Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 132 – Shocking Revelations Of Hotel Guest Behavior (part 1)

by Stuart Butler

Here at Fuel, we constantly preach about reducing friction on your hotel’s website and booking engine to create a seamless user experience. We also often talk on this podcast about how user experience is becoming an increasingly important factor in SEO. A recent article on SEJ got us thinking that there are probably a lot of hotels that aren’t regularly evaluating the user experience and how users are interacting with their websites. We are going to dive into what user behavior you should be tracking, how you can track it and what you should be doing with the behavior data you collect.
SHOW NOTES:
IN ADDITION TO THE PODCAST WE HAVE A BUNCH OF WHITEPAPERS AND STUDIES YOU CAN DOWNLOAD HERE

SHOW NOTES:
Alternative episode titles:
You won’t believe what your guests are doing when you’re not looking
What your guests are doing when they don’t think you’re watching
Your guest just did what? Guest behavior gone wild.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
We’ve mentioned this statistic in previous episodes but in our findings from the 2019 Leisure Travel Study we found that 86.7% of people say they visit the hotel’s website before making a reservation.
We also found in a study from Amazon Web Services that
UX stats show that 88% of online shoppers say they wouldn’t return to a website after having a bad user experience.
So if you’re not paying attention to UX and user behavior on your site, you could be losing 88% of your website visitors who will book elsewhere because of the poor experience of your site.

Tracking User Behavior:

This may be the most important piece for understanding how your visitors are using your website. What are they doing when they reach a page? What additional information are they seeking once they have consumed what that page has provided?

Things you should be monitoring:

  • What on-page elements are they clicking on?
  • How far are they scrolling on the page?
  • What behavior patterns can you see across multiple pages?
  • Are they leaving your site to find necessary information elsewhere? (reviews, nearby attractions, etc,)

Tools for monitoring user behavior:

  • Heat mapping software like Visual Website Optimizer, Crazy Egg, Google Analytics
  • User testing recordings

What to do with your findings?

  • Determine if you are making it easy for users to find what you want them to
  • Determine if you are including enough information or too much information
  • Determine if users are following a pattern that advances them in the booking process
  • Determine if your mobile experience is too difficult to navigate and drives users to find sites/apps where they can book easily.

Tracking Content Effectiveness

Are users entering your site through specific pieces of content? Is your content enhancing your experience or turning users off? Does your content follow Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines? What are your users doing after they consume your content? These are all questions you should be asking when trying to determine content effectiveness.

Things you should be monitoring:

  • What are your most popular entry pages?
  • What pages receive the most total page views?
  • Do you have pages with exorbitant bounce rates?
  • What does page flow look like?
  • Do you have pages that aren’t getting any traffic?
  • Are users sharing certain pieces of content via social media and/or links?
  • What landing pages are generating conversions?

Tools for monitoring content effectiveness:

  • Your analytics software should give you the majority of this information
    • Google Analytics will give you landing pages, most viewed pages, bounce rates of specific pages and next page flow
  • Social media channels
  • Backlink monitoring tools like ahrefs & Moz’s Link Explorer
  • Tracking mentions through tools like Google Alerts or Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer

What to do with your findings:

  • Evaluate your top entry pages. Are they relevant to your business goals? Are there ways to improve them to guide people into your booking funnel?
  • Find pages in your flow that are more effective at getting users deeper into the booking funnel. Can you create more avenues into those pages?
  • If you are finding pages that are not getting any traffic you need to evaluate the content and determine if it’s following Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
    • Does your content have E-A-T at or near the level of sites competing for the same topic?
      • [E] – Are you showing that you are an expert on a given topic/area? Are you providing information that a quality rater would consider useful? Is it better than content users can find on other sites ranking for that topic?
      • [A] – Can you establish authoritativeness as the source? Are you using an author bios or displaying that your business or author has been recognized by other outlets?
      • [T] – Is your content trustworthy? Is the information you’re presenting factual? Are you citing your sources/adding links where you can?
    • Are you inhibiting a user from consuming the content because of difficult-to-close interstitials or ads?
  • Determine which pages are shared the most via social media and/or backlinks. Is there a pattern that you can recreate? Is there a way to enhance that content that gets users further in the funnel?
  • Get links from mentions. Are people talking about you online but not linking? If so, do some link outreach.

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In The Newsaroos:     

  • Google Releases their latest Core Algorithm Update, appropriately named, “January 2020 core update” https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-january-2020-core-update-is-rolling-out-imminently/343271/
    • One way to think of how a core update operates is to imagine you made a list of the top 100 movies in 2015. A few years later in 2019, you refresh the list. It’s going to naturally change. Some new and wonderful movies that never existed before will now be candidates for inclusion. You might also reassess some films and realize they deserved a higher place on the list than they had before. The list will change, and films previously higher on the list that move down aren’t bad. There are simply more deserving films that are coming before them. Just keep an eye on your rankings and if you see improvement, pat yourself on the back for creating great content. If you see decreases, analyze who passed you, understand why their content is better, and work on improving your content to be better.

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