Want to See Something Scary? Look at a Travel or Hotel Booking Site. (Happy Halloween!)

How do you book a hotel room? Simple question but it is definitely not a simple answer. Think about your own process… do you use a single online site? Multiple sites? Do you ‘stalk’ before you book? How do you feel when you actually punch in those credit card numbers? Are you confident that you got the best price? Would you book a hotel from your smartphone? Is your behavior different for a business trip versus a leisure trip?

A client in the online hotel booking space wanted to understand the real-world behaviors and motivations at play in the online hotel decision-making and booking process. As we all know, booking a hotel online is rarely a ‘one and done’ situation – it often involves multiple planning, research and execution steps. We needed an approach that could capture the human nature behind what we knew would likely be an intricate customer journey. We used an online video diary platform that allowed us to follow participants for a full week as they went through their personal process for selecting and booking a hotel for an upcoming trip. Afterwards, a subset of these participants were interviewed individually to gain even deeper insights.

Selecting the right tool was a critical factor in the success of this project. The ability to clip and tag key video snippets allowed our client to view responses on very specific topics and quickly generate highlight reels that could then be shared the next day as part of lunch & learns with the entire company.

Look at any travel or hotel site…what’s your impression? Feeling a little overwhelmed with information? While most of us would say we want ALL the information possible there are four things that emerge as most critical — location, price, amenities and reviews. The process is filled with anxiety for many that persists even after completing the purchase – doubts about getting the best price, doubts about having made the best choice of property, etc. Somewhat surprisingly, smartphones are still a secondary tool for the majority of consumers – with screen size and perceived issues with security limiting their use to casual research.

Complex decision processes, while hard to capture, are also full of opportunities for improvement. To truly understand complex buying behaviors and reveal deeper insights you need to design a thoughtful approach that reflects what’s already known about real-world behavior.

 

Chuck Mallory
chuck@clearworks.net

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