IHG Adventures

Research | Sketch | User Test

Problem: social Media integration

Every business has some way to improve their viability. Some businesses find it and use it as leverage against competition. Some businesses don't. Those business don't hold up. IHG isn't like that. IHG wants to leverage location-based social media's booming popularity. They want users to promote IHG hotels and brands by tagging locations and gaining points, achievements, or levels for each brand, service, or amenity they provide.

Solution: IHG Adventures

As a group, we came up with the idea to create an extension on the existing IHG Rewards App. This portal will allow users to earn reward points and promotional treats as well as unlock badges for taking pictures and tagging them. These pictures will come from checking into IHG hotels and sponsored restaurants nearby. Pictures stored throughout their hotel stay are available for purchase through a link to Shutterfly on the app. Let's dive in to how we got here!

Marriot rewards tried this before

The journey started by creating a competitive/comparative analysis.

When it comes to the competition, we looked at a few (three) hotel groups. The only hotel group that did something close to what we set out to accomplish was Marriot. They had a system set up for a short period of time last year where rewards club members could earn points by tagging Marriot in their social media posts. However, that was for a brief period of time. IHG Adventures is created with the idea that it would be implemented consistently and be more interactive than just hashtagging for points.

As for the comparative analysis, we tested a few apps that used location-based gamification. The one we found most interesting was Untappd, a social drinking platform that allows beer drinkers to earn points for drinking certain beers in different places to earn badges. We also checked out Swarm and Foursquare. Those are pretty much the same: socialized check-ins and recommending places to visit.

Survey says... this is a good idea!

From our analyses, we were able to formulate a survey about the rewards-earning experience, social media sharing, and playing games. 

The survey statistics showed that 64% travel for leisure, 71% do not share on social media to receive rewards, 86% play games on their phones.

During the wait time for the initial survey to collect results, our team began brainstorming features for IHG Adventures, as we named it. We knew that we had to incorporate social media for earning points because that was the objective, but how to do that was where ideas were bouncing off and on the whiteboard walls. 

We incorporated the information collected in the survey as best as we could since we were working while the survey was being distributed. 

ideas of Gamification and more

One thing we agreed on was that IHG Adventures shouldn't simply be a platform where you insert a hashtag in your social media post. We wanted it to be more interactive so we gamified the experience here. This is where we created a reward-points-ception. The overall IHG Rewards app is designed to manage and reward earn points. Along with the earning of the points, we have the earning of prizes big and small at the hotel as well as treats provided by local businesses nearby.

Considerations were made as to what selling-point of the experience should be prime focus: the easiness of the process or the rewards that would be offered throughout. We considered how the rewards would be earned: after each task is completed or after a group of tasks were completed. We considered things we needed to test: does "enter to win" work as a call to action? 

survey says... users want more

During a second round of surveys, we asked users what features they would like to see from a list of ideas we were considering. We received excellent feedback on some ideas (like seeing what friends on the app have done in the are that the user is staying in and earning badges) and got rid of the ones with less resonance (like themed tasks). We also found the four key things that users want in a rewards program:

  • Quicker rewards with them in mind 
  • Suggestions of activities around them
  • Notification when they are close to receiving a reward
  • An easy, clear tracking of points

USer testing

From that point, we collaborated on what the first digitized sketch would look like incorporating elements from each of our low fidelity sketches. Pictured above are my paper sketches. We initially incorporated my carousel idea in the selecting of a city, but finally moved that element to the badges page of IHG Adventures. Another design contribution from my sketches was the use of a map display for activities.

Testing them with potential users. We executed four rounds of testing each with three or more different testers. After each round, I went back to the designer who would iterate the designs based on user feedback I documented.

All of that led us to these three iterations of digital designs in Axure courtesy of Tobias with mine and Stephanie's notes.

Note: This was part of a project simulation for General Assembly's UX course. While IHG Adventures was shown later on to an IHG corporate employee and received both praised and critique, it was not presented as a part of a pitch or anything of that nature.