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Is Your Hotel Ready for GA4?

You have until July 1st to transition from Universal Analytics to GA4. Here are seven key ways you can prepare for it.
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On July 1, we’ll say goodbye to Google’s Universal Analytics (UA) platform and wave hello to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). If your hotel is using UA to track online traffic, understand consumer behavior, and improve its marketing strategy, this change will have a massive impact on your operations.

But wait — don’t run! The thought of transferring to a new platform might have you breaking a sweat, but you can do plenty of things to ensure a seamless transition. The first thing? Do not delay your migration to GA4. This extension is the perfect opportunity for your hotel to refine its analytics configuration and ensure your year-over-year data is populated correctly.

If you’re an absolute rock star, you’ve already set up your GA4 or are in the process of setting it up (you can’t see us, but we’re applauding you right now). You’ve backed up your UA data and are collecting data on both platforms before UA is officially gone.

But, if you’ve yet to migrate or start the process (don’t be shy — you’re not alone!), there are plenty of things you can do to prepare. Here’s how you can ensure your hotel is ready for the transition.

Start With an Audit

Before you take advantage of all of GA4’s bells and whistles, you’ll want to dig deeper into your UA setup. Though they both fall under Google’s umbrella, Google created GA4 for a reason — and it’s different than UA in a handful of ways. That’s why it’s vital to audit your current UA platform and see what reporting is essential for your hotel so that you can build it out properly in GA4.

Check out how you categorize your data and what your reports look like. Do you want to scrap them? What’s needed, and what can you leave behind? Make a detailed list of what’s coming along for the ride and what you’ll toss in your virtual trash can.

Understand Your Timeline

We wouldn’t be surprised if you read advice stating that your GA4 setup will only take a day or so. Sure, you can do it, but it will take much longer than that for your hotel to actually configure the platform. So, if you want to be ready, map out your timeline.

We recommend planning for a few weeks in total. This way, you can knock it out in smaller pieces and ensure no data is left unturned. Look at your reporting and break down what you want to build first. What’s going to take the most time? What pieces are most essential to your operations? Start there.

You’re also going to want to give yourself a date on when to migrate things by. You might need a little more time if your UA environment is complex. But give yourself one GA4-related task each day, and you’re sure to avoid an “Oh crap we need to do this right now!” situation.

We hate to sound formal (we don’t, usually), and as though we’re reprimanding hotels that haven’t yet started their migration, but proper planning will lead to better execution. When you have your ducks in a row, you can work to rebuild things while still collecting data on both platforms.

Treat It as the Project It Is

As you work on your migration, remember: It’s a project — not a task. Migrating to GA4 isn’t a quick thing you can check off your to-do list (though, wouldn’t that be wonderful?). It’s not something to be set up in an afternoon only to be ignored for months. It will take time to set up correctly, and if you want your hotel to be ready, you need to acknowledge that this project requires your attention (Google is needy like that).

You can turn it on and tie it to your website quickly, sure, but when you look at all of the tags, events, and reporting you need to migrate, you might realize it’s a bit heftier of a project than you once thought — and that’s okay! There’s no need to stress. You can make the transition so long as you give yourself enough time.

Don’t Rely on Google Itself

If you take away one thing from our recommendations, let it be this: Do not let Google auto-migrate for you.

We’re not ashamed to get on our knees and beg. You can’t see us, but we’re doing just that (and it’s a little uncomfortable, honestly). Letting Google auto-migrate might be the “easier” option initially, but you will only end up back on both platforms trying to rebuild things. Your entire analytics environment is massive — and there’s no magic switch that Google provides.

We’d love it if Google knew each hotel’s goals and vision for the future, but they’re just not there yet. It’s not a copy-and-paste project, as every hotel is different — and that’s why Google doesn’t act as a magic switch here. Instead, we recommend finding a migration checklist that makes sense for your brand and using it as you migrate. Work through things piece by piece so you can rest easy knowing your data is secure and well organized.

One Word: Inventory

We won’t lie — we wanted to hop right into our shiny new GA4 environment, too. But before we can dig deep into GA4, we must consider what to do with our stuff in UA. If you’re a hotel looking to prepare for a smooth transition, it’s time to focus on your tags, events, goals, and reports. And you can’t decide what to do with them until you inventory them.

Each piece of your UA is connected. By understanding what’s in there and what you need to take to GA4, you can rest easy knowing you won’t pull a Home Alone and leave one major piece of the puzzle out.

More than just knowing what you need to transfer over, by taking inventory, you’ll also see what’s missing. As a result, you’ll better understand where you need to create new solutions and how you can make your GA4 experience better than your UA experience. We recommend building a spreadsheet of these things as you work on your migration, creating categories such as “keep and migrate” or “get rid of.”

As you make sense of your UA data, you’ll also want to look at your third-party connections. The good news: GA4 works better with other GA products, such as Google Tag Manager, Google Signals, and Google Search Console. Know what you’re connecting into GA4 and why you’re connecting it before you take the time to do so.

Don’t Toss Your Old Data

Let’s look to the future for a second. Your hotel hires a new marketing director, and they say something along the lines of, “Can you pull the data for 2007-2017 reservations, please? I’d love to analyze it.” Only for you to have to answer with something like, “We actually don’t have that data…it was in Universal Analytics, and we didn’t keep it.”  We’re cringing at the thought.

Here’s the thing: Even if you think you won’t need your old UA data, keeping it’s still a smart move. So, consider where you want to store it and what exactly you want to do with it. For example, you might choose to keep it for legal reasons or put it in a place where you could report against it.

You never know when someone will ask for historical data that lived in UA. We don’t want to scare you, but we do want to remind you that securing this data should be on your checklist! You could put it on the cloud or export it — whichever works best for your hotel.

Ask for Help

We understand if you sit down to kick off your GA4 migration and are completely overwhelmed. It’s why the last tip we’ll leave you with is this: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s working with an agency or finding how-to guides that walk you through things step-by-step, plenty of resources are at your disposal. So, take your time, break things down, and know that GA4 will help your hotel better understand its audience and how to market to them.




Steve Krull is the CEO and co-founder of Be Found Online, a digital marketing agency where he and his teams have been helping businesses with online visibility for more than 10 years. BFO specializes in working with clients to drive business and web traffic through time-tested digital marketing tactics. When he’s not working, Steve can be found reading spy novels, rooting for the Chicago Cubs or riding his bicycle.



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