Hostels.com is a website owned by Web Reservations International (WRI), who provide technology and marketing solutions to accommodation and other travel suppliers worldwide through a network of owned sites including Hostelworld.com (check out our Hostelworld case study).
Hostels.com offer the most comprehensive selection of hostels, B&B’s, budget hotels, and other accommodation on the internet with over 35,000 great places to stay in 180 countries.
Validating the new site experience
Hostels.com wanted us to get them feedback on enhancements they made to their revamped website, and the aim of the project was to gain a deeper understanding of how users of hostel sites interact with the new version of the site, and what they look for when deciding to make a booking.
Working primarily with participants aged 18-24 in Ireland, Hostels.com asked us to provide clear and actionable insights for their internal team, to improve the site and booking experience online.
We ran 12 usability testing sessions in a lab in Ireland called Focus Suites and each session lasted approximately 1 hour. The participants were split across the age ranges we were working with. We recruited students and people over in Ireland, who were traveling or on a gap year.
For these participants we had help from Hostels.com, working with their internal CRM team. Recruiting in this way improved the chances that the participants would be highly relevant as they were currently moving from hostel to hostel.
During the usability testing we allowed the participants to have a fairly free-form session, to understand where they would look for various elements without being prompted. We then asked them to carry out specific tasks related to booking, and got them to think alout to verbalise their thoughts during this process.
Issues raised during testing were then used to help create the report, which also used the eyetracking data to create heatmaps and gaze plots of key parts of the search and booking process. Video recorded during testing was used to create montage clips highlighting the most important points. All of this was then delivered in a report to the key stakeholders by the lead consultant.
The report we presented outlined some key interaction styles and behaviours which were consistent across all the users tested. This feedback allowed us to give recommendations that would help the developers mould the interface around how the users were searching for, and choosing, hostels.