HotelHave you ever noticed messages like these when you book hotels, flights and insurance?

  • 35 people have already booked this
  • 17 people are looking at this
  • Hurry, only 10 seats left

University College London (UCL) has recently published some research showing that these phrases significantly increase profits for travel websites.

They work due to the principle of perceived scarcity.

What’s more, UCL found that reviews are even more effective than a price cut.

Due to the power of social proof (peer pressure), this means the most convincing copy of all is written by your customers.

The study

UCL conducted online experiments with 1,251 volunteers to measure their reactions to website deals on flights, hotels and travel insurance. They found:

  • ‘Hurry, only 3 seats left’ led to 4.7% increase in bookings compared to no message
  • ’12 other people are looking at this’ led to 9.4% rise
  • ’40 people have already booked this’ led to 13.8% increase
  • Average 9.5% rating from over 2,000 reviewers boosted hotel reservations by 36.3% compared with no reviews
  • Almost half those surveyed said they were persuaded to book after reading positive reviews
  • Bookings fell 8.9% when there was no ‘20% discount’ sign

The study was led by Dr Joe Gladstone, an assistant professor who specialises in consumer behaviour. He said: “Consumers are bombarded with marketing tactics every time they go online, and the study clearly shows they work – when unsure, we simply follow the person ahead of us, even if it’s not a good deal.”

The research was funded by Inter-Continental Hotels Group.

What this means for you

As a market/copywriter/business-owner, it’s important to know these tactics.

As a consumer, it pays to shop around.

P.S. One of the services I provide is interviewing you and your customers to write case studies and testimonials. Please let me know if you’d like more information about this.



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