Why Booking.com Sought a Social Partner of Record

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Media.Monks

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Picture this: you’re the CMO of one of the biggest brands in the world, operating globally and connecting with consumers on multiple social media channels. Since joining the company a few months ago, you’ve been working hard on a unified strategy that covers every platform your target audience is spending time on: an integrated plan that drives the business forward. To have a real impact, however, you need to ensure your brand is driving culture, not merely following it. But how do you find the space for innovation when keeping up with our fast-changing culture is a challenge in itself?

For starters, it’s important to have a holistic view of the brand experience and how it manifests across the various touchpoints. In the wake of new behaviors, devices and channels, an end-to-end approach is needed to drive value across digital—the kind that includes branding, creative, social, go-to-market, UX and more. On top of that, consumers crave personalization, which adds data management to the equation. In the past, these needs could’ve been met by hiring different providers for each. Now, we know that the brand experience is more than the sum of its parts, meaning there can’t be disconnections between them.

For Booking.com, this realization came into sharper focus as its SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Arjan Dijk set out to leverage the accelerated shift in consumer behavior and the post-pandemic rise of travel intent. This prompted his search for an end-to-end partner that could bring all digital disciplines together. Fast forward to today, we’re proud to announce Media.Monks is Booking.com’s new social partner of record, and we’ll work together to deliver a future-proofed social strategy that covers everything from content creation to data management.

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When every brand is a social brand, creative differentiation matters.

As previously hinted, the biggest brands today are the ones driving culture, which means they found success in leading the conversation—not chasing trends. In that, the role of social media can’t be overlooked. Social is the barometer of culture—a fundamental indicator of what people find exciting, the problems they face and the issues they care about. It’s also the entry point for any brand looking to make an impact.

Doing so, however, may be harder than it sounds. Creative competition is becoming fiercer, especially in the new era of virtualization. Consumers’ voices are stronger, expectations around personalization are higher, and audiences are well aware of the value of their data, money and attention—meaning they demand a clear value exchange. Meeting those needs is no easy feat, but here’s the good news: communities are hungry for opportunities to co-create alongside brands, and those who provide those opportunities for them will be greatly rewarded. 

In any case, this has prompted a new urgency for creative differentiation. To that end, having a partner of record can help. While consultancies spend more time consulting than creating, a partner of record is fully immersed in the day-to-day of working in data management, content creation, creative editorial, digital media and beyond. That constant exchange of insights and expertise is key to engaging with audiences on social media, where delivering relevant content can be challenging and coming across as authentic is table stakes. 

Creative innovation is a mindset, not a sum of capabilities.

To seize cultural opportunities as they arise, a brand and its partners need to be quick on the draw. That means not only delivering with speed-to-market, but also coming up with creative ideas in the first place. A social partner of record fosters that by having a constant exchange of knowledge and ideas with the brand. While the brand’s input is key to crafting a story that’s true to its identity, the social partner provides unique perspectives that come from years of working with thousands of clients in different industries. And because they work so closely together, they operate as one well-oiled machine.

With Booking.com, we’re building on a long-standing relationship with a history of driving value through culturally-relevant campaigns. Not long ago, we helped the brand show up across cultures during the world’s largest musical event, Eurovision. Through an integrated strategy that included everything from influencer partnerships to content creation, we inspired audiences to experience the music, language and cultures that Europe has to offer—fostering meaningful conversations between influencers from different countries. And on the day of the event, we enticed the audience with exclusive behind-the-scenes content from the venue.

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This, of course, is only the beginning. For Booking.com, the new, integrated social strategy includes managing PR campaigns, starting a global TikTok channel, doing a community management tune-up, adding paid social to the mix and aligning on how to communicate with the audience across platforms. “We will expand our partnership into end-to-end social that includes the launch of the first Booking.com TikTok channel, paid social, influencer marketing, community management and social strategy,” says Cedric Brunings, Head of Social Growth EMEA. “We will put together a team of social talent in Amsterdam and Madrid that will be fully dedicated to enhancing the brand’s social media presence.”

While mastering a variety of capabilities is key to seizing opportunities at the speed of social, it’s having the right mindset that sets you up for success. This means not only being adept at identifying the places, events or spaces where your brand should engage, but also knowing how you can show up authentically in every instance. That is why a social partner of record joins the conversations further upstream: because it helps marketing teams gain awareness on upcoming opportunities.

Monk Thoughts Our set-up with a single P&L allows us not just to collaborate on social capabilities, but also to provide Booking.com with data services, live stream capabilities, and more. This way, they can rely on a single partner for their entire social strategy.
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Working as Booking.com’s social partner of record, our job is to bridge innovative thinking with end-to-end creativity and speed-to-market to enable the brand to show up for consumers across platforms, regions and languages.

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