Booking's A/B Test Reveals More Impactful Search Criteria - Higher Location Tiles
Perhaps it's no surprise that when people wish to book a getaway, expressing a location is of higher importance than anything else. Interestingly, this has been confirmed in a recent Booking experiment which tested the position of various elements on their homepage. The A/B test, along with its implementation decision, revealed that shifting the location tiles higher up seems to have performed better.
Highlighted UI Changes From This Leak
Higher City Destination Tiles
In the tested variation, the city destination tiles have clearly shifted higher. One really powerful property of these tiles is that they are highly relevant with the use of geolocation. Hence they are dynamic dependant on where a visitor is coming from - quite smart. :)
I find it interesting that this change was still more effective even with the already prominent searchbox. The search box is the first primary input component on the screen and allows a very specific and flexible expression of location. So the destination tiles here seem to reinforce and support this primary action.
Lower Accomodation Types
Interestingly, the accommodation (ex: Apartments, Resorts, Villas, etc) have shifted downwards to make room for the city destination tiles. These looks still important secondary search triggers but of course have been slightly deprioritized.
Will More Prominent Location Always Perform Better On All Sites?
I doubt it. Realistically I would expect that the choice between location and other category types would largely be business dependant. There will be businesses for which expressing a location might be ultra important, and alternatively it's also easy to imagine location-agnostic businesses where it might make more sense to raise other options higher.