WHAT PEOPLE DO:
When we plot happiness over time during the trip planning process, there are two dramatically low points: coming home, and booking. There's a lot of anxiety and uncertainty around booking a hotel, especially one that our user hasn't been to before. Is she getting a good price? Are the reviews trustworthy? Even though there's 50 good ones, that bad one sure is really making her nervous. She visits around 5 sites before committing to book.
We also noticed that booking marked the end of the interaction with hotels.com until they're asked to review the hotel post-visit. These reviews are thorough and plenty - reaching ~200K.
WHAT WE PROPOSED:
Hotels.com is a well-oiled booking machine with a stand-out (if underdeveloped) rewards program, but it was lacking humanity. We wanted to soothe some of that post-booking anxiety by way of hotels.com's vast trove of in-depth community reviews, as well as extend the life of the conversation post-booking. Rather than the confirmation page marking the end of the conversation, we wanted it to mark the start of the trip planning process. We created a rich profile that served as a celebration of our user's travel history, and her engagement with the brand. We seeded more opportunities for the already engaged user base to engage further - location recommendations. This allowed the brand to expand the definition of a hotel's perceived value beyond the footprint of the hotel. We were allowing the community to help our user "become a local faster" and rewarding all parties for participating.
Because this project was created for a pitch, we were operating within a very short timeframe and without traditional project management resources. In many ways, this was freeing. It allowed for the entire project to be UX lead, and operated under a small core team of myself, a UX intern, a visual designer, and digital strategist. By necessity, we skipped the traditional wireframing process. Instead, we took over a breakout room, and collaboratively whiteboarded our way to a prototype. We would have 2 hour worksessions, and then break to do design pattern research on shared pinterest boards, scour travel message boards, and test the competitor’s product/services, and then repeat. The product saw a fast, but rewarding, evolution.
As a Quantified Self nerd, this project was an exciting opportunity to transform mass data into relevant personal stories and insights.