Marriott Hotels: Using the actual site, I went about gathering user research as if creating a redesign of the website.
Skills: User Research, User Interviews
In the fictional setup of being hired to redesign the Marriott Hotels website and app, I was given a schedule that did not include time for user research. The first problem to solve was to convince the stakeholders of the importance of user research from a business perspective.
After getting permission to integrate user research into the schedule, I had to figure out what questions I wanted answered in the research. The organization gave me the following goals and questions:
- Increase hotel bookings via digital properties by 10%
- Increase reservations for their Luxury and Lifestyle Collection hotel categories
- Gain 10,000 incremental members of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program in the first quarter after the redesign
- Decrease by 20% the number of people starting and then abandoning a reservation
- Increase by 5% the number of people choosing a hotel and flight package (vs. just booking their hotel alone)
- What is the demographic makeup of our user population?
- How do people choose a hotel?
- Why do people start a hotel search and then not complete a reservation?
- When do people use the website vs. the mobile app?
- What value are customers looking for in a hotel loyalty program?
From these guidelines, I created the following goals and questions to guide the research from a UX perspective:
- Identify pain points in the user experience
- Increase enrollment in the rewards program
- Understand user behavior
- Assess the effectiveness of the redesign
- What issues are keeping users from completing a transaction?
- What terminology or processes do they not understand?
- Why don’t users choose to join the loyalty program?
- What, if any, are the advantages of booking direct with Marriott? What do users expect?
- Do users prefer the app or the website and why?
From there, I had to determine the best ways to gather information. I ended up using three methods:
- Nano Usability Test: Quick and cheap way of finding information by asking users, including family and friends, to complete a task and observe the results.
- Survey: Multiple choice questionnaire to find determine statistically significant information. An excerpt from a ten-question survey is below, with justification for the questions to the side:
- User Interviews: I interviewed three potential end users:
• Scott: A man in his 50’s, has a Marriott reward membership and looks for Marriott hotels first
• Yadir: A man in his 20’s who often finds places to stay through AirBnB
• Glenn: A man in his 60’s who has stayed in the Marriott Courtyard hotels before
• The Interview Highlight Reel: https://video.kent.edu/media/t/0_kyh0bcny
The nano test and the user interviews returned several findings, while the questionnaire wasn’t actually sent out.
Nano Usability Test Results:
- Suggestions when looking for a location are not always accurate.
- Issues with the responsive design
- Booking packages with flights takes the user to another site and can confuse users
- Dates won’t change on home page, can’t see end date
- Not clear whether the site is under reconstruction or not, but there are functions not working
- Website does not match app experience and functionality
- Reasons to join membership are unclear
- The app will send you to the website if you are not registered
- Advanced search does not show filters and other options
User Interview Findings:
- Users often do not use the Marriott website for searching. They
often use Google or travel sites to do that. Some will book direct
after finding a hotel on one of these sites.
- They like having photos to check the rooms, grounds, and facilities.
- Location is one of the most important factors.
- Price is an important factor, but not everything.
What I Learned
I learned about the importance of user research in finding the right solutions for a design. I also learned about the importance of presentations and how they help get the stakeholders to understand the UX perspective on issues.