After Amazon and Alibaba, the third largest e-commerce site is Booking.com. This was Booking.com CEO and Co-founder Gillian Tans' opening line at Web Summit, one of the world's largest technology conferences hosted in Lisbon, Portugal from November 7-10.
1. It's all about spontaneity
When are people booking? This was one of Lara O'Reilly's key questions to Tans at Web Summit. Tans explained that it's not just a question of advance or last-minute bookings – it's more about spontaneity.
This is especially relevant for accommodation bookings, but also for tours and activities. Your customers might want to book a trip two months in advance so their planning is done, or they might be looking for a "book now" button on your website two hours before departure. You need to be ready for both.
You've guessed it, the best way to do this is with a booking solution like TrekkSoft that's optimized for online, mobile, point-of-sale and agent sales. TrekkSoft also lets you respond to the particular spontaneity of accommodation bookings with its new Accommodation Feature, letting you sell both activities and room bookings on your website.
2. People are still travelling into Britain
Are you a tour or activity provider based in the UK? Tans emphasised that Brexit hasn't affected travel behaviour as far as they can see at Booking.com. But, as we outlined in our article after the EU referendum, travel still seems less predictable for British travellers booking trips abroad.
As is always the case in tourism, the best you can do is to create a balanced distribution network and never rely on any one source of bookings.
3. You need to stay one step ahead
Tans explained how Booking.com is venturing into bots and artificial intelligence to try and stay one step ahead of traveller intent. Now, that all seems pretty advanced. And it is! Booking.com currently have 1 million properties and 24 million bookable properties on the platform, so it's fair to say they can afford to innovate. But you can still get back to the very basics and stay attuned with travel trends.
Look around and ask what you're noticing in your destination. What market are you seeing more of? Is your company adapting to these changes? What can you learn from what other local suppliers are getting right or wrong?
Our Tourism Trend Report 2016 can help you stay up-to-date with travel trends and booking behaviour. Have you got your copy?
4. Here's how Booking.com get more bookings...
According to Tans, Booking.com carry out thousands of A/B tests a day – or small tweaks to the colours, content, and layouts used on their website. This is another big budget activity, but there's no reason you can't do one or two small-scale A/B tests of your own.
How about adding a full-width image or video of your tours to your homepage? Or switching up the text on your call-to-action or "book now" button? Test out a few changes and see how it affects your booking conversion rates.
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Written by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy is Head of Content Marketing at TrekkSoft. She tries to read a book a week, travel solo every month, and share ideas on lucyfuggle.com. You can usually find her in Switzerland's Berner Oberland.