Why is Booking the best OTA?
And what can (and should) we, Hoteliers, learn from them?
To many, this may look like a stupid thing:
Every single user, no matter the selected hotel, gets to have the option to choose “I would like a quiet room“.
Logically, rationally and practically, what the hell does that mean?
That may there be users fool enough to prefer sleeping in the elevator shaft? Or in a room with no walls and doors, because otherwise it would be too quiet and silent?
This is one of the tiny yet endless nuances that make (specifically) BO the best OTA in the market.
Forget about their budgets, how they behaved during this pandemic, how they have been dealing with hotels all over the globe, their financial problems and whatsoever.
And believe me when I say that crediting any OTAs (and usually that is always BO) for something they do well, is a stab in the heart for me. Every. Single. Time.
But when something is so easy, yet so brilliant, I can’t help but admiring.
So why is BO giving this option?
If you think about it, you (hotelier) don’t have the chance to turn this option off/on.
It’s there, for all hotels, even if all your rooms are literally one floor above the loudest techno disco of the world.
And why user should be interested in flagging this option?
Rhetoric + Simple = Perfection.
Because when offered with the option of saying “I would like a quiet room“, the human brain doesn’t question what it would be instead.
Nor does it question how obvious the answer to such a stupid offer would be.
Picturing what the traveller’s internal discussion would be, when seeing this quiet-room option:
[Brain’s no-brainer question to himself]:
Does it bring a tangible advantage? If I flag it, will I get something better or something more?
[Brain’s no-brainer answer to his own question]:
You bet. And it’s FREE. Go for it.
The result: added value out of… nothing. NOTHING!
The magic and power of words. The art of UX- writing BO should be teaching everyone around the globe.
Value for their platform, not your hotel.
Ask yourself a simple question or, for a minute, step into your ideal customer’ shoes and try to book your hotel, first on BO and then through your own booking engine.
Let’s say that everything else leaves you without a clear preference in terms of which platform you should use to perform your booking.
3rd party booking vs. direct booking?
However, now you reach the Guest-Details booking step: it’s time to make a choice, either BO, or the hotel site.
BO offers you the I would like a quiet room choice. Your booking engine: nothing.
Careful, if you go through the booking engine, high risk you end up in the elevator shaft. Play safe boy!
Point being (and I keep saying this every time I can), 95% of our decisions happen in the unconscious.
That’s the power of rhetorical questions in marketing: to drive prospects’ unconscious minds.
Differently put, when we buy (or book) something, very little is in our conscious power.
So is for your customers and prospects.
Unfortunately, people at BO know this, even too well.
BO’s UI and UX are what I consider masterpieces; if there was a museum of digital UI-UX arts, BO would be the main contributor.
Every single pixel in their web pages is a piece of art.
Want another example? I give you 2, of the same kind and without changing the image.
Have you seen that the “I would like a quiet room” is at the bottom of a long screenshot? I could have taken the screenshot like this:
Instead, on top of the same page:
This is orgasmic:
- I selected a rate with breakfast included. So, why is BO reminding me that breakfast is included? More importantly, why doing so with a checkbox that I cannot even untick, and a green banner that says “Included”?
Because “Yes, I’d like breakfast during my stay at no additional cost!”.
Remember the brain’s no-brainer discussion we had before?
- And…. “Oh My GOSH! I can change my booking online! It’s INCLUDED!”
The fact that rationally it is totally obvious being able to change my reservation, the green banner “Included” and check box make the prospect emotionally more inclined to move forward, being perceived as an advantage.
Prospects’ ego is on fire 🔥
This is how at BO they manage to stimulate 3 of out 8 basic human instincts, hardwired into every person:
✅ Freedom from fear, pain and danger;
✅ Comfortable living conditions;
✅ To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses (if I select a quiet room, obviously, some other loser will sleep in the elevator shaft;
TripAdvisor & the Covid-19?
This UI-UX art (it is really an art) I just referred to, is typical of BO.
Other OTAs do something similar, but BO always outperforms anyone else 10-0.
Including EX, who typically prefers to focus their efforts on how to undercut hotel rates, unbeknownst to them.
Here, though, is a similar example CS Ramachandran (worth following, great content and tips almost on a daily basis) discovered on Tripadvisor and shared on LinkedIn.
Same principle as before: asking users to select the obvious (who would stay now in a hotel that didn’t take serious safety measures?), plus it’s contextualised around the most burning topic of these months, the Covid-19.
This is a bit different though, in the sense that the hotels who want to be viewed under this filter, need to actively fill up a checklist in their Tripadvisor management center.
Yet, the final result for the end user is precisely the same.
Long story short, if BO and other OTAs make use of these principles, can we hoteliers do the same with our booking engines?
Theoretically, yes. Practically, tell me, do you know any booking engine provider who has similar features in place?
I’m always very critical when it comes to BEs. And this time wouldn’t be any different.
But, there’s a but. And once in a while I would like to strike a blow for them.
Whilst BO and all other OTAs respond uniquely to what the final customers want, booking engine providers respond uniquely to what hoteliers want.
Let me put it this way: let’s assume you don’t like this quiet-room option of BO: you send an email to your BO’s Account Manager, saying that if they don’t change or get rid of it, you’ll opt-out.
Just thinking about it, you might be laughing already, imagining yourself actually thinking and saying those words to BO, and picturing the obvious and only answer you could get in return, something that varies from “Good Luck” to “Yes but first let’s check if you owe us some commission left behind…”
Now, can you do the same if this feature was in your booking engine? And can you imagine you BE provider answering the same way?
BO has the upper hand. Booking Engines providers haven’t.
I’ve been dealing with them for 15 years. I was one myself, almost 10 years ago, when I first ventured with my own business, offering independent hotels with a CRS solution.
Differently put, BEs’ clients are hotels, not hotels’ guests. To the former only do they respond.
So, unless you we hotelier are to ask them to develop certain features, they are not going to deploy them. No matter what may or may not be useful to attract your guests.
So, just ask…
Very simply, just ask. It may be that after a certain amount of requests of the same type, some of these tiny little UX-oriented features will finally be deployed in your booking engine.