How booking.com uses time limits to urge your rash decisions
This time of year a lot of people are planning their vacation or searching for nice properties by the sea and booking hotels for the months to come.
How much time do you spend looking for a destination for your next holidays?
Most of our respondents admit they spend up to two weeks comparing rental offers.
Yet at the same time, internet booking platforms are trying to fasten our decision-making process.
How time limits set by booking.com urge us to book faster?
Appeal to scarcity of rental offers. Instead of showing you a long, infinite list with available properties, booking.com shows you how many (or better - how very few) rooms for each property are still available on their site. Our insider, a property owner, points out, this information is not always objective for a property as a whole, since hoteliers normally offer only part of their available rooms via booking.com. Checking elsewhere is more than recommended.
Again - appeal to scarcity of rental offers. If you are looking for the best property, you might pay attention to what other users prefer. This effect is called herding. Even though we seek a unique experience, we keep watching what others prefer. And booking.com uses herding to its full benefit: it informs you about the demand for each property (marked in red!) showing you how many times the property has been booked in the last 24 hours. Please mind, this information does NOT refer to your requested dates of stay. It just shows you the general booking dynamics for this property.
And if you still can't decide, right below is another line saying that there is no risk for you. You can book a room right away and cancel it sometime later. The trick at play here is procrastination. We prefer immediate rewards and postpone the payment for later.
And again - appeal to scarcity of rental offers is being reinforced by listing the properties that you´ve already missed out. The feeling of scarcity coupled with the information about sold out properties nudges you decide fast.
By the way, most of the time when we hesitate and need to handle fast, we are looking for confirmation of our choice. References of other customers (here - "Hervorragend", 1472 references, rating 9,4) serve an an easiest and trustworthiest way to propel your booking decision. The more (positive references), the fewer available rooms, the greater the urge to book it NOW.
Appeal to competition. Life is all about competition. And we have to compete to get better options every day. An information about other users who are viewing this very rental offer at the same time triggers the feeling of danger “I need to handle faster, unless I want to miss this one” and urges you to make a rash decision.
In fact, you may be surprised just how many important choices and decisions we make in a haste. And most importantly, it turns out that many companies create haste to limit our decision-making framework.
Find the ways to slow down:
Always try to consider several similar rental offers on different platforms.
Pay attention to what actually influences your decisions: objective search criteria or your emotions triggered by the way the options are presented to you
Sleep over the idea. Believe it or not - in many cases you still have time.
Whether you are booking a fancy 5-star hotel in Venice or just look for a vacation house by the sea, the biggest frustration for most people is when they start checking similar offers and even find a better one when it´s already too late. So do your homework beforehand.
What behavioural trick works best for you? Have you noticed other companies playing with time limits? We'd love to get your feedback.
Pictures: www.wix.com; www.booking.com