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How the Top 5 Booking Sites Compete on Facebook for Users and Likes

Jun 17, 2014 2:00 pm

Skift Take

A picture is worth 1,000 words. A Facebook Album is worth “talking about.” Don’t hesitate, ask your fans to share their prized travel photos, it’s a win-win proposition.

— Joyce Manalo

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Airbnb showcases all its social media accounts and special events.

Booking.com expands the Facebook app experience to include interest-based search.

TripAdvisor hires vendor Offerpop to create contest for travel vouchers.

Hotels.com keeps it simple.

Expedia incentivizes its fans to be more active on Pinterest through sweeps.

During the aughts, third-party booking sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, and Hotwire were the go-to sites for travelers.

With the trio’s dwindling popularity, it is apparent that offering discounted flights, hotels, cars, and vacation packages are no longer enough to compete for consumer’s attention online.

The reality is, today’s traveler has a more holistic approach in organizing their trips. They want information and reviews from real people which allows them to freely make their own association with destinations, activities, and events. On the flip side, online travel agents are expanding their offerings and becoming more like concierge services to better meet their customers’ interests to keep them on their site long enough and often enough to convert.

Priceline’s recent acquisition of OpenTable rekindled the M&A buzz in the online travel booking sector after TripAdvisor’s purchase of Lafourchette last month. Acquisitions like these are strategic plays in customer acquisition, segmentation, and targeted advertising. Priceline and TripAdvisor will be able to better understand their customers’ tendencies in hospitality, destinations, and prices through restaurant search and reservations.

With this in mind, we decided to dive into the top five Booking & Tools sites in terms of Desktop Visits (SimilarWeb), their Facebook Page audience, content effectiveness, and how the brands were further engaging with the travel community through Facebook Apps.

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1. Booking.com had the largest audience online and the second largest on Facebook — behind Hotels.com’s Likes. Its album post on June 6, “Whatever you are into… we’ve got it!” set off the the winning content streak with its audience. Fans responded very well to identifying their personality with a hotel type and subsequently showed high interest in the uploaded photos for another week.

SkiftIQ_Bookingcom_FB_TalkingAbout

2. Airbnb had the least amount of desktop visits but had the most engaging content on Facebook with Booking.com coming in as the second most effective. On May 9 it launched is latest global video campaign and it slowly gained momentum as local versions were released in Australasia and parts of Europe. About two weeks later, it posted its video natively on Facebook and it slowly sparked another climb. There is no doubt that the content effort was planned well and deliberately timed.

SkiftIQ_Airbnb_FB_TalkingAbout

3. TripAdvisor showcased its fans’ photos by way of a Facebook album and it caught the attention of 5,000 more unique visitors towards the last week of April. The next photo of the week shoutout also worked in the brand’s favor. It took place in mid-May, motivated its audience to submit photos in the comments and show their appreciation by liking the photos they fancy.

SkiftIQ_TripAdvisor_FB_TalkingAbout

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4. Although Hotels.com was the most popular on Facebook, its negative Talking About 60-Day Average Change is a result of its widely successful TV commercial with ‘Captain Obvious’ that doubled this metric to a high of 36,000 unique viewers for the first two weeks in May and the sharp drop to an average of 12,500 unique viewers for the remainder of the period.

SkiftIQ_Hotelscom_FB_TalkingAbout

5. Expedia’s strategy to acquire new Instagram Followers and engage new and existing fans from its Facebook community was a productive use of its country vs. city call-to-action contest at the end of April. In mid-May it cross-promoted its mobile app through a Memorial Day offer of a $50 discount to the first hotel booking made on the app.

SkiftIQ_Expedia_FB_TalkingAbout

Brand Est. Desktop Visits May ’14 (SimilarWeb) Facebook Likes Facebook Talking About Facebook Talking About 60-Day Average Change Content Effectiveness
Airbnb 32,500,000 635,000 29,600 274 4.66%
Booking.com 210,500,000 2,015,000 63,100 290 3.13%
TripAdvisor 159,600,000 986,000 26,900 109 2.73%
Hotels.com 34,500,000 2,120,000 10,500 -37 0.50%
Expedia 63,500,000 1,980,000 6,300 16 0.32%

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