Two weeks ago,
Booking.com launched a new brand marketing campaign in
the United States, designed to showcase the site’s breadth of choices and to encourage consumers to come directly to the site.
Holdings spent $509 million on brand marketing in 2018 - up from $435 million in 2017 - and direct bookings now account for more than 50% of booked room nights on Booking.com.
During the company’s most recent earnings call, CEO Glenn Fogel
says Booking Holdings will boost investment in this area to drive growth and customer acquisition.
“These marketing programs are taking on a greater importance because many of our performance marketing partners are experiencing slower customer
growth,” he says.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
But how exactly does a large, established entity like Booking.com design a campaign to grab consumers’ attention, differentiate its offerings and drive action?
For some insights, we asked
Booking.com’s U.S. regional marketing director, Paul Smailes, to outline his strategy for this new campaign.
- Reposition the Booking.com
brand based on our new global mission.
Booking.com’s global mission is to empower people to experience the world. This is the first U.S. campaign designed to support our global mission to drive greater consistency with other markets but do so
in a locally relevant manner for U.S. travelers.
At Booking.com, we believe that life is made of experiences - nothing should stand in the way
- and this campaign was developed to bring that belief to life. Showcasing all the great experiences that U.S. travelers can have near and far, Booking.com helps to remove those barriers that sometimes get in the way.
- Show how we help people become Bookers.
Most brands focus on the lowest price, which tells the consumer you must shop around to get the lowest price possible. While we believe that giving great prices is critical for our travelers, we want
to stand for more than just that with the overall value we offer.
In addition to inspiring Bookers, it was also important to show U.S. travelers why
Booking.com is the World’s #1 Choice for Booking Accommodations - how we make it easier for people to turn their dreams into reality.
As a part
of this, our goal is to showcase some of key points of differentiation, whether it’s with the over 28 million hotel and rental accommodation listings we offer on one platform or how we make it easier to book without stress because we offer free
cancellation. Or the fact that all of our properties, including homes, apartments and other unique places to stay, offer instant confirmation, which means you don't need to wait for a host’s "approval."
And, yes, we also have great prices
and deals so you don’t need to shop around. Everything we do is in service of helping you take action and go somewhere - anywhere - to experience more of the world around you.
- Drive a strong emotional connection
with existing and prospective customers through key market insights.
Our goal is to connect with consumers in a relevant and emotional way. We found that while 87% of Americans want to use more of their time off to travel more and the number of
vacation days for Americans is actually on the rise, only 47% use their vacation days for travel and only 25% are satisfied with how much they travel for leisure.
So, there’s a big desire to travel, but we aren’t doing it as much as
we’d like. And there are many reasons for this gap: 70% of American workers struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance; we’re replacing real-life experiences with virtual ones; we’re spending too much time scrolling, and not enough time
living. We felt tapping into these insights was an opportunity to connect with consumers in a more relevant and emotional way.
- Celebrate real Bookers and develop a
community of "Do’ers and Go’ers."
In this campaign, we want to celebrate the people who turn their ideas, plans and dreams of a vacation into reality. The people who don’t just talk about where they want to go; they actually book it and go.
campaign is about celebrating real Bookers and the true diversity of American travelers. And also showing our belief that experiencing more of life is achieved not only with overseas trips, but with weekend getaways, visiting amazing different
places within the U.S. or visiting a friend or family member that’s been overdue.
With the campaign, we want to celebrate and inspire more people to be Bookers. Because isn’t it better spending more time experiencing the world rather
than dreaming, talking, scrolling, binging or reading about it?
- A focus on integration.
An important evolution for Booking.com was to integrate the new campaign across all marketing channels. The spots will air
on major broadcast networks across highly rated prime time programs on a diverse range of premium cable networks; however, you’ll also see Be A Booker creative incorporated into paid social (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), display and native, as
well as campaign messaging woven into pay-per-click, email marketing, influencer programs and PR initiatives.
We took integration into consideration when developing the tone, look and feel of the campaign. For us, it was about “flexing”
to be contextually relevant across channels. So, for example, if we are on Instagram or Facebook, we may have a message that tells you “scrollers scroll, or likers like ... Bookers Book. Be A Booker.”
- Execute a data-driven strategy.
is a very data-driven brand. We are constantly experimenting, and our test-and-learn culture allows us to innovate quickly. We run more than 1,000 A/B tests on the site a day, and we bring that experimentation mentality to all parts of the business, including
strategic decisions on marketing priorities.
That said, while we do look at data to inform our decisions, it is a balance in a market like the U.S. where often different strategies are needed for brands to break through. It's
no secret that Booking.com is the expert in performance marketing, but in a market like the U.S., there is power in brand marketing.
a global company, localized market approaches are necessary, and 'Be A Booker' showcase the company's commitment to and investment in important markets to the business.
Booking.com - Ask Your Boss Later