Booking.com is one of the most renowned travel agency and accommodation partners in the world (Booking.com, 2019). The company is headquartered in the Netherlands but owned by the American-based company, Booking Holdings. According to its website, the company is listed in over 220 countries and territories in approximately 145,000 destinations (Booking.com, 2019). Daily statistics retrieved from the website indicate that over 1,550,000 reservations are made through the company per day (Booking.com, 2019).
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Using this data, one can argue that the company is also one of the largest and most trusted online tourism and travel agencies in the world. Although the company has been growing steadily over the years, it has occasionally been faced with a crisis. For example, in 2016, its CEO was accused of having an affair with a junior employee. It is important to note that such scandals have been well managed by the company’s management and board. However, some of their strategies are outdated and this has had a negative impact on the company’s brand and consumer relations.
This essay analyzes booking.com in various ways. The paper will serve as an advisory report to the management and board of the company in order to ensure they interact with their clients effectively. Some of the things that will be analyzed and discussed in this advisory report include the customer journey, business model canvas, search engine optimization, search engine advertising, use of social media, and effective websites. All opinions that will be highlighted through this advisory report will be substantiated with research and other literary works. Recommendations on some of the things the company can do to improve and grow more will be given at the end of the report.
A customer journey relies heavily on existing data that document the behavioral circumstances of a target audience. To fully understand the customer journey, one also has to understand the goals of the shop. The company’s mission statement is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world (Booking.com, 2019). Three SMART goals can be designed from the mission statement. The first goal is to make their website available in 100 different world languages in the next two years.
Currently, the webshop is available in 40 languages (Booking.com, 2019). Indeed, the company will be able to achieve its mission when more people can easily use the website without language barriers. A second SMART goal is to increase the daily usage to 2,000,000 users per day in the next 6 months. As mentioned in the introduction, the company records an average of 1,550,000 per day. The third SMART goal is to increase the number of destinations by 20% in the next two years. All these SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The goals are based on industry projections.
The company can use three customer segments when designing its products. The first segment is made up of young adults aged 18 to 40 who are interested in backpacking traveling. The second segment, which makes up their core target group, is the avid holiday travelers who constantly find places they would like to visit when they are on holiday. Lastly, the third segment is the mobile travels voyaging at the moment mainly due to pressure for change.
The company uses demographic, psychosocial, and even geographical elements to come up with ideal customer segments. Each of the described consumer segments has a potential persona. In the first segment, John Lambert is a 25-year-old male working as a communications assistant in a local IT firm. John is single and earns $38886 annually. He spends 10+ hours online mainly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The second persona is Lily White, a married 37-year-old woman with 3 kids, working as a junior manager at an international telecommunications company. Lily earns $100886 annually and spends approximately 6 hours a day online on Twitter and Facebook. The third persona is Jeffrey Wilson a 40-year-old recently divorced male with two kids. Jeffrey works at the state government and earns $20000 annually.
It is important to point out that whereas the three mentioned personas can have the same micro-moments, they can experience different customer journeys through a difference in touchpoints. One of the personas, for example, John, who is looking to travel the world on a tight budget, will have different touchpoints compared to Lily who has more money. John can be reached through any of the three social media platforms (touchpoint one) where he or she sees his or her friends traveling.
The second touchpoint will be when John goes on Google to search for an agency that offers the best package based on the amount of money he is able to spend. Words such as “affordable” and “backpacking” can be used in such a search. The third touchpoint is when John settles on the booking.com website and goes through their offers. A possible fourth touchpoint is when John books his holiday on the site and prepares to travel. The final touchpoint will be the actual traveling from John’s place to the airport and then to his destination.
Business Model Canvas
Consumer Loyalty: The 8 Cs
Booking.com handles the discussed risks using various approaches. First, in regards to financial risk, the company has secured all its payment options to ensure that clients’ details are not hacked. This has been well communicated on their platforms as well to increase the trust people have when using the company’s payment options. Additionally, the company has several payment check-out options to allow the consumers to go for the one they are most comfortable using. Secondly, the webshop handles the psychological risk by encrypting their consumer data. This makes it difficult for anyone to access and steal personal information that consumers use on the booking.com website.
Oke, Kamolshotiros, Popoola, Ajagbe, and Olujobi (2016) explain that the 8 C’s refer to customization, contact interactivity, cultivation, care, community, choice, convenience, and character. The first C, customization, refers to the ability of the webshop to tailor-make products that are specific to individuals. Consumer segmentation is key in getting customization right (Oke et al., 2016). Contact interactivity describes the actual interaction between the webshop and its consumers.
This interaction is done on either the website or the shop’s social media platforms. Thirdly, cultivation refers to how the webshop provides data and information to its consumers. Oke et al. (2016) also add that it also includes the incentives that webshops give out to consumers to establish loyalty. The fourth C, care, describes the level of attention a webshop pays to all its potential and current consumers’ online interactions. As the name suggests, community, which is the fifth C, refers to a group created by the retailer that brings together current and potential consumers so that they can engage better with the brand. The sixth C stands for choice.
Oke et al. (2016) explain that this C allows the retailer to offer a broad range of products that ensures whatever choice the consumer makes is still within the company’s product line. The seventh C stands for convenience, which highlights the importance of simplicity in websites. It ensures that the webpage is very user-friendly and attracts all types of consumers targeted. The last C stands for character and refers to the reputation a webshop has based on its brand.
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Booking.com has applied all the 8 discussed C’s to increase customer loyalty in several ways. First, in applying the first C, the webshop has ensured that it can be accessed both on mobile phone and computer which makes it easier for consumers to interact with the brand whether they are on their phone or their computer. The second C is catered for through the different adverts that the company posts on digital media. Consumers can clearly see different destinations, prices, and even offers on the landing page of the website. Also, the same is replicated on their social media platforms. It is important to note that the issue of incentives is also catered for in the third C, cultivation. The landing page of the webshop has a pop up that encourages a visitor to sign up and get 50% off their booking.
Booking.com applies the concept of care by engaging with its social media platforms and Google to determine how to best reach its consumers. This ensures that the right people are targeted with the right message based on their browsing history and interests. It is also crucial to point out that the company applies concepts related to the community by creating interactive social media platforms that current and potential consumers can interact in.
The community ensures that all the clients feel like part of a trusting group. In regards to choice, booking.com has ensured that a majority of destinations, flights, and even accommodation can be booked through their sites. This ensures that all their personas have several choices based on their interests at the time of booking. Indeed, a user can easily look at the available destinations and accommodation through the company website and this caters for the seventh C. Lastly, the company has built a positive reputation due to the content on its site. The content is relevant, easy to find, and highly customized based on the user’s needs.
Business Model Canvas
In the business model canvas, under the infrastructure, one has to consider the key activities, resources, and partner network.
The company has several key activities. These include flight booking, hotel accommodation, events and activities booking, taxi, and logistical support. All these activities can be done on the company website and this convenience has ensured profitability.
The company has a diverse human resource that gives 24-hour support. Additionally, their website and social media platforms form the key resources.
Hotels and other accommodation partners, airport authorities, security personnel, and immigration offices are all resourceful partners for booking.com.
The second element of the Business Model Canvas is the Offering. This refers to the products and services offered by the company (Joyce & Paquin, 2016).
The company has recently included self-drive vehicles, yachts, motorcycles, and even bicycles for their consumers. Additionally, they have various discounts that the consumers can enjoy when they book their holiday travels with the webshop.
The customer section of the business model canvas is divided into the customer segments, channels, and customer relationships (Joyce & Paquin, 2016).
The company has divided its customers into 3 main categories. The backpackers, the middle class occasional traveler, and the business traveler. It can be suggested that the customer segment also includes youth/friendship groups, church travelers, and medical tourists.
The company uses its website for direct interaction with consumers. Recently, the company launched a downloadable app that consumers can use as well.
Looking at the social media platforms of the company, one can argue that booking.com is not doing much to create a specific type of relationship with its clients. A majority of the inquiries raised by clients are either not answered or unanswered unprofessionally with no follow-ups. It is critical that the company establish a better way of engaging with its clients online to develop a secure and long-term customer relationship. The company has loyalty programs that have, however, enhanced the webshop’s customer relationships.
This is the last segment of the business model canvas. It consists of the cost structure and the revenue streams.
The company currently has a large marketing and advertising budget (highest cost). There are several other things that enlarge the operating expenses that the company has to consider when implementing its business model. These expenses include human resources, website maintenance, and upkeep, and logistics for partnerships.
Booking.com has two ways of making money from its customer segments. The first is through commissions they get from their service providers for encouraging consumers to visit or stay in their apartments/holiday homes. This is the same revenue stream the company feeds into for discounts and commissions it gets from airlines and taxi companies. Secondly, the consumers pay a small fee for getting booked in a preferred accommodation spot or event. One can argue that the company can gain profit from advertising as well. The company can allow relevant organizations to advertise through their platforms at a fee.
SEO and Effective Landing Pages
Current Status of SEO
It is arguable that the company has focused mainly on on-page SEO and significantly ignored off-page SEO. Much of the webshop’s SEO has focused on HTML, structure, and content. It is important to note that simply because the shop has used on-page SEO does not mean that they do not get good traffic. Currently, the page is among the top search engines with select travel keywords that will be discussed in the keyword analysis section of this paper. Indeed, a review of the current SEO status of booking.com reveals that the company has invested very little in off-page SEO. Thus, link building and social networks have not been explored in regards to search engine optimization.
Lum (2018) explains that one of the reasons this is not advised is the fact that landing pages should mainly have offers that will please the user. Importantly, booking.com’s homepage has pop-ups that notify the user of any offers the company might be running at the time. Indeed, the combination of home- and landing pages seem to work for booking.com. However, a separation of the two will allow the company to optimize its SEO as well.
The ten chosen keywords for booking.com are secure travel, apartment accommodation, tour flight, tour group, tour agency, tour agencies, tour taxis, affordable tour agencies, cheap tour travels, and tour booking agencies. The web shop currently uses some of these keywords for its on-page SEO. These keywords are relevant as they suggest the core business of booking.com. Thus, anyone searching with these keywords will be able to access booking.com’s website. It is arguable that the suggested keywords are highly targeted. This is especially with the backpackers who are looking for affordable accommodation for their tour and travel adventures.
Additionally, the keywords are relevant as they are in both singular and plural format. Murlimanju, Prabhu, Prameela, Pai, and Saralaya (2016) explain that indexing is different for both singular and plural keywords. For example, someone can search for “tour agency” on Google. The first results will highlight pages that use that exact keyword. Lower-ranking websites might have the plural of that same keyword, that is, “tour agencies”.
The optimization process of the suggested keywords is the same. First, thorough research has to be done to understand the keywords that have been used by clients so far to access the website (Lum, 2018). The second step is to create a keyword list highlighting all the possible keywords that the research revealed. Then, one has to group and segment the keywords. In this step, keywords that are similar are grouped together.
For example, one way of segmenting is separating the plural from the singular keywords. Alternatively, one can also put similar keywords that are both singular and plural in one segment. The grouping phase allows one to then check the relevancy of the keywords. The keywords are then listed according to their order of relevance. Relevancy can be determined using the click-through rate (Lum, 2018). The last step in the optimization of the keywords is ensuring that the landing page keywords are associated with the relevant information based on the used keywords.
SEA and Effective Landing Pages
Google Ads Help
One of the things that are interesting on Google Ads Help is smart campaigns. Smart campaigns are highly targeted adverts that seek to reach the maximum number of consumers and have the best possible outcome using the least amount of funds (Murlimanju et al., 2016). One of the reasons why this is an interesting fact is the complexity of consumer segmentation. Indeed, whereas the target market can be divided based on behaviors, demographics, geography, and interests, marketers are still trying to come up with ways of addressing individual needs through individual advertising. Smart campaigns should ideally make this possible without using so much money.
A second interesting thing about Google Ads Help is the ad audiences and search phrases. Murlimanju et al. (2016) confirm that the first way to ensure a webshop attracts the right clients is to develop the right advert. In order to do this, one has to know the targeted audience. The ad audiences can help determine booking.com’s audiences and go further to segment the group. Additionally, the search phrases are important to ensure that the keywords align with what the defined target audience is looking for.
Thirdly, measuring results is an important part of booking.com’s business plan. It is the only way one can tell whether the implemented processes are working or not. Such a realization will then lead to appropriate actions. For example, if the implemented processes are not working, measuring the results will help the company design a different strategy that might work better.
A fourth element that is interesting in Google Ads Help is the billing section. One of the reasons this section is interesting is the fact that it is assumed that advertising that targets a large target audience is expensive. The section highlights how the adverts are charged and proves that digital advertising is affordable. Lastly, the fifth interesting element is google partners. This section is interesting as it highlights how one can partner with Google to learn more about digital advertising.
Current SEA Status and Landing Page
One can argue that booking.com has invested heavily in its search engine advertising (SEA). The first two elements of the digital marketing funnel in regards to the consumer journey can be used to explain the webshop’s current SEA. In regards to ‘see’, the web shop has invested in both social media and influencer marketing to reach its customers. Using the google display network, consumers are targeted when they are not on the web-shops platforms.
The content that is used in the adverts affects the ‘think’ stage. The company has used contextual finding to pair its ads with the right platforms. It is important to note that currently, the company is running a sponsored ad on Google for potential consumers. The ad is easily accessible and leads the client to the company’s landing page. As explained previously, the company uses its home page as its landing page. There are several things that have to be considered when discussing effective landing pages. The first is that it should have a call to action (Seckler, Opwis & Tuch, 2015).
Booking.com’s landing page has a call to action that encourages the users to sign up and get 50% off their first booking. Secondly, an effective landing page should be mobile-friendly considering that a large percentage of users go online using their phones.
Current Social Media Advertising
Booking.com has used social media advertising to reach out to its current and potential clients. One way it has done this is through promoting tweets, images, and posts. As mentioned earlier, the company has a good social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Booking.com has approximately 14 million followers on Facebook, 1.2 million on Instagram, and 160,000 on Twitter.
A visit to the company’s social media platforms reveals what they have been doing in terms of social media advertising. Although the results they have achieved so far are impressive, booking.com still has much to do in order to succeed at social media advertising. One suggestion is the keen follow-up of client’s inquiries. For example, on Facebook, clients inquire about different destinations and rates. Some also give feedback on their experiences. Whereas some of these queries and comments are addressed, a majority are not. Knoll (2016) explains that fast and reliable feedback on client inquiries can greatly improve public perception, which will eventually lead to client loyalty.
Predominantly, content is key when developing social media advertising campaigns. A majority of the content used on all the three social media platforms attached to booking.com is on the different venues clients can visit. Světlík (2017) argues that social media content should be highly visual with images, GIFs, and videos. Booking.com has ensured that each post or tweet has an image. However, one of the reasons the company does not get much interaction on its posts is the fact that it has not embraced the other visual elements. To gain the full benefits of social media advertising, a new idea that can be suggested for social media campaigns is an investment in videos, animations, and GIFs.
Customer Acquisition Campaign
De Vries, Gensler, and Leeflang (2017) define customer acquisition campaigns as a process of attracting new clients to a brand. One can argue that in tours and travel consumer segmentation can never be complete. This means that there are some new clients that are overlooked by the campaigns booking.com has been conducting over the years. For instance, looking at the company’s social media content, it is clear that the backpackers are not a key consumer segment for the company.
However, as mentioned earlier, they are the largest group of people looking to travel. Indeed, since the company has overlooked their needs, the backpackers are one of the largest consumer segments for AirBnB. To attract similar groups that the company has otherwise overlooked, a clear customer acquisition campaign has to be developed. For purposes of the assignment, this suggested campaign will target Twitter. The reason Twitter has been selected as the best channel for the customer acquisition campaign is the fact that it is precise and due to the word count, encourages users to click on links to websites.
The first step in an effective social media customer acquisition campaign is to develop smart goals for the campaign. The goals should also guide the development of the social media plan. It is important that the goals adhere to budget restrictions in order to have a viable plan. An example of a goal that the web shop can have during the campaign is to target 2,000,000 potential clients with paid online advertising during the campaign period.
The second step is to identify the target audience who will see the ads proposed. The company will have to do consumer segmentation and market analysis to get the right target audience. After this, a consumer journey will be developed based on the segmentation that will have been done already. This should make it easier for the web-shop to also develop specific messages for the target audiences. It is critical that the web shop then develop a content calendar that shows the creation and distribution of content during the entire campaign.
There are several necessities that will be needed to make the plan a success. First, it is critical that the company also share user-generated content as part of its campaign. Additionally, the company can consider using social media influencers to reach out to their target audience. The company’s loyal customers can also be turned into brand ambassadors. This will make them feel valued while also be an affordable way of advertising for the company.
Sales Stimulation through Social Media
The four suggested methods to stimulate sales through social media are content marketing or sequenced storytelling, user-generated content (on own websites), influencer marketing, and shoppable ad formats. The first method is the use of content and quality storytelling. This is the most common as it resembles a normal advert. Storytelling highlights the experiences the user can enjoy if they booked their travels with the web shop. It can be coupled with incentives showing how a user got more than they paid for during their visit after booking with the web-shop. To push incentives, the company will need an ad with a call-to-action.
Incentives can include discounts, free merchandise, and even free meals with a loved one. The best channel for this campaign is Instagram. This is due to the fact that the channel allows for both high-quality images of the incentives and also a longer explanation of the value of the incentive offered. This method would also ideally use hashtags as a viable targeting method. One of the reasons why hashtags would work for this campaign is the fact that the images on Instagram search are availed based on the hashtags.
The second method of the campaign is the use of user-generated content. There are various methods the web-shop can use to achieve this including engaging with travel bloggers who use their service and then write about their experiences. Additionally, innovations such as Twitter cafes can be used to highlight user experience, and in turn, generate user content. As the name suggests, these campaigns will be developed for Twitter.
A Twitter café is a discussion held by a representative of the company and the general public. The public gets to give reviews and even ask questions that this representative answers. To ensure all involved participate, all tweets have to use a specific hashtag. A targeting method for this is turning reviews into advertisements. Many people take pictures and videos of places they have visited and post them on Instagram. They also tag relevant people and accounts to get as much reaction as possible (Dwivedi, Kaur & Hsin, 2015). These can act as ads later to show the target audience the company’s services.
The third suggested campaign method is the use of influencers to gain more clients and in turn, promote sales. The best target method for this campaign is the use of short video testimonials of clients that have used booking.com. These testimonials should not be similar. Therefore, the influencers can visit different spots and take videos of their experiences there. This can be best achieved through Twitter as it can easily ensure booking.com is trending in different parts of the world at the same time.
The channel selected is best suited for the campaign as it is highly visual and also allows different people to give different opinions on the services booking.com offers. A plausible target method for this campaign is the use of popular hashtags. This method allows clients who are interested in tours and travel to see the content pushed by the influencers easily.
The fourth option is the shoppable ad formats. This is the most common sales stimulation on social media as it works just like any other advertisement. For instance, the company can design a banner or post detailing an offer they are trying to push. This post can be promoted as an ad for a period of one month. For instance, a campaign on New Year can start on 1st December and run till 27th December. This campaign is best channeled through the company’s Facebook page. One reason why this channel is the best is the fact that it allows for a long explanation of the value of the offer being presented to potential consumers. An ideal targeting method for this is the customization of audiences. This is due to the complex and highly specific customization tool that Facebook uses.
Effective Websites: Usability and Content Marketing
The current booking.com website has a good look and feel. It is very user-friendly as well. Seckler, Opwis, and Tuch (2015) argue that a great website should communicate all a company wants to tell its customer while encouraging the user to browse further into other pages as well. Notably, using storytelling as a way of disseminating information is a creative way of reaching out to both current and potential clients.
For purposes of the assignment, the character of the story will be a young couple looking for affordable accommodation and events to visit in London. This campaign will target people in the US, Africa, and Spain looking to visit London. First, the characters have to be well defined in terms of age and financial stability. In this case, the couple is between 25 and 28 years of age and is in their first workstation after campus.
Although they can afford luxury items, they have to save for at least 6 months to be able to afford a traveling vacation. The story starts with the man asking his girlfriend where she would like to go for a vacation as both have a few leave days from work. The two go to social media to search for an affordable place and see an advert on booking.com. They visit the website and search for affordable air tickets and accommodation in London.
They have a few inquiries about the booking.com offer so they send a message to the company through their Facebook platform. As they wait for the message to be replied to, they go on to Instagram and see beautiful images of the places they would like to visit. Their queries are answered in less than 10 minutes and they book their holiday. The content should go further and explore the couple boarding the plane, getting to their accommodation, and visiting the places they wanted to visit.
Using the suggested content strategy based on storytelling, it can be argued that the best omnichannel approach to use is a combination of web and social media. From the strategy, the couple’s micro-moment was when they realized they could travel as they were both on leave. Using the suggested strategy, the first touchpoint is when they go to their social media pages to search for a destination site they can visit. Through their social media, they visit the website and then go back to a different social media platform to interact with the company. This creates the omnichannel approach, which can grow by introducing other channels such as YouTube.
The following table is a plausible content calendar to accompany the storytelling content strategy described previously.
|1||8:00 am||Video||How To||How to book your holiday travel with us|
|12:00pm||Promotion||Our Destinations||Enjoy the beautiful views of the Maldives from the comfort of this apartment|
|5:30 pm||Blog||Customer Feedback||My stay in London thanks to booking.com|
|8:00 am||Video||Virtual Visits||Visit your dream destination with us right now!|
|12:00pm||Promotion||Our Offers||Check out our discounts as a first-time traveler with booking.com|
|5:30 pm||Blog||Our Destinations||Did you know you can save so much money when traveling for the holidays by doing these 5 simple things?|
|8:00 am||Video||Our Destinations||From China to London, South Africa to North America, here are some of the destinations you can visit with us!|
|12:00pm||Blog||Our Offers||Great offers for you and your family on your next family vacation trip!|
|5:30 pm||Promotion||Customer Feedback||3 things I loved about using booking.com for my vacation needs.|
One thing that can be tested is the visual elements. This is due to the fact that this advisory suggests that the use of more visual aids in booking.com’s social media pages. A suitable method for testing the visual elements is through comparison with content that does not have any visual aids. The result should inform both interest and difference in the behavior of the target user. Indeed, A/B testing will be interesting for booking.com as it is yet to fully embrace the importance of visual aids in attracting new clients.
Principles of Effective Web Shops
The booking.com webshop has a lot of good features. For example, it is highly visual and user-friendly, thus, it attracts visitors. It is easy for users to find exactly what they are looking for on the site as well. However, there are several things that can be improved to ensure the webshop reaches as many potential clients as possible. Using the principles of effective web shops discussed in the Google Digital Workshop, there are three key things that booking.com has to consider to improve its presence online. Secondly, the web page catches attention as it has used different fonts, colors, and imagery to keep the user online. The difference in terms of typography keeps the user interested in the site and this increases chances of contacting or even booking travel with the web page. The site, however, lacks a strong call-to-action that can also be used to attract clients.
Thirdly, booking.com scores moderately in regards to encouraging involvement. Whereas it is true that the landing page has all the information that a user might need, the lack of a strong call-to-action makes the site weak. Additionally, the use of great color palettes will encourage involvement as different color palettes can highlight different call-to-actions. Fourthly, the site is involving and personalizes user experience in various ways. For instance, the use of diverse visual aids will also help the user customize the website to his or her own liking while maintaining their attention on the same. A viable suggestion for this phase is the use of different visual aids to help the users get a virtual visit to the places they would like to tour.
The last element for consideration is making conversion easy. There are several things that can be done to ensure easy conversion. The web-shop should ensure there is easier facilitation of guest check-out. Additionally, the web shop had to ensure that their systems are safe and also communicate this to their consumers. Quality marks and other elements that can make the consumers feel their financial details are safe will enhance the client relationship. It is also important for the company to lower the number of times the clients have to veer off the checkout tab. This will encourage the users to finalize their purchases quickly.
6 Principles of Cialdini
The 6 principles of Cialdini refer to 6 strategies of mastering persuasion and influence. The first principle is reciprocity, which refers to providing services equal to the ones a company/individual wishes to receive (Javier, 2018). Using this principle, it is important for booking.com to establish a reliable way of communicating with clients especially in regards to inquiries and feedback posted on social media platforms. The second principle of Cialdini is consistency (Javier, 2018). The company has been consistent in terms of quality over the last couple of years. Consistency can, however, be improved in regards to search engine optimization to ensure the website and its social media platforms are always at the top of the search results page.
Consensus is the third principle of Cialdini and it refers to attracting like-minded people (Javier, 2018). For example, if the backpackers’ consumer group does not prefer using booking.com, then the company has to ensure that at least one influential backpacker uses their services and gives a positive review. Booking.com has no sign of using social proof to gain more clients but its importance cannot be overstated. Additionally, the fourth principle of influence is similarity or liking (Javier, 2018). Social media platforms are founded on this principle as perceptions change based on how many likes an account, image or video gets. Whereas booking.com has a lot of followers on their website and social media platforms, the number of people who genuinely interact with their posts is small. To improve this, the right content for the target audience has to be uploaded frequently.
The fifth principle of Cialdini is the authority (Javier, 2018). There are several ways booking.com can ascertain authority in the field of tours and travel. First, positive client reviews can ensure that potential clients believe the company is the best in the field. Secondly, having professional customer care services and valuable offers will set the company apart from its competitors. Thus, booking.com should invest in customer care services and a good feedback mechanism from its consumers. The last Cialdini principle of influence is scarcity. Javier (2018) explains that scarcity refers to being rare, thus, valuable. The suggestion here is that booking.com can provide some rare but highly valuable offers to its clients in order to retain loyalty and attract new customers.
Digital Marketing Funnel
Dave (2019) defines the digital marketing funnel as a framework that defines, explains, and follows the different stages a potential consumer goes through in a consumer’s lifecycle. Before the internet, the funnel had four basic elements namely: awareness, deliberation, acquisition, and after-purchase (Světlík, 2017). However, the funnel has changed to see, think, do and care (Visser, Sikkenga & Berry, 2018).
Dave (2019) explains that this phase of the digital marketing funnel addresses the largest group of target audiences with no commercial interest. This is basically the general public and the aim of communicating with them is to ensure they are knowledgeable on the company and the products and services it offers. There are various ways booking.com can communicate with this target group. Halpin (2017) confirms that any mass advertisement will be able to reach this large group.
For example, a promoted advert on social media that targets men and women from the age of 18 all over the world are a plausible campaign under this phase of the digital marketing funnel. If one were to grade this phase based on the activities of booking.com, the company would get 7 out of 10 points. The management has focused on broad advertising to the general public through search engines and also social media. This shows a link between several lecture materials namely SEO, SEA, social media, and effective websites. These core success factors are linked together as they are all promoting the same content.
It is also important to note that the seeing phase does not necessarily need to do an action. The success of this phase can be measured when the target audience described gets the message. Goldberg, Fishbein, and Middlestadt (2018) argue that as long as this large group can identify the company logo and its core business then the phase has been successful. Booking.com can use all the available digital platforms to reach out to as many people as possible with this information.
This phase targets the largest possible audience group that has little commercial intent (Dave, 2019). An example can be given to explain further. An individual with a month off work can start considering different things he or she can do during this restful period. One of the things this individual thinks about is traveling to a certain city and enjoying the scenery. Up to this point, this individual is in the thinking phase of the digital marketing funnel. A key message to such a person is now possible and easy it is for him or her to travel. Such a message can be crafted with other benefits he or she will get if he or she uses booking.com to book the travel.
The best way to reach such a client is through targeted messaging. This should ideally be through social media as opposed to the website. In regards to grading booking.com in its capacity in this phase, one can argue that a 5 out of 10 scores is viable. The average score emanates from the fact that the company does not target this group of people effectively. There is little information on the company’s social media platforms to encourage the user to go to the next phase of the funnel.
The core success factor in this phase is the introduction of the company’s social media platforms and website to the new client. This can be measured using digital analytics that will ideally prove an increase in traffic. The core success factors can be linked to the lecture material as it is mainly done on an effective website and on social media platforms. Additionally, search engine advertising will make the person in this phase access both the social media accounts and the website of booking.com. The linkages are created through the proper distribution of content between social media and the website, proving that the concept is related.
This phase refers to the largest audience with a lot of commercial intent (Van Noort, Willemsen, Kerkhof & Verhoeven, 2015). The individuals in this phase really want to travel and are willing to do what it takes to get to their dream destination. For example, a young couple going for their honeymoon is intent on traveling somewhere they both like. One of the factors that have to be considered for this target group is their lifestyle and their financial stability. When crafting ads for this group, some will have high-end destinations while others will have affordable traveling. It combines both the wealthy and the working middle class who are interested in traveling to different parts of the world.
Booking.com can get an 8 out of 10 scores for its interactions with the target audience in this phase. This is due to the adverse advertising and the call-to-action that is on the company website. It is critical to point out that a majority of the adverts and the call-to-action also target first-time clients and not frequent travelers although the company also has offers for frequent travelers. One can argue that the success factor of this phase is the actual bookings made through the site.
This can be easily measured through the number of people using the site to make their bookings. The success factors are linked to the lecture materials as analytics is part of SEO and SEA. Additionally, the factors are related as an increase in traffic will also ensure an increase in the number of people who know about the company and the number of people thinking to use the company to book their holidays.
The last phase in the funnel refers to current consumers who have more than one transaction with the company (Dave, 2019). Out of 10, booking.com scores 2 points only due to the fact that this group of people has been “abandoned” online. There are no offers for returning consumers or frequent travelers on public platforms. One important process and success factor for this phase is positive reviews of returning clients.
The phase is linked to the course materials as it is part of the 6 principles of Cialdini. Additionally, it is also part of the social media plan as reviews are mainly given on social media platforms. Importantly, the company can introduce better and more public offers for return clients. This will communicate a positive outlook to new clients as they move on to book their next holiday with the company. It is critical to mention that all four phases are related. In order for the company to get loyal clients, the consumers have to go through the entire digital marketing funnel.
Conclusion and Recommendations
There are several recommendations that can be given in this advisory report. The first is the overhaul of the digital content strategy and the creation of a new one. As mentioned earlier, whereas the company has a good social media presence, there is little interaction with clients online. One of the things that come out is the fact that the content posted does not require any sort of interaction.
Much of the content is about the apartments, other accommodations, and the destinations people can visit. However, this type of content does not show any value addition to the client. More importantly, the company has relied on the use of images to pass across its message to the target audience. Whereas the use of images is impressive, booking.com still has to use other visual aids such as videos, animations, and even GIFs to interact with its audience more effectively.
A second recommendation for the company is the design of a different landing page. As stated previously, the company uses its home page as its landing page. This makes the home page crowded with information which in turn becomes overbearing on a user. An effective landing page should have different offers that can attract different people. Alternatively, each advertisement should have its own landing page. This is to ensure that the right information reaches the right person at the appropriate time to facilitate prompt decision-making.
Thirdly, it is recommended that the company develop a search engine advertising budget. This should also include social media searches. As explained previously, none of the company’s social media platforms comes up when a search is done on Google even with the key phrase “booking.com”. The disadvantage of this is that competitors list all their platforms on the first page of the search to increase the chances of a user clicking on their links. A proper search engine advertising budget will also enhance the company’s SEO and social media rankings.
In conclusion, booking.com is one of the renowned tour and travel agencies in the world. With over 1million users every day, the company has to push itself further to reach greater heights. A look into the online marketing strategies provides several suggestions for improvement to ensure the company remains a top leader in the industry. First, the company has to come up with strategic SMART goals based on the company’s mission. One suggested goal is to ensure the website can be translated to at least 100 languages in the next two years. This is an important goal as it will expand the company’s reach to people who do not know the 40 languages the website is currently using. In turn, more people will know about the company and become eventual clients.
Indeed, several recommendations can be made after a thorough review of the company’s website and social media platforms. For instance, the company uses its home page as a landing page. This is discouraged as it makes the home page crowded. Secondly, all booking.com social media platforms should incorporate more visuals. Currently, the company only uses images. Other things that can make it easier for the company to attract clients through their social media platforms include adding more videos, animations, and GIFs. Overall, the company’s social media presence is strong but more can be done to make it stronger and ensure booking.com stays at the top of its peers.
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