OTAs With No CTAs & Persuasive Messages: How Would They Look Like?


This is a little game I just played. But the results made me smile a bit.

Essentially, I wanted to see how a typical OTA site would look like, if any call-to-actions, sense-of-urgency, sense-of-scarcity and persuasive messages were banned.

For my little game, I chose Booking as my lab-rat 🙂


2 main things that deserve to be showcased and highlighted as much as possible: Booking.basic and Genius, which both trigger special discounts, rates, conditions.

In order to remove all those CTAs and Persuasive Messages, you’d need to know how to play around with HTML & CSS stuff. Nevertheless, what follows is the exact same screen:


There are 2 reasons why I just did this:

  1. OTAs are not who they are simply because they have money, budgets and are politically established. They are the giants they are because they know what Usability is, what UX-Writing is, what NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is. And most importantly, they know how to make use of all this. Whether we like it or not, this is what works. I wrote a series about this topics, check it out here.
  1. Can I ask you a favor? Take a look at your own booking engine, make a simple search and tell me whether your rooms&rates booking step looks more like the first or the second screen. Not necessarily from a look&feel perspective, but also in terms of content, descriptions and tone of the communication.

Just to mention few of the differences between the screens above:

  1. Plain text in BLACK, but CTAs and persuasive messages in different colors. For example, the first price € 370 in orange, to indicate that this is the one with the greatest value.
    In the second screen, everything is black, meaning more difficult for the users to differentiate what says what.
  1. The Breakfast is not merely included or excluded. It’s a GOOD breakfast and, if excluded, I already know what it costs, without having to click somewhere else and open a new window or popup.
  1. I’ll Reserve vs. Book Now: what’s the difference? Well, the question is, why B.com goes for I’ll Reserve? This is purely NLP stuff and even though B.com was not aware of it, they ran hundreds of A/B testings which likely resulted in I’ll Reserve being more engaging. So, the next question is, Why don’t we all do the same?
  1. The bullet points under I’ll Reserve: even though they might sound as ‘not necessary stuff’, they add value to the overall experience. For the users, it’s like having a virtual assistant sitting next to them, guiding and reassuring them that the booking process is easy, fast and painless.

Overall, notice how the communication in the second screen is way more cold, anonymous, static and less engaging.

There are great booking engines that actually DO pay attention to these tiny details. Others, unfortunately, don’t.

How’s yours? Does you IBE allow you to apply those usability changes on your own via extranet/backoffice? Can your provider do the changes on your behalf? If you don’t or can’t have anything, can you ask your provider to put their efforts into developing such features?

If the answer to all these questions is NO, well… I guess you get my point.