Regent Hotels was purchased by IHG in early 2018, and needed to be migrated to their platforms. However, trying to weave the storied past of an iconic brand on lackluster platforms led to a similarly lackluster user experience
Translate the complexities and opulence of this historic institution into a web experience that matches their new-found ambition to once again re-define luxury travel.
Hotel websites, for the most part, all function the same. The user is presented with a set of forms detailing where, when, and for how long they'd like to travel, and from there are herded through a flow of hotel options, room types, payment prompts, and so forth. Geared towards the everyday consumer, this functional flow, while varied in it's execution, is almost always nothing more than pedestrian.
The Regent user is not an everyday consumer, and pedestrian is not a word associated with their livelihood. Regent's target market is the hyper-elite; oil executives, pop stars, literal royalty, and so on. These people don't make their own hotel bookings; they have assistants, agents, or butlers for that. So, what does a hotel website look like if its primary user doesn't actually book their own stay? In a survey of test subjects using Regents legacy site, we identified three key places that needed improvement:
While the properties themselves may be on the forefront of opulence, the website is not currently representative of that level of luxury. Dated methods of displaying content, multiple typos, and a lackluster navigational experience lead to a less-than-luxurious feel. Also, the site makes use of the actual word "Luxury" in numerous instances, significantly diminishing the impact of the words true meaning.
In its current form, Regents site features hotel imagery for 99% of it's image content, i.e. pictures of beds or gyms. This type of photography is referred to in the industry as "product" photography, and while its functionality cannot be denied, product imagery alone cannot properly convey the grandeur of the Regent experience. Users described a lack of personality in the site, attributed to a deficit of lifestyle photography.
When it came to looking at the experience as a whole, most users found navigating the site to be painstaking. One user describes in great detail that, while the destination details pages all have relevant and comprehensive information, finding that information buried within pages within pages was more of a chore than was worth their precious time.It was abundantly clear that whatever experience we devised would have to be simple, straightforward, but without losing that sense of detail which was much appreciated.
I'm still writing details for this entry, so hang tight. In the meantime, you can see the final prototype here: