Paradox of choice

Its a well known fact that if we are looking for something specific that, when given a large choice we will struggle to make a decision, whereas if you only have a small choice the decision is much easier to make.

There’s been numerous studies, including some carried out by Amadeus. Where people are given free doughnuts, a tray is put out, with a number of them. In the sample where there are a larger number of choices, people become suspicious and struggle to remember the available choices, so prefer not to.

Whereas the smaller choice has a higher conversion rate. The people looking could remember the options and found it easier to make a choice.

Supermarkets do this quite regularily. We know there are probably numerous brands offering Cereals, Pasta, Bread. Narrowing down the selection to a limited number allows us to choose in a way that we can handle. Any more and their sales would be impacted.

In retail where stores have limited space this makes total sense,  – what if I wanted a brand they didn’t have, I’d have a choice, to buy a different brand, or buy elsewhere?

Online this is where we are today. OTAs want reach, so they distribute 000’s of accommodation options in the hope that we can choose. But if you’re like me then you’re probably going to struggle a bit.

OTA’s often change the order, but this isn’t really narrowing the choice, its just changing them choice which may or may not be in my best interest.


My recommendations are to reserve space in your results which provide a short list of 3 hotel options which are tailored to the customer.

Even if we dont know the customer, we should be able to determine the value of product they’re looking at, whether they are travelling with children, how long between pages, just by reviewing browsing behaviour, combine that with persona profiles, and destination and date profiles, your platform can recommend choices.

If the user wants to browse the entire catalog then sure, but then use that data to become smarter about this user.

By narrowing down the choice it gives a better experience. This is exactly what travel agents do, they take a catalog and narrow it down.

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