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Conversion optimization techniques Booking.com uses

Booking.com Conversion Optimization Techniques. What hotels can learn from it?

This is the last post in this series – let’s summarize what we saw and what will be the main takeaway from the analysis of conversion optimization techniques Booking.com.

Previous posts about tricks Booking.com use to increase conversion:

Summing Up: Booking.com is an A/B testing organization

In short, Booking.com successfully built a culture of experimenting, by creating in their own words “teams … made for testing”. For this reason, the team runs 1000 experiments and has an endless number of website versions online simultaneously.

Hotels can’t fully copy this approach, but the can follow some basic principles:

    • Test small. That means small measurable incremental tests and involves small investments and small risks. 
    • Use customer research and data as a foundation. That should lead your website development. Analyze the website performance and talk to the guests.
    • Include all employees to suggest hypotheses to test and to improve. The reservation team might bring valuable input about guest booking patterns and online booking failed and the guest had to connect with the hotel team member. 
    • Be ready to fail. The failure rate in A/B testing is high. The industry average is 75%, but booking.com claims that  9 out of 10 tests have no impact or negative impact on conversion. 

After all, to get better results we all should learn from the best of the best. No doubt, Booking.com is a conversion genius and the best example in the travel market. Hence with insights from Booking.com hotels can adapt their online sales strategy and make a push towards direct sales.

Examples of badges. messages, page elements - booking.com conversion optimization techniques to improve reservation rate

Take outs for hotels from Booking.com and tools to increase the conversion

It is important to keep in mind that Booking.com’s efforts are focused on getting a reservation from the guest via the platform, not to get a booking for a specific hotel. Although, tricks mentioned in other posts can be used by hoteliers to encourage booking on a hotel website.

Here are some conversion rules:
    • Make the reservation process as easy as possible and remove all friction. For instance, designing an ideal funnel and choosing the most functional and easy booking engine is the best thing hotels can do to improve the conversion.
    • Make sure your booking engine provider is open for external integrations. Thus will give you the flexibility to try new conversion optimization tools and add-ons.
    • Personalize visitor’s booking journey. 
      • The CRO tool that can help – SMASH. Smart messages with personalized offers work as individual marketing campaigns that address guest’s needs. 
    • Create a Loyalty Program and advertise it heavily. 
      • CRO tool: Membership Sign-In Widget to advertise benefits of the loyalty program and with the encouraging CTA.  
    • Don’t be modest with the copywriting and description. In most cases, guests won’t have an opportunity to see the room, unless you describe it picturesquely. Surely with the baseline set by Booking.com rooms can’t be only “good” or “comfortable”.
    • Use social proof with reviews widget. 
      • CRO tool: Personalized Reviews widget that shows aggregate feedback from various OTAs and customizes it for each visitor.
    • Highlight the extra value of the direct booking. 
      • CRO tool: Widget with direct booking benefits could be shown at least several times: at the homepage (pop-up), booking engine (room description, Rate comparison widget), and cart abandonment widget and recovery email. 
    • Ensure the best direct offer. In other words, brag about the best prices and best conditions
      • CRO tools: 
        • Rate Comparison widget to highlight the price and perks of direct bookings. 
        • Disparity alerts and OTA control to oversight online distribution channels.
    • Add COVID-19 page with safety and health measures taken and with offers for “new normality” period. Indeed, guests want to have flexible reservation conditions, clear cancellation rules, and an easy modification option.
      • CRO tool: Widget (home page or booking engine) with a special anti-COVID-19 offer
    • Use FOMO – fear of missing out – therefore, create a sense of urgency. 
      • CTR tools: Widgets with countdowns, limited and exclusive offers (page abandonment widget with promo-code). Likewise, SMASH messages with “Only 1 room left” or “10 visitors on a website”.

Conclusion

To sum up, the perfect conversion optimization mix will include design, creativity, and testing. Good converting design, in its turn, is based on a PET rule: persuasion, emotion, trust.

Furthermore, if you want to dive deeper into conversion optimization, check our article about the Most typical conversion mistake hotels make or contact us for professional advice!