We need to talk about cancellations

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2022 Cancellation Rate Trends: How can you maintain guest retention

Without a doubt, one of the most challenging things about running a hotel is the tendency for guests to make a reservation but then frustratingly cancel at the last minute.

Given the current climate we are all facing, there are multiple reasons why travellers and guests are cancelling their bookings and deciding to drop-out of their plans at the last minute. As rates rise year on year, forecasting and pricing decisions for hoteliers will continue to be undermined which magnifies inefficiencies, increases costs, and damages margins.

In 2019, we found that the share of direct booking revenue lost due to cancellations had jumped to 15%. Now in 2022, our latest research reveals this figure has skyrocketed with 20% of bookings cancelling – a 33% increase over 2019 for the same period.

So what can hoteliers do? Below, we delve into the state of cancellations in 2022, the patterns that hoteliers need to be aware of, and the tools that can help businesses deliver a proactive booking retention game plan.

Posted in Whitepaper

The Hoteliers Playbook for Integrating Hotel Systems To Maximize Guest Recognition

Learn how vital hotel systems can be interlinked to improve operations, better connect with guests, and provide real loyalty rewards that move the needle on maximizing revenue.

The hotel industry may be welcoming more guests now than pre-pandemic times, but resource limitations and the uncertainty about the trends that will impact the industry going forward remain top of mind. Fortunately, advancements in automation and guest recognition technology have made it easier than ever for hoteliers with less staff to manage operations while exceeding guest expectations.

Hotels are challenged with finding the right technology solution that will help them to improve the guest experience. Hoteliers must consider the capabilities of the technology they are investing in and their partners’ capacity to provide support as well as find new ways to improve their platform over time. Understanding how this technology fits into the working system and the ways in which it can continue to improve process, is really important in alleviating the ‘technology burden’ and allowing hoteliers to focus on what’s important to them; their guests.

In this report, you’ll learn :

  • How automation is helping hoteliers to save time and increase efficiently
  • What questions to ask to properly automate your hotel’s operations
  • How hotel recognize guests in ways that reward loyalty
  • The ways hotel loyalty programs have evolved
  • Why traditional loyalty programs are no longer a necessity today
Posted in Whitepaper

The Hotelier’s Playbook to Amplifying Revenue and Engagement Across the Guest Journey

Learn how to improve guest satisfaction at each touchpoint – from booking to on-property to post-stay follow-up – while maximizing revenue every step of the way.

As the hotel industry emerges from the COVID pandemic, it’s clear that the desire for travel has not diminished these past two years; in fact, it appears to be as strong as ever. But while demand may be back, your guests’ wants, needs and demands have changed, and so should your offerings. Guest expectations have never been greater, and the owners and operators who evolve their offerings to meet and exceed them will stand out amongst the crowd.

Hospitality commercial teams have expanded their strategies to examine and improve all aspects of the guest journey, from the dreaming and research phases, through the booking phase and on-property experience, all the way through post-stay follow-up. At each touchpoint you have with the guest along their journey, there are opportunities to “wow” the guest as well as drive more revenue through upsell programs and personalized offers. With the right digital tools in place, hotel commercial teams can maximize revenue per guest – not by constantly pushing offers the guest is not interested in, but by anticipating their needs and providing a memorable experience that ensures the guest will return.

In this report, you’ll learn:

• How to adapt to changing guest travel and booking behaviors

• Why you need to tailor the booking experience

• Key ways to drive direct bookings in today’s changing world

• How to create a well-rounded distribution strategy

• Why the employee experience directly affects the guest experience

• How to personalize the guest experience at all stages of the journey

• Why automation is key to the employee and guest experience

• Why guest loyalty is changing and how you can adapt

Posted in Whitepaper

Robotic Process Automation Will Shape the Future of Hotel Operations

By Angelo Directo, VP, Design and Innovation

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, hotel operators are facing intense pressure to mitigate rising labor costs while still providing exemplary customer service. While operators have always been sharply focused on labor costs as a line item on the expense report, the current economic climate will shape the way hotel companies build their teams for years to come. 

According to a May 2022 AHLA survey, 97% of hotels indicated they are experiencing a staffing shortage, 49% severely so. Survey respondents indicated they had hired an additional 23 employees per property in the last three months but were also trying to fill an additional 12 positions. 

As operators search for solutions, many see the rising adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a way to help bridge the gap, enabling leaner teams to get more done, faster.

What Exactly is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation brings together different data points, often housed in different applications or databases, to streamline and execute tasks or processes that can be accomplished by a software “robot,” rather than requiring human involvement. This typically results in substantial time, labor and cost savings, while freeing up employees to perform more critical high-touch functions.

In hospitality, it can be applied in the front of house and back of house to streamline workflows and substantially reduce manual efforts. But its adoption has been slow. 

“When we think of AI and robotics being used in the medical field to detect and cure cancer, we applaud it, yet when we consider using AI, RPA, or physical robots to aid us in hospitality, we get nervous,” says Simone Puorto, former hotel GM founder of Travel Singularity, in a recent Hospitality Net report. “The misunderstanding is that we will lose the human touch when tech is introduced. Yet the human touch itself often creates problems and inefficiencies in the guest experience.”

On the guest-facing side of the business, automation can be applied to virtually every touchpoint of the guest journey. Marketing automation comes in the form of upsell opportunities, re-marketing or recovery campaigns in the pre-stay, pre-check-in and post-cancellation stages. 

In the back of the house, automation is helping the marketing, revenue and sales departments get more done with fewer resources. Integrated CRM systems have become the heart of new, guest-centric personalization strategies such as automated email marketing programs that are proving to be huge time-savers. Revenue managers are tapping automation to stay on top of pricing and demand trends.

RPA reduces the common challenges presented by running a business on a fragmented tech stack. Siloed systems often lead to a great deal of manual effort, such as copying, importing, exporting data from one system to another, or the common “swivel-chair integration.” Through RPA, operators can create workflows that fill feature gaps or replicate features from other systems, saving them time and money. 

Examples of RPA in Hospitality Today

Native CRS, CRM and RMS applications provide SHR with unique access to highly actionable data to build tailored workflows for each operator’s individual needs. Several SHR hotel partners are currently using RPA to remove previously manual tasks. In many cases, they’re automating the data sharing between systems, where processes inevitably break. So far, RPA is providing the most value in the following five categories: Business Intelligence, Marketing Automation, Operations and Support, Revenue Management and Reputation Management.

For example, one partner offers attractive rates to guests that book ahead and pay 50% upfront. In this scenario, the guest’s credit card on file is charged the remaining 50% a handful of days before arrival. Because many guests don’t track when the remaining balance will be withdrawn, their credit card will sometimes come back declined. Prior to implementing RPA, a call center representative was addressing these denials each night – often dozens – through a manual process of copying, pasting and composing emails to guests. 

Since, the hotel operator has defined the proper workflow and SHR has built an automated process to remove human intervention. Other automated workflows that have been deployed today include functionality around abandoned cart re-marketing​, upselling, and sharing call center messaging data.

In the Hospitality Net report, Puorto identifies additional real-world examples of automation directly leading to labor savings:

  • Pre-qualifying group sales RFPs requires around 60 person-hours per month. By automatizing the task, an average hotel can generate additional revenue due to faster response time, while drastically reducing labor costs.
  • Managing rate codes in PMSs and GDSs requires around 100 person-hours per year. The application of RPA can increase accuracy, reduce errors down to zero, and generate recovered revenue.
  • Daily revenue reporting can take up to 1,000 person-hours per year. Therefore, on top of producing more precise reporting, the use of RPA can save labor costs.

Tip of the Iceberg

As you see in the examples above, RPA is not a lofty, unattainable goal for hoteliers. It’s saving  considerable time and money for operators today, but we’ve just cracked the surface in terms of the ways automation will shape the future of hotel operations. To get where we need to be, hoteliers and technology solutions providers must work together to prioritize innovation. 

“I don’t think it’s hard for hotels to grasp the opportunities that automation offers – I think it’s hard for them to have confidence that the technologies they select for their tech stack will work together the way they expect, and not create more problems than they solve,” Kathryn Murphy, owner of The Murphy Gallery & Hotel in Dublin, told Hospitality Net.

While systems have been trying to accomplish some of these tasks for years, we feel there has been a holistic shift in the way businesses are approaching modern integration strategies. Open APIs and cloud technology are paving the way, and in general there is less finger-pointing and more true partnerships among suppliers and hoteliers. 

Hoteliers must get back to providing the personalized service our industry is known for, and accelerating the adoption of Robotic Process Automation will provide the framework moving forward.

Posted in Blog

How CRM Technology is Helping Hoteliers Reimagine Guest Recognition and Loyalty

By Allegra Medina, Senior Director – Product

Hotel operators take customer loyalty very seriously, but not every hotelier is in a position to provide a traditional guest loyalty program. These conventional programs require significant overhead to operate efficiently, from training hotel workers to offer and redeem points to maintaining the servers that collect guest information. However, this no longer has  to be the case thanks to modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology.

Operators have needed help with the perceived costs and challenges associated with implementing a high-quality loyalty or guest recognition service. Still, today they can use cutting-edge CRM technology to gather the insight they need to reward guests for their bookings. 

Once in place, a high-quality guest recognition program can be automated almost completely, but getting there may require a departure in perspective from the majority of the industry. 

The Basics of Recognition 

There are many advantages to offering guest loyalty programs at your hotel, from creating incentives for travelers to book with you while providing a more enjoyable booking experience for guests once they are on the property. However, few of the trappings of traditional loyalty programs foster loyalty. According to the Harvard Business Review, just 42 percent of brand executives believe their customer loyalty strategies effectively retain consumers’ business. Suppose the hospitality industry wants to begin truly rewarding guests for their bookings. In that case, it must have the courage to break from its fixation on the term “loyalty” and instead focus on guest recognition

Providing personal touches that recognize the value of each guest sounds like it may require more operating bandwidth compared to offering a traditional points-based system for guest redemption, but the opposite is often the case. Hotels can use their CRS and CRM data to discern a great deal of insight into guest preferences, booking habits, and aspirations. This knowledge helps hotels align a set value of available perks with the guests who value them. Doing so could manifest in upgraded rooms, complimentary amenities at check-in, or a flat discount on their rate. 

Many of these forms of recognition require little additional effort or investment to execute. Every hotel can recognize guests at check-in, either by name or by offering specific amenities or services based on their past preferences. Delighting a guest with complimentary slippers in the guestroom that are the right size could be the tipping point that leads a traveler to post a positive review. 

These small moments of recognition are far more memorable than earning a reward based on points. These allow hotel guests to feel seen by hotel operators and create a human connection between them and the property. Inviting loyalty members to visit your hotel outlets by offering free F&B credits or complimentary spa services is much more impactful. It speaks to the spirit of hospitality, not having guests plan out points-based redemptions. 

Knowing Your Guests 

Hotels have been diligently collecting guest information to know their guests better, and now is the time to put this knowledge to use or risk losing customers to a brand willing to do so. According to a study from McKinsey, 36 percent of American consumers switched brands during the COVID-19 pandemic, while 62 percent of consumers reported a willingness to spend more money on a brand after signing up for a paid loyalty program.

Hotels can now access guest preferences, requests, and other pertinent information directly on their CRM, allowing them greater freedom to acknowledge loyal members. Doing so may soon become necessary. Experiential travel was up 34 percent over 2019 levels earlier this year, and these trends are expected to increase as the travel market continues to recover rapidly. Hotels with access to modern CRM capabilities can offer different degrees of experiential travel regardless of their property’s location, chain scale, or market segment. Every hotel can understand what their guests desire and find ways to provide it in a way that rewards them. 

These strategies also prompt guests to spend more on property. Loyalty travelers benefitting from a complimentary room upgrade are more likely to visit the hotel restaurant or order room service, and travelers who are given hotel amenities at check-in are likely to buy more before they leave. Most importantly, all these guests are enticed to leave positive reviews for their service. 

Every hotelier wants to be renowned for their service, but if they want to deliver the right size slippers during check-in, that information needs to be provided directly. The most effective systems use machine learning and automation to deliver these insights to the front desk in an actionable and easily understood manner. Such a system allows hotels to offer wide-reaching loyalty capabilities without the minutia of a points-based system, which requires extensive maintenance behind the scenes. Divesting from these programs will enable hoteliers to put down their spreadsheets and focus on improving guest satisfaction. 

Speaking Guests’ Language 

To focus on delivering what guests want and truly reaching guests to foster loyalty, hotels must create clear goals and identify ways to generate revenue. Fostering guest loyalty requires a greater focus on retention rather than conversions or acquisitions, and doing so requires asking the right questions at the outset. 

Does your hotel want to reduce the cost of requiring new guests by making them so happy they want to return? If so, it’s time to refocus your property’s efforts by growing direct bookings through guest recognition. Maybe your hotel can form a marketing partnership with a nearby restaurant or offer airline miles to entice travelers to visit during the off-season. By asking the right questions, your hotel can identify what options are available today and how to strategize for other potential opportunities. 

With a clear goal, hotels can verbalize how they want to increase their revenue. Many of these answers lie in your guests’ preferences. The process starts with learning who your guests are and what they most want during their stay. Answering these questions is the first step toward positively surprising guests and exceeding their expectations, all without the terms and conditions of a traditional loyalty program.

Posted in Blog

How to Approach Your Hotel’s Integration Strategy in the Age of Automation

By Yannis Anastasakis, VP of Solutions & Partners

The hospitality industry is entering a new age of automation allowing operators to refocus their efforts away from costly minutia of repetitive actions, and back on to guests – as long as they can find a way to integrate the necessary systems to do so. Operators have spent recent years attempting to maintain high-quality guest experiences, despite limited available labor and rising consumer expectations, all while keeping pace with the rapid development of new technology. These pressures are leading many hoteliers to rethink their approach to daily operations.

The answer for many of these hotels can be found in automation. Many operators have already embraced technologies capable of automating several functions, such as check-in and check-out, a process that was accelerated in the rush to create a contactless experience.
More recently, others have begun to investigate the potential of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to leverage untapped software and hardware capabilities better manage labor costs and improve operational efficiency.

While the benefits of automation are reasonably clear to hoteliers, the capabilities in question can feel out of reach, especially in markets charged with uncertainty. The next generation of automation in travel is here, and in order for hotels to fully embrace it, they must align themselves with a technology partner who is capable of configuring the desired logic and managing the necessary integrations across a hotel’s technological ecosystem.

Connecting the Dots 

Once upon a time, in the early days of the internet, hoteliers received emails from guests filled with booking information which would then be manually entered into their systems. At the time this activity seemed normal, but today’s operators obviously view it as archaic. Innovations in RPA and other forms of automation will eventually lead operators to feel the same way about our current methods of running hotels. In the most significant ways, we are already there.

In theory, providing guests with high-quality experiences has never been easier than today, thanks to the abundance of information hotels can gain from a variety of sources, not least of which is the guest’s actual booking! However, in practice today’s hotels do not have technology in alignment, and in a way that can accurately and automatically react to a guest’s booking, preferences, and other existing data points. On top of this, these same hotels are often too understaffed to react to these bookings within meaningful time frames.

The practical application of the promise of technology often faces its strongest challenges when ‘connecting the dots’. For example, if a traveler books a stay at a golf resort and has purchased spa or golf packages in the past, what is stopping a hotel from recognizing the guest, and automatically wrapping spa and golf offerings into one package, then automatically delivering it to the guest alongside their confirmation email, or at an opportune time soon thereafter? If a hotel’s Central Reservations System (CRS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system are capable of sharing information, hotels can consolidate all of these elements into a unified process, resulting in elegant efficiencies for both guests and operators.

We know that combining the capabilities of a hotel’s CRS and CRM, offers hotels a greater capacity to understand guest preferences, market to them, and deliver the stay experience that best fits their wants and needs.

Once integrated, and with the application of a touch of robotic automation, these systems can really push the barriers of what is done today. In our example, they could automatically identify your hotel’s highest-value guests, present new ways to entice them to stay at your hotel, and even present you with an opportunity to completely rethink cancelations through well-timed and ultra-personalized promotions, that speak directly to customers’ needs and specific situations. RPA is allowing hotels to ensure guests are greeted with the correct amenities or services during check-in, respond quickly to room availability inquiries, automatically manage check-in and check-out, handle selling and consumption of vouchers, market directly to guests, set room prices, and so much more; all without hoteliers’ direct input each moment. The greatest barrier to offering these capabilities is finding a technology partner who is capable of taking individual hotel technologies and breaking them out of self-imposed isolation, synthesizing individual functionalities into something that blurs the lines between multiple and single systems – making them work as one.

Asking Tough Questions 

Innovations in automation and operations software have led to a disruption within the hotel industry’s traditional approach to technology. Many of these tools have been naturally separated into departmental silos, given their isolated task-centric and feature-specific nature. Finding ways to bring these walls down will remain a focus for hoteliers in the near future, and should be a priority when speaking with technology partners, all within the framework of a continuing shift away from developing new in-house technology solutions.

While in the past automation seemed like a ‘nice to have’, today we see it as having established itself as a necessity and opportunity for creating competitive advantages and offering genuinely better experiences to guests, sometimes before they have even arrived at the hotel. Acquiring these capabilities is not out of reach! If hoteliers are able to clearly identify their operations and revenue goals, they will find there are many ways to implement automation to help alleviate any inefficiencies. Once these are addressed, they can refocus their efforts on the guest experience, rather than on repetitive tasks that can be managed automatically.

Hoteliers must ask themselves what they could and should do better. After they identify areas for improvement, they should take a close look at their existing and other available technology partners to understand whether or not they provide the necessary quality of integrations to achieve their goals. How do potential technology partners approach the process of integrating new tools and new technologies? What level of support do they provide to hoteliers, and in what form? Additionally, consider the ways they have implemented automation in their properties, and identify how (or if) they continue to refine these capabilities over time.

The end goal for hospitality technology is to make hoteliers’ jobs more manageable and to enable them to refocus on improving the guest experience. Achieving this state today requires a comprehensive technology strategy that includes a focus on sharing information across all hotel departments. Once these digital handshakes are set to take place automatically, operators can be liberated and empowered to do what they do best.

Posted in Blog

Guest Whitepaper: Total Revenue Management – Casino Hotels

The essentials of managing casino customer demand to optimize profit.

By Sue Murphy CRME, ComOps


Casino hotels comprise only a tiny fraction of hundreds of thousands  of hotels across the world. Perhaps due to this limited scope, the  industry lacks universal performance metrics, and casino customers  might find frustratingly varied booking experiences across different brands. The ongoing legalization of gambling-related activities,  however, has fueled growth in the commercial and tribal casino  industry over the past few decades. With casinos now in almost every state in the US, knowledge about gambling operations, loyalty  programs, and marketing tactics is increasingly prevalent. Gaming operators have long expanded into other hospitality industries and,  recently, online. Resort casino properties often host a vast array of offerings, including gourmet restaurants, spas, golf courses, and of  course, hotels. About 30 percent of almost one thousand casinos  across the US have a hotel on site. In most cases, the hotel is viewed as an amenity to the casino and not the other way around.

How do ownership groups and leadership teams ensure they get the most out of each room and measure success accordingly? What does casino segmentation look like compared to customary market segments, and how can casino hoteliers ensure they provide the best experiences to their most valuable customers? This paper aims to address some of these questions, explicitly targeted at the revenue management of casino hotel properties.

Since its inception in the airline industry more than 50 years ago, revenue management has
been applied across various industries and sectors. Already widely implemented to optimize airplane seat and hotel guest room revenue, revenue management has expanded into other profit centers, including cruises, convention space, restaurants, spas, golf courses, entertainment venues, and car rentals. The discipline has also extended outside travel and leisure to short-term housing rentals, storage units, and even hospital beds, to name some.
Businesses of all leanings benefit from maximizing revenue and profit from perishable inventory. For many hotels and resorts, ancillary non-room spend can be well over 50 percent of total revenues. This is probably most true for casino hotels, where the vast majority of property income is generated on the gaming floor.

It should come as no surprise to learn that casino hotel management companies were especially keen to adopt and implement the practice of revenue management and apply it to their casino guests. Yet while the ability to yield gaming revenue from casino segments is among the more crucial components of maximizing hotel worth in a casino environment, it is perhaps the least well-understood. Successful revenue management in a casino hotel requires in-depth knowledge of the gaming customer and an ability to measure projected guest worth. Revenue optimization also requires that all hotel demand is yielded. This means casino guest reservations are booked based on customer worth without preset offers or ‘guaranteed’ rates. The combination of understanding guest worth and yielding all demand allows for optimal revenue and profit.

Casino customer valuation and segmentation


Segmentation is a critical component of any successfulSample Segmentation breaks - Casino Hotel
hotel revenue optimization strategy. In casino hotels, the worth breakout for gaming guests is essential, but it is also necessary to understand the non-casino business mix. Increasingly, casino hotel properties analyze their hotel business on two levels—one for traditional market segments and the other for specific casino segments. The main difference between the conventional market segments in casino vs. non is the need to include ‘casino’ as a source of business. For financial purposes, hotel leadership must ensure the casino source is further broken down into “cash” room nights and “free” or “comp” room nights, as demonstrated in the example provided.

The casino segments, as defined above, work for financial reporting and budgeting but are
insufficient for yielding purposes; hotel leadership has to collaborate with marketing to build
out additional breakdowns based on projected customer worth. The guest’s worth segment
dictates whether they will receive a discounted cash rate, a comp offer, or a combination of

Casino customer valuation requires a data warehouse with detailed revenue tracking at the
individual guest level. Fortunately, a player database is the foundation of most casino loyalty
and marketing programs. Casino customers are heavily incented to use a loyalty club or a
“players card” to reap rewards such as free slot play, complimentary dining, and room nights. For chains or multi-property entities, a universal database is a best practice, encouraging loyalty to the brand and enhancing the customer relationship. The loyalty database will include various levels or tiers ranging from brand new customers to the most loyal ‘VIP’ guest. A customer’s tier level is based on their cumulative worth, derived from slot and table play, but increasingly RM teams are incorporating non-gaming ancillary spend (cash spend for hotels, F&B, etc.), and casino management companies are starting to integrate sports betting and online gaming with the recent advent of both in several markets.

While cumulative worth or loyalty can be a factor Examples of casino segment worth breaks in the hotel valuation, from a hotel revenue standpoint, it is necessary to understand a customer’s projected worth for each night of their stay. The customer valuation is usually an in-depth formula incorporating trip and play history to devise an average nightly estimate of a guest’s potential future worth. This estimated worth (or profit) value, along with the forecasted demand, dictates the price quoted to that guest. More precisely, the value determines the customer’s segment and dictates pricing at the segment level. A hotel gaming enterprise can decide which segment breaks are best suited
to their business, just as they will want to customize the customer valuation for their needs. A smaller property, for example, may have fewer segments but more breaks at the higher worth end of the database. Certain hotels in high frequency markets may ignore non-hotel trips in the valuation as it would be less predictive of their play behavior during their stay. More info in: “The Revenue Director & Casino Customer Valuation” by Matt Flemming,

Posted in Whitepaper

Google Analytics 4 – what is it and what do I need to know?

Since its release way back in 2005, Google Analytics has had a significant impact on the way we are able to monitor, measure and make changes to our website performance. Sure it’s been through many significant updates to improve its functionality and usability over the years, but this time, one of the most widely used analytics platforms on the web, is hitting us with a hefty update.

We all knew the change was coming but the announcement still made it all very real…

The release of Google Analytics 4 offers a range of new features including many that were previously available only to customers who paid for Analytics 360 – so watch out for a lot more functionality. 

The most noticeable changes, compared to older versions, is that GA4 places a heavy focus on overcoming regulatory changes such as GDPR, can work with or without cookies and makes tracking users across multiple platforms much easier to achieve. 

Here are some of the top-level benefits and improvements we expect to see rolled out with Google Analytics 4:

  • More robust cross-device and cross-platform tracking
  • Accurate reporting on unique users across platforms
  • Advanced analysis reports available to all, not just 360 users
  • Free BigQuery connection
  • New metrics for more accurate tracking on your website
  • Robust cross-platform insights
  • Debugging within the interface
  • No limits to data
  • Automatic event tracking

Let’s have a closer look at what’s coming our way this time next year…

One of the main changes is the User Interface on the platform which is completely different from Universal Analytics predominantly on the navigation tab on the left hand side.

GA4 report 1

Google Analytics 4 Interface

GA4 report 2

Universal Analytics Interface

 Another change is that GA4 is based on ‘events’ as opposed to the ‘sessions’ used by Universal Analytics. This change will force us to readdress how we think about attribution in the ‘cookieless future’. For example, visiting a page, watching a video or scrolling down a page.

It’s focused on giving a “more complete understanding of the customer journey across devices.” And it seems that it’s more focused on measuring an end-to-end shopper journey, and not just individual metrics across devices/pages/segments.

GA4 report 3

There is a focus more on users and audiences & not on sessions and pageviews. The new acquisition section comes with two sections: User acquisition and Traffic acquisition which gives more insights to how the user is interacting.

GA4 report 4

These are just a snapshot of the changes made by Google. We will continue to delve into the new functionality this platform offers over the coming months so stay tuned for updates.

So, what happens next?

Don’t panic – you have a little time before all of this really affects you and marketers can run Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 in parallel for now. 

GA4 is still some way off from becoming the default Google Analytics platform, but it’ll get there eventually. Now’s the perfect time to start learning more about GA4—and collecting the information you’ll need to make comparisons in the future.

At SHR Group, we are rolling out GA4 for our customers as we want to start collecting GA4 data as soon as possible. The reason why is that when Google eventually switches to GA4 only, we are ready for the change with at least 12 months of data for year on year analysis. 

So for now, stay calm and keep tracking, we are all in this together.

Posted in Blog

Digital Marketing Trends

By Eileen Lillis, Sarah Sweeney and Elle Walsh.

Here in SHR Group our Digital Marketing team are always on the lookout for and testing new and innovative tech and marketing platforms to see how they could; be adopted for our Hotel clients.

Below is a snapshot of what the team have been keeping an eye and deploying for clients recently and what is keeping is busy in the coming months ahead. These new trends demonstrate the ever-evolving nature of digital marketing and the need for hotel marketers to stay on top of the latest trends to succeed in a competitive landscape.

Performance Max and New Campaign types changing digital marketing

This year digital marketers will experiment with new campaign types to reach their target audience in more innovative and engaging ways. One campaign type of particular relevance for Hotel Marketers is Performance Max for Travel Goals or Travel Max. This goal-based, multi-channel campaign has been designed to drive more targeted intent traffic for Hotels. Powered by Google’s AI campaign type, Performance Max, Travel Max helps hotel’s easily expand reach and drive more conversions across the entire Google ecosystem.

This new campaign type creates ads in multiple formats that will automatically serve across Google channels and inventory, including Google Maps, Search, YouTube and Hotel Ads (coming later in 2023).

The difference being that Performance Max for Travel Goals is a goal-based, audience-oriented campaign, instead of the keyword or network-targeted approach of previous campaign types.

Advertisers who use Performance Max achieve on average over 18% more conversions at a similar cost per action. (Google Support Article, 2023)

The degradation of demographics in digital marketing

Demographics have always vital component of any marketing strategy as they allow businesses to target specific groups of people based on their age, gender, income, education, and other characteristics. However, with the rise of ad blockers, privacy regulations, and the increasing use of mobile devices, it has become increasingly difficult to accurately capture demographic data and early signs show that only a small portion of your traffic being recorded in Google Analytics 4 will have age, gender and interests‘ data.

In just 1 example we have looked at GA4 data going back as far as July 1st 2022 (the cut-off date for year over data capture) and “Unknown” accounts for over 90% of the users when looking at the age demographics.

As a result, hotels may resort to using inaccurate or incomplete data sets to target their advertising if they stay focused on these demographic sets. The impact of which will be wasted resources and ineffective campaigns.

To combat this issue, hotels must prioritize transparency and ethical data collection practices, using only verified data sources and allowing consumers to control their data privacy settings. Additionally, new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can help Hotels more accurately reach potential guests. Overall, the degradation of demographics in digital marketing highlights the need for responsible data usage and ethical marketing practices.

The Impact of Measurement Changing with GA4

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of the popular web analytics tool from Google, and it comes with significant changes that impact how we measure website performance. One of the most significant changes is the shift from session-based measurement to event-based measurement. This means that instead of tracking pageviews and sessions, GA4 tracks individual user interactions, such as clicks, video views, and form submissions. This change in measurement allows for a more comprehensive understanding of user behavior, allowing hotel marketers to tailor their digital experiences to their audiences better.

Additionally, GA4 also includes more advanced machine learning capabilities, allowing for predictive insights and analysis, making it a more robust tool for data-driven decision-making. Overall, the impact of measurement changing with Google Analytics 4 is that it provides hotel’s with a more accurate and detailed understanding of their online audiences and empowers them to create more effective digital experiences.

Impact of Social Media platforms in digital marketing and how that is impacting revenue attribution

As businesses increasingly invest in social media ads, it has become challenging to accurately attribute revenue to specific marketing efforts. Paid social media ads can influence customer behavior across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey, making it difficult to identify the most influential touchpoints.

Furthermore, many businesses use multi-channel marketing strategies that involve multiple digital channels, which further complicates revenue attribution. To address these challenges, businesses are adopting more advanced attribution models that take into account the impact of paid social media advertising on the entire customer journey. For example, someone might search the brand name and click through a Google search ad, find the room but leave the site to go talk to their partner about the trip before making the booking.

After speaking with their partner, they search the brand name again but this time they come through to the site from a metasearch listing. Before they searched on Google, they may have also seen an ad on Facebook for the brand which inspired them to search for the property in the first place. In a situation like this, Facebook Google Search and Metasearch would all claim to have generated some of that revenue, so this is where the increasing use of social advertising impacts the revenue distribution.

As more and social platforms win market share, they will inevitably become part of the marketing mix for Hotels and they will start claiming revenue wins as their own through their own attribution models. In some cases, we are already seeing Paid attribution across multiple channels is summing to above what was delivered in the period measured.

Increasing Cost per Clicks – OTAs back in the auction

Competition for ad space on search engines and social media platforms increases the demand and therefore the price of clicks on paid search. Additionally, changes to search engine algorithms and advertising policies have made it more difficult for advertisers to achieve prominent ad placements without increasing their CPC.

In recent years, the cost-per-click (CPC) for hotel pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns has been on the rise. There are several factors contributing to this trend. Firstly, the competition among hotels and online travel agents (OTAs) such as Booking.com and Expedia has risen, in 2022 this was seen across all our clients who are still using OTAs, with the end of the pandemic the OTAs began spending on marketing campaigns again and the hidden cost of the OTAs was realized with typically a 50% in increase in the avg. CPC for the brand campaigns alone.

Finally, the growing popularity of mobile devices has led to an increase in mobile advertising, which typically has a higher CPC than desktop advertising. All of these factors combined have made it more challenging for independent hotels going it alone to achieve a profitable ROI in this increasingly crowded and expensive advertising landscape.

In SHR group we have over 20s year experience working across the digital marketing landscape and typically see ROIs of over 20 to 1 across all channels, we work with.

Learn how Cheval Collection increased Revenue by 82% through using SHR Group’s digital expertise.

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