When Tinder Met Booking.com


On the face of it, they are poles apart. One is an online dating app, the other an online OTA.

They are surprisingly similar however in their approach to customer acquisition and process. The video below did the rounds last week, even though it was published last year and has caused a bit of a furore in the industry.

Now take a look at Tinder. This is one of their rules:

Tinder – No pressure, no rejection

All swipes on Tinder are anonymous. That means that no one will ever know whether you swiped left or right on their profile. The only exception is when you and another user both swipe right on each other, at which point Tinder notifies you both that “it’s a match!”

The whole premise relies on easy access to information and profiles assisted by Facebook entries and Instagram.  Swipe left, Swipe right, choose, ignore chat etc. There are no built in commitments and is easy to use, driven by man’s (and women’s) natural desires.

The keywords are Convenience and Frictionless

Which is where the two businesses start to converge in their approach.

Imagine if there were a Tinder-like app for rentals. Dwellable, acquired last year by HomeAway had a similar visual presentation approach but proved difficult to engage in the booking process. The immediate value proposition is high and mobiles are not ideal for committing to detailed arrangements.


A free version of anything is valueless in perception unless it brings benefits, which then become invaluable. Free or very low cost services are also less likely to encounter challenges, whereas a paid product, has tangible value and can be challenged. The higher the value the greater the potential issue and customer expectation.

People are also not just pictures, they come with personal baggage, “my best side” pictures and creative personal descriptions. These traits are impossible to show on a fast mobile slideshow and are part of social perception disguise especially in a dating situation.

Rental photography may hide certain elements, but are not in the same deceptive league (generally speaking) and have clear descriptions. Engagement is harder as the decision making process is more complex:

Price, dates location, travel arrangements, family sleeping arrangements, terms, reviews, amenities and more. Some of these however are major friction points.

The simplest way to successfully engage and transact in any environment is to reduce friction and barriers to process. Tinder have this element sorted but they generate revenue through subscription and advertising, not taking part in the actual date (yet)!

If  using Tinder  ends up with a real “person to person live date”, then should one party cancel or  not turn up, it’s inconvenient, but not seriously financially detrimental as a rule.

Booking.com have identified the friction points. From the video above its pretty obvious that one of these is cancellation terms. The other majors we know are: price parity, minimum stay length and security deposits, but free cancellation is one of the most harsh expectations. Imagine free cancellation on flights?


Binder.com – No pressure, easy cancellation

All swipes on Binder.com are anonymous. That means that all bookings only give minimum details to the host: a surname and Binder.com email only. Swipe left to book as many as you like at the same time or right to cancel them at any time.  All are lowest price,  top reviews and fit your dates.  

Changing your mind  at any time is  not a problem….


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