Bringing words to life at Booking.com
(An illustrated guide to our copywriting principles.)
Booking.com is a vast, global company made up of more than 15,000 human beings — we all have unique experiences and passions. That’s pretty wonderful, and powerful. Writing for us is about delving into your individuality, and seeking new, unexpected ways to make your story shine. Cool, right?
Why do we need copywriting principles?
When you have as many writers as we do, you need an on-the-ground guide to help you channel your brand values. Below you’ll find the copywriting principles, which we launched in late 2017 after lots of hard work from our copy teams.
They’re important because we need to be consistently ‘Booking.com’ no matter where in the journey our audience is at. They are the absolute heart of our work. When we all write with the same approach, that’s when our words really nail their job.
Making them real
Stories aren’t just about words, though. We wanted to celebrate our principles through visuals, too. Illustrator Polina Raevskaya had previously created two adorable characters who brought the Booking.com design principles to life in a winter adventure. With UX Designer Elena Scherer, she continued the tale for copywriting.
We wanted our copywriting principles to be a useful tool, something that could be kept and referenced every day. So we published them as physical cards, printed on beautiful bamboo paper, which we gifted to our writers.
The story behind the illustrations
Maja and her dog, Kit, are in the writing laboratory. They’re exploring our Booking.com products, taking a closer look at our customers and cooking it all up in a test tube. The result of their experiments is the formula for building lasting relationships with travelers around the world. Eureka!
The Booking.com copywriting principles
1. Start with the customer
We don’t make products people can own, or have stores people can visit. That means the main way travelers and partners connect with us is through the words we write.
At Booking.com, everything we do starts with the customer. On finding out what they need, on unearthing insights that help us understand them better, and on researching how they use our products so our words can improve the experiences they have with us. This know-how leads every word.
2. Know your product
Every product team has a vision and a purpose. Our job is to contribute to this mission through language. As the voice of the product, we always start with a clear idea of who we are writing for, what they want and need from our words, and how our contribution relates back to product goals. We stay up-to-date with the latest research reports and always gather insights on the topics we’re writing about.
3. Be naturally simple
Booking.com is down-to-earth, engaged and human. That means our words should be as natural, and as conversational, as when we’re talking. Not chatty, or over-friendly — just naturally simple.
By relaxing into the language our audience uses, we help our customers feel understood. Clear wording is particularly important when we’re writing to reassure, apologize, or guide our customers through our products.
4. Always write responsibly
Copywriters have access to unlimited amounts of data, both qualitative and quantitative. This data tells us about our customers’ experiences and passions, so when we respond to these learnings, we’re responding to them.
We aren’t looking for quick wins, though. We want to build lasting relationships. This is why we always consider the long-term impact of our words and aim to evoke positive emotions.
5. Copy is a team sport
There are a lot of words being written at Booking.com. Millions, actually. We believe they all contribute to how our customers experience our brand and our products.
To have maximum impact across all our channels and products, our writing must feel like it comes from the same place. We give each other feedback, share our learnings and inspire each other to do great work because we know we are at our best when we come together.
(All photos by Polina Raevskaya)