Tourism Conversion Optimisation and Analytics – The Waypoint Conference Takeaways

Digital Marketing Conversion Optimisation For Hotels And Tourism


The Waypoint conference was a digital conversion focused conference in Christchurch, NZ. It wasn’t about driving traffic (although that obviously was mentioned to some extent), it was about getting more out of your existing traffic…and aimed specifically at the tourism and hospitality sector – two passions of mine.

This was really timely for me as I just met with a new client earlier in the week who was really worried about a 20% drop in traffic after a new website launch, and the first thing I said was “..that’s not too unusual with a new site, so why don’t you focus on getting better conversions from your existing traffic?”.

Their landing page for their paid traffic just wasn’t built to convert – it was built for aesthetics, and every piece of content was below the fold (the scroll), and the fold below that. Sadly this isn’t too unusual from typical web developers who don’t understand the marketing aspects of online.

After being there all day, I’m pleased to say it was a great conference, with some great speakers from Google, Haka Tours…and Boundary Road Brewery just to mix it up a bit.

My main personal takeaway was that although the speakers were well established in their field, they echoed all my sentiments from a series of digital marketing courses I’ve just ran in Queenstown :

  • Get your metrics
  • Measure
  • Test
  • Improve

As an added bonus, when some split tests were presented, I guessed all of the winners from each test, largely due to my knowledge of online testing and the nuances of online psychology.

But what were the key takeaways? I’ve distilled them below, and given small practical steps you can take to implement them. Naturally I’ve picked the ones I often talk about. In priority order….

Simple steps to increase conversions on hotels, tourism and hospitality websites Click To Tweet

Data Drives Decision

When you have accurate measurement and tracking online, the test results and conversion data should drive implementation decisions. It doesn’t matter so much which image or text you prefer, if it converts higher, or brings higher revenue, that’s your winner.

How Can You Implement This?

It’s maybe time to push the boundaries of your brand, or your tried and ‘tested’ marketing. If you’re website has blue tones throughout it, don’t be afraid to test an orange or red button for your call to action if it makes it stand out. If it doesn’t stand out, your users won’t intuitively know what you want them to do.

Track Your Return On Investment And Conversions

Spend some more time tracking conversions online and feeding them into a tool like Google Analytics. Sure, you can get how many bookings form your booking engine, but do you know if they came from your flyers, your online ads, or your email marketing?

How Can You Implement This?

Go through your website and work out what your micro and macro conversions are.
If you need to know more about this, read the classic Avinash blog post below. This may take a bit more effort, but once the major tracking is in place, the data you’ll get back will be gold, and you may never struggle justifying your marketing budget again.

If your booking engine doesn’t provide the facilities, spend some time to work out (or assume) an average conversion and revenue and track it through events. If you struggle with your web developers on this, it may help to have someone install Google Tag Manager to get more control yourself, and it will allow you to deploy conversion tracking without making any website changes.

Online Copywriting - Sell Features Not Benefits

Sell The Benefits, Not The Features

Traditional copywriting is getting old online. You can get away with boasting that your business has been established for 150 years in a corporate brochure, but the attention span of 1 second less than a goldfish online, us humans want to know the benefits your product will bring to us.

How Can You Implement This?

Sell the benefits not the features. When I say ‘traditional’ copywriting above, *this* is true traditional copywriting. When you look at the latest and greatest digital marketing, all it’s really doing is translating the age old (like 100 years old) classic advertising books into digital. Don’t tell me your hotel is the oldest in town, tell me your hotel has free WiFi, you’ll save me time as you have award winning restaurants onsite, and you provide free shuttles to all local attractions. That will bring you more revenue and higher conversions.

Split Test

This leads on from the earlier data and metrics, but split testing is just testing different elements online to see what works better, and it doesn’t have to be rocket science.

How Can You Implement This?

Start simple. Send 50% of your email with one subject line, and 50% with another, or try sending one with a Special Offers button with a different coloured button. Once you feel more comfortable try testing different versions of an important web page and don’t be scared to experiment – what performs best is not always what you expect. I have a whole book of split tests and there’s always surprises and sometimes it’s really ugly pages that convert better (not that I really suggest you make your pages look ugly!). Tools like Optimizely, Visual Website Optimiser will help you, or landing page software like Instapage, Unbounce…there’s loads of them.

Get Your Customers To Say Yes (aka Micro Commitments)

If you get your users doing small things, it’s easier to get them to do big things. You may have noticed less email address input boxes on the front page of a website. Ever wondered why? Trends change. When people get used to things they tend to get a bit blind. If you see a button to ‘Get This Report Now’ and click it, that’s called a micro commitment. If the next step is a pop up to enter your email address, they’ve subconsciously made a small commitment to you – it’s now a much smaller step to enter an email address now.

How Can You Implement This?

Work out where you can have micro commitments or have your users say ‘yes’ in their head – even if they don’t realise it. If you know your customer well and write benefits that feel like you’re speaking directly to them, they’re probably already agreeing with you a bit, and it makes a purchase a smaller step.

Reconsider Measuring Your Social ROI

This talk suggested you can’t really measure return on investment in social the same as other elements.  Now I’ll be up front, this is the only one takeaway I slightly disagreed with, but only because some people will take the sentiments verbatim. This doesn’t mean you can’t measure ROI, or monetary ROI, it’s just your metrics may be different. You still want to be thinking about how you get the most out of the platforms. Don’t just post on Facebook – make up custom audiences from your website or email list. If you post a link to an offer, or run an ad campaign, here’s where you can track ROI directly with conversion pixels.

How Can You Implement This?

Work out your KPIs for social depending on your activities, and identify how to get even more bang for your buck out of the platform. If Social to you means YouTube, add annotations to your videos (and cards if you want them to work on mobile). If it’s Facebook, see where you can make up custom audiences and remarket to them. Don’t just post or upload a video and think job done – you may be loosing an additional revenue stream.

Side note : At a recent Google Partners training event, Alex Langshur, one of the founders of Cardinal Path asked me in the bar : “Where does social sit on the path to conversion?”. Now I know how much time many tourism companies spend on social so I said “Top of (sales) funnel”. He turned round and said “Nowhere”. I know social works for some businesses but this is a man who co-founded the top digital analytics companies in the world, so he knows what he’s talking about – think about what metrics you want to measure for your business.  You’ll probably get more out of optimising your website than the hours you spend on social media – and I’m definitely not saying social media is a waste of time, it’s just that many clients really focus on social media without having key on and offsite elements in place.

Get A Digital Marketing Specialist Involved As Early As Possible

Now this may sound biased, but digital marketing touches every asset you have online, and really affects your revenue throughout your business. From relatively minor tweaks in your website brief, through to what special elements your expensive video should have to work on YouTube, you want to get the most out of any spend you make. Designers and developers are not marketers.

How Can You Implement This?

Find a digital marketer you trust, that has your business interests and objectives top of mind. There’s no point spending $10k on a video shoot if it’s not engaging in the first few seconds, or you shoot a YouTube ad that isn’t tailored for it, or an optin form that can’t be tracked. I’ve seen it all, from a $3k website to a $60k one and they have the same issues.

Interested In More?

I’ve just completed a series of digital marketing courses I ran in Queenstown covering different marketing topics from What Matters Online & Why, through to Email Marketing, Facebook ads, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Online Reputation Management.

Every speaker echoed the content of my courses, and the courses also show you how to actually implement steps on different platforms to measure and track metrics, and get more value out of your investment in each platform – whether that’s time or money.

If you’d like me to run a course, or coach you, or speak to your organisation please get in touch. The courses will be online later in the year so enter your email address below to be added to the notification list.

Fully Charged Media offers services registered in the NZTE Capability Voucher scheme.


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Resources : Avinash Kaushik on Micro and Macro Conversion Tracking

The Waypoint conference was sponsored by Chrischurch Airport, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism, Cabbage Tree Creative, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand and Fountaine Design.

The speakers were :

Lawrence Smith, Cabbage Tree Creative
Craig Whitaker, Google
Amanda Jordan, Google
Cornelius Boertjens, Catchi
Daniel Bridges, Trade Me
Susan Sullivan, Infront Communications
Andy Havill, Boundary Road Brewery
Jitendra Patel, Haka Tours

Darren Craig

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