Google Analytics for Hotels | Tip #5: Is Your Website Appealing?

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Imagine 2 hotel managers having the following discussion:

Our hotel website is super cool, Google Analytics says we have tons of visitors daily, low Bounce Rate, thus it’s our booking engine that doesn’t get us enough direct reservations.

and the other manager saying:

The booking engine is fine, it’s fast, the look&feel looks good, there must be something on the website that does not work.

Perhaps this discussion never happened in your hotel, but it’s likely that you already asked yourself, at least once before: “shall I invest in improving my website, or my booking engine?

Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.

There it is: as many opinions as the number of people involved.

We all agree that Conversion Rate is the most important metric to assess whether your booking engine is performing well or not.

Conversion Rate

But which metric(s) do tell you whether your website performs as it is supposed to?

This is what this post is about. In 5 minutes from now, you will know the answer to the above question.

And, most important, how to set up your Google Analytics, quickly and easily, so that you don’t miss out on anything that matters.

Ready? Let’s start.

What is Missing?

In a very simplified way, driving more direct bookings is a question of:

  1. driving more traffic to the website;
  2. retaining traffic on the website;
  3. converting traffic through the booking engine.

Would you agree with that?

I don’t.

There is in fact another area that too often falls by the wayside:

  1. driving more traffic to the website;
  2. retaining traffic on the website;
  3. bringing website traffic to the booking engine;
  4. converting traffic through the booking engine.

In one word: bridging website and booking engine.

Even more simply: given 100 visitors on your website, how many of them actually make a booking search?

Even simpler: given 100 visitors on your website, how many of them actually visited your booking engine?

hotel-website-booking-engine

Click-Through Rate (CTR): this is ultimately the most important metric you could possibly wish to have in your dashboards and reports.

click-through-rate

When I conduct my initial assessments with my clients and prospective customers, the very first 2 values that I ask them to share with me are:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Click-Through Rate

Why?

Because with these 2 values, I can immediately assess where the main issue stands, among website and booking engine.

For example:

  • High CVR, but low CTR: website problem;
  • Low CVR, but high CTR: booking engine problem;
  • Low CVR and CTR: disaster, clean slate needed;
  • High CVR, high CTR: it barely happens 🙂

Where Do I Find My CTR?

Unfortunately, this is the biggest issue: more than 250 hotels did I consult in the last 5 years, I think less than 5 actually track their CTR.

Whilst Conversion Rate is provided by default, Google Analytics does not output any CTR values: this is the main reason why most hoteliers don’t even know what CTR is about and what it is useful for.

However – and I am going to be crystal clear on this – not tracking CTR is a huge mistake.

You could trash all other metrics you have been working with so far, and simply work CTR and CVR only for the rest of your life.

Believe me: you will be having way more valuable insights with these 2 only.

How To Track CTR?

Good point is: tracking CTR is very simple and does not require any particular technical background to set it up.

There are though 2 different ways you can choose from.

My honest suggestion: go for the latter if you can, as the former is the quickest but not necessarily the most precise. I’ll tell you why. And why I put them both.

Option 1: Create separate views in your GA account.

The idea is extremely simple.

In your GA account, head to the Admin panel and create 3 different Views:

  1. Website
  2. Booking Engine
  3. Website + Booking Engine
Google Analytics - Create 3 Views

Google Analytics – Create 3 Views

By default, the View you already have can be associated to the latter, Website and Booking Engine combined.

What we need is the two Views that show respectively your website traffic only, and your booking engine traffic only.

After creating them, all you need to do is create the following filters (under the column View):

  1. WEB View
    1. Filters
    2. +Add Filter
    3. Set it up like this:
      Google Analytics Filter Domain Booking Engine

      Google Analytics: Filter out traffic from Booking Engine domain

Name it the way you prefer, but under Hostname be sure to replace booking-engine-domain.com with your actual BE domain.

Now, do the exact same thing under IBE View, but under Hostname you will enter your-website-domain.com.

That’s it.

But, there’s a but!

The above set up is quite ok, but totally unreliable if either one of the following 2 conditions exists:

  1. The booking engine stands on the same domain of the website.
  2. You are running MetaSearch Engines’ campaigns on Google, Trivago, TripAdvisor, etc.

Meta’ campaigns point directly to your booking engine, meaning traffic of people who can potentially book your hotel, without even seeing your website at all.

This is why I strongly suggest to go for the second option that follows to overcome both the hurdles I just explained.

Option 2: Count the Clicks on your Book Now/Check Availability button.

In all hotels’ websites there is a Book Now/Check Availability button that simply brings visitors from your website to your booking engine.

In essence, we want to track how many sessions had at least 1 click on the Book Now/Check Availability button.

If you rely on your web agency for the tracking of your website and IBE, ask them to provide you with what I just stated above.

If you do it on your own, keep reading the following few lines and watch the video I posted below, it’s going to be very helpful.

As you know from my previous posts re Google Analytics, you know that I work exclusively with Google Tag Manager.

Setting up the above directly in Google Analytics would require quite some custom coding that, in my opinion, doesn’t make much sense because Google itself offers multiple solutions by simply adopting Google Tag Manager.

Nor will it make much sense for me to explain here, step by step, how to configure your click tracking, since nothing more would I say as compared to many other excellent video tutorials you can already find on Youtube.

For your convenience, here’s a good one that also gives a bit of background as to how GTM works and how it triggers data to Google Analytics:

This is how the setup of my CTR tag in Google Tag Manager looks like:

Google Tag Manager - Click-through rate Tag configuration

Google Tag Manager – Click-through rate Tag configuration

Set up Your Custom Report.

Now that your click-tracking is up running, all you need to do is output the figures in a custom report or dashboard.

Head to Customization > Custom Reports > +New Custom Report.

The configuration is very simple as we don’t need many metrics to include in the report, only Sessions and, I suggest, also Users.

The only thing to pay attention to is the filter, as we need to include only those clicks whose Event Action is “Book Now” – see the previous screenshot of my setup in Google Tag Manager.

Click-through rate - Custom Report

Click-through rate – Custom Report

And finally, the output:

Click-through rate - how the report looks like

Probably you are asking yourself: “What if a User clicks the Book Now button multiple times?

With the above type of report, we are not really counting how many clicks we get; instead, we are counting how many sessions had clicks on the Book Now button.

In other words, we might have had a session in which user clicked 5 times the Book Now button, however that session has been counted as 1.

That’s exactly what we need to know.

What’s a Good CTR?

The answer is not as easy as you might expect.

The thing is, almost no one tracks CTR in the hotel industry.

This means that I don’t have other statistics I can compare my data with.

However, after working with many hotels and dealing with their figures, generally speaking I’d say that if your CTR is:

  • <10%: disaster, literally. Website, branding, UX-writing, look&feel are all things that likely need to be revamped.
  • 10-20%: poor score. It may be due to lack of call-to-actions, poor branding, heavy pages that take too long to load, etc.
  • 20-30%: decent, but there is still room for improvement. Also consider that too many call-to o-actions may either scare or confuse your prospective customers. So, don’t always think of adding new things; most times, reducing and clearing is what gets more appreciated.
  • 30-35%: very good.
  • >35%: Rockstar! To get to this point though, having a great website is definitely not enough. A strong Branding and how it is communicated through great UX-writing, is what makes CTR skyrocket and, most times, also the CVR.

 

Conclusion

Absolute values such as Revenue, Room Nights, Number of Sessions, and so forth, are NEVER a good benchmark to assess whether your performance is good or bad.

Instead, values in percentage and, more specifically, your Conversion Rate and Click-through Rate should be the starting point of all your analysis.

I really mean it. As compared to your CVT and CTR, all other metrics can be considered as vanity metrics.

If you run with Paid Advertisements you are certainly familiar with the Click-through Rate.

Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads provides you with the CTR for each of your campaigns, being it the one single metric that says it all: the higher your CTR, the better your Ads.

This is not any different for your website: the higher your CTR, the better your site.

The better your metrics, the better your decisions.

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About Me

Alessandro Crotti

Alessandro Crotti

I am Alessandro Crotti and I am a Digital Strategist and E-Commerce Coach for Independent Hotels. This is the only thing I have been doing for about 17 years now. I help Hotel Professionals to generate more leads, more prospects and more bookings.

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