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Booking.com’s Vice President of Brand on driving US growth in 2023

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Natalie Wills, Vice President of Brand at Booking.com, shares how we’re accelerating growth and top-of-mind awareness in the US through our brand marketing investments – and what that means for you

Brand marketing has always been a key ingredient for business, but it’s become even more important in recent years. Customers today have more options than ever, so creating a strong brand that stands out is crucial for driving demand.  

Stepping into my role at Booking.com, it was exciting to see how passionate the business is about building a brand that truly encapsulates its mission of making it easier for everyone to experience the world.

But building a truly visible brand takes time, consistency, and investment. 

Driving growth in the US 

Last year, we relaunched our Booking.yeah campaign, featuring Idris Elba, with our first ever ad at the big game. The year-long campaign contributed to accelerated brand growth and awareness, evident by Booking.com being the most downloaded online travel platform app in the US—and globally—in 2022. 

Following this success, we were excited to have a presence at this year’s big game once again to further propel our US growth. Becoming synonymous with local culture is a key part of our US brand strategy, and the big game is an extremely iconic cultural moment. It’s also one of the most-watched television events in the US, with over 112 million people tuning in last year – up 14% from the year before. This made it the perfect moment to tap into an engaged audience of US bookers, and to encourage them to discover your properties. 

February also tends to be a key month as US travelers start planning their vacations. Our research reveals that the majority (73%) of Americans are overwhelmingly optimistic about traveling in 2023. This gave us the opportunity to increase brand awareness among high-intent customers, with the aim of driving significant demand for you. 

Introducing our 2023 brand campaign 

Knowing that Booking.yeah resonates so well, I was excited to evolve the campaign with a brand new concept this year. Featuring American actress and producer Melissa McCarthy, our new campaign is built on the idea of anticipatory joy, showcasing how booking a trip is half the fun. Check out the video below – apologies in advance if you can’t stop humming “Somewhere, Anywhere” after watching!

One thing we’ve seen resonate well in our advertising is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously as a brand. Though we do take our business seriously. While the tone of the ad is comedic, joyful, and fun, it also inspires confidence that we help travelers get their bookings done right – whether they’re for a vacation rental, hotel, car, or flight. 

In the past, we treated the Booking.yeah feeling as a single moment in time – the moment you arrive to your accommodation and realize you got the booking right. But we realize that while we’re making travel easier, our partners are the ones who make it unforgettable by delivering exceptional stay experiences. This year, we’re bringing our advertising back to our product and focusing on what we can truly deliver on – an easy, reliable, and fun booking experience. 

The main message we want to resonate with Americans is that the best and easiest place to book a stay in the US—and find the widest selection of accommodations—is through Booking.com. 

Maintaining momentum throughout spring 

We understand that it will take more than one ad to move the needle, which is why we’ll continue to maintain momentum after the big game. To drive year-long demand for you, we’ll continue to push campaign communications throughout spring while dialing up different offerings and features, such as vacation rentals and verified reviews.

To continue building domestic relevance among US travelers, we’ll also have dedicated messaging around domestic accommodations – highlighting our US-based partners and the wide variety of properties they offer to customers. 

Taking a multi-channel approach, the messaging will be amplified across a range of paid, owned, and earned marketing channels to further increase brand exposure and engagement.

Building a loved travel brand

Brand marketing gives us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. That’s not only important for attracting more customers, but also for retaining them. If someone loves a brand, they’re more likely to stay loyal to it. 

But brand marketing doesn’t stand alone. It works closely with all the various areas of the business—from performance marketing to demand partnerships—that have proven to be successful in converting high-intent travelers. 

The key difference with brand marketing is its focus on low-intent travelers, who may not be ready to book a vacation right this second. For this audience, brand marketing is incredibly important in increasing awareness so when they do move into that high-intent space, our platform and your accommodations are top of mind. 

Ultimately, investing in our brand marketing helps generate a constant flow of demand for you. This is important because as much as we want to be a brand travelers love, we also want to be a brand you’re proud to be associated with.

 

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Discover more

In addition to our “big game” commercial, check out the extended musical version of Melissa McCarthy in “Somewhere, Anywhere.”

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Takeaway
  • We’re committed to continued growth in the US, and have already seen a significant increase in brand awareness 
  • Working with various areas of the business, brand marketing helps generate a constant flow of demand for you and ensures your properties remain top of mind for travelers year-round
  • Our new creative for Booking.yeah features American actress and producer Melissa McCarthy. It aims to showcase how booking a trip is half the fun, while also highlighting how we offer travelers a wide selection and make it easy for them to book their stays
  • This year, we once again had a presence at the big game. This gave us an opportunity to further tap into an engaged audience of US customers, encouraging them to discover your properties