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
- 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 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.