Big data certainly offers an incredible opportunity for the travel industry. But we also know that it is not easy to collect, analyze, and glean actionable insights from, especially with so many disparate sources. The amount of data we collect just with the most basic implementation of Google Analytics is huge, never mind when you start implementing custom tracking around the site, configuring numerous goals, using custom variables, metrics and dimensions, the possibilities are incredible.
Additionally, a tool like Google Tag Manager allows the savvy marketer to add advanced tracking to many different types of user interactions and page elements with relatively minimal developer effort. Over the course of this post, we will discuss just a few quick examples of how you can leverage Big Data for your website and thereby gain better insight into your audience and how they’re performing.
From a very high level, when thinking of how to incorporate Big Data into your marketing strategy, we suggest taking a pragmatic approach – ask yourself: how does my website inspire and facilitate guests to book?
You have invested time and money into your platform and website – it’s important to ensure that your site is supporting your overall vision and providing insights into your guests’ booking behavior. With the knowledge you gain from your website data, or user data, you can implement changes to your overall strategy, refine the booking experience, and ultimately drive more conversions.
A few areas that you might consider are Saved Searches and Enhanced eCommerce:
Saved Searches on your site is an incredible tool and provides amazing insights into guest behavior. The data from Saved Searches allows you to make informed decisions on the booking process – from search fields and placement, to categorical decisions, to custom landing page creation.
Enhanced eCommerce offers a great example of new types of data to collect and analyze for deeper insights into the performance of your website, booking funnel, and marketing initiatives. We consider enhanced eCommerce to fall into the Big Data category because it does require some work and knowhow to begin initially collecting data, and the amount of new data points can easily expand to be quite large. Additionally, it will take experienced and creative teams to glean insights and drive strategy around these insights.
The best example of enhanced eCommerce comes in the new ability to track impressions of properties across all the sections of your site like search results, category pages, “Featured Properties / Unit” homepage blocks, specials pages, etc. The number of clicks that these properties receive from each section is also tracked. So on most booking sites, there will be many properties or units and many ways a guest might find potential units to book. Understanding which properties are receiving the most visibility and the highest click through rates (and from what pages on your website) can reveal poor listing snippets (low CTR), sorting issues (low impressions), and user preferences which might help redefine site architecture.
When the right people get their hands on this kind of data, hypotheses can be formed and website experiments can be created to test these hypotheses and work towards improving UX and micro and macro conversions around the website.
Performing user tests provides another relatively new type of data that has increased in popularity over the past few years. It has become much easier through the use of software solutions to test our hypotheses and gain invaluable, often nearly definitive results around what works better. We then have a path towards improving the bottom line that won’t eat up countless development hours with no guarantee of ROI.
Having more data allows you to understand how users are interacting with your website and hopefully what inspires them to book or convert. The ultimate goal of increasing conversions should be coupled with refining the user flow, personalizing your messaging, and making things more engaging overall.