Designing the end-to-end experience for Marina Bay Sands

The Brief

Together with my team mates, Ken Lee-Sanekata and Koh Khai Liang, we delivered a “practice pitch” to Marina Bay Sands (MBS). Our task was to analyse the brief given and to confirm the purported issues reported by MBS. At the end of it, we delivered a pitch presentation to MBS with the aim of selling our agency’s services.

Key Issues

To identify issues with the current site, we ran a heuristics analysis and a usability test. We found the following observations:

  • Information overload. Users felt overwhelmed by all the CTAs and information (e.g. promotions, events) they saw on the page.
  • Poor findability. Users had difficulty in navigating the website to find the information they need.
  • Poor legibility. Users highlighted that they had issues reading the text on the page due to the text being too small.

Often, these issues resulted in users feeling frustrated. Some also reported they’d abandon the booking and use a hotel aggregator instead.

Business Goals

Based on earlier findings, we defined the following business goals:

  • Increase the number of bookings made to the hotel
  • Increase the sign-up rates for Sands Memberships
  • Grow the reservation of the other attractions at MBS
  • Revitalise the brand through visual enhancements and better user experience

User Personas

Based on our user interviews, we grouped common behaviours to form three personas:

  • The cultured (Jeremiah). These groups of people go to MBS to watch the plays and theatre. They exhibit behaviors such as searching for shows and promotions.
  • The affluent (Sarah). These groups of people earn a high salary and spend on things beyond dining. They chase for the reward points.
  • The family (Sutiono Family). These groups of people are families and considered to be leisure travelers. They visit a country to relax and to make their kids happy.
Final user personas

Customer Journey

Focusing on The Family, we plotted the journey the family takes for the hotel booking process:

  1. Awareness: This stage involves guests looking for a suitable hotel to stay in. They use search aggregators to compare the prices and reviews. They rely on friends’ recommendations and reviews. Additionally, they visit the hotel website to check if direct booking is cheaper.
  2. Evaluation: This stage involves assessing the hotel to match their needs. These include finding out the room types and available room and hotel amenities.
  3. Booking: This stage involves the actual booking process. They enter in their personal information and the credit card details.
  4. Occupancy: This stage refers to the actual occupancy of the hotel room upon arrival. Specific to the check-in, this includes the guest’s thoughts and feelings. More generally, this also includes activites such shopping and buying theatre tickets.
  5. Checkout. This stage refers to the check-out process from the hotel. It captures the guest’s actions, thoughts and feeling of checking out of the hotel.
Journey Map for The Family

Content Strategy

Key Issues

We assessed the available types and found the following issues:

  • Difficulty in understanding content. Users reported not understanding the key messages e.g. membership benefits
  • Content is not structured and hard to navigate. Users reported not knowing there were two membership types: for shopping and casino. They assumed having either one would suffice to earn rewards at the shopping mall and casino.
  • Unclear error messages. Users felt confused when an errorm essage told that there are no rooms left on the search results page. The confusion arose because despite the message, they still did see available rooms.

By addressing the above, we can reduce frustration, and increase readability and comprehension.

Establishing content goals

The top three content goals for our project are to:

  • Drive visitors from being a prospect to a paying customer at the hotel
  • Describe the key benefits of being a member for both the casino and shopping memberships
  • Get visitors to opt for a hotel package that combines other services

Establishing guiding principles

We drafted the following guiding principles for the content creation process:

  • Begin with user needs. Build a persona of who it is you’re writing for.
  • Be personable. Copies should be written in a friendly yet polished tone that aligns with the overall brand.
  • Write concisely. Instead of writing long copies, aim to write succinctly.
  • Write for reuse. Develop reusable templates that can be used for different pages of the site

Sample publishing workflow

Moving forward, we propose the following publishing workflow: Plan, Create, Review, Approve, Publish and Maintain.

Proposed publishing workflow with roles & responsibilities assigned

Service Design

During our research, some users reported long waiting time while checking in to MBS.

This can be frustrating for the busy business traveler. We can reduce the wait time by using digital check-ins and allocating self check-in kiosks.

Project Methodology & Team Structure

To minimise the risks in this project, we proposed to use the agile methodology. Six sprints, each lasting three weeks, focusing on the web and mobile experience of your customers, will happen.

We will run the project in two tracks: discovery and development. In the former, we focus on user research, functional requirements, and stakeholder engagement. In the latter, we work towards creating prototypes and running usability tests. Between the tracks, there will be open communications at all time. Design studios will also happen during the project phase..

The team is structured in three tiers: management, advisory and project tier. Each tier has is own roles and responsibilities. The management tier is responsible for the management of the project whereas the project tier handles the day-to-day work. The project tier is further divided into teams: discovery and development. More information on the tracks can be found in the earlier section.

Proposed Team Structure

Design Studios

We proposed to involve clients from the start to create the solution together. We planned to conduct 2 design studios where relevant stakeholders will take part in the ideation and design process.

The objectives of the design studios are to:

  1. Create a shared project vision — both for the short- and long-term plan
  2. Generate ideas in a blame-free environment; and
  3. Foster a sense of ownership of eventual solution.

The design studios have four parts: people (getting the right people in), environment (creating a blame-free, creative environment), process (implementing a structured and facilitated discussions through design thinking) and intelligence (extracting knowledge and experience of your people).

Elements of the design studio

Change Management Approach

Our change management professionals will support the transformation process throughout. Some of these activities they’ll undertake include:

  • Stakeholder Analysis: finding and assessing the right internal stakeholders who can influence the project direction; measuring their level of influence; and acquiring buy-in.
  • Change Agent Network: identifying early adopters who can effect change within their department and organisation;
  • Change Impact Assessment: assess the impact and risk of any changes in process and workflow and how we can manage them
  • Communication Plan: deliver relevant information to the right people at the right time. Some methods of communication includes: email, newsletter, town halls and design studios.

Project Timeline

Overall project timeline

Prototype

You can view our prototypes at the following links:

  1. Web prototype
  2. Mobile prototype

Reflections and Lessons Learnt

This was one of the hardest project I’ve worked on. Selling an idea and pitching it to the client was, without a doubt, good practice, but it was tough to switch my “problem solver” mentality to that of a “sales” mentality.

In addition, the fact that I was grouped with the same people from my previous meant that we were comfortable with each other. That is both a good and bad thing. The good part is that we were already familiar with each other’s personality and working style. The bad part is that we took each other for granted and assumed that we would pick up the same roles we previously did.

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