Booking.com says mobile app key to US growth: Travel Weekly
As Booking.com continues its inroads into the US market, it is adopting a mobile-first marketing approach, taking advantage of the growing number of hours Americans are spending on their phones.
“The app is a critical platform because it gives us more opportunities to engage directly with travelers,” said Glenn Fogel, CEO of parent company Booking Holdings, during the first quarter earnings call. the OTA. “And ultimately, we see it as the center of our connected travel experience.”
The company’s renewed outreach in the United States began in February with a Super Bowl ad featuring actor Idris Elba.
“Booking.com worldwide is by far the largest online travel agent, but we are the clear challenger in the United States,” senior vice president and chief marketing officer Arjan Dijk said in an interview. “And it’s my mission to make sure we’re not the challenger, but we’re the No. 1.”
Dijk argues that Booking.com is a market leader in many parts of the world due to the choice of products it offers, its prices and its ease of use. These are the three important principles for any e-commerce player, he said.
“The bottom line, really, in the United States is that we think we as a brand have a lot of value to add,” he said, citing the offer she’s making to both inside and outside the United States.
And Booking.com’s app will help extend OTA’s reach to consumers as mobile phone usage continues to grow. Although studies vary, some have estimated that Americans spend up to six hours a day on their cell phones.
In fact, in the first quarter of this year, 40% of total bookings were made through the app, according to Booking.com, and 60% of total nights came from mobile bookings, mostly through the app, which currently has over 100 million monthly active users.
Dijk expects those numbers to grow, with mobile bookings eventually eclipsing desktop bookings (he pointed to Meta, which no longer even reports Facebook usage on the desktop).
“People have three, four, up to seven travel apps on their phone,” Dijk said. “So that means if you want to be seen by consumers, you have to be one of those seven.”
Thus, Booking.com is taking a marketing approach focused on mobile apps, he said. For example, OTA ads often include some sort of reference to the mobile app.
“We are clearly seeing momentum in the US market,” Dijk said. “We’re seeing very strong growth. And you know how that works with TV advertising – we don’t necessarily expect that to translate into bookings immediately, we use different channels for that, but it’s much more increase our notoriety.”
A “contextual experience”
Although Booking.com continues to support desktop bookings, Dijk said he believes the value proposition of using the mobile app will increase in the future. For example, the OTA hopes to offer a “more contextual experience” soon. For example, if a traveler is staying in a hotel in Amsterdam and it’s raining, the app might offer a deal for museum tickets.
This corresponds to Fogel’s vision of connected travel.
“I think there’s a huge opportunity for the travel industry to be more personalized and more contextual, without it being scary,” Dijk said.
Dijk joined Booking.com as chief marketing officer three years ago after 11 years on Google’s leadership team.
Prior to that, he was head of marketing in Europe for Capital One. He started his career at Unilever in the 1990s.