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

The Problem

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:
Goals
  • 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)
Questions
  • 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?

Actions Taken

From these guidelines, I created the following goals and questions to guide the research from a UX perspective:
Goals
  • Identify pain points in the user experience
  • Increase enrollment in the rewards program
  • Understand user behavior
  • Assess the effectiveness of the redesign
Questions
  • 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 Research

  • 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
    Yartib: 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

Results

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.
Recommendations:
 

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.