UX Advantage 2015: Designing a Global UX

Gina Villavicencio, Director UX Design and James Nixon, General Manager, Digital Globalization, Marriott International

– share an accomplishment or two:
– ratings and reviews product; 2/3 of millenials use ratings and reviews before choosing a hotel; search visibility; Marriott not well known in some international markets; want to see reviews from people like them; ratings and reviews can hurt conversions, so goal was “do no harm”; increased conversion; feature designed by US team, did competitive analysis in international markets; had to look at customers who weren’t familiar with Marriott; tested in Germany, France, Italy, and China; tested our review version vs. local; source doesn’t matter as much as it coming from a person like the user
– integration with WeChat: China, 549 million monthly users, 1 billion registered users; texting + photo/audio/video + payments + other; English version only has two features, not the full ecosystem available in China; not a lot of creative opportunity with integration, working from template; first time the region is leading the project and HQ is learning from them; WeChat is what Facebook will be in a few years, and we are learning through this; in China, mobile is more important than web
– where does Globalization sit in org: starts at CEO; growth is coming from international markets; decentralized structure with presidents and support staff in different regions; mandated HQ to support those regions; Digital Globalization is horizontal across the digital experiences but also vertical and builds experiences and products; centralized core technology, but decentralized for specific purposes in the regions; growth is in regions, but scale is focused at HQ
– UX team is structured similarly; UX leads for each product line, standards team that crosses all, and global UX team that works across and vertically as well; principle, everyone is responsible for global, so hope that someday no need for a specific global UX team; started with research to infuse global information, but it’s now more structured – still research based, but has packaged training, KPIs, and rewards
– localized prototypes: trying things in the regions and decide if UX should be decentralized, including specific technologies and changes in specific regions; e.g. localized content, regions have more control over the content of the site (text and imagery); need a governance model that enables regions but maintains scale and quality
– how do you start and then build momentum: need executive support; fear of loss of control, especially around brand; intelligent experimentation then figure out how to formalize and scale, then monitor
– how do you get exec support: James’s group has to align the different regions and groups to get the funding for these initiatives; budgets supposed to take 3 months but takes longer; lots of education; measure impact in 3 buckets: core traditional metrics (“win the booking, win through the stay”), adoption metrics (largely education right now), strategic bets metrics (big local initiatives); 80/20 rule definitely applies in globalization, 80% decisions can be global, 20% need to be local
– global UX initiatives: influence product decisions (including domestic), impact the entire platform; localized prototypes are key; e.g. enhancements to search forms for local needs; work with standards teams to ensure quality but enable exceptions to exceptions; it’s not a standard if it’s not validated globally; e.g. favorite icon = heart, or does it need a label; e.g. Brazil payment is payment system “layaway on steroids”, need to support multiple payments for hotel stays; took about a year to convince the organization to support it; 50% of James’s job is education
– significant and growing part of revenues is coming from outside the US
– what obstacles to overcome: without local support teams for product, do an experiment with temporary or agency help, and show the multiplier; need initial funding, get creative; get a regional account but manage it domestically
– what do you do if the region pushes back: had to prove ourselves, for example in China; again the local prototyping, research in market, build a prototype, test that prototype; built credibility

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