Data analytics in the hospitality sector has always held incredible promise. With rapid advancements in business intelligence and UI design, I was eager to take the latest innovations to the world’s leading (and most disruptive) hospitality brands. This would help them deliver exceptional experiences to travelers across the globe, in turn translating into a measurable uptick in revenues.
It’s only been about three months that I have been part of the RateGain team, spearheading a variety of product initiatives in the travel & hospitality domain. With a background in Design Thinking, I saw this as the perfect opportunity for creating a UI that meets the needs of today’s hospitality analytics customer.
But what does this customer look like?
To answer this question, I deployed design thinking principles, across multiple service design workshops that would allow RateGain to delve deeper into the customer mindset. This revealed three unique personas and helped arrive at an effective design strategy for our platforms.
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Who are we making these changes for?
While this is a broad classification, creating customer personas can be useful when aligning specific UI features to everyday business needs. Here’s what we learned:
- Rod is the “controller,” eager to become empowered. Rod loves being in charge of situations and is looking for data that keeps the user updated on the latest trends and movements.
- Rye is the “digger.” A “digger” or “analyst” is interested in data mainly for the sake of becoming more educated and informed, without any immediate action points. Rye loves data and plays around with configurations to discover patterns.
- Ron is the “doer,” responsible for operations and meticulous when it comes to executing duties. Ron is a staple in most offices and reviews data points at regular intervals to take the mandated action. Ron follows the rulebook and is focused on compliance/reporting.
Following The Holy Grail of Context
Travel & Hospitality is a highly customised, with several micro-decisions determining business success. This means that the interface used to access and interpret data is mission-critical, influencing the insights gained and the decisions followed. RateGain interviewed over a hundred customers across our design thinking sessions to analyze a typical day in the life of a revenue manager for a hospitality brand. This revealed the essential anatomy of our customers’ decision-making process and why they choose to do what they do.
As analytics providers, it is our responsibility to empower analytics customers with a comprehensive set of information to drive decision accuracy. That’s why we followed a storytelling to get to the bottom of our customer’s unique context, goals, and pain points.
Here’s a sample storyline that could be followed during these interviews:
“When my GM calls me, it is usually an intense moment; I have to find what he needs quickly. I have to keep myself always updated, which sometimes is not possible. Hence I have to rely on . When the system becomes slow, or I have to struggle between screens, graphs it is very frustrating…”
Conversations like these tell us exactly where our product fits into the typical workday of a hospitality analytics user. And by aligning these stories to our customer personas, we can brainstorm on the possible product features.
The Magic Trick to Remember While Designing A New Experience
- Give customers a familiar interface – Jakob’s Law says that users spend most of their time on other websites; they will want your website to work in the same way as others that they already know. I have often had happy customers commenting that x interface resembles y so closely, making their learning curve much easier. By giving users a familiar interface, it is possible to increase the ease of doing tasks, thereby enhancing customer delight.
- Provide coach marks and tooltips – Coach marks help to orient new users quickly, without depending on documentation or FAQs. Similarly, contextual tooltips offer help at key moments on the user journey, reducing the need for external product training. RateGain is looking to place tooltips on tasks, labels, and other elements on the analytics UI. And this is vital for B2B users — as they are taking high-value decisions every day, they need contextual assistance at par with B2C interfaces.
- Remember that less is more – Too much data can be overwhelming, which is why graphs/charts should come with extensive filters to help customers to drill down. Not only will this improve the quality of decisions, but it will also reduce time-to-value. Our web interface triggers a behavioral change in users, condensing the clutter of raw data into on-demand, more relevant views. The UXD team RateGain is also designing a shallow navigational model based on this principle, so that the majority of daily tasks can be completed in 2 screens or less. You can enable this by selecting the right features, combining common data sets, adding smarter filters, etc.
- Personalize the experience – There are many aspects to this. To begin with, customer personas can be leveraged to create personalized product views, covering only their hotel or airlines on demand. Also, a feedback mechanism that’s part of core SLAs will help to hear customer needs and respond faster.
- Make systems more intelligent – We are leveraging business intelligence (BI) tools, looking at system-level computing to help create more relevant views. This is critical in creating genuine and measurable value for our customers. In a data-driven world, sophisticated business intelligence at your fingertips will be critical for ROI. And this must happen without the need for complex configuration or customization effort from the customer.
We Are Evolving in Tandem with the Digital Era
These are small moves that make a big difference. When it comes to UI in hospitality analytics, success lies in the details. That’s why we are also exploring elements like the addition of white space and a Dark Mode setting that helps customers access our products in any scenario. At RateGain, our mission is to bring comfort, convenience, and confidence to hospitality brands so they can speed up the decision-making process. We are starting with our flagship products – that is AirGain, Optima, and Parity, eager to extend these innovations to our entire lineup of offerings.