Hotel Marketing Attribution: What’s really driving your bookings?

  Posted in Sales + Marketing

Hotel marketing campaign attribution

Attribution is incredibly important for your marketing campaigns if you want to measure your conversions correctly and make continued improvements to your business.

Managing your attribution can be incredibly complex however, and often hotels go for the simplest option; a last-click attribution model. While this may be the easiest to implement and measure, it can be harmful to your overall strategy and revenue in the the long-term. Other models may take longer to get right but the effort will be worth it to get a more accurate picture of where your marketing budget should be directed.

Here are some of the channels you might be attributing conversions to:

  • Paid search
  • Social
  • Direct
  • Referral
  • Organic
  • Content
  • Email

It’s important to understand the effect of each channel to decide how to break down your marketing budget.

The problem with last-click attribution for hotels

If your hotel isn’t seeing the return on marketing investment it should be, this attribution model could be the reason why. Last-click attribution gives 100% of the credit for a conversion to the last touchpoint of a customer. This is a huge problem, especially in the hotel sector because there are so many touchpoints in a traveller’s booking journey that influence the final decision.

For example, here are some touchpoints a guest could come in contact with before they book your hotel:

  • Hotel display ad
  • Google location ad
  • Google brand name ad
  • TripAdvisor page
  • OTA profile
  • Hotel blog
  • Hotel email newsletter
  • Local guides
  • Social media ads

Any or all of these touchpoints could have a major bearing on a guest making a booking. It’s impossible to know how much impact the last-click source actually had on a traveller’s decision, so it doesn’t make sense to give that channel all the credit. Every step in the path-to-purchase is crucial and your hotel needs to be looking at the big picture to understand what is really driving your bookings.

Every step in the path-to-purchase is crucial and hotels need to look beyond last-click marketing attribution.

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What’s the best attribution model for your hotel?

Fortunately there are plenty of more accurate, albeit more complex, marketing attribution strategies you can utilise at your hotel.

Here are four alternative methods you can use.

1. Linear attribution

In this model, every touchpoint gets equal credit for the reservation. This is useful for long sales cycles, such as the traveller journey, where a customer might stay in contact with multiple channels throughout the path-to-purchase.

2. Time delay attribution

In this instance, touchpoints that are interacted with closer to the reservation date get more of the credit. This means if there were four touchpoints, the last two would get the lion’s share of measured results.

3. Position-based attribution

Position-based attribution recognises both the first and the last touchpoint as being vital channels that lead to a booking. Both of these get equal credit (say 40%), with the remainder divided amongst the channels between them.

4. Data-driven attribution

This model digs deeper and gives credit based on the steps taken to find and book with you. It uses data from your own account to determine which ads, keywords, and campaigns have the greatest impact on conversions.

Ultimately, it’s your decision to decide which model works best for you. It will depend on the amount of analysis you can complete and the accuracy of your data – but given how convoluted the traveller booking journey can be, your strategy needs to be spot on if you want to see a positive revenue return on your marketing investment.

To fully optimise your attribution model you also need to research your different market segments and think about what works for them. Which channels are trending high for conversions? Even though email might be a more popular marketing tool for hotels, is it as effective as paid search? Do you attract more millennials than baby-boomers and are they more likely to engage with social ads?

These are just some of the questions you can ask before you start to effectively drive bookings based on your marketing attribution data.

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