Improving the User Experience at Moxy Hotels Case Study

Research area: Hotels and Lodging Options

Nearly 70% of all hotel rooms under construction for Marriott are beyond North America’s shores. They need to cater to a much more international set of travelers moving forward. The new CEO, Sorenson, istargeting Generation X and Millennials, the young travelers who might otherwise consider Marriott conventional and “uncool.” One of their latest brands, Moxy Hotel, is tossing out ‘stodgy suits and forever check-in lines and creating a stylish atmosphere where self-service means visitors can do “what they want, when they want without holding them up”.

Marriott’s research found Millennials gather in public to schmooze, work and drink. The company’s Innovation Lab is gearing up to offer hospitality features, content and social means for guests in communal spaces to easily connect — and they need ideas. The brand is now aiming to attract young business travelers in addition to their current clientele.

The project goal is to help the chain find newways for their guests to easily connect in communal spaces, and ultimately cater to the brand’s new target audience.

In a team of 3, I did:

  • Research and synthesis
  • Ideation and feature sketching
  • Mock-ups & prototype
  • Usability Testing


  • Sticky notes
  • Sketch
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • Marvel


  • Personas
  • User Journey and Storyboards
  • Hi-fidelity Mockups
  • Interactive Prototype
  • Presentation


Delivered hi-fidelity mockups and a presentation of the revised experience, the group received positive feedback on the ideated concepts and features validatingtheir effectiveness in answering the chain’s needs and solving the various newfound issues that arose during research.



After understanding the project goals, my group and I began our research by visiting several local hotels to conduct observations, contextual inquiry, and user interviews. We focused on the hotels’ communal spaces including bars, lounging areas, coffee shops and workspaces and noticed the different layouts, use patterns and behaviour of the inhabitants.


My group members and I also conducted a survey about business travel, which was distributed on travel forums, hotel Facebook pages, and personal networks. The survey focused on understanding what people find most important while traveling for business, what services they use , and how they spend their free time.

Secondary sources were used in order to get a feel of the brand. According to findings, Moxy is viewed as a bold, design-oriented chain providing relatively low-cost options for young adults. The chain is more established in Europe and is currently in the midst of entering the US market with 32 properties in different stages of development.

In order to understand the hotel’s competitive landscape, the group explored other lodging options available to young business travelers, including Airbnb for Work, a feature launched recently by Airbnb that caters to business travelers, with guarantees including 24-hour check in, high speed wifi and private workspaces. Boutique hotels like the The Ace and Acme we also explored, together with more Niche hotels that were often under larger hospitality corporations.

The hotel’s design is done under the corporate assumption that millennials “don’t care about the size of their hotel rooms because they don’t want to be in their rooms other than to sleep” — based on the idea that the generation is more concerned with experiences than with accommodations.


In order to understand the hotel’s competitive landscape, the group explored other lodging options available to young business travelers, including Airbnb for Work, a feature launched recently by Airbnb that caters to business travelers, with guarantees including 24-hour check in, high speed wifi and private workspaces. Boutique hotels like the The Ace and Acme we also explored, together with more Niche hotels that were often under larger hospitality corporations.


User interviews proved to be the most crucial component of the research efforts. The group and I spoke to around 20 people, focusing most on young business travelers. Interview participants were recruited during field research as well as through personal social networks. During user interviews, I encouraged the group to try to get participants to reveal what they found most enjoyable about business travel and pain points they encounter often as well as a general understanding of their routines while traveling and how they might differ from those at they follow at home. Here are a few interview quotes that proved important later in the design process:

When I’m traveling, my routine gets thrown off, which is really stressful. Hotels aren’t designed for people to be self-sufficient.”

— Lauren

“I like to be in my own world because traveling is so dynamic.”

— Kim

“I would rather do my own research [when finding restaurants], because people are generally bad at estimating my needs and desires.”

— Steven

“When I’m traveling for work I make it a point to do things and try food that I can’t get anywhere else.”

— Bert



After gathering such a large amount of information, the team regrouped to distill and pick out the parts that seemed most telling. Next, while consistently encouraging group members to stick to the process, I began thinking of different ways to make sense of what was found, and gradually, together with the group, started recognizing different emerging patterns and insights.

  • People look for authentic, local experiences when traveling, even so, when constrained, they often resolve to using hotel options out of convenience.
  • Many travelers become stressed when they feel they don’t have control over their routines.
  • People usually favor lodging experiences where they feel at home, autonomous, and comfortable.
  • People are motivated by incentives and a feeling of value.
  • Individual attitudes towards socializing change depending on situational circumstances and emotional state.
  • People often use Yelp and Google (or equivalents) to find restaurants and activities because:
  1. They don’t trust hotel resources to know what specific types of experiences they’re looking for.
  2. They like to feel actively involved in the search process and feel like they make their own judgements.
  • There is a disconnect between many of Moxy’s physical spaces & stated intentions andthe company’s branding and online experience.

Attempting to understand the ‘big picture’, I tried to use more of a macro perspective approach and identified the six core needs our hotel users expressed.

  • Comfort
  • Control
  • Authenticity
  • Customization
  • (To Feel) Valued
  • Consistency

The group kept these needs in mind when proceeding to synthesize the findings. In doing so, we determined that the hotel’s online and offline experiences didn’t fully address the newfound user needs. With the project brief still in mind, the following design opportunities and principles were identified:


  • Provide users with local and authentic experiences not typically associated with corporate, “stuffy business hotels”.
  • Increase the trust between users and hotel resources, particularly when searching for local restaurants, bars, activities.
  • Provide social opportunities for users who are actively seeking them.
  • Bridge the disconnect between Moxy’s physical spaces and the online experience.

When trying to identify and categorize the different types people who participated in the research, a user matrix was utilized. With this, the group and I identified three main types of users to cater to and picked a representative from each group to form personas.




After formulating design principles and personas, it was time to start ideating concepts ultimately leading to a design solution. The first step of the groups design process was collaborating with other groups in class in to quickly formulate concepts based on the needs of our personas. After this process, we were left with sixteen viable concepts that could potentially take part in the solution.

  • Quiet Zone’
  • Local restaurant discounts
  • Event Hall
  • ‘Meet-up’ Application
  • ‘Ice-breakers’
  • Room Customization
  • Smart Table with information, activities and reviews
  • First person, 360 degree hotel space viewing interface in website
  • Spa
  • Overhead view of the Moxy spaces in website
  • Smart TV Login system
  • Integration of local elements in the hotels
  • Socializing via food
  • Workout class
  • Smart room
effectivness chart .png

In order to narrow down the amount of ideas, I proposed using a numerical system to rank each concept according to how effectively it answers each design principle. To do this, we ranked each concept according to it’s effectiveness on a scale of 1–5 a total of three times, once for each persona. The three rankings, each determined by how much they solved for the different personas, were then averaged to determine a base score for that particular principle. By end of the process, each concept had a total of six base scores, one for each principle. After determining the scores, two major concepts were created.


— a new bedroom layout that would cater to the specific needs of young business travelers.

— a web and service-based experience that helps Moxy guests connect to local food and social opportunities around the hotel they’re staying at.


To better illustrate how the proposed solutions would be implemented and the user experience, the group decided to create a storyboard-driven user journey that showcases the different ways users could benefit from the new solutions. While I worked together with other group members on developing and testing the new interfaces, my talented colleague and group member, Mark, illustrated the storyboards.

The user journey begins with a young professional looking to book a room at a hotel for a business trip. The user stumbles upon Moxy’s website and notices the option for the business-oriented room. He books the room, and immediately receives a confirmation email. Later, during the day the user checks into the hotel and enters his room, he is welcomed by the various features included as a part of the new business room’s design. These features include high-speed wi-fi, a charging station, a specialized desk, a whiteboard, a smart tv with access to video streaming accounts and bluetooth audio functionality emphasize feelings of customization and control.

The storyboard also highlights elements designed to emphasize a local, authentic experiences. When first entering the Moxy, the user was also introduced to an aesthetic that showcases local decor, popular local beers, wines, liquor and regional paraphernalia.

Business area added to the hotel’s communal space offering work-related amenties and a relativly quiet envioronment.

Some of the additional features include a mini-fridge and soundproof walls support the user’s comfort.

Some of the additional features include a mini-fridge and soundproof walls support the user’s comfort.

phone event slct small.jpg

After finding a coaster at the hotel bar offering a discount at a local restaurant that Moxy is in partnership with, the user gets a text through which he logs into his Moxy Local account, and is immediately introduced to popular local bars, restaurants, and events.

Moxy Local allows guests to find places to eat, reviewed specifically by locals, as well as the option to RSVP to events they wish to attend. This is when the user decides to attend a group dinner offered on the website.

This feature allows users to have more authentic dining experiences, while enforcing a feeling of value for choosing to stay at the hotel. Later in the evening, at the group dinner, the user is able to connect with fellow travelers if willing, also adding a more personal, customized feel to his experience.

phone event dsply small.jpg


  • The group found though research that the brief provided by Moxy Hotels, describing their pursuit to attract young business travelers, suggested an approach that did not sufficiently address the most prominent concerns found within the target demographic. As such, we expanded on the project goal by determining the true needsof this particular audience, and slightly adjusting Moxy’s existing brand to fit the findings.
  • To better quantify how successful these design solutions would be, measuring changes in hotel booking rates (how many rooms are booked) in relation to the experiential changes provided and ROI should help determine the effectiveness of the new design.
  • Assuming Marriott actually wants to expand Moxy’s target demographic, it should find ways to better cater to their specialized needs.
  • The chain could consider adding more local elements to their sub-brand in order to provide a more authentic feel while relating experiences from surrounding areas to the hotel.
  • More in-depth research and testing should be conducted and could prove useful in optimizing value and usability of the new concepts and interfaces.
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