Founded in 1999 by two forward-thinking entrepreneurs, Hostelworld embarked on a mission to redefine travel for budget-conscious adventurers. Their vision was to create an accessible global platform that offered hostels a distribution channel and property management system. Over the years, Hostelworld has transformed into a worldwide travel phenomenon with a presence in over 180 countries. Its website and apps, available in 19 languages, have been instrumental in connecting young adults who seek social experiences as they explore the globe.
In April 2022, Hostelworld responded to the evolving needs of its customers by introducing innovative social features to its platform. These enhancements allowed users to engage with like-minded travelers, initiate direct conversations with fellow hostel guests, and seamlessly sign up for local events during their stay. These additions not only increased user engagement but also elevated the lifetime value (LTV) of Hostelworld’s customer base.
Hostelworld’s user acquisition strategy
Hostelworld’s campaign strategy hinges on its primarily youthful customer base, typically ages 18 to 25, which skews heavily toward new users rather than repeat ones. Because of the nature of its business, a steady influx of new customers is a top priority for Hostelworld.
To achieve this, the majority of Hostelworld’s campaigns are designed to distinguish between new and returning customers. They take a comprehensive approach to user acquisition, emphasizing the use of organic channels to attract fresh customers and maintain a diverse and continuous stream of travelers looking for unique experiences.
Finding the right partner
Hostelworld grappled with the complexity of obtaining comprehensive insights into the performance of various marketing campaigns, often lacking a clear understanding of which strategies were delivering the most favorable returns on investment. Aiming to tackle its mobile measurement and linking requirements head on, Hostelworld made the strategic choice to partner with Branch’s mobile linking platform (MLP) and mobile measurement partner (MMP) solutions.
Optimizing its digital advertising strategy with Universal Ads
Hostelworld optimized its advertising strategy using Branch’s Universal Ads. By leveraging Branch’s deep linking and attribution capabilities, Hostelworld tracked ad conversions across devices and platforms, improving campaign ROI. The team also employed Universal Ads to promote social features, which boosted user engagement, as well as to retarget web-based users, which led to increased conversion rates and a more successful overall digital advertising strategy.
Tailored hostel experiences with QR codes
Hostelworld designed promotional posters for a selection of highlighted hostels, each prominently displaying QR codes backed by Branch deep links. Travelers visiting these hostels could scan the QR code and instantly download the Hostelworld app, facilitating seamless connectivity with fellow travelers staying at the same hostel. This creative approach not only enhanced the user experience but also encouraged social interaction among guests. Moreover, the app allowed users to conveniently extend their stay and offered a one-stop solution for booking and managing hostel accommodations. Hostelworld’s strategic use of Branch deep links and QR codes streamlined the booking process and fostered a sense of community among travelers.
Connecting the dots across the customer journey
In addition to its digital ad campaigns and integration of QR codes, Hostelworld now employs Branch Quick Links as a key component of its comprehensive marketing strategy. Quick Links are strategically embedded across various touch points within its social media engagement campaigns, included in email footers with direct links to app stores, and seamlessly integrated throughout its mobile web platform. This multifaceted approach recognizes that the mobile app offers an enhanced, user-friendly experience and ensures that Hostelworld efficiently converts web users into mobile app users. By strategically placing Quick Links at every step of the customer journey, Hostelworld guides its audience toward the mobile app and fosters increased customer engagement and satisfaction.
Hostelworld required a nimble solution that would enable the team to swiftly test various advertising platforms. The flexibility of the Branch platform, its Data Feeds product, and data export capabilities allowed the team to seamlessly combine log-level data within their data warehouse alongside Branch exports to get a more holistic view of the customer journey. The attribution data Hostelworld gathers from Branch enables them to make informed decisions crucial to their business success. Branch has become an indispensable tool in Hostelworld’s tech stack, propelling its attribution efforts to new heights and ensuring it stays ahead in the competitive landscape of online travel booking.
The results are impressive
Since partnering with Branch, Hostelworld has witnessed incredible results in its app marketing efforts. Its return on ad spend (ROAS) has not only increased but maintained a steady upward trajectory, showcasing the sustained effectiveness of its campaigns. In the first half of 2023, it achieved a phenomenal 101% increase in bookings compared to the previous year, a direct outcome of campaign optimization efforts. Its user base has also seen substantial growth, boasting an impressive 48% increase in average new users year-over-year.
In addition, the average click-to-install conversion rate for organic links across mobile web, email, and social platforms has also been exceptional, standing at an impressive 39.49%. These results underscore the significant impact of Hostelworld’s partnership with Branch and the ongoing success of its app engagement strategy.
“Branch is absolutely fundamental to the work we’re doing at Hostelworld to drive app acquisition and engagement, and I wouldn’t be able to do my job successfully without it. Partnering with Branch has allowed us to really elevate our marketing efforts to the next level, and the user-friendly nature of the platform has made a significant impact on our day-to-day operations.”
Jacob Conway, Senior App Marketing Executive