How to Use Google Analytics to Get More Bookings

September 18, 2019 by Ben Lloyd

Sometimes people tell us that they don’t FEEL like their TripAdvisor profile is worth the cost, or they question the value of their association based on how they FEEL it is working. You do not need to be making these decisions based on gut feelings! Google Analytics will show you everything you need to know about your website traffic and you can know exactly how many people are visiting your website, from which sources, and (most importantly) what percentage of them are converting into direct bookings. Using your Google Analytics Account, you can identify which sources are bringing you the most traffic and what is missing from your marketing mix. 

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Get More Traffic From The Places That Already Send you Bookings

If you know where to look in your Google Analytics account, you can see who is sending you the most traffic and start a plan to gain more bookings from that source. 


Google Analytics Report:

Aquisition> All Traffic> Source/Medium. You will want to set your date range for the last year to see an overall summary of traffic. 


What Metrics to Look for in the Report:

eCommerce Conversions are what really matter so the 3 categories that you should focus on are the (1) E-commerce Conversions Rate, (2) Transactions, and (3) Revenue. These 3 metrics are all related and show you what sources are bringing in users that are actually booking rooms. 

An Odysys Customer’s Google analytics account show a wide variety of traffic sources that drive bookings.

What These Metrics Tell You:

This report will show you the sources of traffic that sent you direct bookings on your website. You won’t see OTAs in here, or bookings made via phone calls. However, what you will see are opportunities to drive more bookings.


What to do with These Metrics:

Look at your sources and see if there are any ways to gain additional traffic from the sites that already send you bookings. For example: Is your business listing leading users to you? Maybe try a CPC program with TripAdvisor.

In the example above you can see that ‘visitbrenhamtexas’ and ‘4starbrenham’ are driving bookings. It stands to reason that the audience is a good fit for the property. Do those sites have additional opportunities for enhanced listings or sponsorships or even contributing content? 

Are you surprised to see sources like bing/organic and yahoo/organic bringing people to your site? Not everyone uses Google as their main search engine and your guests may prefer one of the other search engines. If this is the case, then look into Bing Ads (cpc), which also display for Yahoo users (bonus!). While the volume of traffic and bookings won’t match your Google efforts, Bing Ads can be much less expensive and competitive than Google Ads, which helps to lower your overall cost for acquiring guests.

There are lots to learn from this little section of Google Analytics, so get in there and see who is working for you! But also keep an eye out for what is missing from the mix. 


Identify What Sources are Missing From Your Marketing Mix

When looking at your Google Analytics, is there a lack of /referral or /cpc traffic? These are missed opportunities waiting to be captured.  No referral traffic to speak of? Not only can joining the right association or getting listed on the right website help to drive more direct bookings, but these links can also improve your search engine rankings as well! Want to know how?Read our article How to Level-Up Your SEO With Links


Think bigger than search engines too. How else could people be reaching your website? Email newsletter marketing is a great opportunity to reel in past guests and website visitors who subscribe to your email newsletter. Check out our Direct Bookings Checklist for additional ideas.

Back to the example above. The referring websites and represent a category of “referral” websites or partnerships. One may assume these sites are local destination marketing organizations like the CVB or a local business directory etc. As a category these sites are working pretty well for the property, and a logical next step would be seek out other sites in the category to partner with. Perhaps there is a regional or state destination marketing organization, or a B&B association etc that this property could join that would deliver similar results.


Pro Tip: Don’t Be Too Nearsighted with Your Analysis

The traveler’s journey to making a booking is more complex than “did a search, booked a room.” The data shows that people look at dozens of websites and do multiple searches prior to making a booking. Your marketing needs to take these ‘introductions’ into account, though they may not get the right kind of credit in Google Analytics unless you know where to look.

Example: Let’s say someone finds your inn on an association website and follows the link to your webpage, then they leave and do some more research on the area before going to Google and typing in your property name to return to your site to book a room. In the Google Analytics account, that booking will get attributed to Google, but what about your association site? Shouldn’t it get credit for helping to drive that booking? I think so…


Identify the Websites That Introduce (First-Click) and Assist With Direct Bookings

The typical eCommerce Conversion reporting shows the last activity prior to making a booking. This is called “last click” attribution. But what if you want Google to show you the sites that introduced the guest to your property, or helped get the guest there? These are ‘first click’ and ‘assists’.

You can find these sources in Assisted Conversions (in Google Analytics see: Conversions> Multi-Channel Funnels> Assisted Conversions).  In this report, you can toggle back and forth between “First Click Conversions” (the sites that introduced a person who booked) and “Assisted Conversions” are the sites that brought the guest back to your website prior to them making a booking. You may be surprised at how many of these referral sources are leading people to your website that book via a different source. 

An Odysys customer’s Google Analytics show which sites are initially introducing users to their websites. This property has a wide variety of associations and local tourism sites that are leading guests to their site.


What to do With These Sources

The smart marketer will invest in those sites that regularly “introduce” and “assist” guests on their way to making a booking. These sources can act as the top of your marketing funnel and generate awareness for your property. Using those sources to drive more awareness and traffic to your site should result in more bookings from your top direct booking sources.


Last Tip:

Don’t see ecommerce reporting? Or see all of your bookings coming from ‘direct’ or from your own website? Your Google Analytics is probably not set up correctly. It takes a little additional effort to properly install the tracking code on your website AND your booking engine AND configure Google Analytics to show you the right data. Typically your booking engine company is a great resource for helping you set your Google Analytics up correctly. We’d also recommend downloading our free guide to Google Analytics for Innkeepers which can walk you through every step.

Want to learn all of the ins and outs of Google Analytics? With our free guide, you will be able to pinpoint how your guests are finding your site, how many users are visiting your site, and which pages lead to bookings.

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