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How Trainline is making the most of its partnership with Booking.com

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We caught up with Abbie Dorling, Product Lead for Monetisation at Trainline, to discuss their partnership with Booking.com, being an app-first organisation and how they’re increasing revenue along the way.


Hi Abbie! Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? 

I'm Abby Dorling, and I'm the Product Lead at Trainline for all of our monetisation initiatives of which partnerships is one, and that includes our partnership with Booking.com. 

What impact has your partnership with Booking.com had on Trainline and your customers?

Our partnership with Booking.com started in 2018, initially as email campaigns. Over the last few years, we moved the Booking.com partnership into our web platform.

That was working well, but we wanted to grow the partnership and increase the number of touchpoints where our customers could book through Booking.com. So last year we brought these into our app and worked closely with Booking.com to test what would work best for our customers.

We ended up multiplying revenue from Booking.com by five times, just by making this partnership a lot more contextual and relevant to the customer.

What would you say differentiates Booking.com from other travel partners? 

Booking.com is definitely one of the easiest partnerships that we have. You're very data centric.That is really helpful for us as it lets us see how the changes we make on our side impact the customers once they land onto your product. 

Your account managers – we work with Melissa and Emily – are super proactive, very transparent with things like our quarterly business reviews, and it feels like we have a very open relationship.

Aside from partnerships, what channels are you using to reach new customers?

Much like Booking.com, we're an app-first organisation. We're trying to help our customers feel like they've got a travel companion right in their pocket – somewhere they can get all the relevant live travel updates for their journey.

We see higher engagement across our app users. That means better click-through rates as well as increased retention in our customers that use our app product. 

How are you driving customer loyalty? 

There are many reward schemes, such as the Genius programme which is a hot topic at the moment. But, in my opinion, ultimately if you want to drive customer loyalty you need to have a product that's relevant to them. One that gives them the information they don't even know that they need, when they need it.

If your product's not serving your customers then there's little point in having a loyalty scheme – no matter how good it is.

Sustainability is an important topic across the travel industry at the moment. How is Trainline approaching sustainability? 

Well last year we launched a campaign called I Came by Train.

Not many people know, but within the UK travel industry, 60% of the CO2 comes from car and plane travel compared to just 1.5% from rail. The biggest thing we're trying to do is educate people on what will actually move the needle on reducing their CO2 footprint.

That’s why I Came By Train lets people pledge to replace one car or plane journey with train travel instead. We also partnered with Craig David to release a song. It’s all about better days and encouraging people to travel by train so that they can see Mother Nature at its finest.

What advice would you give to new demand partners who are just starting out? 

For any new demand partners out there, I think it's great to test and learn. That’s very much within Booking.com's DNA – and in Trainline’s too. Try different things out, try different touchpoints, learn from your customers, then optimise based on the data that you're getting back.

Interested in becoming a Booking.com affiliate and scaling up your revenue like Trainline did?

Find out more 
 

Takeaway

  • Trainline is seeing higher engagement across app users – including both click-through rates and retention
  • By working with Booking.com to integrate touchpoints within the app directly rather than just the web platform, Trainline was able to generate five times more revenue from the partnership
  • Sustainability is an important topic for the travel industry – and it’s one which train travel can play an important role in addressing
  • If you’re just starting out, try different things, learn from them, then optimise based on the data you’re getting back

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