Amanda Richardson, VP Product at Hotel Tonight
How to Increase Conversion 30% & Retention 35% by Giving Away Your Product
Amanda kicked off last year’s conference with a detailed recap on how Hotel Tonight overcame a systematic attack from their competitors. They found out that one competitor in particular formed an internal team that literally called itself “Hotel Tonight Killer.” This organization had more money, more developers, more resources, more of everything. Not an easy thing to go up against if you’re a scrappy startup. So, how did they fight through this competitive battle?
It started with one key advantage that Amanda’s team knew they had: they knew their users better. Amanda hits this point home over and over throughout the talk, that your “superpower” as a growing startup, is that you know your users. You know them inside and out. You have to, otherwise you’ll get crushed. This is what led the Hotel Tonight team to drive differentiation by learning from their users and solving their problems.
But they slipped up at first by trying to solve too many problems. With their first strategy, they tried to do too much, and “by solving many needs, it solved no needs.” Then, they tried to focus on frictionless tipping… to no avail. They were looking at the problems, but the solutions just weren’t there.
Then, Nicolas Cage happened. Yes, you read that right. One of the initial users for their beta customer service chat (HT Pros) asked if they could get them a Nicolas Cage poster for their room. As odd as this was, the Hotel Tonight crew decided to make it happen. This was out of the ordinary compared to most requests, but the point is they were providing solutions to problems that none of their competitors were willing to solve. So they grew HT Pros from two to seven customer service reps, and made it available 24/7. It was a team of real people, not bots, and their sole purpose was to solve the customers’ needs, whatever they may be, whenever they may need them.
The result? They saw a 30% uptick in conversion, a 47% increase in repeat engagement, and a 35% boost in repeat bookings. These numbers more than made up for the free service they were offering (eight times over!), because it worked, and none of their competitors were able to provide the same sort of intimate customer experience.
The takeaway: Once again, focus on the emotions and the problems of your users. That is your superpower. Get close and intimate, find out what they need, solve the problem, and then differentiate yourself from the competition.