launches first TV push to make hotel booking ‘epic’

Online travel portal is launching its first European brand campaign to align itself to the “fun” and “personal” moments of holidays after claiming people view it as more of a “tool” than a brand.

The “Booking Epic” campaign is being pushed in the UK, the company’s priority market, before being extended to other regions.

It centres on a series of Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam-created ads shot in the style of a Hollywood trailer to emphasise the moment of joy people get when they realise just how “epic” their holiday is going to be after booking their accommodation.

The ads, using insights plucked from more than 25 million user reviews, pick out the quirky aspects of accommodation that can make a trip memorable such as a hostel that has ice cubes to a resort having ”recreational sand” claiming “if you’re into it we know a place that booking has it”. It uses the strapline “Booking.Yeah. Planet Earth’s #1 Accommodation Site” and the business says it could support the ads with print and radio test activty in the future.

The creative strategy is based on the insight that the online accommodation sector suffers from brand apathy because most ad budgets are spent on SEO and promoting price. says it has historically spent “100 per cent” of its budget on search marketing in an attempt to increase traffic at a faster rate than its rivals. It now claims it has the scope to position itself as more of a destination channel that people “understand” represents a “comprehensive service”.

Paul Hennessy, chief marketing officer at, told Marketing Week: ”[The SEM-based approach] got us to a certain level – the largest online accommodation site in the world [with more than 1 billion room nights booked so far] – but what we found was that many people didn’t know a lot about the brand. In many cases they did not know they were booking with us because we didn’t have a brand identity. We were much more of a tool than brand.

“What we’ve delivered is a brand voice and therefore an emotional connection so that people will come back to us directly.”

The move comes just weeks after along with Expedia and InterContinental Hotels agreed to allow online travel agents and hotels they work with to offer discounts on room rates following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation. It should boost competition across the sector after the OFT alleged the bigger companies were dictating the prices the smaller players could charge – making it harder for them to compete.

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