User Research

[This project was executed as part of my Masters in User Experience Design]

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User Research Findings

[www.marriott.com]

Executive Summary

I have received the request for improving the overall digital experience and enhancing the user experience of the smartphone app. I am immensely happy that my proposal to include user research as part of the redesign was accepted. 

The decision to include user research in this project turned out to be extremely effective. I have attached the findings and recommendations as part of this presentation.  The user research was performed and the research recommendation is submitted on the agreed timeline and within the provided budget.

User research would help the company in the following ways :

  • Increase in revenue.

  • Increase the booking via digital property.

  • Increase the Marriott's rewards loyalty members.

  • Decrease the number of abandoned reservations.

  • Increase the percentage of hotel + flight bookings.

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Background

The sequence of steps taken during the course of this project is listed below.
 

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At the start of the project, the list of business goals was received.

 

User research goals were created to match business goals. 

A detailed user research plan was created. The user research plan outlined the selected user research method type, the number of participants involved in the interview, the environment in which the interview will be conducted, and the timeline of the interview.
 

The user interview was conducted and the interview was video recorded and transcribed. 

The data obtained from the video and the notes taken during the interview were analyzed and synthesized. Qualitative and quantitative data were extracted as part of the analysis.

The research results were prepared from the data.

 

Research recommendations were prepared based on business goals. 

Business Needs

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  • Increase hotel bookings via digital properties by 10%. 

  • Increase reservations for their Luxury and Lifestyle Collection hotel categories. 

  • 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.

  • Gain 10,000 incremental members of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program in the first quarter after the redesign. 

Research Goals

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Find the factors users consider when choosing a hotel.

Identify the information needed to the user during the booking process.

Learn the factors which motivate a user to sign up for a complete vacation package.

Discover the factor which drives more users to sign up for rewards.  

Research Methods

For this user research, the following user research methods were used :

 

  • Guerrilla usability test.

  • User interview.

What is User Interview ? 

User interviews are where a researcher asks questions of, and records responses from, users. They can be used to examine the user experience, the usability of the product or to flesh out demographic or ethnographic data among many other things. 

- www.interaction-design.org

 

The UX researcher asks questions ,guides the interview and takes notes.

What is Guerrilla Usability Test ?

In a guerrilla usability test, the evaluation is performed within a short period of time. In general, this test can be performed within 15-30 min. The user would be asked to perform a task and the person who conducts usability research would observe and evaluate the product. 

User Interview Process : 

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3 participants were involved in the user interview process. The interview guide was prepared in advance. The following activities were performed during the interview : 

▪ Initial briefing.  

▪ Interview.

▪ Debriefing. 

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All the participants have already booked hotel rooms online. The age of the participants was from 25 to 40 years.

User research was conducted in the participants home office and at my office.

 

3 people were given the task of selecting the hotel room for their next vacation using the website www.marriott.com. No instructions were given during the course of selecting the room. The usability expert observed the users and took notes.

 

After the test is completed, based on the observation the problems were identified and solutions were recommended.

Data Analysis

The business goals were kept in mind when analyzing the data. 

Interview Narrative :

Interview narratives were prepared for each of the interview participants. The narrative had a brief description of the important things discussed during the interview. 

Organizing the Data :

The collected data is organized digitally and physically. The transcripts of the videos are organized into separate folders along with the profile of the users.

 

Mining of Data :

The organized data is analyzed to find useful findings. The business goals and user research goals are considered at each step of this activity.

Analysis and Synthesis:

 

All the interviews were transcribed and stored in a secured location. From the interview video and transcript, patterns were identified and documented.
 

Finding Patterns and Themes :

The interview notes and the videos were analyzed to find patterns.

Top three factors which influence the room booking :

 

  • Location

  • Cleanliness

  • Facilities in the room.

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Quotes

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"First preference would be the rating of the hotel” -  Zadie

"If the page takes too long to load, I would leave the booking in the middle"  -  Zadie 

”One thing most of the sites lack is, you can't book the entire trip altogether" - John 

[ During a trip the customer might visit more than one place]

”Difference in price is the deciding factor between selecting a regular hotel and a luxury hotel" - Wade. 

Research Results

The research results are grouped based on the business goals :


Goal: Increase hotel bookings via digital properties by 10%

  • Customers are actively using the digital medium for booking hotel rooms.

  • Customers would love to use a mobile phone but they have some limitations when completing the booking process.

 

Goal: Increase reservations for their Luxury and Lifestyle Collection hotel categories

Customers consider the following factors for choosing a Luxury and Lifestyle collection hotel category over a regular hotel.

  • Price compared to the regular hotel.

  • Occasion.

  • Purpose of the trip.

 Goal: Gain 10,000 incremental members of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program in the first quarter after the redesign.

  • Customers use flight and 3rd party travel booking website rewards.

  • The differentiating factor between the flight/3rd party travel booking website reward and the Marriott hotel reward is that the flight/3rd party travel booking website rewards can be used at multiple places while the Marriott rewards can be used only when booking a Marriott hotel room. 

 

Goal: Decrease by 20% the number of people starting and then abandoning a reservation

The potential customers abandoned the booking for the following reasons: 

  • To look for information outside.

  • To share and get confirmation from the travel partner. 

  • When the search is inefficient in terms of speed and accuracy.

Goal: Increase by 5% the number of people choosing a hotel and flight package

Customers book flight + hotel based on the following factors : 

  • If the price of the flight + hotel is less than booking flight and hotel separately. 

  • If the combo option of flight + hotel has the desired flight and hotel combination.

  • If the trip does not consist of multiple stops.

Positive Findings

 

 

The website has incorporated some of the needs and expectations of the users.

Here are the positive findings as part of the user research.

 

  • The website provides customers a way to compare the price with the other hotels. (www.roomkey.com displays other hotel prices in the same area)

  • Good showcase of rewards benefits on the home page including the free night stay option.
     

  • Free breakfast was presented as one of the filter options on the search screen.
     

  • The search is fast!

Screenshots from User Research Interview Video

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Research Recommendations

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Search - Avoid the changing recommendation text on the destination search text box.

[Goal : Increase the booking through the digital medium]

Provide easy access to map of the hotel and nearby areas       

[Goal: Decrease the abandoned booking]

Provide an option to plan the entire trip

[Goal: Increase hotel + flight booking]

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Increase credibility of the rating by showing external sites reviews (like Google reviews)

[Goal : Increase the booking through the digital medium]

Include more photos and a 360 view of the room.

[Goal : Increase the booking through the digital medium]

Provide option to share the selected hotel room with friends and family.    

[Goal : Decrease the abandoned booking]

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Make check in - check out time easily accessible to the customers

[Goal : Decrease the abandoned booking]

Provide the number of photos available in the gallery and the photo which the customer is viewing. Example: 12/25.

[Goal : Increase the booking through the digital medium]

Search Results - Provide option to sort by price.

[Goal : Increase the booking through the digital medium]

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After selecting a room, provide an option to upgrade to the hotel in the same location. Provide information on the difference in price and the difference in amenities  

[Goal: Increase reservations of the Luxury hotel categories ]

Provide option to search for a flight.

[Goal: Increase hotel + flight booking]

Collaborate with other rewards programs so that the rewards can be used outside as well. (Example: Using rewards for booking a flight ticket, booking a ticket for an amusement park or for purchasing items from a store)

[Goal: Increase rewards signup]