"Times change, but our dedication to perfecting the travel experience never will." – Four Seasons
How might Four Seasons rebuild brand loyalty, when travelers can now easily book different hotels on 3rd party websites?
Times changes. Even though Four Seasons is known as one of worlds' best luxury hotel brands, brand loyalty is declining. Guest can now easily compare hotels on 3rd party booking websites, such as Priceline and Kayak. Four Seasons needs a redesign of its website and app to distinguish its offerings and invite more travelers to Four Seasons.
Team | 4 UX Designers . Duration | 2 Weeks . My Focus | Research . Strategy . Visual
- Synthesize & Ideate
Current website has many interesting contents, however the structure of the site makes them difficult to digest.
We looked at the current website and app to identify opportunity for improvement. Even though, the website has many exciting images, videos and articles, the structure is complicated. There is potential to reorganize the site so the content can excite more travelers to choose Four Seasons.
Current mobile app disappoints loyal guests.
Travelers who download Four Seasons' app are likely to be loyal customers. However, they are unsatisfied with the product. Four Seasons' app only has 2.5 out of 5 stars in the app store. Users say the app crushes often and there are limited functionalities.
Users are asking for features to:
- remember valet ticket number
- set up house-keeping time frame
- see location specific schedules
- make dining reservations
- contact concierge
High-end travelers care most about service.
To understand premium hotel guests' interests, habits and needs, our team went to 5 premium hotels in San Francisco and interviewed 20 guests on-site. Unlike budget travelers, these premium hotel customers are not just looking for a place to stay, but a served experience. Although hotel location, decor, amenity and price all affect travel experiences, customer service is the element that all high-end travelers care about.
Travelers who take photos during trips are 40% more likely to remember the experience well.
Since our goal is to build brand loyalty, we researched what makes a travel experience memorable. While the destinations, activities and people who travelers go with all play a role, research shows taking photos can effectively increase the chance to remember the trip well. We kept the finding in mind as we designed our solution. (Source: Science of Memories Study by HomeAway)
Synthesize & Ideate
We did a few rounds of affinity mapping and empathy map to synthesize findings and define the opportunities.
We walked through the travelers' journey and asked the question at each stage, how can we improve the experience?
Current digital experience only address the booking before a trip, there's potential for during and after a trip.
Different products for the different travel stages.
In our research, we realized most people book their trips on desktop. On the other hand, when they travel, they do not bring their computers with them. Therefore, we decided to make the desktop website continue to focus on booking before trip, while the app focus on receiving more service during trip. The album helps travelers remember their wonderful experience at Four Seasons and build brand loyalty.
My focus was the mobile app.
To fully utilize the team power, our team of 4 split into 2. One group focused on the desktop experience and the other focused on the mobile app.
The app allows customers to easily contact hotel, book activities and upload photos for the photo album.
Currently customers can only contact hotel staffs using the telephone inside their rooms or call the front desk. Once outside, it is difficult to contact butler or reserve activities. With our app, customers can receive service anytime, anywhere.
Sketches & Wireframes.
Usability testings & Iterations
Homepage went through many iterations to be simple and efficient.
Modern and luxury design to appeal to young high-budget demographics.
We used gold to enhance the premium feeling of the brand. Turquoise adds friendliness and freshness for younger users.
Simple & efficient flow.
We kept in mind that travelers are always on-the-go. It's important to keep every task within a few clicks.
Photo album to remember the experience and build brand loyalty.
Research shows that travelers who take photos on their trip are 40% more likely to remember their trip well. To make our guests' experience truly memorable, we came up with the photo album idea. Users can easily take photos or upload photos from their phone to the app. They will later receive a physical photo album that captures their experience. The album is a great way to build brand loyalty.
Simplicity is the hardest to achieve.
When designing the homepage of the mobile app, it was challenging to make it truly simple and efficient. When we thought we had found the 4 most useful features, users tell us some of them are not useful at all. When users all have diverse interests and habits, it is difficult to meet all their expectations in the most straight-forward way. Even though we have gone through a few iterations and the experience has been improved, we definitely need to do a lot more usability testings to really understand users' need.
UX design does not mean digital.
When we told other people about our 3 stage solution, most people's reaction was, "I want that photo album!" It is interesting that when everything is digital now, a physical album becomes unique and attractive. This project made me further realize that user experience design is not just about the digital product, but about the whole experience of a user, online and offline.