By Glenn Withiam, Director of Publications, Cornell Center for Hospitality Research
We all want to know where our customers are coming from — that is, in terms of the channel that brings them to the point where they make a purchase. The problem for those making the analysis is that the last webpage that a customer visits before booking is not necessarily the one that is the real distribution channel, in the sense of being the decision point. This is true whether the supposed source is a search engine, a social media site, or even the hotel’s own webpage.
Fortunately, Google analytics and similar sites allow an analysis of the user’s click stream, that is, the sequence of webpages that a person visits on the way to booking a hotel. That alone still may not tell the whole story. For one thing, you may see a strange effect where guests are clicking from site to site and then suddenly drop off. They might indeed have left because they did not find what they were looking for, but it is also possible that they logged off the computer and picked up the telephone. So far, every study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research has found that the telephone is still a major channel for reservations, both for hotels and restaurants. At the same time, it’s clear that those telephone customers are using the web to collect information and comparison shop. (Read More)