Google Analytics for Hotels | Tip #3: Custom Dimensions for your Revenue-related Tracking.

Hotel Revenue Analytics

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, how much would you value as useful Google Analytics for hoteliers?

My answer: 12.

Yours?

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, how much are we (hoteliers) actually being put in the right conditions to make the most of this tool, considering its possibilities?

My answer: -5 (yes, that’s a minus, not a typo ?).

Yours?

Having Google Analytics up and running in your website and booking engine is a 2-min thing. Literally.

Sounds great, uh? Well, that’s the main problem.

Because that is what 99% of web agencies and web marketers stick to. Having had access to 500+ Hotel Google Analytics accounts in the last decade, I can personally testimony that.

The outcome of this 2-min thing job is what likely you see in your Google Analytics console, many reports, dashboards, etc. Which is a lot. Still, it’s probably only a tiny little 10% of what you can actually get in terms of data tracking.

What about the remaining 90%?

Fact is, you want to have more?

Still free, but you have to do quite some customizations here and there, and some coding, all stuff that agencies are likely not willing to do.

Or charge you a lot for.

Or capable of.

OK, so what can we track?

Potentially, everything. Literally (again!).

OK, so what is this additional data useful for?

And that’s the point: quality vs. quantity. No need to have billions of reports and dashboards that simply cause us a big headache.

Here’s though my top 3 revenue-related dimensions, that require just a tiny little extra mile in terms of customising the Google Analytics instance in your booking engine.

  1. Occupancy Details (combination of Adults+Children)
  2. Length of Stay
  3. Booking Window

Imagine, for instance, that you can have a report that looks like this:

custom-dimension-report

What’s the combination of Adults-Children that drives most traffic?

And the one(s) that doesn’t convert? If we see a level that doesn’t convert, what can we do?

In my experience, 2 possible macro reasons behind any underperforming figure of this such:

  1. Distribution
  2. Revenue

In this specific order.

Meaning, first I’d check whether the OTAs are bidding at cheaper deals when searching specifically for those low performing values, by cutting off our rates without us being aware of it (oh btw, they all have this kind of data too, on their sites, and this is how they make revenue and build their algorithms upon).

If so, that’s likely a distribution-related issue.

Does everything look pretty much in parity? Then it’s likely a revenue-related issue.

In other words, the hotel is not so much appealing for users searching for that specific criteria (in the example above, searches for 1 adult are slightly under performing, as opposed to searches for 2 adults).

At the end of the day, getting more direct bookings starts with understanding where our hotel is underperforming, so that we know where exactly we should put our hands on.

How can we have those dimensions tracked?

The setup is the exact same for all 3 dimensions (Occupancy, LoS, BW).

First, we need to create them in Google Analytics, so let’s head to Admin > Custom Definitions > Custom Dimensions (under the ‘property’ column).

google-analytics-custom-dimensions

+ New Custom Dimension > and simply enter the label as you want it to be displayed in your reports:

length-of-stay-label

Just make sure to change the value of Scope to ‘Session’. This is because we want to track this dimension on a session level.

Google is now ready to receive any value for this newly created dimension.

Now we need to tell our booking engine to send the values entered in each booking search, respectively for Occupancy levels, Length of Stay and Booking Window.

How? It depends on how our booking engine sends the data to Google Analytics.

When hitting the Create button in the screenshot above, Google tells us how to do the technical setup by showing us a little piece of code.

This is only needed if you are personally in charge of managing the GA scripts, often times this is up to the web agency, webmaster or booking engine provider you rely on.

The important thing to note is the Custom Dimension Index (or ID) that you can also see below in the code (dimension2 = custom dimension index 2):

custom-dimension-javascript

This is also visible in the list of Custom Dimension created so far:

custom-dimension-index

If you have been using Google Tag Manager (like me) there is no even need of any boring coding stuff.

Just enter your general PageView tag > More Settings > Custom Dimensions:

custom-dimensions-google-tag-manager

Either case, you need to send the right value, which is a variable that changes for each and every booking search. What you see above {{Length of Stay}} is the name of the LoS variable I created in my Google Tag Manager.

All professional booking engines provide hotels with a list of variables they can work with, for any sort of tracking purpose. If not, explicitly ask.

Let’s Create Our Custom Reports Now.

Like I said in my previous post, everything that Google does not report by default,  can easily be created with a Custom Report (in your GA console under Customisations > Custom Reports).

In the Dimension field, we will finally see our newly created revenue-related custom dimensions that we can now associate with any other metrics we want to display in the report:

custom-reports

That’s really it.

There are tons of other dimensions, metrics and combinations that we could talk about, some of which are relatively easy to setup, like the ones above, some others require a lot more coding and technical stuff.

No need though to get too picky.

The important thing here is to realise that we can get more, with what we already have, without spending an additional dime.

We don’t know what we don’t know. And often times, especially when it comes to tools and systems, we make the mistake of thinking that what we see, is all what it is.

Google Analytics, like most Google products, is one of those tools that we give for granted, we tend to like it the way it is and the way we see it, because the data we get by default is already a lot and extremely valuable.

Plus, it’s FREE!

However, believe me, possibilities are endless. So are our chances to get better quality data.

To take better decisions.

 

 

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