Reservations.com books big returns with Bing Ads
Mahesh Chaddah and Yatin Patel, founders, Reservations.com
How did Yatin Patel, co-founder of Reservations.com, turn four bags of worldly possessions and $400 into one of the world’s leading online hotel booking websites? First, he dreamed, then he acted, innovating with a sense of fearlessness that most of us lack in our DNA. He joined forces with Reservations.com’s other co-founder, Mahesh Chaddah, a partner in crime with a similar love of risk led to “a perfect partnership,” Patel confides. “Mahesh with his computer science background and me from marketing and industrial design. We bring two separate skill sets to the business that complement each other perfectly.”
Together and apart, these masterminds have let their entrepreneurial spirit run wild. “We are passionate about creating something from nothing, starting businesses, and love going from zero to 60 at all times,” Chaddah confesses.
These days, their Orlando-based company finds itself roaring down the freeway at breakneck speeds. To date, more than 1.5 million happy travelers have used the site, a tenfold increase year over year since its inception in 2014. More than 2 million rooms have been booked for overnight stays at the 150,000+ hotels the company offers worldwide.
I haven’t seen any other players with Bing’s service level. The teams who support us are incredible, knowledgeable and very hungry.
Yatin Patel, co-founder, Reservations.com
Chaddah and Patel both immigrated to this country in the mid-1990s. “I thought I would go to the U.S. and start something,” Patel says. “It’s how I was raised. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I believed that everybody comes here to make their dream happen.” Chaddah’s American dream took him to Dallas, Texas, where he earned his master’s degree in computer science. Neither had a clear vision of the future or much of anything to build on. “We both came here with very limited means,” Chaddah recalls. What they lacked in finances, however, they made up for with gumption.
Around 1997, Patel became one of the first people to start a hotel booking engine for local online reservations. A brilliant idea, but one a little ahead of its time. “The internet was still very new,” Patel remembers. “Hotel booking was not even part of the web structure back then. Neither was search engine marketing (SEM) for that matter.”
Patel’s original model consisted of selling software to individual hotels, which would use it on their websites so consumers could book a reservation. A low subscription cost of $100 per month combined with generally low online traffic back then led to the business ultimately failing.
Patel, however, learned a lot, which led him down a path that culminated with the success and sale of hotelreservation.com, a forefather to his and Chaddah’s current brand. “There’s tremendous potential in the travel industry,” says Patel. “You can achieve huge growth in an e-commerce space.”
The two men, having met through a mutual business partner during other ventures, came together a few years after Patel’s business sale. “We got to know each other and really appreciate who the other one was,” Chaddah says. “We've been together in business ever since.”
The Reservations.com and Bing Ads team share a stage at
the Microsoft MGX conference.
Reservations.com began in 2014. “It’s a very powerful domain, which we believe can grow bigger than anything we’ve ever done in the past,” Chaddah reveals. “It gives us a very strong foundation for all the skill sets we have built over the years.”
With that base, the company and its 20 employees are thinking big these days, far beyond hotel reservations. Recently, Reservations.com struck a partnership with Rentalcars Connect. It’s currently also exploring tour, ticket and dinner reservations as well as any other applicable offering. “We’re building a lifestyle brand,” says Patel. “People who use our site tend to be the ones most comfortable with online commerce and experiences. That's why we call it a millennial brand.”
Data provided to Bing Ads by Reservations.com
As a self-funded company, Reservations.com has seen an amazing amount of growth. But to take the company to the next level and beyond, Patel and Chaddah rely on SEM. “We’re not a Marriott or Hilton that can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads,” Chaddah points out. “We have to be very measured and realistic in our growth.”
Paid search provides the fuel to kick-start such growth. Even more important, paid search drives measurable growth on a daily basis, something the company can’t get with huge TV campaigns. “With every percentage that we grow our business, our paid search grows with it,” Chaddah says. “We’re only ankle deep right now. So there’s a whole lot of growth remaining for us as a business and in paid search.” Patel looks forward to taking that journey with Bing Ads.
“Every time there’s a new functionality or one of them has a solution, they’ll always call us.”
Relationships aside, both men have their particular favorite Bing Ads nuances. At the top of Chaddah’s list are performance metrics, especially in relation to calls. Chaddah finds that the Bing network caters to a demographic with a higher tendency to make calls to the Reservations.com 24x7 reservations helpdesk. With Bing Ads and advanced call attribution integration, he can track calls between marketing campaigns all the way down to the agent handling the call, enabling him to understand how the accounts, campaigns or ad groups are performing with Call Extensions.
Patel likes Bing Ads device-level targeting and reporting. “A lot of our traffic comes through mobile devices. So we can look at device-level attribution between a call-ready mobile device versus another mobile device. That helps us better understand our traffic and trends.”
Price provides another point, one commonly mentioned by other companies as well. For Reservations.com, Bing Ads has a lower cost per click (CPC) for the same set of keywords, anywhere from 10 to 15%, in comparison to the Google AdWords platform.
To anyone out there considering Bing Ads, Patel has a simple message: Bing Ads provides a great way to diversify your paid search strategy. “We love the platform. In fact, we want it to get bigger and bigger so we can be a bigger part of it.”
View or save an infographic to see how Reservations.com uses the full power of the Bing Ads platform to drive growth.