Mapping an hotel customer experience in 48 hours

We were given the task to innovate around wearables for a hotel guest. We were looking into smartwatches in specific. Before we could dig in we had to know in what phase of the journey we thought the watch could make a difference for the guest experience. So we started up with an experience mapping of the guest journey to find out what to prioritize. This is a story how we made an experience map in 48 hours that gave us an overall view and helped us in further decision making and to zoom into the right scenarios and start to do innovation concepts.

In the guest journey for the business traveler we were focusing on 24 hours before the staying to 24 hours after the staying. Though we started up with booking a one night stay at a hotel in Stockholm received the booking confirmation and we were up and running. The thing was that we were about to experience the guest journey and see where wearables could enhance the experience. Because the smartwatches today is so hard connected with the smartphones we also looked into the mobile channel at the same time.

Sunday evening we were on our way on the journey, packing the bag for a one night stay at the hotel.

Recommendation: when documenting a user journey, take a lot of pictures. It makes it so much easier to show contextual pictures in the final documentation. It’s perfect when communicating ideas to an audience and saves plenty of time when everyone can do the design for example in a keynote presentation.

For best communication try to always get users in action in a specific context. So it’s good if you at least are to people

Traveling to the hotel we both tried out the subway and the taxi service as a common way to travel for a business guest to a hotel located in a bigger city.

The way to the hotel

Now it was time to check-in to the hotel, late sunday evening it was no line so it went smooth but for the validation of the guest journey it would have been better if the was a 5 minutes line. So when doing this exercise you have to be able to imagine things in different scenarios and situations to be able to map all kind of user experiences. This is an area where the smartphone and smartwatch really could enhance the experience and of course it would have been great if we already have checked in and received a digital key to our room.

Alright we have checked-in and it’s to find the room. Not always easy and often you have a lot to carry so a smartwatch could for sure support this scenario.

The way to the room, elevator, corridors and finally find and unlock the door to the room.

Finally we are in the room and can relax. When could it be the smart hotel room when we can use personal devices and preferences to control light, temperature, media etc. in the room. Today it’s quite a lot of hassle only to connect with the hotel wi-fi.

The “Smart” hotel room

Now when we have settled in it’s time to explore the hotel activities before taking a beer at the bar and after that going to bed. So far we have have documented everything and taken notes in every situation so it’s time to put it down on paper and prepare for the upcoming day’s workshop

Exploring the hotel activites

After a good night's sleep it’s monday and it’s time for the highlight of a hotel staying the breakfast! Finally we have to check-out so we have a complete journey before we have a workshop planned at the hotel with the team and the hotel director and the guest services manager from the hotel invited.

Eating breakfast before checking out

between 9 o'clock and lunch we had an experience mapping workshop. We prepared with all our findings after experienced the journey during our stay. This was perfect for the workshop to have a starter and together with the hotel expertise we could use the workshop complementing and highlighting the guest pain points.

Classic post it workshop with user activities, behavior, needs and with early thought on ideas to solve the problems

Now when all information was documented it was time to head back to the office to sort everything up and start to digitalize the journey.

Recommendation: Use a big canvas that you can roll up which make it easy to transport together with the post it notes.

We wanted to make a visual, easy to grasp experience map that gave a fast holistic view and here is the final results after 48 hours that we could present for the stakeholders on tuesday.

Experience Map

We added different areas that span over the phases in the journey and packaged them with name. This was good making it easier to prioritize when taking the next step looking into where to dig in and start doing Innovation concepts.

Adding areas in the experience map, Travel companion, Hotel Guide, The smart room, E-commerce, Communication, My business travel


Doing a rapid experience mapping by experience the journey and document all scenarios and situations is awesome. With that you have done all preparation needed for as Workshop that gives the effect you want. Now you have a good enough experience map to get a holistic view and an experience map that could be used for taking decisions what to prioritise and where to zoom in. You also have pictures on all the user activities so it’s easier to move on and start to look into different scenarios along the journey. During those two days we got a good enough understanding to be able to prioritise and take decision together with the stakeholders and that’s well invested time that really gave effect.

Now we could move on in the project and start to Innovate. In this case we went on in the project to really see how the smartphone and the smartwatch could enhance the guest experience in these specific scenarios: check-in/check-out, finding the room and the smart room.

Practical recommendations:

At least two people in the team when you document the experience

Take a lot of pictures and it’s good to prepare with story for different scenarios you want to experience. It takes time if you have to go back and take complementary pictures.

Take notes all the time around the user behaviour in all situations

Mix with both close up pictures and contextual pictures

Depending on how you are going to use the document. For understanding and internal use a smartphone camera is good enough but of course if you are about to communicate to a bigger audience it’s nice to have crisp pictures from a system camera.

I work at apegroup, a digital agency in Stockholm, Sweden and we believe in a life in motion. This is where our users live their life nowadays. Constantly in motion and always on the fly. Fact, not fiction, people.

The reason why we even get up in the morning is that we want to deliver services that embraces continuity, are contextually aware, speaks the lingo of connectivity and understands the importance of coherency. We firmly believe that this is where we can make a difference for people and brands