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Priceline has been on a tear this past year, with its stock nearly doubling between January 2013 and January 2014 and booked room nights up 36% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2013.
Much of this growth has been propelled by the strength of Booking.com, which now accounts for the lion's share of Priceline's revenue.
The brand, which was purchased by Priceline in 2005 and continues to operate independently, has traditionally been strongest internationally outside of North America.
The company moved to improve this positioning with a push into America last year, with over 1,000 employees (out of over 4,500) now based around the country.
Accompanying this operational push was a cheeky marketing blast to build brand awareness in the country, dubbed "booking.yeah."
Up next: Canada.
Booking.com is expanding their marketing to bring brand awareness to the Canadian market, which by the company's own survey estimations has a population that enjoys 31 vacation days per year.
The marketing campaign is an extension of the "Booking.yeah" campaign that saw success in America, and actually evolves the brand message to include a more broad swath of customer demographics within their "delight of right" brand position.
The latest video, which is linked above to the left, reveals how the company sees itself addressing a variety of vacation-types - and how confident they are in their unique selling proposition of getting the right accommodation for the right customer at the right price.
Here's what CEO Darren Huston, a Canadian, had to say about his fellow citizens:
Canadians are prolific travelers who take vacations very seriously – they travel longer, farther and spend more than most around the world. Their delight stems from getting the best out of every travel decision they make, which is why I'm so proud that we're launching a big push to really connect with the Canadian market.
I know that Booking.com is a perfect match for the Canadian traveler because, as a company, we are completely caught up in the delight that comes from finding the perfect accommodation, every time. That means understanding what delight means for our customers and consistently delivering on that, all day, all night, from anywhere in the world.
Tnooz spoke with Booking.com's chief marketing officer Paul Hennessy about the expansion of Booking.com into Canada.
Tell me about Booking.com’s Canadian initiatives - such as booking.yeah.
We’re a test and learn kind of organization. We’ve been testing to be sure that this creative resonates not only with the people from the US but also with Canadians.
What we’ve found about the delight of right messaging is that it’s a universal truth: everyone wants their trip to be right, and when it is right everything’s better. So we try to tease out the tensions of the moment so that it resonates well in multiple locations.
Why are you taking the messaging to Canada, and why right now?
I think that Canada overall is not necessarily particularly different for Booking.com in the way we plan or run the business in terms of offline market stimulation.
When we thought about launching our offline marketing in the States in January 2013, we had this “delight of right” message. It’s simply that everything we do is geared around the customer, and that’s manifested itself in the advertising. We had some great success around that advertising in terms of lifting awareness.
In September of last year, we launched in Australia and so the next logical step was into Canada.
The way that we do Canada and the US is to expand the message of Booking.com to Canadians. They are already heavy travelers proud of their travel prowess, and we think that Booking.com is positioned to deliver the value message that Canadians prefer.
We help Canadians find accommodations they are looking for and the mission is to make sure that they are delighted in that process.
This is another step in our continued rollout to reveal the best kept secret in travel.
We often hear of "surprise and delight" in hospitality, almost to the point where it's become meaningless. Yet the “delight of right" iterates on that to suggest the whole point of hospitality is to delight by getting it right. What does this messaging mean for Booking.com?
The business is truly unique in the way that we operate globally. The entire employee base is dedicated to getting it right for customers.
Whether that’s adding properties to our diverse accommodations, whether it’s our content team that’s translating into 41 languages or our customer service that’s 365 days a year, 24/7, also in 41 languages...everything we do is geared around getting it right for customers, which is what got us the 2012 JD Power award.
It’s that essence of getting it right for customers that we wanted to make sure came through in the advertising.
When we were building our marketing campaign, we wanted to make sure that we understood the customer and that they saw themselves in the advertising.
It all comes down to the moment of the door opening, of staying at the accommodation and when you get that right the feeling is delightful. Customers can experience that unbridled joy - thats the delight of right.
The real insight here, in the US or around the world, is that holiday time is precious. People have a lot of choices and limited time off - so getting it right is completely paramount to everyone. You may not get another shot at this for another year - so it’s gotta be right. It’s a high pressure situation.
The delight side of it is that when we do get it right, everything else is better. It’s the simple commitment to the moment when the customer opens that door.
What are your objectives in Canada - do you have specific metrics of success that you’re tracking?
Without giving away the playbook, we’ll look for performance of Canadians and their travels outside of Canada. We’ll use the normal brand metrics as far as awareness and how the marketing is performing by market to see how we’re resonating.
What marketing initiatives will you be pursuing in Canada this year?
The launch campaign, or Chapter 1, was introducing the brand and showing the customers that we understand them and that there are moments of tension and delight when booking through Booking.com.
The marketing and insight into the customer has to go even further, so the latest round of creative is even deeper.
Everyone’s delight is different - we all have different types of things that get us excited in accommodation, and Booking is uniquely positioned because we have the most diversity and we deliver that delight of right in so many ways.
The other insight is that the accommodation truly makes or breaks the trip. No one says they had the best cab ride ever - we truly believe that the accommodation is everything, it's what makes your family happy, it's what makes your partner happy.
So when we put that together with the delight of right we are at the heart of what a customer wants from their holiday or business trip.
We’ll see continued manifestations of different types of customers and the power that the accommodation can have for these customers.
Our “destination finder” is up next: we’re continuing to be a great place to search. We’re capturing data from millions of customers about what makes a destination special.
Customers are providing feedback about what makes a destination great, so that future guests get the benefit of crowd-sourced data. We’re moving up the funnel, and it allows customers to truly get what they are looking for.
How does mobile factor into the marketing?
We’ve got broad-based mobile products on iOS, Android, Windows 8, etc. Our mission is clear: we want all customer segments to have a seamless connection whether on mobile, desktop or tablet, and we have tools that allow them to do that.
We’re not driving any promotions to get people to use mobile or anything else. We want the customer to be able to use Booking.com wherever they want to book. It’s really at the customers discretion. We really live and breathe that.
What we’re seeing is a growing adoption of mobile, of people starting on one device and ending on another. There’s no general trend that hasn’t already been disclosed - it’s part of what people do, and they’re using a multi-screen platform to engage with travel and book accommodations.
Tnooz published an interview with Kayak co-founder Paul English, who said: “I think Booking.com is the most killer company in travel. Kayak is my favorite. But Booking deserves credit for being viciously focused on doing whatever it will take to improve conversion rates, to do what it takes to get people a better hotel faster — to the point where site architecture becomes secondary to those priorities.” What do you think about that?
Paul’s probably accurate in his view when talking about the customer centricity: this is true in every aspect.
We’re a data-driven and demand-driven organization - we follow the customer’s behavior and the pockets of demand to try to satisfy those customers with property diversity, property mix, giving them tools and filters to be able to manipulate, offering data about how many rooms are left and how many people are looking at the rooms - this all empowers them to make the right decisions.
Our website is also designed by customers, for customers, with the commitment to delivering the best execution for them.
Whether it's using reviews to help them find the value accommodations they are looking for - I call it real, relevant and recent. Each review is verified and classified according to different types of travelers, like families and solo travelers. They can then sort and find whats the most meaningful to them before booking the property.
This is a data and market driven hand-off between marketing and the front-end. The front-end isn’t doing anything other than sensing what the customer is looking for and giving it to them.
We’re completely focused on delivering for that customer - that’s what got us into the 41 languages. We understand that when a customer is traveling in a foreign country and they have a bump in the road, they want to be able to talk to someone in their language.
It's not just about the website, it's not just the marketing, it's the end-to-end customer experience that we think is completely unique and different. And why we’ve done over 1 billion nights and counting, with 1 million customers staying in our hotels each night.