By Ardalan Zandian on August 18, 2015 at 8:30 AM
Google Analytics is arguably one of the most powerful web analytics applications available today whether you are an expert or just a beginner. And even better, it's entirely free! The fact that hoteliers can understand the behavior of their guests when they visit their hotel website makes Google Analytics one of the most necessary tools for hoteliers. For many hotel owners and general managers knowing just a few more things about their guests could easily lead to more revenue.
Below you can find everything you need to know to get started with Analytics.
Why Should Hoteliers Use Google Analytics?
It's a very powerful and accurate application for tracking traffic patterns on your hotel website. Let's say that your website looks like this:
You have a nice and simple navigation bar with a few options, "Home", "Rooms", and more. Wouldn't you want to know if your website visitors are clicking more on "Rooms" or "Services"? Or even more interesting, wouldn't it be great to know if those who go to the "Services" are more likely to go for "Special Offers" compared to those who go to "Rooms" instead?
Knowing that could help you understand that maybe there is something more interesting in the "Services" section of your website and maybe you can learn from it. Simple information like that could help you get a few more direct bookings from your website in a month (or even more) and that means more revenue.
The interesting part is that you really don't need to be an analytics expert to see what's happening in your website.
How to install Google Analytics
Before you can install / implement Google Analytics, you need to be an admin for your website. You also need to have an account in Google Analytics. To do so, please visit https://www.google.com/analytics and create your free account.
After that, you need to follow very simple steps to set up the web tracking code from the Google Analytics official support forum here.
After installing the code, you will be able to track your visitors (anonymously) and find patterns to their behavior. Here are some of the most basic but very useful features from Google Analytics:
Main Features Overview
The Audience Overview screen is the first thing that you will see once you access your hotel website Google Analytics (this is a made up screenshot):
Of course, after installing the code, you need to wait for a few days until you have some data to look into.
On the left sidebar menu, you have 8 sections as seen in the picture above (this is a made up screenshot). Each section presents your website visitors data into a unique way.
Dashboards are meant to be customized just for you. You can add any charts or views you want to monitor quickly in this section. Shared and private dashboard are also a great feature here. But if you are just a beginner, you probably don't need to use this section yet.
3- Intelligence Events
Intelligence creates an alert when a metric (such as conversion rate) for a segment (such as AdWords traffic) deviates from the expected range. As beginners, you probably won't need to learn about this section either.
4- Real Time
This is actually a very useful section for hoteliers. You can see who is visiting your website in real time.
Real-Time shows the number of people on your site right now, their geographic locations, the keywords and sites that referred them, which pages they're viewing, and conversions as they happen.
[fa icon= "pencil-square-o"] Tips for hoteliers #1
When you see a lot of real time visitors in your website, that could be a sign for phone call traffics! Meaning that your front desk clerks might receive more calls than usual.
This is where you should spend most of your time when using Analytics to understand your audience characteristics.
The Audience reports provide insights into
- the demographics of your audiences. Go to Audience > Demographics.
- your mix of new and return users and the level of engagement of your users. Go to Audience > Behavior.
- the browsers and networks being used to access your site/app. Go to Audience > Technology.
- the mobile devices being used to access your site/app. Go to Audience > Mobile.
This is very important section and therefore, we will have another blog post just about this section in near future. You can subscribe to our email list here:
If you are not an expert in Analytics, you probably won't need to use Acquisition at all. In general, you can use this section to evaluate referrals and campaigns to compare traffic from search, referrals, email, and your marketing campaigns.
We only recommend you to use "Referrals" in this section. To do so, you need to go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. Referrals report is where you can see how people are referred from other websites to yours. For most hotel websites, the top referrals should be either from OTA's or your booking engine if not the same as your website.
[fa icon= "pencil-square-o"] Tips for hoteliers #2
Referrals can show you which OTA is bringing more visitors to your website. With this information, you can simply promote your best OTA referrals to gain more direct bookings.
Use this section to explore how people find and interact with your content. This section of Google Analytics is focused on your site, its content, performance, searchability, and interactivity:
- To see basic metrics for each page and area of your site, go to Site Content > All Pages.
- Go to Site Speed > Overview to see how fast your pages load.
- Go to Site Search > Overview reports to find out how successful your users are when they search your site.
- Go to Events > Overview to see how Flash, Ajax, and other kinds of interactive elements on your site are being used.
For hoteliers, the Behavior Flow is very useful. You can see where you are losing your visitors and find solutions to increase engagement.
[fa icon= "pencil-square-o"] Tips for hoteliers #3
Use Behavior Flow to understand how your visitors will end up in your direct booking page. For instance, if the behavior flow of visitors going to the booking engine is mostly from the "Services" tab, you need to find the reason and apply the same method into your homepage. Because there might be some visitors in your homepage that will never see the rest of your site.
This section will help you see the actual conversion rates based on the goals that you have defined. For example, if clicking on "Book now" has some value, you can define it as a goal and start tracking it (and see the click through rates and lots of other metrics for it). But for many, simply clicking on a button won't drive any revenue, so you probably need to set a different goal.
[fa icon= "pencil-square-o"] Tips for hoteliers #4
Conversions is a vital section but requires some time to set it right. You might need to talk to an expert to set it up; although, in any case, you need to know visiting what pages from your website means that you are getting paid!
More details from Audience Overview
As you can see in the screenshot above, we have marked a few other sections in the audience overview. These are mostly some useful metrics that you can adjust or monitor:
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 9- Date Range: Here you can change the date range for the metrics you want to monitor or analyze. Please note that you can't expect Google Analytics to show metrics before the snippet code is installed on your website. Also, here you can compare different data ranges.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 10- Graphic Options: You can choose to see your data per hour, per day, per week or per month.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 11- Chart: Obviously here you can see the actual data previewed in the form of a chart. You can click on each dot and see more details.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 12- Sessions: Each session or visit is defined by a visitor coming to your website in a 30 minutes period before being inactive or closing the tab (bouncing). For example, if I come to your website right now and visit your homepage, that's one visit. Even if I go on other pages, it still counts as one visit. But if I close my tab and wait for an hour and then come back again, that would be a new session or visit.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 13- Users: In the previous example, if I visit your website again tomorrow and the day after that, I will still be counted as just one unique visitor (user). Unless I clear my browser's cookies (which rarely happens), Google Analytics counts me as the same person who visited your website a few days ago. This is something being stored in my browser's cookies.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 14- Pageviews: The total number of pages that visitors have viewed during the selected date range. This should be way more than the total number of users and sessions. Because usually each user visits more than just one page and even if this user visits the same page in just a few seconds, it counts as a different Pageview. This usually shows how engaged your audience has been.
[fa icon="arrow-right"] 15- New vs Returning Visitors: This pie chart shows the percentage of returning visitors (users) to your website. For example, if I come back again to visit your website, I will be counted as a returning visitor. But if someone only has come to your website once during the selected date range, it will count as a New Visitor. This is how you can see if your website is interesting enough for people to come and revisit again.
[fa icon= "pencil-square-o"] Tips for hoteliers #5
You need to market those who come to your website and bounce or never book a room to visit your website again (as returning visitors). There are remarketing strategies that some hotels use but generally if you can make your website user-friendly with some unique offers, you should see more returning visitors.
Analytics is free and vital. You need to learn how to use it even if you already have an IT guy or an agency taking care of it for you. Learning just a few basics could take less than an hour, but could help you come up with amazing strategies. In the end, no one better than yourself can understand your own guests.
Look for more articles from us regarding how to use Google Analytics for advanced users. You can easily increase your revenue by optimizing a few stages in your website.
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