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Marriott Hotels


In an effort to improve the user experience of Marriott’s digital platforms, including its website and mobile app, I was asked to identify design concerns and outline user experience opportunities. After gathering Marriott’s business objectives and understanding stakeholder needs, I implemented three user research methods, including usability testing, surveying and interviews. Each method offered insights into user behaviors, habits, expectations and experiences. After gathering the results and synthesizing the quantitative and qualitative data, a series of user experience recommendations and next steps were proposed to Marriott.

  1. Increase hotel bookings via digital properties by 10%
  2. Increase reservations for the Luxury and Lifestyle Collection hotel categories
  3. Gain 10,000 incremental members of the Marriott Rewards loyalty program in the first quarter after the redesign
  4. Decrease by 20% the number of people starting and then abandoning a reservation
  5. Increase by 5% the number of people choosing a hotel and flight package
View Final Report

Research strategy: establishing a framework

To begin the project, I created a general framework for the research strategy by defining background information and key objectives, formulated hypotheses, created research goals and identified research methods.

View Strategy

UX issues: identifying concerns and challenges

Guided by Marriott’s five business goals, I conducted a research evaluation of Marriott’s digital platforms and discovered 15 user experience issues. In addition to identifying the user experience challenges, I labeled each issue using a set of heuristics and determined the Marriott department(s) most affected.

Key questions: framing research questions

To advance the user research goals, business needs and hypotheses, I created a series of general and specific research questions. These questions were used to help think strategically about the goals and needs, as well as the UX issues. The questions also served as a foundation for determining future research methods.

Usability testing: evaluating the site

Three users participated in a nano usability test where they were asked to book a hotel room for an upcoming vacation using Marriott’s website. During the usability test, I watched the participants perform the task of booking a room and compiled notes on their experience. All three participants completed the task, however their path to booking a room varied, which included different levels of success. During the exercise, some of the participants struggled with a few tasks including the process of finding a room when dates were unavailable, accidentally using a pop-up advertiser website, generating inaccurate search results and navigating a persistent chat feature.

Survey: segmenting the audience

I developed a series of 10 survey questions and responses to key user research questions and goals. The survey was intended to provide additional quantitative data about users and specific user groups. Grounded in the research goals and business needs, the survey revealed demographic information, user behaviors and user attitudes.

User interviews: exploring a user's experience

I conducted three interviews with people that have recently used hotel booking websites. The interviews were designed to learn about people’s experiences using hotel websites, understand past behaviors and determine preferences and needs. From the interviews, a short narrative was developed for each participant, which highlighted key attributes, as well as a recap of the interview. Each interview was recorded with consent granted by the participants.

Data analysis: synthesizing the data

At the beginning of the analysis process, I revisited the original research goals to ensure that the goals helped inspire the direction of the analysis. During the process, I used a few analysis techniques, including summarization, manipulation, generalization and transformation.

View Data Analysis Findings

Results: findings and recommendations

I compiled all of the data from the nano usability test, survey and user interviews to generate research findings and preliminary insights.

At the conclusion of this project, I synthesized all of the research data and provided 11 recommendations for enhancing Marriott’s digital platforms, as well as proposed suggestions for additional future user research.

  1. Provide users with a more accessible map feature on the results page – users want information about the area around a hotel
  2. Add the word “Images” overlaid on top of the hotel image icon within the results page – this will let people know that they can look through hotel pictures (currently there is only a picture icon)
  3. Use a marketing automation platform to trigger follow up communications with visitors one month prior to the date they enter in the calendar search feature – research tells us that on average people book a hotel one month before their visit
  4. Prioritize customer service feedback surveys – clean rooms and good customer service is a key factor in repeat visitors
  5. Enhance and promote conference opportunities by revisiting local partnerships with visitor and convention bureaus
  6. Be transparent with the exact cost of flight and hotel packages – this will encourage people to trust your pricing model, especially compared to aggregated sites
  7. Rebrand the flight and hotel package website (vacationsbymarriott.com) so that it is more consistent with Marriott Hotel branding
  8. Provide sufficient email communications to guests prior to their visit – include a reminder containing the reservation and itinerary
  9. Provide guests with the option of receiving text message notification reminders
  10. Create social media campaign ads to target the 18-34 demographic audiences who are more active on social platforms
  11. Offer more beachside and outdoor adventure travel packages

More Research Recommended

  1. The study featured participants in the 18-34 demographic age group – more data is needed to identify patterns among older audiences
  2. More evidence is needed to understand how people respond to loyalty programs
  3. Analyze mobile app metrics and determine how the app should be continued, or if a mobile optimized website would be more cost effective
  4. Conduct usability testing to identify how, where and why people abandon the reservation process
View Research Findings