–––––––––––– Best Practices for Hotel Website Analytics ––––––––––––
© 2011 Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International
In partnership with VIZERGY
Reviewing trended data – and, especially, trended data for those segments driving the business – provides
analysts exactly the business-focused, actionable information necessary to improve business results.
The Conversion Rate Myth
Of course, few metrics carry more weight than ͞conversion rate.͟ Unfortunately, conversion rate, as typically
defined, often paints an incomplete picture of customer activity.
As conversion rate aggregates at least two sources of information – traffic and reservations – it clouds necessary
detail regarding customer behavior. For instance, a marketing activity that grows traffic at a faster rate than
sales can actually produce a lower overall conversion rate – even though both traffic and sales increase.
Additionally, as analytics guru Avinash Kaushik writes,
It is almost criminal that even the best in the business have a ͚one night stand͛ mentality when it
comes to marketing and user experience (͚come and buy NOW NOW!͛) rather than having a
sophisticated ͚date, engage, marry, babies͛ approach. The latter approach mandates not just
having a ͚macro-conversion͛ on the website (book hotel) but also a number of ͚micro-
conversions͛ (submit an email address, write a review, print hotel information, email a friend… I
could keep going). Micro-conversions lead to a deeper engagement at the pace that the website
visitor is comfortable with, which then leads to the big macro-conversions the business cares
about. Understand the new paradigm of doing business and then create a user experience to fit.
Interviews across the industry underscore the need to identify ͞micro-conversions.͟ As Joe Hyman, VIZERGY
CEO and member of HSMAI͛s Digital Marketing ouncil, notes, ͞Your pages are a retail store. How are you
drawing people deeper into the store?͟ If you͛re only looking at conversion as a single event, you may miss key
steps in the process that hurt your overall sales. Do your top entry pages have high bounce rates? Do large
numbers of visitors exit from a specific page? Metrics such as these speak volumes about consumer behavior
but often get missed due to excessive focus on ͞conversion rate.͟
Similarly, few hotel marketing companies measure conversions other than reservations. ut these ͞alternative
conversions͟ provide real business value. For example, how effectively does your website attract customers to
sign-up for your email marketing campaigns or loyalty program? As these often prove highly effective in
integrated marketing efforts, these conversions also represent success on the site.
For example, conversion rate needs to account for varying customer goals. Meeting planners and group travel
agents rarely ͞convert͟ in the traditional sense. But generating RFPs remains a valuable – and consistently
overlooked – conversion activity on hotel websites. Respondents in HSMAI͛s July 2011 Web Analytics Survey
consistently rated group sales statistics as least important. In fact, RFP Conversion Rate and Number of RFPs
were the only two metrics rated ͞Unimportant͟ by a greater number of respondents than those rating it
͞Important.͟ In follow up interviews, respondents frequently noted the lack of integration between group sales
and online marketing activities. While some acknowledged the influence of online activities to driving leads,
group sales departments appear to operate independently of online marketing. Hotels, management companies
and brands that work to bridge these gaps may find ways to drive increased group sales business and offer a
point of differentiation from their competition in the marketplace.
Finally, many hotel marketers seek to achieve ͞industry average͟ conversion rates. Unfortunately, no such thing
exists. The metric used to define traffic varies: Some analysts measure conversion by dividing unique visitors
into reservations; others use visits instead. Some look only at visits entering the booking engine, while others
measure through to reservation confirmation. Some subtract cancelled reservations, while others ignore
cancellations. Additionally, the period that defines a visitor as unique, new, or repeat often varies by reporting