As a hotelier, you may think you have seen it all (or maybe know it all), but that is not the case. The hospitality industry and how you convince guests to book is changing at warp speed and the only way to keep up is to listen to your guests.

One way to do this is by testing. You may find out that what you think is the best way to communicate with your guests may not be what the guest prefers. The bottom line is: what you think doesn’t matter. What does matter is marketing that results in the greatest amount of revenue for your hotel.

There are a wide variety of things you can test to determine prospect/guest engagement and ROI. This ranges from email subject lines, webpage layouts, to calls-to-action, hero images and more.

Testing calls-to-action

I would like to share the results of a simple test we conducted for two of our resort hotels. We were discussing with the client what call-to-action would be most impactful on a pay-per-click landing page — “Book Now” or “Check Rates.” So, we agreed to conduct an A/B test to see what performed better.

For an A/B test to be valid, you must test only ONE variable at a time. Testing two or more variables will not let you know what elements in your campaign influenced the results.

Below are the conversion rates for website visitors clicking through to the booking engine for two hotels testing “Book Now” vs. “Check Rates” CTA phrases.

This data represents traffic to these landing pages on a 50-50 split between the two CTA phrases over a period of three weeks. For both clients, the only difference in the page is the wording of the CTA button.

Results

As you can see, “Check Rates” performed better for Hotel A while “Book Now” generated a greater response for Hotel B.  These results were consistent across all PPC campaigns. The bottom line is what you think would work best for your hotel may not be what the guest responds to, and what works for one hotel, may not necessarily work for another.

Key Takeaways

To maximize revenue, you need to learn how your customers behave. The easiest way to do this is to make testing part of your ongoing marketing DNA. Take the time to test different variables (one at a time) to optimize your results.

You may be surprised at how little testing can cost, how many things you can test, and how much you will learn in the process. But if you are not testing on a regular basis to find out how your customers think, you could be leaving money on the table.

So, what you think doesn’t matter. It’s what you know.

AUTHOR: Catherine Smagala

Catherine Smagala is an account supervisor at MP&A Digital & Advertising, an award-winning agency helping luxury hotels attract and retain loyal profitable customers. Principals with more than 60 years of collective experience at some of the world's largest advertising and direct marketing companies lead the agency's team of marketing, creative, public relations, Internet and social media professionals.

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