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How TORTUE HAMBURG found the right balance between direct and third-party bookings

Developing a clear direct booking strategy to ensure long-term success

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  21, Nov 2019

 Tags: Case Studies Direct Bookings Personalization

With so many options that travelers have to choose from, it is getting exceedingly difficult for new hotels to become known among tourists. Gaining online visibility is a time and resource-consuming task and as consequence, most of these properties rely on OTAs when trying to reach out to online searchers.

This was the challenge facing TORTUE HAMBURG, a recently opened boutique hotel located in one of the most up-and-coming areas of Hamburg. Housed in a six-story landmarked building dating back to 1888, TORTUE is more than just a place to sleep - the two restaurants and three bars helped the hotel become a prime social hub, attracting travelers and foodies alike.

A year since hitting the hospitality scene, TORTUE decided to redefine its distribution strategy. When opening, the main focus was to gain brand awareness and international visibility, reason why the property relied quite heavily on OTAs.

After making a name for itself, the property decided it was time to overcome the dependency on OTAs to work towards a more optimal long-term distribution strategy. To achieve this, finding the right balance between third-party and direct bookings was key. This equilibrium entailed defining an effective direct booking strategy and personalizing the website experience in order to improve conversion rates.

Speaking with Jil Viehhauser, the brand’s Marketing Manager, she commented “As soon as a visitor arrives on our website, it is vital for us to nudge them towards our booking platform. These users shouldn’t even think about booking their stay at an OTA afterwards”.

For this reason, in Spring 2019, TORTUE HAMBURG decided to test The Hotels Network (THN) direct booking solution. To measure the impact of THN tools, an A/B test was set up, splitting the website visitors into two groups - group A were shown the new messages but they were hidden for Group B. Here are some examples of the conversion and personalization tools activated on the website:

Welcome layer

welcome-layerExample of Welcome Layer on homepage highlighting exclusive events

Displayed when the user landed on the homepage, this layer communicates the unique experiences offered, sparking visitors’ interest and making them want to discover this incredible property for themselves.

Smart Notes 

smart-note-homepageExample of Smart Note on homepage promoting newsletter subscription

A smart note was displayed on the homepage to persuade users to subscribe to the Newsletter. Some others were included in the booking engine to create a sense of urgency, encouraging visitors to book now so as not to miss out on a great stay.

Exit Intent

exit-intentExample of Exit Intent banner persuading abandoning visitors to stay on the website

When users were about to abandon TORTUE’s website, a banner promoting a special offer appeared in order to grab the visitors’ attention and keep them in the booking funnel.

The results of the A/B test showed that by adding the set of personalization and conversion tools, the hotel’s website conversion rate increased by 36%. This significant uplift coupled with a very positive ROI convinced TORTUE HAMBURG team to move forward and partner with THN. Jil Viehhauser remarked, “The Hotels Network team helped us not only with the setup but also optimizing our ongoing direct booking strategy. It is great to work with them, they have such a fantastic vision and knowledge of the industry!”

Today, the TORTUE Marketing department continues to leverage the THN tool and optimize campaigns, adapting the messaging not only to be in line with their direct booking strategy but also with the unique brand image they are building - seducing visitors in a subtle and inspiring way.

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