Viraj Patel is working with MaassMedia as part of Cornell University’s externship program. He has worked predominantly in the hotel and retail furniture industries. In his free time he enjoys watching movies and following his favorite sports teams.
You cannot manage what you don’t measure, and that certainly applies to marketing. Measuring how well each marketing channel drives traffic to a website is imperative to any company’s success, and analytics allows you to do that. Because my background is predominantly in hospitality, I’d like to demonstrate how analytics can benefit the hotel industry.
55% of all leisure and business reservations are expected to be made online for 2013 (PhoCusWright), which means measuring and optimizing a hotel’s digital marketing is more important than ever before.
Although monitoring standard web metrics like visitors, page views, and average visit duration is useful, that information is just the tip of the iceberg. Truly Transformative Insights™ that change the way your organization manages its marketing spawn from pulling and correlating data, not only from web traffic, but also from a variety of marketing channels.
The average conversion rate for hotel websites is about 2%. In other words, approximately 98% of visitors to a hotel’s website leave without making a reservation. This suggests that the hotel industry could be doing significantly more to capitalize on visitors’ interest. It is imperative that hotels utilize the right data in the right way to paint a clearer picture of how their audience interacts with their marketing.
The key to understanding your audience is segmentation. We’re not necessarily referring to segmenting visitors by age, gender, or geographic location (although, depending on your business goals, those qualities might be important). At MaassMedia, we strive for more granular segmentation to understand each visitor’s intentions, then serve each visitor a unique digital experience optimized for conversion.
With analytics, you can measure where each visitor stands in the purchase consideration spectrum. Some visitors may have their minds made up about booking a room, while others might be on the fence. Defining the Key Website Actions on your hotel’s website and tracking visitors who complete these actions can reflect a visitor’s propensity to buy. Additionally, analytics tracks metrics like how recently or frequently a visitor views the website, which can help identify which visitors are ready to book a room and which are undecided. Using this information, hotel websites can then personalize the content that the visitor sees, raising their likelihood to book.
For example: Let’s say a prospective guest has visited the hotel’s site on numerous occasions in a short time span without making a reservation. We can establish that the guest is probably significantly interested in booking a room, but might need some added incentive to make the decision. Using analytics, the hotel could identify these visitors and display a time-sensitive offer only for those visitors who are on the fence.
Only visitors who need incentive to purchase are shown the time-sensitive offer
Data can also be collected from interactive content, like internal search terms and filters. If a visitor consistently books or views hotels costing over $500/night, the website could recommend more luxurious hotel rooms and properties. Not only would this increase the likelihood of a larger sale, but the purchasing experience for the guest also improves tremendously because they don’t have to filter through the hotels that don’t interest them.
Hotel franchisors can also capitalize on trends in their data. For example, if there is a substantial increase in searches for a particular destination, brands can recommend that their franchisees in that location raise their rates because of the spike in demand. This could substantially improve the revenue that the franchise’s website generates.
Although opportunities to customize or modify the website may be limited for branded hotels (franchisors may not give complete freedom to alter or add content to their website), independent hotels and resorts have significant opportunities to use analytics to their advantage. Even if they can improve their conversion rate from 2% to 2.5%, that’s still a 25% increase in conversion rate.
Many independent hotels haven’t implemented any data analytics on their websites. Without even a basic implementation, hotel owners are missing out on important insights about their clientele. For example, most hotels offer some assortment of packages to their guests, but if hotels aren’t using analytics, they can’t know which packages are most and least popular with certain types of visitors. By tracking purchases only, they miss out on seeing how many guests viewed the package but chose not to purchase it.
Similarly, if the hotel offers services like banquet halls or catering, web analytics can shed light onto visitors’ level of interest and the best ways to market those services online. Are guests searching to sign up for loyalty membership? Do they want to book meetings or events in a particular city or region? Are they more or less price sensitive? Analytics enables hotel brands to gather data that can answer these questions. If utilized correctly, it can be a tremendous asset to improving a revenue management and building a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Analytics in the hospitality industry provides a way to better understand guests’ purchasing and staying behavior, as well as audience engagement across a variety of marketing channels. MaassMedia works with a variety of clients in a range of industries. If you’d like to know more about how your organization can use marketing analytics to find Transformative Insights™ about your audience, contact us today.