Redesigning Booking.com’s premium programme for property owners
The Preferred programme is a premium programme on Booking.com. If eligible, property owners can join it to receive a seal of approval and a boost in search results.
Over the years, the programme experience became complex to use owing to unmet user needs & disjointed marketing efforts.
This case study covers my journey shaping the Preferred programme UX through empathetic design led by research. I'll go through different initiatives that I took on, which ultimately led to a personalised user-centric experience and a high-conversion product.
I've omitted confidential information in this case study to comply with my non-disclosure agreement. All information here is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Booking.com.
I led the redesign of the Preferred programme experience on the Extranet as its sole designer, which is a management portal for property owners at Booking.com. I collaborated with a Researcher, Copywriter and a Product Owner.
When I joined the Preferred team, the top trending pain points in our user awareness and satisfaction surveys were cost & lack visibility into ROI of the programme.
Property owners were interested in what was on offer but were reluctant to pay upfront before looking at the benefits in action leading to a loss of potential customers.
It’s important to look at these challenges from the perspective of the business early on to ensure that the product we design meets those goals while solving user pain points.
I utilised early explorative discussions with our Product Owner to sync on our short and long term business goals for the programme.
The primary goal was to improve signups and reduce the churn rate, a stretch goal on the product roadmap was to improve the programme’s reputation as an exclusive & a desirable space meant for the best properties.
In addition to working with the research team, at the start of the project, I used the opportunity of an ongoing research session to conduct user interviews and collect fresh inputs from property owners ranging from small to large sized properties.
Following were the broad areas that I explored through my interview script:
- Getting feedback on the current landing page
- Gain updated insights into the pain points
- Bounce off ideas on potential solutions to some of the pain points, e.g. a free trial to lower the barrier to entry.
- Learning if/how property owners calculate ROI on the programme
- Gathering thoughts and perceptions around programme’s exclusivity
From learnings gained through the interviews, I could expand on the top pain-points in addition to new insights, here’s a summarised version -
Perceived lack of empathy on the page
Users didn’t connect with the programme page, it felt like a generic product pitch to them void of any personalisation. There was a massive opportunity to make the pitch stronger through relevant touch points that connected with the property owners’ unique situations.
Research showed that the price of the Preferred programme is one of the top barriers to entry, especially when there wasn't a way for partners to know what return they could expect from this investment. The idea of a free trial (14 days) resonated well with the property owners as a way to assess the benefits before committing.
Lack of visibility on the ROI
Property owners were missing any reporting on the programme and weren't sure what kind of return they got from it. As a result, many couldn't realise the advantages of being in the programme to its full potential. This was a major contributor to churn.
Refining the product goals
- Give property owners a way to assess the results from the programme for their property and unique market conditions.
- Introduce performance reporting within the programme so users can track ROI, also explore possibilities around using data insights to pitch programme to non-members.
- Stretch goal: A new tier of the programme that has a higher criteria for entry and comes with additional benefits addressing the exclusivity pain point.
Defining the target audience
Property owners ranged from apartment to middle/large sized hotels up to multinational chains with hundreds of properties around the globe.
Catering to diverse user states
In addition to property types defined by size and type of the accommodation service, there are also multiple phases/states a property could be in depending on multiple factors like its eligibility, contract type and membership status.
I went through existing user data and previous research to identify a list of 9 different states a property could be in.
This was important because the new page needed to adapt to each type of property with the communication that made sense for their situation, e.g. a property on a non-standard commission contract needs to go through the contracting team before they can opt-in or out of the programme.
Mapping the user flow
Free trial as a means to validate potential investment
Considering the idea of a free 14-day trial emerged as a strong direction to explore from our research, I started by building a flow to imagine how a potential member would navigate the page that offers free trial in addition to a direct signup.
I started with lofi wireframes to focus on the IA of the programme and to ensure we have the right information present before moving on to visuals.
Take a look at some highlights of the design considerations implemented in the wireframe ideations that were informed by research and user feedback.
Introducing the 14-day free trial in the header and making the page feel more personalised through contextual imagery:
Performance reporting for members so they can track the return on investment from the programme, we highlight the top 3 metrics that the majority of users asked for from the research interviews, these are search views, property page views and bookings/reservations:
Visual designs and user testing
I created hi-fi mockups and worked with our researchers to organise another round of user interviews to validate the concepts we came up with.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Users loved the idea of a 14-day free trial and were easily able to spot this information in the header.
- Their own property’s image in the header overlayed with the Preferred thumb logo helped them instantly connect with the programme
- The performance stats information was clear to them and helped set an expectation that they’ll be able to track their ROI upon joining
- In the members area, they appreciated the performance stats shown in context of the free trial, however, many users indicated that this information would’ve been easier to consume in the form of visual charts, some also requested to see a before/after version.
- Some of the metrics savvy users also indicated a need for detailed metrics reporting.
Revisions and readying the final designs for launch
From the user feedback sessions on initial hi-fi mockups, it was clear that better presentation of the performance stats was needed in the members area.
I went back to the drawing board and came up with some changes:
- The performance stats were now plotted visually on a graph
- A visual flag highlighted the date on which they joined the programme to facilitate a before/after comparison
- Visual attribution data to help users see how much incremental growth they got because of joining the programme
- A link to detailed analytics dashboard was added for those who wanted to go deeper.
Launch & learnings
We launched the new programme experience through an A/B test with the following metrics as primaries:
- Programme signups
- Programme churn/opt-outs
Additionally, as secondary metrics, we also tracked:
- Page bounce rate
- Clicks on the join CTAs (accounting for cases where users failed to finish the process)
- Clicks on the leave CTA
Ultimately, the launch of the new designs was a success with conclusive improvements on the signups. I’m unable to share the exact numbers due to my NDA. However, the programme churn rate did not decrease significantly which among other assumptions, could also indicate that the users aren’t as confident on the performance metrics as we had hoped. There’s still room to explore and iterate in the members area and the opt-out flow.