car driving in a blur reflecting how hotels need to know which channels drive guests to their website

The Source/Medium report is by far the most popular one within Google Analytics, the one considered the most interesting by all business sectors, including the Hotel Industry of course.

NB: This is an article from Direct Your Bookings

If you want to know where the traffic to your hotel website comes from, this is the report you’d need to consult.

This report, though, takes into account all Sessions that happened for each source. So, what if you want to know what is the one single channel that drove the very first Session, for each and every User?

In other words, which source should you credit for each potential customer landing on your website?

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This is what this post is about. In here, you’ll learn how to track the Initial Source of Traffic to your hotel site, by using Google Tag Manager.

Ready? Let’s start

Quantity & Quality Data Analysis.

Speaking of Sources and Mediums, a report in Google Analytics looks like this:source-medium-report-google-analytics

Source/Medium report in Google Analytics (UA)

Google Analytics is the go-to tool for quantity analysis, as it aggregates all the data collected on your website and shows you the total numbers.

As we know though, the typical booking journey involves several sessions before users reach the point of purchase, meaning the booking moment.

Even more so for leisure travellers. And even more so in these post-pandemic times.

A long and thoughtful booking process. Just consider that, on average, users visit 42 different websites, from the moment they start looking around for travel-related services to the moment they complete the reservation.

However, no matter how long this process is and how many times a user lands on your website, every single Session comes with a Source, also known as Referrer.

But here stands the problem: Google Analytics assigns a Source and a Medium to each visit that you get. If a user visits your website 5 times before completing a reservation through your booking engine, what’s the source that you should credit for bringing in that booking?

Let’s assume the following Source/Medium in a given example where users A, B and C perform 2 visits (sessions) each:

  • User A:
    • Visit 1 = google / cpc
    • Visit 2 = googlehotelads / metasearch
  • User B:
    • Visit 1 = googlehotelads / metasearch
    • Visit 2 = google / cpc
  • User C:
    • Visit 1 = google / organic
    • Visit 2 = google / cpc

The Source/Medium report would look like this:

Source / MediumUsersSessions
google / cpc33
googlehotelads / metasearch22
google / organic11

Take, for example, google / cpc.

2 users out of 3 came from it. Yet, only 1 user landed on your website for the 1st time, thanks to your paid campaigns on Google.

However you can’t actually see this additional information within GA.

Why is the 1st Session different?

At this point I guess you might be asking “what makes the 1st session different from all subsequent visits?” And why is it so important?

In simple words: you might have the best hotel website in the world, but if you don’t bring your potential customers to visit it first, they will never know.

This means that all the efforts that you put forth to select the best room photos, the best copy, the best CMS and the best hosting service to make your website super beautiful and fast will eventually help you get returning visitors, but very little will they do for you to bring new users.

Thus, knowing which channels drive these new visitors becomes of paramount importance to understand what works and what does not work, where to invest your marketing budget and where to cut it.

Read rest of the article at Direct Your Booking