Industry Update
Opinion Article25 October 2016

How to Use Online & Voice Channel Analytics to Fully Understand True ROI from Digital Marketing

By Max Starkov, Adjunct Professor NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Founder & Director at NextGuest Digital

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Background

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As mobile bookings and website visits increased by 46% and 28% year over year (HeBS Digital Research), it is critically important to determine and track the contribution of digital marketing campaigns to voice reservations. Due to lack of easy mobile payment options, and slower adoption of mobile ecommerce by some demographics (ex. baby boomers), a significant part of the traveling public still prefers to call the property when booking a hotel or resort stay as opposed to making the reservation themselves via a mobile device. In many cases travelers make voice reservations after being "sold on" the property via digital marketing campaigns and initiatives: search engine marketing, email marketing, display advertising, social media, etc.

Because of this, hoteliers can often underestimate the performance of their digital marketing campaigns that were driving revenues via the voice channel. For example, many hoteliers have seen trackable revenue from their email marketing campaigns plummeting over the past years. "Email no longer works!" – we have heard this from hoteliers numerous times. With over 70% of emails being opened and read on smartphones, and many travel consumers still reluctant or too lazy to do mobile reservations via the hotel booking engine and prefer to call, how do you track true revenues and returns from email marketing? What if you knew that over 91% of email marketing bookings actually came via the voice channel for the resort featured in this case study? Would this change your opinion about the potency of email marketing as a direct-response, revenue generation initiative?

So how should hoteliers calculate the true ROI from their digital marketing campaigns? By combining precise online and voice channel analytics, hoteliers can fully understand which digital marketing initiatives produce the highest returns.

The Case Study: Expecting the Unexpected

A Florida resort client was struggling to understand the true performance of their digital marketing campaigns, having experienced decreasing revenues from email marketing, paid search, its TripAdvisor Business Listing, etc. The resort was even considering halting some campaigns due to deteriorating revenue performance and ROIs.

When HeBS Digital and the reservations sales experts at NAVIS joined forces, we were able to reveal the 'big picture' and demonstrate that a significant percentage of digital marketing revenue was actually made through voice reservations, thus leading to a shift in marketing "thinking" at the resort, and to more accurate measuring of campaign performance and ROIs.

Based on digital marketing results for 2016 (YTD), we found that over 41% of booking revenues from the property's digital marketing campaigns actually came via the voice channel, including:

  • Email Marketing: over 91%
  • SEO: 55%
  • Mobile devices: 55%
  • TripAdvisor Business Listing: 54%
  • Social Media: 36%
  • SEM/Paid Search: 32%

Obviously, if the resort did not take into account voice channel contribution, many of the digital marketing campaigns would appear to be performing in an unsatisfactory fashion.

How does voice channel tracking work?

NAVIS' online/offline voice tracking bridge relies on unique phone numbers – most typically toll-free numbers and dynamic coding on the website, which recognizes which campaign is responsible for the call and through interface with the property's PMS tracks if the call results with bookings and revenue. In sum, it enables us to attribute booked revenue by phone to the originating digital campaign.

Here is a screenshot summarizing the case study, which helped our client understand true ROIs by integrating both online and offline conversion tracking:

Download the detailed Case Study: Understanding the Big Picture with Online & Voice Channel Reservation Tracking.

Max Starkov

Founder & Director at NextGuest Digital. Recognized as a thought leader in digital marketing strategies in hospitality, Max is a frequent guest speaker at industry events and conferences. His expertise is sought after by a diverse client portfolio of top tier hotel brands, luxury and boutique hotel chains, hotel management companies, resort and casino companies, franchisees and independents, as well as major Wall Street investment banks and financial institutions.

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    ABOUT NEXTGUEST

    NextGuest Digital uses the latest in digital marketing technology to assist hotel brands in crafting their digital presence. Through the agency's smartCMS®, Content Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and other innovative initiatives, hoteliers see a drastic boost in direct bookings, as well as lower distribution costs and an increase the lifetime value of guests. NextGuest Digital is part of NextGuest, an all-encompassing partner that helps hoteliers acquire, engage, and retain their next guest. Based in New York City, the company is comprised of NextGuest Digital, CRM, Labs, and Consulting. www.nextguest.com | (800) 649-5076 | [email protected]

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