Universal Analytics Sunset: Are you prepared?

by Pete DiMaio

Computer screen with data charts prepraring for Universal Analytics sunset.

The era of Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) is ending, and its successor, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), is transforming the world of website data analytics. While this shift shares exciting new insights into customer behavior, it also spawns challenges for today’s hotel marketers. Are you prepared for the impending Universal Analytics sunset?

When will universal analytics data be deleted?

Customers will lose access to the Universal Analytics interface on July 1, 2024. This is a critical deadline for hoteliers, as all historical data stored within Universal Analytics will be permanently deleted. While the standard sunset took weeks to complete, the full Universal Analytics shutdown will happen within one week

What the Universal Analytics Sunset Means for Hoteliers

With the loss of access to the Universal Analytics interface and API approaching, hoteliers should have already made the switch to GA4. If you haven’t already transitioned away from UA, find out everything you need to know about GA4 here.

GA4 Migration Checklist

  1. Survey Your Universal Analytics
  2. Create Your GA4 Account
  3. Migrate Your Events
  4. Create Custom Metrics
  5. Link Account Integrations
  6. Archive Historical Data

Do hoteliers need to store historical data?

Definitely. Universal Analytics contains years of essential data that digital marketers reference to make informed decisions. Google’s Universal Analytics has carried hoteliers through a full decade of record-breaking years, whether high or low, and one pandemic. It’s imperative that hotel marketers are able to make data-driven decisions.

How long does GA4 store data?

Google Analytics 4 does not store any data permanently but does offer a rolling 14 months of stored website data. Data prior to 14 months will not be available.

What This Means: Hotels will need a data warehouse to store both their historical data from Universal Analytics, as well as all data collected within GA4. Otherwise, hoteliers will lose the ability to reference historical data or make crucial comparisons beyond 14 months.

While 14 months may seem like enough data to generate insights into seasonal and historical trends, hoteliers will certainly feel the shortcoming at some point.

Consider This Example: A year-to-date report comparing Q1 2024 against Q1 2023 would not be possible as of April (end of Q1).

More to Consider:

  • Identifying Seasonal Trends: Hotels experience significant fluctuations in demand throughout the year. YoY comparisons reveal recurring peaks and valleys in website traffic, bookings, and revenue. This helps optimize pricing, promotions, and staffing for high-demand periods and identify opportunities to drive business during slower seasons.
  • Evaluating Campaign Effectiveness: YoY data allows you to assess the long-term success of your marketing campaigns. Compare metrics such as traffic sources, conversion rates, and revenue generated from specific campaigns against the same period in the previous year. This helps determine which strategies are most effective and make data-driven decisions for future campaigns.
  • Understanding Website Performance Changes: Did you make significant changes to your website design, content, or booking engine? YoY comparisons help you understand if these changes had a positive or negative impact on key metrics like traffic, engagement, and conversion rates.
  • Spotting Emerging Trends: The hospitality industry is constantly evolving. YoY comparisons can highlight larger trends in consumer behavior, such as shifts toward mobile bookings, changes in preferred booking channels, or the emergence of new target audiences. This allows you to adapt your strategies to better serve your customers.
  • Setting Realistic Goals: Setting benchmarks based on past performance is crucial. YoY data establishes realistic targets for growth and helps you measure progress against historical figures, not just industry averages.

In addition, it’s essential to consider external factors that may have influenced performance, such as major holidays falling within different months, economic conditions, weather patterns, or changes in Google’s algorithms when comparing annualized data.

What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a central repository of information that can aid in making data-driven decisions. Data flows into a data warehouse from transactional systems, relational databases, and other sources regularly.

Do I need a data warehouse?

With the sunset of Google’s Universal Analytics, data outside of the previous 14 months will become unavailable. The solution is to transition your historical information to a data warehouse, which allows hotels to retain data indefinitely.

Benefits of a Data Warehouse

  • Preservation of Historical Data: Universal Analytics historical data will be permanently deleted in July of 2024. A data warehouse enables hotels to extract and securely store all their valuable UA data before it’s gone, ensuring they can continue referencing past performance for long-term insights.
  • Long-Term Analytics and Comparisons: While Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers powerful features, it only stores a rolling 14 months of data by default. A data warehouse allows for the storage of historical data from both UA and GA4 indefinitely. This makes year-over-year (YoY) comparisons possible even beyond GA4’s data retention window, which is crucial for understanding trends and making informed decisions.
  • Data Manipulation and Advanced Analysis: Data warehouses like BigQuery provide greater flexibility for querying, aggregating, and manipulating large datasets. Hoteliers can perform complex analyses that are often infeasible directly within the GA4 interface, such as:
    • Customer Segmentation: Deeply analyze customer behavior, booking patterns, and preferences to create tailored marketing campaigns and personalized experiences.
    • Channel Attribution: Understand the complex interplay of different marketing channels and touchpoints contributing to bookings, leading to better budget allocation decisions.
    • Lifetime Value Analysis: Calculate the long-term value of customers acquired through various channels for more accurate ROI calculations.
  • Integrating Data Sources: A data warehouse acts as a central hub where hotels can combine analytics data with data from other systems like their CRM (Customer Relationship Management), property management system (PMS), or revenue management tools. This holistic view provides more comprehensive insights into guest behaviors and business performance.
  • Affordable Data Storage: Data warehouses and the benefits associated are also less expensive than you might think, often less than $100/month. This is an incredibly low cost for the ability to identify opportunities, improve campaign performance, and ultimately drive more direct bookings.

Data Warehouse Solutions

Proactive data preservation is key to making informed decisions and maximizing your hotel’s direct bookings. Don’t let your valuable insights disappear with Universal Analytics.

TravelBoom has developed a turnkey solution to storing essential data through BiqQuery. The result will safely transfer and store your hotel’s historical data from Universal Analytics, as well as safely transfer and store current and ongoing GA4 data. Contact us to learn more before June 30, 2024.

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