The art and science of converting hotel guests on your website

Recently, experts from Travel Tripper & Pegasus and LaaSie.AI discussed the art and science of converting guests on hotel websites. This fascinating discussion focused on how hotels can use data analysis to better understand their audience, which in turn can be used to drive more conversions.

Key tips and takeaways from this session include:

  • How to analyze your website data to segment your audience and uncover user behaviors
  • Mapping out the guest journey for different types of buyers
  • How to showcase the value of booking direct to visitors every step of the way
  • Incentivizing conversion and retention by personalizing rewards

Click here to listen to a full recording of the webinar and read on to see a list of the top takeaways from our discussion.

Part one: the art and science of data

The art and science of data begins with understanding how to utilize the right tools to analyze web behavior. There are a host of tools that hoteliers can use, including user testing platforms, split-testing platforms, and heat-mapping tools. However, today we’ll be focusing on two tools we consider the most useful: Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

How to utilize Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Google Search Console and Google Analytics are both free to use and offer a wealth of information if you know where to look.

In a nutshell, here’s what you need to know about both of these resources:

Google Search Console: Helps uncover what keywords are being searched for to find your hotel website, and gives insight into user intent. You can learn more about Google Search Console in the following articles by Moz and Databox.

Google Analytics: Helps you see what users are doing, looking at, and taking action on while on your website. You can learn more about Google Analytics with this guide for beginners and guide for advanced users.

Intent vs. Behavior

Another key consideration is differentiating between user intent and user behavior. When it comes to your marketing efforts, it’s essential that you target intent and influence behavior.

Here’s a quick definition of these two terms:

Intent: The hidden motive or why behind an action. For example, a user visited your website because they wanted to book a room, or needed to find directions to your property.

How to target intent: The copy, promotions, and rewards on your website are all examples of how you can target user intent.

Behavior: This relates to the actions or reactions of online users. These could include a user scrolling on your website or clicking a call-to-action.

How to influence behavior: Having easily scannable text, smartly placed calls-to-action, and conversion-focused tools are all examples of how to influence behavior on your website.

Types of intent (as stated by Google)

When it comes to intent, it’s important to pay attention to Google’s own definitions, which it defines in three different ways:

Transaction: Users are looking to make a purchase

Informational: Users are seeking more information

Navigational: Users are looking for a specific website or product

To determine which of these types of intent you should target, you can visit Google Search Console and look at what organic keywords users are searching to find your hotel.

How to use Google Search Console

Google Search Console helps you to enhance your performance on Google Search by measuring the following organic and search engine-based metrics:

Clicks: Measures how many times your website URL was clicked on. This is highly important as it signifies intent.

Impressions: Measures how many times your website URL came up in a search engine results page (SERP). This signifies what your site ranks for.

Click-through Rate: This is determined by the amount of impressions divided by the amount of clicks. Usually, the higher click-through rate the better as it signifies relevance to your users, which helps with SEO.

Average Position: Measures your hotel website’s average ranking position. This is most helpful when viewing specific queries, not overall.

Googe Search Console

When you go through Google Search Console, you can see branded and non-branded keywords, both of which will give you a good idea of user intent.

Understanding branded keywords

Branded keywords provide transactional and navigational intent, and sometimes informational.

Example of a branded keyword search: “Your hotel resort Key West”,

Assumed intent: If someone uses a search term like this, we can assume they found your hotel on another channel before visiting your hotel website.

This assumption is based on the fact that very few people will search for an individual hotel out of the blue. Chances are they’ll have looked for hotels in Key West on an OTA or review site, seen your hotel in that list, then opened up a new tab to search for your hotel specifically with a branded keyword.

Given the specific nature of this search request, this user probably has an intent to buy and they’re ready to be converted.

Non-Branded keywords

Non-branded keywords are trickier as they often relate to informational intent, which makes the end goal of the user harder to guess.

Example of a non-branded keyword search: “Best dining in Key West”

Assumed intent: If a person used this search term to reach your website, we can assume they might be interested in dining at your hotel restaurant but probably not in booking a room.

Balance is crucial

It’s really important to have a good mix of branded and non-branded keywords. If, for example, the majority of your traffic comes via branded searches from OTAs, review sites, and aggregators, a drop in visibility from these sites will be extremely harmful.

But if you have a good balance of branded and non-branded keywords, you’ll have a wider pool of users to convert and won’t be heavily dependent on a more limited source of traffic.

Part two: Reward personalization & direct bookings

Happy young couple riding motorbike

In the second half of our webinar, we discussed how hotels can utilize evolving technologies and artificial intelligence to personalize incentives and drive direct bookings. Before diving into specific examples, it’s worth reflecting on why personalization and tailored rewards are now so important to travel.

The shift in traveler attitudes and behaviors

According to a 2018 Oracle Study, 61% of guests want to choose their own rewards, and 78% prefer immediate benefits over accumulating points. These figures reveal something vital about today’s typical traveler: to drive more direct bookings, cookie-cutter rewards and delayed gratification won’t cut it.

The way people research their accommodation options has also changed dramatically. According to a study by Fuel Travel and Flip.to, travelers visit 4.4 unique sites before booking. For comparison, an Expedia study in 2015 found the average traveler visited 38 sites before booking.

Yet despite the huge drop in sites visited, Fuel Travel and Flip.to found that travelers spend far more time on the sites they do visit —- the average is 29.8 minutes on a hotel website before booking.

As a result of these changing attitudes and behaviors, hotels need to find new ways to keep users engaged and incentivize direct bookings. One way to achieve this is through the use of personalized incentives, powered by artificial intelligence.

The power of personalization

Hotels are beginning to realize they need to expand their offers outside of generic, property-specific rewards (such as complimentary breakfasts and late check-out options). Research published by Salesforce found that a huge 75% of B2B consumers expect companies to send them personalized offers.

Salesforce study graphic

In the battle for direct bookings, hotels can gain a crucial edge by using conversion tools that personalize the online experience. This is something that OTAs cannot do.

As in the example below, platforms such as LaaSie.ai enable hotels to personalize the design, messaging, and rewards of their website so it’s tailored to the preferences of different users.

Website Personalization Graphic

There are numerous ways these elements can be tweaked. For example, if your hotel is in a warm location, guests coming from a colder climate can be offered a special getaway package (using geo-targeting) that really focuses on the tropical vibe that awaits them.

This messaging can be reinforced every step of the way, from the homepage to the booking engine to the confirmation page.

By offering a personalized experience like this throughout the travel journey, hotels can capture the attention of guests and promote the perks of a direct booking that they’ll find most appealing. These rewards can also be integrated within a hotel’s existing marketing efforts, from email blasts to retargeting ads.

In the example below, you can see LaaSie.ai in action on the website of WestHouse Hotel New York. A prominent pop-up in the lower right of the website piques interest by altering users to the availability of rewards at the hotel.

WestHouse New York Offer 1

When this pop-up is clicked, it shows each user a range of rewards that the artificial intelligence has identified as the most likely to convert them.

Westhouse New York Offer 2

Rewards are personalized based on a host of factors, including the user’s location, budget, the device they’re browsing on, and whether they’ve visited the hotel website before. With each interaction, the artificial intelligence continues to learn and offer the optimal mix of messaging and rewards to drive the booking.

Embrace the art and science of conversion

There’s an art and science to converting guests on your hotel website. Ready to find out more? By listening to our recent webinar, you’ll gain a host of extra tips and insights to help you analyze your website data, adapt your marketing based on differing buyer intents, and encourage more direct bookings with integrated tools that deliver all-new levels of personalization.

Adam Lamagna

Adam Lamagna

Adam is the Director of Digital Strategy at Travel Tripper & Pegasus. He oversees a team of digital and content strategists that help hotels increase conversions, maximize direct revenue, and expand their visibility through marketing initiatives. His background consists of web and mobile strategy, experience design, project scope development, and website security. Contact him at adam@pegs.com.

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