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A case study on the world's leading Online Travel Agency (OTA),, a digital brand which succeeds in maintaining leadership through adapting its strategy to the market and competition, using personalisation, mobile focus, brand building, segmentation, service and UX, loyalty plans and collaborations with its partners

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    Your message goes here Best in Class Case Study

  1. 1. Best in Class Case Study Ruth Lewin Chen | November 2016
  2. 2. Introduction • The purpose of this presentation is to review, the world’s leading brand for booking accommodations. • is an OTA (Online Travel Agency). • We chose to focus on as a case study due to its leading position in the global OTA market. • Each day, over 1,100,000 room nights are reserved on, twice as many as its next biggest competitor, Expedia. • As presented here, is focusing on mobile and hyper-personalization, therefore it is interesting to understand the strategies it is using in order to increase the number of reservations made on the website.
  3. 3. Overview • B.V., part of the Priceline Group, owns and operates, the world leader in booking accommodations online.. • In the second quarter of 2015, accounted for around 85 percent of Priceline Group's $2.28 billion in revenues. • Gillian Tans is the company’s CEO since April 2016. • Established in 1996, is available in more than 40 languages, and offers 1,035,000 active properties in 227 countries and territories. • B.V. is based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and is supported internationally by 184 offices in over 70 countries around the world. • The reservation service is free.
  4. 4. Analyzing the Success of • Website UX – emphasis on smooth experience, with a focus on personalization. Offering complementary services conveniently, providing a one-stop-shop. • The significance of brand awareness – most of the’s traffic is led by direct traffic, a result of high brand awareness. The company is investing in brand awareness via digital and traditional marketing, localizing its messages and media channels on its key markets, and creating collaborations. In addition, the company invests heavily in content marketing through a variety of digital assets and social media. • Mobile emphasis – the company is responding to the shift towards mobile with apps and tools, aimed at leisure and business travelers, as well as partners. • Loyalty programs – the company is responding to the competition with a loyalty program, including a collaboration with payment cards companies. • Segmentation – creating services that are specific to segments and answering unmet needs, such as business travelers. • Offering added value for partners / customers – the company leverages its vast amount of data, to offer unique services for partners, including, data analysis and management tools. The company’s consumer-focus leads to collaboration with competitors – such as TripAdvisor and travel agencies.
  5. 5. Background: Website & Statistics
  6. 6. Website | Homepage homepage
  7. 7. Website | Homepage Filters help the customers save time when choosing their stay A meter on top tells you if the destination is a top choice with fellow travelers on your selected dates
  8. 8. Website | Booking The booking process: after customers choose a property, they are offered available room types
  9. 9. Website | Booking They are then directed to “enter your details page” including accommodation preferences and special requests
  10. 10. Website | Booking In order to complete the booking, customers are asked to finalize the reservation. They are then sent an email with the booking details.
  11. 11. Website | Personalization • The website offers a personal zone through which users can choose their preferences which are then saved for future reservations.
  12. 12. Website | Personalization • Under the “Trips for a Lifetime” section, the website offers a personalized trip according to interests and preferred locations.
  13. 13. Statistics • According to SimilarWeb, in the 6 months between May-October 2016,’s website experienced between 271-427 million visitors per month, through both desktop and mobile, with July and August being the peak months. • Average visit duration for this period was 8:18 minutes. • The US is leading the website’s traffic on desktop, followed by the UK, Russia and Germany, not far behind.
  14. 14. Statistics • According to SimilarWeb, direct traffic is the leading source of visitors to the site, suggesting that brand awareness in the mind of travelers is very high. • 19.40% of’s website traffic on October 2016 was from referrals, significantly led by Trivago, while only 1.44% of traffic was from social media, mostly from Facebook.
  15. 15. Competitive Strategy
  16. 16. Mobile | App Mobile plays a significant part in’s strategy, with the travelers’ ongoing shift to Mobile. The app, for both iOS and Android, allows users to use their booking information and search the site through their mobile.
  17. 17. Mobile | Booking Experiences Tool • On July 2016, launched the Booking Experiences tool, claimed to “allow travelers to discover the best a destination has to offer, all through a mobile device”. • Booking Experiences is managed entirely within the app. • According to the company, the app will ultimately harness Artificial Intelligence technology to predict individual traveler intent and create a personalized in-destination experience on demand. • Once travelers have booked a stay in one of the first cities to offer Booking Experiences, via a single QR code in the app a traveler can get instant booking access to all of the participating venues and attractions in that destination, eliminating the need to book in advance or wait in lines to buy tickets.
  18. 18. Mobile | Booking Messages Interface • On May 2016, launched Booking Messages interface, a chat-inspired communication platform that enables customers and accommodation providers to connect with each other from the moment a booking is made. • The Booking Messages interface features automatically pre-translated templates for certain predefined requests, including arranging check-in and check-out times, as well as questions about parking and bed preferences—all in real-time and with a familiar, chat-like interface. • According to, “75% of our customers prefer self-service options to take care of simple requests”, the interface allows them to customize and manage their trips conveniently.
  19. 19. Mobile | Booking Now App • In January 2015, launched the Booking Now app, claimed to be “the first truly global app for spontaneous bookers”. • The app has been positioned as a way to serve guests who are looking for hotel stays within 48 hours or less. • However, the company axed the app after 20 months in service. • says despite last- minute demand still being on the rise, such requirements are “best met through our regular app”.
  20. 20. Strategy | Complimentary Services • website offers links to complimentary services, including car rentals, flights booking, restaurant reservations, villas and vacation homes rental. • The services are either provided by or by other companies which are part of the Priceline Group, such as Kayak (flights booking) and OpenTable (restaurants reservations).
  21. 21. Strategy | Complimentary Services • Through, offers vacation homes, apartments, villas and more. • reported a growing interest in non-traditional rentals.
  22. 22. Strategy | Complimentary Services
  23. 23. Strategy | Complimentary Services OpenTable for restaurants reservations, also a part of the Priceline Group
  24. 24. Strategy | Professional Services offers travel agents to use its platform, claimed to provide a all-in-one product
  25. 25. Strategy | Professional Services • launched for Business platform in 2015 to service unmanaged business travelers (travelers whose companies don’t have a formal travel policy). The company said that 1 in 5 bookings on the website is for business travel. • The for Business allows travel managers and assistants to book on behalf of others. Travelers are also given exclusive access to special deals and complimentary extras at select properties.
  26. 26. Strategy | Professional Services
  27. 27. Strategy | Professional Services • offers Pulse application for property partners. • The app allows property managers to stay up-to-date on arrivals, departures, new bookings, cancellations, modifications, and reviews. • In addition, managers can interact with their guests, through a live chat platform, and more. • The app is available for both iOS and Android.
  28. 28. Strategy | Professional Services • Property owners can add the Booking Button to enhance their property website. • The button links their website to the reservation engine and displays their availability for them.
  29. 29. Strategy | Professional Services • In June 2016, launched two free, on-demand, data-driven products to its accommodation partners worldwide. • The tools, Analytics and the Opportunity Centre provide actionable data and advice delivered in real time, powered by a customizable dashboard. • According to, “our partners are hungry for more data and actionable insights to help them increase the revenue they make via our platform. These new tools provide our busy partners with access to relevant data and advice when it’s convenient for them”. It’s all about hyper-customised content delivered in real-time so our partners can take their businesses to the next level.” • The Analytics dashboard currently features four main reports, including two sales performance reports. • The Opportunity Centre allows partners to select the most relevant options for their property, and instantly implement them to enhance their listing and grow their business through
  30. 30. Strategy | Professional Services
  31. 31. Strategy | Professional Services
  32. 32. Competition | Expedia • experiences competition from other online-operated accommodation booking companies, such as Expedia Inc., TripAdvisor and others. • Expedia Inc., for example, is a major competitor which in compare to - offers a more well- rounded assortment of products, including a much bigger airline-tickets business, cruises and tours and activities. • As of 2015, in the US, Expedia has an estimated 75% market share, after acquiring both Travelocity and Orbitz. Priceline's businesses -- Booking and the original Priceline, which sells discounted travel packages -- have around 20 percent.
  33. 33. Competition | Direct Booking • Another type of competition experienced by comes from direct bookings. • According to’s CEO, Gillian Tans, there will always be direct bookings, in cases in which customers often stay at a specific property. However, “most of the customers on are booking a property for the first time and that’s a different type of customer”. A TV ad by Hilton under the name “Stop Clicking Around”, encourages viewers to book directly through Hilton, promising the lowest prices available.
  34. 34. Competition | Joining Forces with TripAdvisor • participates in TripAdvisor Instant Booking, a platform for a more direct booking between customers and their potential hosts. • In many of TripAdvisor Instant Booking listings, appears as TripAdvisor’s booking partner on the TripAdvisor site. • handled the bookings on TripAdvisor for hotel chains that have not agreed to participate in TripAdvisor Instant Booking or haven’t implemented it yet.
  35. 35. Marketing Strategy
  36. 36. Marketing Strategy • The company focuses on the value the brings to its consumers, which is typically based on pricing, room selection, and an easy-to-use product. • In relation to online marketing, is investing efforts in performance advertising – targeting consumers who are using search engines in order to find customers at the moment that they have a very clear intent. • In recent years, the company is increasingly focusing on a more upper- funnel (initial intrigue, raising brand awareness, increasingly through TV ads) or mid-funnel communication (designed to engage and educate prospects who already have some familiarity with the brand). • makes a big portion of Priceline group’ marketing budget ($2.8 billion in 2015 in online advertising, $3.36 in total in 2015), specific numbers are not disclosed. • 3 Core Markets are: USA, Japan, China
  37. 37. Marketing Strategy | Advertising • The company localizes its campaigns in certain markets. For example: China is a market that warrants specific Chinese creative and a specific Chinese approach. • In Brazil, the company localized its global work, for example by featuring in sitcoms in the country, a popular format also to do product introductions. • Everywhere else in the world, the company is mostly marketing using a global approach. • In 2013, the USA became’s largest destination country. In order to attract more American customers, the company started using traditional advertising in the USA. • In the USA, is a challenger brand. Expedia is leading the market, while is relatively new to the category in the country. In the USA, launched in 2016 a TV campaign, featuring an engaged couple of comedians who are struggling to find accommodations for their special day. Watch ads on’s YouTube channel.
  38. 38. Marketing Strategy | Advertising On January 2016, has launched a new campaign, entitled ‘Best 2016 Ever’, that aims to encourage people to turn their New Year’s resolutions into reservations. The idea is that everyone should make reservations not resolutions, in order to actually live their dreams. The campaign supported a new tool, the Resolution Translator, a mobile-first interactive service that translates tedious resolutions into affirming travel-based goals. The personalized result is then shareable across social media. The campaign also includes a 30-second movie-style trailer TVC that depicts the epic travel possibilities 2016 holds, along with online and social executions.
  39. 39. Marketing Strategy | Advertising In 2015, launched the “Booking Right” campaign, an integrated campaign which attempts to show how a perfectly chosen accommodation can make anyone feel like a Booking Hero. The campaign uses film, digital, social media, print and out of home activations and is based on real stories and insights from customer reviews. The campaign includes five contextual online films that match user Google key word searches with a world of possible stays. The campaign was launched in the USA, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and Germany.
  40. 40. Marketing Strategy | Loyalty • launched a loyalty program for business travelers on October 2016. • The program, Travel Rewards, offers 10 percent discounts on select hotels and other perks. • When you book a hotel on, the site asks whether the prospective booking is for leisure or business travel, and if you select the latter and go ahead with the booking, an invitation for a free upgrade to for Business arrives by email. • Five bookings bring access to “exclusive discounts and travel perks for future trips,” the rewards program states. • Travel Rewards members who achieve at least five bookings earn the “Genius” label, and get access to the program’s separate customer service phone line. Other perks include “late checkout priority exclusively” for Geniuses, and, at select properties, freebies such as welcome drinks and free airport shuttles.
  41. 41. Marketing Strategy | Loyalty • partnered with two banks to launch a branded credit card, in order to target international travelers. • The credit cards, offered by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) and China Merchant bank, offer discounts, cash back, airport lounge access and other benefits to travelers who book their tour using • Customers of ADIB who sign up for either of the two branded credit cards offered, will automatically be upgraded to Genius status which gives them access to additional preferential rates and discounts on’s offering.
  42. 42. Social Media • Social media is perceived by’s Chief Marketing Officer as channels used to engage with customers more on an inspirational level, since social media is inherently content-driven. • For example, much of the conversation today on Facebook is about travel, and much on Instagram is about travel, as consumers are craving for sharing travel experiences or discussing travel in social channels. aims to add value to these conversations. In 2015, invited consumers through social media to submit pics of their summer adventures, then turning its favorites into animated GIFs.
  43. 43. Social Media | Facebook • The Facebook page mainly offers pictures that link to hotels and locations on the website.
  44. 44. Social Media | Twitter on Twitter
  45. 45. Social Media | YouTube The YouTube Channel features links to local YouTube channels
  46. 46. Social Media | Google+ on Google+
  47. 47. Social Media | Instagram on Instagram
  48. 48. Social Media | Instagram
  49. 49. Social Media | Instagram
  50. 50. Social Media | Pinterest on Pinterest
  51. 51. Social Media | Pinterest
  52. 52. Summary: Success Drivers for Website UX Building brand awareness Mobile focus Loyalty programs Segmentation Offering added value for partners / customers
  53. 53. Thank You! The research was conducted by: Ruth Lewin-Chen Schieber Research | Market Research & Competitive Intelligence | More articles and researches on Carmelon Digital Marketing website: