked at a survey by BedAndBreakfast.com, apparently designed to help it determine new prices for its online booking software products. Depending on the number and kind of bookings you take, the proposals could be better, or significantly worse, for your property. This week we'll look at other ways vendors set online booking software prices. One thing is for sure - no matter how the survey BedAndBreakfast.com is conducting turns out, the results will be very suspect. Why? We've learned from more than one innkeeper that they were able to access the survey from multiple email addresses. That means that there is no control over the number of times one person can respond to the survey. No need to stack the voter rolls with cemetery occupants, multiple email addresses seems to do the trick. Back to the topic at hand... Note that we'll assume a 7 room property since most products are priced differently by the number of rooms, and 7 is about the average size according to the PAII Operations Studies. To contrast with the new pay-per-booking models BB.com seems to be considering, their current model has several components (some of which are optional, and others are only for RezOvation GT users). Here are the basics (according to their published information as of this writing - note that we know the upper limit of the BB.com online bookings is 30%, but were unable to find details of lower rates on their website, hence, that information is from memory - happy to correct it if accurate information is different): RezOvation GT guest management software with booking engine: $90/month BedAndBreakfast.com online bookings: 25-30% per booking depending on percentage of inventory constantly listed Expedia and partners bookings: 25-30% per booking depending on percentage of inventory constantly listed The RezOvation booking…

Software Review: Book At Once Property Management Software

Book At Once provides a powerful and innovative approach to their software for managing bed and breakfasts and other small lodging properties. For many, their power and innovation will be very attractive - especially in the free version. For others, it just may not be their cup of tea. Overview Book at Once is a German booking system, reaching out to become a worldwide provider, and particularly to reach the American, market. Book at Once has also become a vendor member of PAII, as part of its efforts to reach out to the US and international innkeeping market. One of the most interesting aspects of their product is that it is priced according to the features you select. The basic system is free, and that could be powerful enough for some properties. If not, additional feature bundles can be added for a monthly fee per room, or Book at Once can tailor a bundle to your needs and price it according to the features selected. Pricing for the product is given in Euros per room per month (easily converted to US Dollars or other currency), on the basis of a two year contract. We were given a full system for the review, so if you were to purchase a different option, your features may be different. The technical design of Book at Once makes it an enormously powerful system – so much so that as you use the system you are left with the feeling that it can do even more than you can see. That leaves great possibilities for future growth. User Interface [caption id="attachment_253" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Book At Once Dashboard"][/caption] In evaluating the user interface, we consider the layout of the screens (or web pages), ease of navigating the program, ease of entering (or changing) booking or guest…

Selecting a Guest Management System

Assuming you have decided to find a new Guest Management System, let's look at the process of choosing from among the many products available. The first step may not be the expected one, but looking at it first may save headaches later. Determine whether or not you will be using a third-party system for online bookings. That is, (a) will you accept online bookings, and (b) if so, (1) will you require that your Guest Management System provide built-in online booking capability, or do you want a third party online booking system, and then, (2) if appropriate, which third party system will you select. Resolving these questions up front allows you to eliminate products which will not satisfy this requirement. Some guest management systems only work with their own integrated online booking module, while others interact with a variety of third-party systems. If you determine that you want an integrated system, you have effectively eliminated all products requiring a third party online interface. Conversely, if you require a third party online system, that eliminates systems using only integrated online capability. The first question to resolve, then, is whether or not to accept online bookings. If you are one of the few for whom having online bookings and availability are not desirable, we'll talk in the next article in this series about selecting the actual Guest Management Software. In view of the proliferation of internet-enabled devices, easy web access, and the increasing number of internet-generation inn-goers, for most of us, having real-time web availability and booking capability is essential. Assuming that we do want online booking capability, then, we must determine if we want a guest management system providing integrated online bookings, or whether we want to use a third-party system for online availability and bookings. Considerations in making this choice…

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