An App Experience Fit for One Night of Spontaneity
Hotel deal apps are growing in popularity, making the market an extremely crowded area with countless products offering the same services. Last minute booking apps are a highly competitive market owned by “discounting and mass market” players. One Night needed to disrupt the market by creating an experience for the user that no other app could offer.
Whereas apps like HotelTonight were more of a utility, One Night would provide services for the user from a curated list of unique hotels.
To ensure a fluid and seamless experience across the app, our team set up three user personas—the Super User, the Explorer and the Shopper—to adapt the booking system to the different user needs and personalize the experience as much as possible.
Super Users know exactly what hotels they’re looking for without needing to take price into account. They look to the app for its efficiency and fast booking option that enables familiar users to act decisively.
The Explorer is less knowledgeable about hotels and may be unsure where to begin their search. They tend to browse through slowly, considering options more deliberately than the Super User. One Night makes it easy to switch back and forth between hotels, and enables discovery of the app’s many features through simple navigation.
The Shopper lies somewhere between the Super User and the Explorer—aware of the hotels they like, but conscious of pricing. The Shopper wants to be able to view their options, with price as their main focus. Facilitating price comparison allows the careful Shopper to view detailed information about the hotels, so that they can be sure of their final decision.
The Strategic Approach
In order to stand out, One Night needed to differentiate its user experience from the other apps. Focusing on two areas—spontaneity and content—separated the app from the rest.
Spontaneity is Key
One Night is built upon the idea that booking a great hotel can often be spontaneous and in-the-moment rather than planned ahead. Reacting to three different types of contextual data—time, user states and location—the app’s spontaneity creates an impulsive experience.
Content as a Tool to Convert
The One Night app uses content as a tool to inspire, convert and reward its users. With informative content each step of the way, users are able to get the best understanding and experience for fast-paced, last-minute bookings. An app description that highlights the key messages of the app—cheapest rates guaranteed, the best curated hotel list in the city, a new way of enjoying hotel life—was designed to lead to app discovery and trigger downloads. Ranking the hotel list with a new set of rules created by One Night utilizes content as a conversion tool.
An app that promises same-day hotel booking requires a robust technology system to back it. Code and Theory’s tech team had to guarantee that the app could connect to hotel reservation systems within 2 seconds of users booking. We successfully built the app to integrate with 30+ hotels at launch—and today it’s at 400 hotels. Working quickly and collaboratively, we ensured that the technology that supports the app delivers on the brand promise, and enables a seamless experience for its users.
- iOS (Objective C)
- Android (Java)
- Custom eComm/Payment Flow (Braintree — ApplePay iOS and Stripe Android)
- PMS/Booking Interface (SynXis)
We built the app with a set of features that bring the strategic approach to life and retain the spontaneity and simplicity of the brand.
The One Night app needed the efficiency of all other apps, but speed was especially important here to quickly move the user through the booking process. However, the app also needed to adapt to each user’s individual needs, with different speeds for those less accustomed to the app or last-minute hotel booking versus those looking to explore rather than buy right away.
Limited Hotel Inventory
Due to the emphasis on immediacy and spontaneity, the hotel inventory was designed to be limited to a curated list of hotels that would likely sell out quickly, potentially leaving customers frustrated and discouraged. By creating a sense of scarcity and developing a new way to rank hotels in a list, we aimed to encourage better conversion.
Last-minute hotel booking is a highly time-sensitive experience, leaving users only a small window to confirm the booking before it’s taken by another customer. The user experience had to reflect this sense of urgency and turn it into an advantage for conversion. Letting users know when bookings are available through a countdown clock encourages them to live in the now.
Around the Clock Tips
Rather than monotonously listing out what the hotel has to offer, One Night creates a timeline of the hotel based on when individual users engage with the app. The description of the hotel is contextualized in a 24-hour timeline, a circular way to describe hotel tips from 3 PM to 3 PM. The content thus becomes centered around the user, making One Night stand out as a hotel booking app.
Centered Around the User
Reacting to user states gives the app a personalized experience that adapts to individual needs. Hotel lists are generated differently for first time users, returning users or users who have already booked. As a first time user, the hotels are randomly ordered; however, as a returning user, One Night makes repeat behavior accessible and actionable. The app architecture reverses the usual roles played by hotels and users, simplifying and centering around the user rather than the hotel.