Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 49 – Why You Should Be User Testing Your Hotel Website

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We often talk about the importance of testing your hotel website and how it helps improve your conversion rate. In this episode of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast, we discuss how you can take your testing to the next level by using a qualitative testing tool such as UserTesting.com to support your quantitative data


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Show Notes:

What is qualitative vs. quantitative data?
Quantitative: Data that can be measured (visits, pages viewed, revenue generated)
Qualitative: Data that can be observed but cannot be measured (visitor behavior, opinions)

UserTesting.com: a service that allows companies to watch “real” people test the usability of their website. These testers come from a pool of nominally paid people, with the ability to have the test request go to specific demographic targets. The software records commentary from the tester and mouse movement. The company has the tester go through a series of tasks and has the tester give their opinion and thought-process as they complete the tasks. There can be written or oral questions for further feedback at the end of the videoed tasks.

User Testing vs. Heat Maps
Heat maps are quantitative data tools that allow you see the hot spots on a given web page. Both Google Analytics, as well as Adobe Analytics have heat map features. Heat maps are also available through A/B testing tools.

Heat maps are a great way to see some general information about how a web page is being used by visitors. Data needs to be taken with a grain of salt, especially if there is dynamic content on the page. Advantage of heat maps over live user testing is that the heat map is a compilation of all traffic to the site vs. a small sample of paid testers.

Case Study
Tambourine released two UserTesting.com videos that provided feedback from testers tasked to use Expedia to search for, and book a luxury hotel. One tester was on a traditional laptop and the other on a mobile phone.

From watching the recorded sessions, we get to hear the testers’ thoughts on what they think they are able to accomplish on the Expedia website. The testers are then asked to navigate the site to search for a luxury property in NYC. We get to hear the feedback as they try to figure out how to filter their results for luxury hotels, and then the thought process behind how they choose one property to move forward to book. They go through the booking process until the point of entering a credit card. They are then asked to go to Google to find the hotel’s website and compare the two booking experiences. They are asked which site had better pricing and what, if anything the hotel’s website does better than Expedia.

In the feedback from both testers, we hear that Expedia’s experience is simple and intuitive. The hotel websites required more information or had more steps to complete the booking than Expedia, but neither tester had anything specifically negative to say about the hotel sites. Both sites happened to have rate parity with Expedia’s pricing.

Takeaway from this testing experience:
Nothing surprising. Only two testers, with just one per device type

Pros and Cons of User Testing

  • We get to hear AND see real people use the website
  • Generate ideas for A/B tests based on feedback
  • Catch technical bugs
  • Potentially see alternate paths that visitors take to navigate the site vs. what we think they should d


  • Very small sample size
  • ven though you can target users with demographic information that comes close to your target customer, these are still not “typical” website visitors.
  • Composing the test tasks can be complicated and time consuming to do in a way that gets the testers to give you the feedback you are hoping for, without leading them down a path to answer in a skewed, favorable fashion.
  • Testers are human beings – some don’t follow directions well

Use this service to get some honest feedback on your website in conjunction with your standard analytics data. However, we don’t recommend jumping to large conclusions based on such a limited sample size. Use the feedback to start testing ideas.

Don’t forget, that episode 50 of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast will be broadcast live on Facebook and Youtube. Tune in at 2pm EST on April 7th for the special ‘Ask Me Anything’ episode. You can also submit your questions on Twitter to @_travelboom with the hashtag #fuelAMA.


In The News

Marriott Buys Stake In Tours & Activities Search Engine

What Areas Of A Hotel Experience is Most Shared on Social Media?

Google Optimize: Available globally today (no link)
Last September we announced Google Optimize, a free version of our popular enterprise-class A/B testing and personalization product, Google Optimize 360. Today we’re excited to share that Optimize is now available for everyone to use in over 180 countries around the world. Optimize helps any business test and deliver better website experiences. And to help businesses get started, we’ve made it easy to implement through a native integration with Google Analytics–just add a single line of code to your existing Analytics implementation!


Download the Fuel & Flip.to Website Behavior Study at www.fueltravel.com/websitestudy/


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Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom. Download our leisure travel study at www.fueltravel.com/study/.

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