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Hospitality Insights

Why You’re Flying Blind | Part 1

16 April 2019


Conversion rate is an essential metric that needs to be tracked. It has been that way for years, and hotels are generally good at knowing how many transactions are generated through the booking engine. Indeed, most hotels are good at tracking the top of the funnel as to give a percentage conversion rate – typically across our hotels, these span from 1% to 5% depending on offering and luxury bracket.

Where hotels are missing out, however, is in their true understanding of how their site moves a looker to a booker. In this short post series, we’ll be introducing how the middle of the funnel is repeatedly missed as an essential optimisation area and work through how Umi uses Growth Driven Design methodologies to bring science into your conversion rate optimisation.

What makes up a conversion?

Following on from the appreciation that measuring conversions are important, we need to ask ourselves “what actually makes up a success metric?” Is it a booking, an enquiry, a live chat conversion, a phone call? All of these are important measurable metrics, however, they are almost all at the bottom of the funnel. As I mentioned, hotel marketers are good at measuring the bottom and top funnel metrics. GMs are pleased when they see traffic increases, higher impressions of adverts, cheaper click through rates etc. So how are we still flying blind whilst reporting all this stuff?

It is the middle of the funnel that hotels are falling short – To be able to strategically and systematically improve conversion rate, we need to understand how the funnel works, not just the input and output. Very few hotels will actually accurately track and understand how your traffic actually gets through to conversion.

I really want us as an industry to move away from accepting agency or consultant comments linke “improve site speed”, “make your site responsive”, “improve calls to action” etc. These generally apply to everyone and every website. Even the top sites in the world could be faster according to the Google Page Speed. These comments are also assumptions that have no grounding on anything but subjective opinion. This is not to say that these things don’t help, they will get you some of the way there but in order to scientifically achieve higher conversion rates, you have to fully understand the middle of the funnel.

This middle part between traffic acquisition and conversion includes users performing a whole host of tasks that move them incrementally closer to the conversion point. Every action that gets them closer is called a micro-conversion. It is by effectively tracking these micro-conversions that we can start building a numerical picture for each digital sales funnel.

Take a moment to think about what the micro conversions might be on your site? Is it clicking on a room search result? Is it the interaction with the date-picker? Is it reading the FAQs for some specific information?

Why Google Analytics is not enough.

The vast majority of hotel websites now have Google Analytics installed which tracks conversions and top-of-funnel activities.  E-commerce tracking can be implemented for the booking engine to deliver purchase info into the dashboard which can be really helpful to track the growth in bookings as well as the most important pages. If your booking engine doesn’t support Google Analytics then I would probably think about changing because it is pretty essential for the marketing team to have this information.

Out of the box it gives us lots of useful information, however, it will not give you unique interaction data based on our funnel because the default Analytics trigger is ‘page view’. This means that on every page load, our website is sending GA some information not during the page session. The interaction with certain page elements is what the middle of the funnel relies on so we need to find ways to track these smaller interactions.

Fortunately.. We don’t have to look much further than Google Analytics to find the solution to this and with a bit of hocus pocus, we can get all sorts of custom event data into the analytics dashboard. It comes in the form of Google Tag Manager (GTM), another Google product that has a user interface that allows non-developers to add third-party scripts to the website as well as setup unique triggers and tags to fully understand the funnel.

In preparation for the next post, have a think about your own sales funnel – what are the middle funnel steps that you would expect people to take? What small interactions or moments of intent would be useful to track in order to complete the funel? In the next part of this series, we will take this and go through ways to implement micro-conversion or event tracking in GTM to begin visualising the funnel end-to-end.

If you don’t want to wait, just sling your email address in below and I’ll send it over as soon as it’s published.

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