A great TED talks video by Sheena Iyengar that talks about the perils of too much choice. To quote from the video blurb:

We all want customized experiences and products — but when faced with 700 options, consumers freeze up. With fascinating new research, Sheena Iyengar demonstrates how businesses (and others) can improve the experience of choosing.

We all know what happens when you’re faced with too much choice…if you’ve ever stood in the local hypermarket aisle, facing endless brands of washing powder, you’ll know exactly what I mean. We all love choice…but do we really need 25 varieties of washing powder? Humans are great at processing 6-7 pieces of information at a time and at eliminating the choices we know we DON’T want.

Sheena offers some great, common-sense tips on how to approach this dilemma:


So how can we apply these learnings to digital and tactical hotel marketing online? The applications are endless, but here are some initial thoughts:

  • Cut – Less is more: A great place to start is website design and the special offers we offer hotel shoppers online. Why not identify the MOST popular content items on your website and simplify navigation? Why not cut down on the 20 special “packages” and offers on your tactical marketing page and offer just the top 2-4 offers, preferably one aimed at each type of customer you cater to?
  • Concretize – Make it vivid: Visualization is a great marketing technique…and content is a great way to get your customers to imagine the end result of their shopping choices – use great photography and video to help the visualization process easier (and make the content real and relevant – too many people these days are skeptical of doctored images to ‘buy the dream’ just on that basis). Move away from just promoting features and amenities to actually highlighting benefits and experiences relevant to your target customer. If people can imagine it (and like it), they’re more likely to buy it.
  • Categorize – More categories, fewer choices: This one’s great too…if there’s no way you can avoid offering many choices, at least make it easier for your customers to mentally sort and process the information. Categorizing choices logically make the process of elimination much easier, so you can go straight to the good stuff. Again, this principle can be applied to variety of things ranging from website navigation to your traditional paper menus.
  • Condition for complexity: When building the booking and shopping process online, it’s great to offer choice and help guests build their ideal experience, but break the steps down and move from simple decisions to the more complex, to avoid losing shoppers and causing mental fatigue halfway through the purchase process.

What do you think about these approaches? How do you handle choice personally? Do you already use one or more of these techniques with customers? Leave a comment and let us know!

4 comments on “The curse of too much choice

  1. HRK2012XYZ

    Thanks for the great information I will try it out and hope that it helps increase my site. Hotel Room King


  2. You have a very valid point. I remember taking over an hotel once and the range on the evening menu was ridiculous, far too many items leading to far too much waste and far too much confusion to the customer. When I met witht he head chef he put up a fair argument but I won him around and we cut the menu choice in half. His kitchen returned higher profit margins within a month and he increased his footfall contrary to what he believed.


  3. Hi JJ,
    Thanks for this article, I agree that today we have to offer simplicity. It’s our job to select for him the best hotels and to propose onlly the ones we could personaly stay in. Nowadays we know that if the customers don’t finf what they’re seeking on the first page they will (for 99% of them) leave the site and search somewhere else.
    The solution we offer is to upload videos of the hotels, do you think it’s a good one?


  4. thanks


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