Google Analytics Goal Conversion – What is the real Innkeeper’s Value?

Google Analytics Goal Conversion (GAGC) and e-commerce tracking
The Goal Conversion portion of Google Analytics.

Basically GAGC is ONLY ABLE to track the last referral for a booking, which we already knew. We are not noticing that GAGC is capturing any additional information that is not already being captured by Intell-a-Keeper.

The question is: Does GAGC have any real value to the innkeeper? Other than backing up a small portion of Intell-a-Keeper data for proof of accuracy, NO, not really. However, the e-commerce tracking has value and is explained below.

The GAGC reports are very confusing for someone to understand. For example, say a visitor found the inn from bedandbreakfast.com exclusively.

Here is what the report would look like in GAGC if bedandbreakfast.com sent 100 visitors to the site within the time frame for one goal conversion (booking) tracked:

Referral: bedandbreakfast.com
Visits: 100
Goal Conversion: 1%

If bedandbreakfast.com had sent 20 visitors during the time frame for one goal conversion (booking) tracked then you would see:

Referral: bedandbreakfast.com
Visits: 20
Goal Conversion: 5%

So the conversion is relative to the traffic sent from the referral. The same applies to search phrases. This makes it extremely difficult to compare referrals and search phrases in GAGC because the conversion is relative to the traffic of the conversion.

So if we were comparing bnbfinder.com to bedandbreakfast.com in Intell-a-Keeper, below is what we would see:

Referral: bedandbreakfast.com
Bookings: 3

Referral: bnbfinder.com
Bookings: 2

A customer can easily see that bedandbreakfast.com generated more bookings.

Here is example of how the same data might appear in GAGC:

Referral: bedandbreakfast.com
Visits: 30
Goal Conversion: 10%

Referral: bnbfinder.com
Visitors: 10
Goal Conversion: 20%

You can see that bnbfinder.com shows a higher percentage, but it actually generated less bookings since the percentage is relative to the traffic received from bnbfinder.com.

Of course, if there was a large report the normal user would have very difficult time determining which referral is generating the most bookings. So really GAGC is not very useful because the reports are not designed to compare one source to another, not to mention that they are only capturing the last referral which reduces it’s value beyond usable data for making intelligent innkeeper marketing decisions.

At this point, our take on GAGC is that it is really difficult to use and is lacking in the power to track all referrals for any one booking.

The Google Analytics e-commerce tracking is useful because it shows transactions not percentages of traffic. So if 3 reservations were tracked from bnbfinder.com then the e-commerce reports would show three transactions for the referral bnbfinder.com. However, there are a few short comings even for the e-commerce trackng that is offered in Google Anayltics.

  • The reservation sysem that you are using must support the e-commerce tracking code. This is more than just dropping in the tracking code because the transaction amount needs to be passed from the reservation system. So if you plan on using the e-commerce tracking make sure your reservation system supports it before you invest your time.
  • It is only going to be able to track online bookings and not phone bookings. It is not a good idea to have the guest enter the amount of the transaction when a phone reservation occurs. Technically it can be done, but if that guest entered the amount incorrectly then the e-commerce reports would be skewed.
  • The other issue is that the e-commerce tracking is only going to show one referral source for the transaction. If the first referral is bnbfinder.com and the second referral is Google then the e-commerce reports are only going to credit the transaction to Google and you will have no knowledge that bnbfinder contributed to the reservation.

If you are serious about knowing where your bookings are coming from, we highly suggest that you look into the use of Acorn’s Intell-a-Keeper product. It’s inexpensive ($10 a month after initial install), innkeeper proven and will help you know where to put your marketing dollars. The e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics is nice, but has several limitations that reduce its value. Google Analytics is fine for web site traffic.

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Notes on Rezovation working with Google Analytics Goal Conversion (GAGC)

When working with Rezovation, it was identified that the tracking code in Rezovation needs to match the tracking code that is used on the web site. There is a legacy version of he Google Analytics tracking code and a current version of the tracking code. Either code can be used, but they must match. Do not mix the Google Analytics legacy code and current code between the code that is on the web site and the code used in the resovation system you are using.

Whether using Rezovation or another Booking Engine, it is recommend that you keep the tracking code consistent for the goal tracking or e-commrece tracking to work correctly.

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