Understanding International Booking Journeys

4 min read
Design Research
travel & tourism
situation & task

International User Testing

For more than 120 years Hurtigruten Cruises have been a part of the coastal areas of Norway, providing a service for both freight transporters, local people and tourists. With their experience in polar areas they have become an international travel industry company with a unique product, and aim to become one of the world’s 10 most attractive tourist destinations.

We were contacted by Hurtigruten to provide international lab based usability testing on their existing website across three key markets (UK, Germany, and Norway). We were asked to run a remote unmoderated usability testing project and a survey to find out more about the profiles of their customer base. It was important for us to gather practical insights during user testing that would inform the design and development of the site going forwards.

Existing Hurtigruten customers and potential customers were identified as being an older age demographic (age 55+) with a niche profile, which would made the recruitment process much harder and more involved. With this age demographic we anticipated a higher drop-out rate during the remote unmoderated usability testing, which we managed by allowing more time for these participants to be recruited online and also for completing tasks during usability testing.


Focusing on the customer journeys and the booking system

The testing had a strong focus on the booking engine and the end to end customer journey from the initial visit to the site through to the final payment screen. We ran the UK usability tests over two days with 6 x 1 hour one-on-one interviews. We gathered user’s opinions and thoughts with a follow-up survey at the end of the testing sessions to gain additional insights. This method was then repeated in the other two countries with our partner agencies; Savigny user research in Germany and Netlife Research in Norway.

We recruited 36 participants in total (12 per country) for the lab-based usability testing. Each country ran a baseline of tests with some market specific variations and recruitment was handled at a local level. We recruited participants made up of existing and prospective customers of varying age ranges and gender. These were then interviewed using a mixture of self-determined (free-form) and predefined tasks on the website.

We designed and launched the remote unmoderated usability testing tasks alongside the lab-based usability testing, which allowed enough time to collect and analyse the data. Using a remote user experience research tool called UserZoom, we designed validation criteria such as a participant reaching the correct URL as well as allowing the participant to self-certify when they had found a correct answer based on the task.

The remote unmoderated usability testing was used as a quantitative research method to complement the qualitative methods used in the moderated sessions. We recruited a total of 300 participants (100 per country) working with two partner panel providers Toluna and Survey Sampling International. We designed a series of tasks for the users to complete and translated these for the German and Norwegian markets.

at a glance


Usability testing, remote usability testing, surveys, user testing, clickstream analysis

Remote testing

Running remote unmoderated usability testing and survey across UK, Germany and Norway to find out more about customer profiles

Niche profile

User recruitment process appeared to be harder and more involved as the customer and potential customer demographic was identified as older age (55+)


Summarised report for all three markets included: analysis of the clickstream data, task completion time, task success ratios and click map analysis data

Spotless package recommendation

Elevate Your Existing Business; Totally Understand Your Customer


Localising the improvements

Possible improvements were identified for the existing site that could be implemented globally as well as changes that could be introduced at a local country level. We produced a report for each market that captured key issues from the user testing, including areas such as cabin pages, address finder pages, cruise landing pages and user journeys through to the final purchasing page. To help the client see results across all three countries, a summarised report with a list of the key issues across all three markets was produced alongside the final report.

The report of the results of the remote unmoderated usability testing across all three countries, including analysis of the clickstream data, task completion time, task success ratios and click map analysis data.

“Spotless carried out web usability testing for us across three of our global markets, UK, Germany and Norway, Ben and his team were very professional, friendly and extremely helpful in making sure as a company we achieved our goals and the most we could out of the tests. Ben understood us as a niche travel company and our requirements; he made sure that all our local and global needs were adhered to. Spotless usability expertise was very evident, this was highlighted in the way the lab tests, survey and user based tasks were carried out so efficiently meaning that we achieved some very valuable insights. First class reporting clearly presented the findings in a series of insightful reports and excellent presentations for each market. These findings were easy to absorb and due to the real practical advice and suggested solutions we were presented with, we were able to make instant improvements to our websites that lead to an increase in conversions and revenue quickly. I hope to work with Ben and his team again in the near future.”

- Sarah Haynes – Marketing Executive Web – Hurtigruten


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