Managing availability —the easy way

Agoda.com is one of the largest online hotel and accommodation platforms in the world, offering over 700,000 properties in 197 different destinations in 38 languages.

Availability of rooms for customers is a key factor in providing the best user experience and business profitability, beside having attractive prices and great content.

 

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Agoda faced the challenge that despite the fact that hotels had rooms available, they didn’t update the back-end system — meaning availability was very poor on the site — thus the business was loosing money.

My role was to discover what were the main reasons for hotels not to update their availability, and how could we fix it through better user experience. I've collaborated with the product owner, design lead, and ux researcher to solve this.

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Define

To better understand the problem, we set down with the partners services team (which were the closest to the users) to learn more about the problem, the type of people who used the system, the previous attempts to solve it, and what kind of solutions can enhance it and simplify the process for the users.

This gave us plenty of initial data to start on without yet reaching to actual users. We decided that before we do that, we wanted to get more of the available context we had from our internal team.

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The main issue, as we learned out from our team, was that the original system was built in a way that resembled and excel sheet, even though it wasn’t the way users expected to key in the values for their availability.

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Discover

We also realized during our research that the current screens were not responsive, thus it was a major pain point for users to try to update availability on mobile devices when needed.

Once we had enough data, we examined each one of the use cases for updating availability by conducting interviews with real users from our hotels partners. We’ve tested initial wireframes and flows while walking trough each solution and trying to learn what worked and what not.

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Design

Managing availability for our users meant that they could open and close their hotel on our site by defining days.

That gave us the idea that instead of an abstract table view, we could simply build a calendar that fit into the users mental model of how they think they should manage the system.

Another discovery was that users tended to jump between setting the price and setting the availability, and so we realized that we could cut one step by combing this two screens into the same calendar, and allowing users to mange both price and availability from one place.

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23% increase in hotels availability on the site.

We’ve learned from our users that managing complex data set not need to rely on complex systems and UIs, and a simplified and well known tool such as a calendar could help make their task much more efficient.

Though it took some time to adapt as users were used to the old system, they soon learned their way with it and the tool is still being used by thousands of property owners.

The successful results make sure Agoda.com can continue supply needed availability to its customers all over the world.

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