Google Analytics for Travel Agencies

Google Analytics for Travel Agencies

Analytic tools like Google Analytics (“GA”) are highly underutilized by travel companies.

Why Analytics?

To track the revenue you are making, to save money on marketing efforts that don’t make any money and to make you smarter about who’s coming to your site.

Am I underutilizing GA?

If all you track are visitors, hits, page views and keywords on Google Analytics (or equivalent analytics software), you’re losing out on potential revenue and intelligence about your visitors. 

If you don’t use custom variables, goals, funnel analysis, pivots or track outbound clicks, you need to stop what you’re doing and allocate a few hours as soon as possible to doing this.

Setting up Analytics is Not Difficult

I love that most of these features require one time setup, you don’t have to be a web developer and the insights show up in your Google Analytic reports within 24 hours.

Are these questions important to your travel agency? If so, implement Analytics.

Which keywords – paid or free – resulted in signups AND/OR in purchases?

Which AdWords resulted in purchases and which AdWords do I need to eliminate?

Which links in my email campaigns were clicked AND resulted in purchases/sign ups?

Feature 1: Using Goals and Funnels to Track Conversion Rates

Goals allow you to track users as they accomplish something on your site.

A goal can be somebody buying airfare, signing up for your newsletter, or completing a price request form. Each of these are unique goals you need to setup in Google Analytics (“GA”).

Goals are VERY IMPORTANT and VERY USEFUL. Don’t skip this section. It’s not that complicated and you only have to do this once!

What your Travel Agency Can Learn From This

·         Which paid keywords resulted in a purchase? What could be more important than that! No longer ‘guess’ which keywords work, know which one of your keywords work and don’t generate sign ups/purchases.

·         Does your main page or a subpage generate the most purchases? Don’t assume, know!

·         Change something on your site this week and see if your conversion rates goes up or down by comparing week over week data.

·         See which landing pages result in the greatest newsletter sign ups? Or result in purchases?

·         Did that expensive Adwords campaign actually generate profile sign ups? Did it get people to buy your airfare?

I can list dozens of uses and insights you can learn by setting up goals.

Setting a Goal in Google Analytics

Let’s say you want to track newsletter sign ups.

You have an index.html page ( where let’s say a user clicks a hyperlink or a graphic called ‘Newsletter Signup’.

This brings them to a newsletter sign up page (newsletter.html) where they enter their name and email address.

When they hit submit they get a third “Thank you for signing up for our newsletter” page called ‘thankyou.html.

Setup a new goal by:

1.       Clicking Analytic Settings

2.       Click ‘Edit’ next to the profile.

3.       Then click +Add Goal

4.       The default settings are fine with the exception of:

Goal Name: ‘Newsletter Signup’

Goal Position: Set 1 Goal 1 is this is your first goal is fine.

Goal Type: Click ‘URL Destination’

Match Type: Head Match

Goal URL: this is the URL of the thank you page ( in our example.

5.       Click ‘Yes, create a funnel for this goal’.

A funnel describes the process a user goes through from the index.html page, to the newsletter.html page and finally ending at the thankyou.html page. These 3 pages make up the ‘newsletter signup funnel’. 

The funnel lets you see what % of people got to the newsletter sign up page (newsletter.html) and what % completed the form?

What keywords resulted in newsletter sign up?

A host of information you can review.

Setting up a goal will tell you that 30 people visited, of which 3 people successfully signed up for your newsletter.

What your Travel Agency Can Learn From This

·         Setup a ‘newsletters signup goal’ for newsletter signups.

·         Setup ‘airfare purchases goals’ for booking engine purchases (index.html page is the first page of your goal, airfare-prices.html is your second page, airfare-payment.html maybe the billing page of your booking engine and thank-you.html maybe the confirmation page’.

·         Setup ‘new profile goals’ if your site allows users to create profiles.

Viewing Goal Results – the fun part!

1.       Click ‘Goals’ and choose the ‘Newsletter Signup’ Goal

2.       You’ll see ‘Total Conversions’, your conversion rate, etc. Drill down on anything that has a link and read the information.

Viewing Funnel Results – even more fun if you run an ecommerce site!

1.       Sample Funnel Results for a Shopping Cart.

What You Can Learn with Funnels

·         You can see where users drop off in the funnel. Do you get people to the newsletter page but you lose them after that? Could you be asking too many questions? Eliminate fields and compare conversion %’s.

·         You can track purchases and more importantly which keywords brought in these purchases. This applies to paid and unpaid keywords. It’s nice to know you have a 30% conversion rate but its even nice to know ‘cheap business class tickets’ on your page earned you the highest conversions.

·         You can track how much time the user spends on each page. What page is taking the longest to complete? Is that page confusing? Can you make it easier by adding help pages, live help, splitting it into 2 pages, etc.. Maybe 90’% of the people search flights, 70% of those people choose to pay but 5% actually purchase. Could it be your payment form that needs adjustment? You now know which page to focus on and you can compare results this week to next week to the week after.

Feature 2: Which Button Did Visitors Press?

I’ve shown a typical booking engine with a button for Flight, Hotel, Car and Vacations. Users click what they want, complete the form, hit ‘Search Now’ and get whatever they are looking for.

What your Travel Agency Can Learn From This

How many times was Hotel clicked today?

How many times was Vacations clicked today? Is flight the most popular product type?

If I add a new option called ‘Packages’, how many clicks did it get?

Knowing what the user did allows a whole host of adjustments like making vacations the default tab, increasing your vacation related advertising, paying attention vacations as a potential trend you may have overlooked, etc..

Have affiliate links? This is a great way to track ‘outbound links’ you send your affiliates.

How to track outbound links with Google Analytics

By adding onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview(‘/outgoing/FareBuzzB2CEngine-Air’);" to the HTML for the Search Button (for Airfare).

You can alternatively add this onClick code when somebody presses ‘Airfare’ or ‘Hotel’.

In 4-24 hours, it will show up on your ‘Top Content’ report as:

·         From here, you can drill down using the Navigation Summary, Entrance Paths, Entrance Sources and Entrance Keywords pages.

·         You should change the highlighted words in  ‘/outgoing/FareBuzzB2CEngine-Air’ to anything you want to call it like ‘/outgoing/AirTab’, or ‘/outgoing/TopRightAdvertisingBanner’ or whatever you want.

·         The onClick code can be attached to pictures, search buttons, links and generally anywhere there is a link on a web page.

Feature 3: Filtering Your Own Traffic

Analytics are only as good as the quality of the underlying data and you can’t have useful data without filtering out all the times you and others from your company visit your company website.

Track clients, not your own company website traffic.

You should filter traffic for all staff, all sub contractors, anybody that modifies pages on the site and anybody who would count as a visit or hit

1.       Login to your GA account, click ‘Analytic Settings’ under the logo.

2.       Click ‘Edit’ next to the profile.

3.       Click Add Filter’ in the Filters Applied to Profile section

4.       Enter your IP address

·         Repeat for all staff work and home computers particularly people who upload content to the website.  This is very important.

·         If people have dynamic IP’s, then filter by domain name(s).

·         Visit if you don’t know your IP ADDRESS.

What your Travel Agency Can Learn From This

You want to know the increase in site visits is due to a campaign or Google indexing your page and not because the new intern you hired is clicking through every page on your site.

The sanctity of your data is paramount. Filtering ensures you know the traffic to your site is from OUTSIDE of the company.

More to come! I’m just getting started.

This is the first in a series of posts on analytics. Analytics is definitely something you should embrace and explore.

What do you think? @travelalchemist on Twitter, drop me an email or put in a comment

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