David Blecken
Jul 22, 2016

Booking.com addresses desires of advanced Japanese travellers

Booking.com is aiming to differentiate itself in Japan’s travel platform space by focusing on specific interests, beginning with food.

Booking.com addresses desires of advanced Japanese travellers

Recognising that food is something of an obsession in Japan, Booking.com worked with Wieden + Kennedy to create a TV spot that follows two friends from Kyushu as they sample delicacies around the country. For the two gourmets, “food is sightseeing”. The work runs in 30-second (below) and 15-second formats and aims to increase usage of the site for travel within Japan and internationally.

What does the concept of foodie travel have to do with accommodation? The pair are shown indulging their passion in hotels and ryokans as well as at private properties, showcasing an apparently wide range of desirable places to stay on the Booking.com platform.

According to a statement from Wieden + Kennedy, “the spot lets travellers know that whatever they want to do, Booking.com can help them find the perfect accommodation where they can do it”.

The platform recently introduced a feature that enables people to search for accommodation based on their interests. Would-be travellers can filter accommodation by selecting what they want to do from a menu ranging from fishing to nightlife to healthy eating, then choosing their preferred location.

To emphasise the experiential side of the platform’s service, the advert ends with the tagline ‘Booking.yatta’, which translates roughly as ‘hooray!’.

Like competitor platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com aims its services at independently minded travellers that want more stimulation than they can find from a bog-standard guidebook or package holiday.

Japanese travellers tend to be stereotyped as cautious package tourists. But Charlie Gschwend, a copywriter at Wieden + Kennedy, said research had shown Japanese travel habits were changing fast. New Shinkansen lines and low-cost airlines have made travel more accessible than ever, he said.

“With more opportunities to travel, people are becoming savvier,” Gschwend said. “No longer are they satisfied with one-size-fits-all package tours or relying on an agent whom they’ve only just met to plan their trips. Instead they are planning their own adventures and booking their own accommodation. When they do, they choose accommodation that helps them indulge their personal passions and interests.”

The campaign will continue over the summer with the release of two further TV spots—one around athletic pursuits and the other around hot spring resorts (onsen). It will feature more than 18 locations, both foreign and domestic.

Additional content online will include an online film series called ‘What Would You Pack’, which introduces the passions of different travellers and the trips they have planned; ‘Talking Jizori’, a collection of films that has travellers pose as statues or explorers and give insider tips; and ‘One-Minute Weekends’, in which hip hop performers rap about their passions and experiences.

Domestic competitors to Booking.com in Japan include Stay Japan, which promises “authentic discovery” of local areas through rental of unique properties.

Campaign Asia-Pacific comments: Any travel platform needs to build distinctive characteristics and services; if it doesn’t, it can never be anything more than a basic commodity that people will drop the minute something more colourful or user-friendly comes along—so Booking.com’s positioning seems wise. Many travellers do, of course, sample local delicacies regardless of their accommodation. But efforts to break the monotony of standardised travel are to be applauded, and we like that Booking.com is trying to help people uncover the best experiences in the context of their interests. Looking ahead, we are intrigued by the notion of talking statues sharing their local knowledge.

Campaign Japan

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