Skift Take

Tourism boards are always trying to keep up with how visitors are finding and interacting their content. The Google Analytics update should make this easier. Hopefully, they can actually capitalize on the new information.

Tourism boards are preparing for a major update to Google Analytics. With the update, they would get deeper and streamlined insights into how visitors interact with their web content.

On July 1, Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics, the current platform, in favor of Google Analytics 4.

Universal is “quickly becoming obsolete” because it was designed for a time when desktop was the primary form of web access, said Brian Bossuyt, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. He added that Universal has been around since 2007.

Platform users have had an over year to prepare for the change.

Tourism boards rely on Google Analytics for insights about the performance of their websites. They use Google Analytics to understand their discoverability, user behavior, page views and other interactions on their websites. They can then hone marketing strategies and communicate performance to stakeholders and their board of directors. 

“It’s the one thing that we all use to show the viability of our website, any campaigns programs that we’re doing to our stakeholders,” said Bossuyt.

The update is a paradigm shift for understanding users, said Vimal Vyas, vice president of data, security and digital Innovation of Visit Raleigh.

For example, most boards look at page views and sessions, said Bossuyt. Now, they will be able to understand how users engage with their content across devices and based on their content interactions.

Specific interactions like scrolls and engagement, and demographics like age will have more specific reporting. “We can then take that data and niche that information and use that as targeting information,” said Vyas. 

A key change will be the unification of the tracking of the user journey between the mobile and desktop sites, whereas in the past both were treated separately, and it took a lot of work to unify them, which was a mess, Vyas said. Tourism boards will get more granular data insights on the full user journey on their site.

Tourism boards have been increasingly incorporating visitor mobile device use into their marketing strategies. Explore St. Louis and Virginia Tourism Corporation, for example, use mobile data to identify travelers visiting friends and relatives, and Meet Boston use it to assess how effectively visitors spread across its destination. 

With the new update, tourism boards, for example, could draw a connection between display advertising, the visiting friends and relatives segment, and visitation a few months later, said Vyas.

While Google Analytics is free, the preparation for the system change has taken time and energy. Universal will stop collecting data.  “What we are paying for is work hours and resources related to the implementation,” said Vyas.

Another agenda item has been educating stakeholders. They will have to be comfortable with the new interface and reporting.

The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau has been trying to remind its small business partners to get up to speed with the new update, said Bossuyt. “It’s really just preparing them that this is a strong free tool for them to use to see where their traffic’s coming to their website,” he said.


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Tags: destination marketing, destination marketing organizations, dmos, google, marketing, north carolina, tourism boards

Photo credit: Google Analytics will incorporate mobile users better. Photo Credit: Rob Hampson on Unsplash Rob Hampson / Unsplash

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