In this day where user-experience triumphs everything, a forward-looking brand like Starwood is doing itself a disservice by forgetting the commonsense 101 on keeping survey friction at minimum, and using the digital tools to make feedback loop easier, not harder.
Last week I had to go to Hollywood, FL for a last-minute trip to the PhoCusWright conference and ended up staying two nights at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, surprisingly cheap at around $100+ for a last-minute booking.
As is usually the case with these big conferences, I was busy with meetings and barely spent any time at the hotel except for coming back to sleep in the night. Overall, my experience with the funkily-shaped (see first photo above) and laid-back hotel was minimal, but decent.
Being a brand new Starwood loyalty program member — I was signed up by the front desk on arrival — a few days after my stay I got an email about my stay at the hotel, asking me to rate my experience as a member. Usually, these surveys are mostly ignored and destined for the trash folder, but for once I decided to go through it, just to see what the experience of going through such a “hotel satisfaction survey” was.
For the hospitality industry, with online came the ability to get feedback from customers through alternative means, including sending them emails asking them to fill out surveys. The hospitality industry swears by these, spends tons of money with third-party companies that focus on this feedback and make meaning out of it.
But check the 20-question survey above in the gallery above, the questions and its methodology, laid out with little thought to user experience or helping get the best feedback with least friction.
To begin with, since Sheraton/Starwood knows that I stayed at that specific hotel, instead of the generic Sheraton photo it would have helped to show a photo of the actual hotel. Would it have been too much to ask for stock photos of the actual room I stayed in, to aid in recall while filling up the survey?
With so many questions in a badly-done UX, imagine what the abandonment rate is. Especially with mobile and tablets becoming the norm, this survey on mobile is even worse, where buttons are a big no-no from a usability perspective.
Tons of other usability flaws, all making sure you never want to go through another online Starwood survey again. If this is what Starwood is paying these third-party companies to gather feedback from its customers…well, you get the drift.
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