If you want to master conversion optimization for your hotel, the following guide is for you. Your conversion rate is affected by an array of factors, some of which may be familiar to you, but others you might not be aware of.
Ready to get up to speed? In the following post, we’ve broken down the different ways your conversion rate can be measured, the host of ways it can be affected (both in and out of your control), and the all-important steps you can take to give your conversion rate a serious boost.
What is the conversion rate?
Put simply, your conversion rate is the percentage of people who visit your website and complete the desired goal. That goal might be booking a room, reading a blog post, or submitting contact information.
To help improve your conversion rate on any goal, you need to first understand the two key areas that can affect it:
- Conversion rate is dependent on your strategy. This primarily relates to revenue/pricing, acquisition/traffic, and other factors.
- Conversion rate fluctuates depending on a host of external factors. These include industry trends, the market, season, and variables such as city-wide events and adverse weather conditions.
We’ll explore these areas later. For now, let’s look at setting up your initial conversion goals.
Setting up goals
One of the most widely used web tracking analytic tools out there is Google Analytics. Analytics doesn’t have any default goals, so you have to set these up yourself.
There are four types to choose from, but the most common goal is “Destination.” A Destination goal is completed when a user makes it to a specific page on your website, such as your Contact page. The following article offers a great step-by-step guide to help create a goal in Analytics
Let’s look at the various factors that can affect your conversion rate.
First, we need to address how to measure conversion rate in Google Analytics.
By default, Analytics shows a sessions-based conversion rate. This means that your site’s conversion rate are calculated based on the number of sessions that lead to a conversion.
So if your website receives 10 sessions from 2 unique users, and 1 of those visitors converts, your conversion rate would be 10% (because 10% of those 10 sessions led to a conversion).
However, instead of looking at sessions that convert, you can change this metric to the number of users that convert. Using the same numbers above, your conversation rate would instead be 50% (1 conversion divided by 2 users = 50%).
So you can see how measuring sessions vs users can have a dramatic impact on your conversion rate.
Factors within your control
Your conversion rate is influenced by numerous factors within your control. Here are the main factors to bear in mind:
Revenue strategy: If your revenue strategy is to raise ADR next month by 5%, but your competitors only increase their ADR by 3%, travel shoppers looking for the lowest rates may book with your competitors, which means you’ll likely see a decrease in your conversions.
Ease of goals: Put too many barriers between your users and the goal you want them to complete, and your conversion rate will often decrease. For instance, if your goal is to get users to submit a Request for Proposal to hire your event space, be sure to limit the number of details you ask them for. Asking for too much information (their name, address, job title, etc) makes it less likely that your goal will be completed.
Acquisition/traffic strategy: If you’re trying to drive more traffic to your website, your conversion rate could actually go up or down based on your strategy. Imagine you want to drive more traffic to your website, so you start blogging about all the great events and experiences happening in your neighborhood. After researching keywords and putting out some blog posts, they get some traction. But nobody converts. In fact, your conversion rate goes down. What happened?
Despite driving more traffic, maybe those extra blog visitors were locals and tourists looking for things to do in your neighborhood. They didn’t actually intend to book a hotel room. A change in strategy is required. In this scenario, you’d need to refocus your blog posts to target intent.
If you’d been promoting local music and arts events, you could let people know how close these events are to your hotel. Or highlight the activities your guests could enjoy back at your hotel after the events ended. This approach ensures your blog posts have a connection with your hotel and taps into the mindset of people with higher purchase intent.
Fake and spam traffic: Fake and spam traffic can substantially decrease your conversion rate. Things to look out for include a display campaign that’s bringing in a lot of fake traffic from a certain region and causing conversion rate to tank. You might also see a rise in traffic from a specific channel that has a 100% bounce rate and no time on site. This is indicative of spam traffic and might need to be filtered out by your data team or analyst.
Factors outside your control
Conversion rate is also affected by numerous external forces. The best thing you can do is figure out which factors are most likely to influence your own property and plan how to respond accordingly.
Seasonality: Fluctuations in conversion rate often occur based on the season. For example, hotels in Miami will usually see conversions increase during winter as travelers from the northeast flock to Florida for warmer weather.
Seasonality doesn’t just happen on an annual basis. Your conversion rate may also be different on certain days or times of the day. It’s vital to be aware of these nuances in daily and weekly activity to improve your conversion rate optimization.
Natural disasters/adverse weather: Let’s say you have a hotel in California and you have a live webcam showing your property’s common areas. If an earthquake hits California, people looking for webcam footage of the earthquake might visit your hotel website. Suddenly, your site could be visited by tens of thousands of users who have no intention of booking with you, which would substantially decrease your conversion rate.
Events & Miscellaneous: A city-wide event in your region can also have a major impact on conversion rate. If there’s a major event happening in your destination this June, your conversions during April might surge as people book rooms in advance. But your conversion rate will likely decrease in June since you’re at full occupancy and all of your rooms are filled.
The other things you’ll need to consider are market trends and behavior. This could range from political sentiment in a particular country to a news segment that affects your industry, or an environmental scare like the Zika virus of 2016.
Reviews: Finally, it goes without saying that reviews can have a huge impact on conversion rate. While you can’t control them directly, there are plenty of ways you can influence positive reviews to enhance your online reputation.
Manipulation of conversion rate
You can also manipulate your conversion rate using Google Analytics Advanced Segments. This lets you isolate specific types of traffic in your reporting in a range of categories, including Demographics, Technology, Behavior, and Date of First Visit.
Here’s an example of how filtering your traffic can be useful. Let’s say your hotel doesn’t receive a lot of international travelers, but it has a great SEO program that attracts traffic from around the world. If you’re only selling to US-based guests and want to increase your conversion rate, you could simply filter out international traffic so you’re only measuring users who have an intent to book.
Remember, once you manipulate your conversion rate, this will become your new normal and will still fluctuate dependent on all the other forces discussed.
There are a host of ways you can increase the conversion rate on your hotel website. While this subject really requires a post in its own right, here are a few key practices to consider:
Understand the complete travel journey: You can increase your odds of conversion if you understand the actions a person has taken before they reached your hotel website. Did they check a competitor or an OTA? Did they visit your website after reading an online review?
You can find out this kind of information by looking through your Google Search Console data. If your top organic keywords are branded, it means that users are finding you on other channels first (such as OTAs or aggregator sites). To entice these users to book direct with you, find out which of these channels has the strongest influence on your own website, then make sure your own prices or offers are lower or more attractive than theirs.
Develop checklists based around user experience: Once you’ve considered all the possible touchpoints a person might have encountered before reaching your website, put together checklists that cover each experience. You can then troubleshoot conversion rate and find better ways to optimize them.
Compelling copy: Make sure the copy on your website is compelling. Attention-grabbing videos and images all help to drive conversions, but the copy on your website will be the main trigger that leads someone to act.
Define your strategy: If your strategy is to get more traffic organically, try targeting intent (e.g. write blog posts that target a qualified buyer). If your strategy is to just prospect, then focus more on retargeting. For instance, social media retargeting can help increase conversions since you’re capitalizing on the interest of past visitors who have already engaged with your website.
There are numerous other factors that contribute to conversion optimization, including adjusting various elements of your website through the process of A/B testing. You can boost conversion rate and direct revenue by offering dynamic, personalized promotions on your website with a simple tool like Conversion Plus. Schedule a demo with us today to learn more!