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How Did You Do Last Year?

It's that time again. A new year, and with it lots of good intentions resolutions to improve business for the new year. This is the time to go back over some statistics from last year to try to genuinely understand how you did last year, especially compared with the prior year, and to see what worked, and should be kept, and what didn't. I've written previously about year-end reviews, so, instead of re-inventing the wheel, I've revised and updated the three posts for 2014/2015, along with the spreadsheet for checking on room performance, which you can download from the posts. As mentioned in the posts, if you don't have a way of tracking this kind of information, start tracking it now. Use the spreadsheet, and update it once a month. It will take you half an hour a month, and at the end of the year, you'll have valuable information to use when looking back at 2015. These posts describe the most important aspect - using Google Analytics' Ecommerce tracking to validate how paid referral sources are performing. As mentioned there, you should consider other factors in addition to Ecommerce results when decided to keep or drop a paid source. However, Ecommerce tracking is so valuable that one more thing needs to be said: If your booking engine doesn't properly support Ecommerce tracking, get another booking engine! Five years ago it may have made sense to say, "My booking engine doesn't have ecommerce tracking, but it will soon. I'll wait." Five years has passed and they still don't support it. Get one that does! The Year End Review posts are: Year End Review: Making a List (Creating a spreadsheet to track room performance) Year End Review: Who's Naughty or Nice? (Looking at month-by-month performance) Year End Review: Cutting Through the…

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…

Year End Review: Who’s Naughty or Nice?

The first part of this series discussed the sources of information for our year end review. In this post we'll look at ways you can "drill down" in the information you have to learn more about the year's performance. If you haven't been keeping records that will give you the information, we'll talk about how to get started keeping those records. We'll look at two different areas for our year end review. The first will be a look at bookings and revenue. The second, in the third installment in this series, will be website performance, referral sources, and the like. Year End Review of Bookings and Revenue [pullquote]There is gold to be mined in your guest records![/pullquote]Most (but, incredibly, not all) property management software or online booking systems will allow you to generate a report that will show the number of bookings you had over the past year, and the amount of revenue that represents. Fewer of them will allow either a direct comparison with the prior year, or at least allow you to run a second report for the prior year, so you can compare the figures manually. That's a good start, but there is so much more gold to be mined! Year End Review of Room Performance In essence, your guests are telling you, by their booking patterns, which rooms they prefer. Our objective is to see what they are telling us, and learn from it. So we'll begin by looking at the performance of individual rooms. Many PMS systems will provide a report of room performance, showing nights booked by room, revenue by room, and ADR (Average Daily Rate) by room. If yours gives this information, use it. Be sure you can compare it to prior years, as well. If your software doesn't do it, or if…

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…

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