NEW YORK:, the accommodation booking website, has ramped up efforts to build its brand through a direct appeal to consumer passions.

Speaking at VentureBeat's Marketing.FWD Summit 2016, Pepijn Rijvers,'s CMO, reported that the brand has mixed travel data, insights from local experts and customer feedback to delineate common user passion points.

"In the past year, we've been collecting destination endorsements from our customers globally. And with these destination endorsements, we've identified 230 'passions'," he said. (For more details, including further details of the brand's strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: finds a new passion for brand building.)

"And we've made it part of our core search, so people can really search for, 'I want to go to a place that has downhill skiing and gastronomy'."

The "passion search" function received a soft launch on, enabling certain users to locate the perfect destination based on activities ranging from stargazing and gambling to eating street food and seeking out truffles.

Alongside offering travellers a new way to find interesting destinations, this approach gave a distinctive lens through which to develop engaging content and advertising.

"[It] allows for a wealth of content to be pushed out by us to people that we know are either in-market for a particular stay or have a certain affinity. And we hope to then inspire them to go travelling," Rijvers said.

"I believe advertising needs to be relevant and meaningful to the audience. We can't broadcast a message to a captive audience any more and get away with it."

Traditionally, has been focused on performance marketing tactics, particularly paid-for advertising on Google's search engine. "We never spent a lot of work on the brand," Rijvers conceded.

As such, the "passion search" initiative provides a chance to foster far deeper connections with consumers higher up the purchase funnel.

"There's a whole lot more upper-funnel behaviour that comes before you're actually ready to make a booking – and that has to do with, 'Which destination shall I go to?', 'What's the best time of year to visit?', 'When are air fares low?', 'What will I do in a destination?' – before you're actually ready to commit to a certain neighbourhood or a certain property type," Rijvers said.

Data sourced from Warc