Tag: return on investment

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Ignore the Gorilla at Your Own Risk

[caption id="attachment_968" align="alignright" width="200"] Image courtesy Justin on Flickr[/caption] Among small lodging properties it has been common to refer to TripAdvisor ("TA") as "the 600 pound gorilla." While this term recognizes the enormous influence of the review site with prospective guests, it is not usually intended as a compliment. Instead it is meant critically, implying some measure of unfair treatment by TripAdvisor (B&B's have historically been difficult to find on the site) and sometimes by reviewers (differences of opinion, sometimes remarkably so, can be readily seen by scanning the reviews of many properties). As a result of the distaste innkeepers have for the negative side of this, many refuse to pay for TA's Business Listings, or participate in its booking program, TripConnect. But is distaste for the site a good business reason not to work with TripAdvisor? Certainly without data to back it up, any answer is inadequate. While a few years ago we were very critical of TripAdvisor's own business practices toward its paying customers (lodging properties), TA has made many changes since then. It has a dedicated fraud unit to enforce anti-fraud policies, and has significantly increased its support capabilities for paid properties. While undoubtedly far from perfect, the improvements are significant. Examining the Business Case [caption id="attachment_970" align="alignright" width="300"] WIHP's 2014 Booking Sources Results[/caption]The chart at right is WIHP's 2014 study of booking sources (these are direct bookings to the propetry website, so where bookings mention OTA's -- online travel agencies, such as Expedia, Booking.com, etc. - this is only an indication that the guest found the property on the OTA, not that they booked through them). For 2013 this study showed TripAdvisor (in green) to be the number one source of bookings. For all other years it has been in second place, behind only family and…

Google Analytics: Tracking the Money

At the recent Hospitality Marketing Summit Conference in Denver, I gave three presentations on Google Analytics. This is the third of those three, Google Analytics: Tracking the Money. The earlier Google Analytics presentations were Google Analytics: Follow the Money and Beginning Google Analytics. Google Analytics tracking using Ecommerce tracking can be a very effective way to evaluate paid listings. However, it is necessary to use a booking engine that supports Ecommerce tracking, and then set up Ecommerce tracking properly. You can achieve similar, though less precise, results using Goal tracking if your booking engine doesn't support Ecommerce. But why? Ecommerce has been around far too long, and it is far too important, for booking engines not to support it. You should be using a booking engine that supports it. Slide descriptions are below the embedded slideshow. Slide 1: Overview: We'll discuss what we want to know, and how we track it. Where to find this information, and how we can simplify getting the information we need. Slide 2: We may want to know who sends visitors to our site, but visitors are not bookers. We want to know who sends the visitors who book. And we want to be able to compare paid sources to see how they perform. Slide 3: Sources sending visitors to our website are tracked in the Acquisition menu section in the Google Analytics tracking world. Clicking on Acquisition -> All Traffic, or to get a report without search engine traffic, Acquisition -> All Referrals, will show a list of who sends visitors. In order to filter out and view only the paid listings, we can create a custom Segment (a grouping of referral sources we choose) so that we can compare them directly. If we want to know how much revenue we have received from…

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…

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…

Tracking Revenue by Referral Source – Google Analytics

An innkeeper who attended one of my Google Analytics talks at the PAII conference in Las Vegas earlier this year wrote to ask how to track average revenue by referral sources on RezOvation (he didn't say, but we'll assume RezOvation GT, at this point). The steps given here are specific to RezO GT, but the basic approach is the same for any booking engine. The primary difference is the way you would enable GA tracking and Ecommerce tracking on your booking engine. The innkeeper wanted to use average costs, so at the end we mention the way to set that up with Goals. However, using Ecommerce tracking is much more effective, as it will use actual transaction values. There are a few steps to be done with RezOvation to make it track across their booking platform. You may have done some of these already - depending on where things stand so far. Consider this sort of a checklist: 1. In RezOvation GT's (I'm assuming you're using GT - if you're using RezO Web it may be a bit different - older RezO products, like RezO Desktop may not work entirely), in the Configuration/Settings for the System (I can't recall if it is called General or System, or whatever), find the Booking Engine Settings, and make sure you put your Google Analytics ID number in the box. While you're there, click the box to turn on Ecommerce Tracking, too (if you do this, you'll need to go to your Admin settings in GA and check the box to indicate this is an Ecommerce site to see the Ecommerce reports). 2. On each web page you'll need to add a couple of lines to the JavaScript that calls Google Analytics. Basically you're telling GA to consider the RezO booking engine as if…

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