Booking.com: #BookingHeroes / Cloudfactory
Booking.com launched its Booking Hero competition to encourage travellers to share stories on how hosts made their experience unique by going above and beyond expectations. Travellers can share their stories via social media under the #BookingHero hashtag to be in win a chance of winning €25,000, for both themselves and their host, to spend on Booking.com. In addition, two runners up receive €5,000 worth of credits. The initiative kicked off in 2017 and will run again this year.
The brainchild of Amsterdam creative studio Cloudfactory, Booking.com’s latest campaign is made up of three short films which tell the stories of guests’ experience with their Booking Hero hosts - the winners of the brand’s 2017 competition.
We meet a man from Canada who travelled to Scotland with his wife to find out more about where his father grew up. The couple’s host went the extra mile for her guests by helping track down his family’s former residence. Then, there is the younger couple from the Netherlands whose pregnant host kept her homestay open despite being due to give birth in a few days’ time, as she couldn’t bear to turn away the young man who had injured his ankle in a hiking accident. The third spot tells the story of a Belgian bride who travelled to New York for her honeymoon and planned to have photos taken in her wedding dress in Central Park. When her day was ruined by a hairdresser cancellation, one hotel worker went out of her way to buy hair accessories from a local store and help get her ready for her big shoot.
The near 3-minute films document the stories told from both the perspective of both the host and their guests. Part way through the hosts’ interviews being filmed, the guests in question turn up unannounced. The camera perfectly captures the shocked and emotional reactions of the hosts as they are reunited with their former guests, who thank them for making their trips unforgettable. Each of the spots ends with an on-screen message thanking all the staff, from maintenance workers to concierges, who make stays organised through Booking.com possible.
The travel site’s research found that a personal connection is important for many travellers, with 29% saying that accommodation feeling like home is key and 24% suggesting that a welcoming host is a make or break factor during the first 24 hours of their trip. The spots tap into the emotional experiences and relationships formed through travel, a welcome change from travel agent ads that solely focus on the destination. The stories told show how the host-guest relationship can blossom into a true friendship or family-like bond.
The long-form video content will run on social media followed by TV activity. Booking.com’s digital media buying in-house was moved in-house last year.
Booking.com’s chief marketing officer Pepijn Rijvers said of the campaign: ‘These stunning stories are testament to the incredible dedication, commitment and passion that our partners put into creating truly memorable experiences for travellers day in and day out. They beautifully demonstrate that an amazing trip is about more than simply finding the right destination or the perfect accommodation- it’s also about the people you meet along the way which truly make for an unforgettable journey. And that’s what travel is all about.’
So, what’s next for Booking.com? According to a recent interview with Rijvers in Marketing Week, the brand is currently focussing on developing a voice-activated guide. Along with this campaign, this is another way that Booking.com is getting personal with its customers, distinguishing itself from the rest of the market.