Industry Perspectives

Marketing our mobile app to drive more business for partners

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Director of App Marketing Virginie Faggin shares how our app marketing strategy benefits partners

The last two years have been a time of investment and growth for our app. We made big gains in bookings and user engagement on both iOS and Android. I want to dig into our growth trends to show you how this momentum is opening up new partner opportunities. My hope is that you can share in the gains we’re making by adopting an app-first approach where it makes sense for you. 

From a high-level perspective, our investment in the future of our app follows a two-pronged strategy: Drive more app installs and more app engagement. In the past two years, we’ve been able to do both. 

How we’re driving app installs

On the new-user acquisition front, we’ve been focused on both app store optimization and activating advertising campaigns in app stores and across the internet. We ramped up our initiatives two years ago by dedicating a new internal team to focus exclusively on marketing our app, which has allowed us to create rewarding partnerships with distributors in the app ecosystem. 

Additionally, our app is increasingly reaching new consumers as we continue to add flights and tours as part of our migration to the Connected Trip. More choice makes installing our app an even more attractive option. We’ve also recently been encouraging customers to book via our app with campaigns like Back to Travel, which was aimed specifically at app users. Going forward, you may see more campaigns like this that you can use to your advantage.

All of this hard work to drive installations is now paying off. Globally, in Q2 of this year, Booking.com was the number one downloaded OTA app according to a third-party research firm. During the same quarter, we were one of the most downloaded major OTA apps in the US as downloads significantly increased sequentially. 

A rise in app engagement

A typical user doesn’t open a travel planning app every day, but when users need them, they can be very engaged. It’s possible the pandemic increased this engagement, with the uncertain travel environment encouraging many travelers to pivot to mobile so they could have the most up-to-date info about upcoming trips at their fingertips.

We expect engagement to continue as we do things like upgrade the video capabilities of our app. Improvements like this are helping us integrate more useful content into the app, which encourages our users to perform even more—and more effective—research. 

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More bookings for you

These leaps forward can perhaps best be summarized by their effect on the bottom line – more bookings for you. As we reported in our Q2 earnings call, mobile bookings now represent over 60% of our total room nights. 

With such clear success metrics pouring in, now is a good time to think about offering Mobile Rates to differentiate yourself from the competition and capture your share of these bookings. With partners competing for much smaller real estate on smaller screens, these compelling offers with standout visual indicators can make a big difference. When partners implement them, they receive 28% more bookings on average. 

The future? Look to emerging markets 

What does the future hold? I spent a lot of time working in emerging markets like India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Mexico, where many consumers only access the internet from their smartphones. I think user behavior in these emerging markets can be leading indicators for what’s to come in e-commerce. 

During these meetings, I hear from partners across the spectrum, from five-star hotels to youth hostels and home partners. They see a distinct advantage in adopting an app-first mentality and often ask us to develop more mobile-centric offers because they’re highly attuned to the needs of their customers, who overwhelmingly gravitate to app-centric deals.

It’s easy to see why. According to Google, in 2019 there were 360 million internet users in Southeast Asia, with 90% of them connecting to the internet primarily through their phones. During 2020, the region added 40 million new internet users, bringing the total percentage of the region’s population online to 70%. In some ways, this isn’t just an app-first market – it’s practically app-only. Considering this vantage point, it’s easy to see why it’s imperative for partners to optimize for mobile and tap into these emerging markets.  

 

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Takeaway
  • Our app was the number one downloaded OTA app in Q2 globally, as well as one of the most downloaded major OTA app in the US
  • Mobile bookings now represent over 60% of our total room nights
  • In emerging markets, partners are eager to offer mobile rates to reach their customers, many of whom only access the internet from their smartphones