A wiser way to travel

Designing a Hotel Booking Engine

When we think about hotel booking products, big players come right into our minds like: Booking, Airbnb, and Expedia, to name a few. But what about travel agencies? Does it ring a bell?

The challenge began when Travelwise, a local travel agency, asked me to build a hotel booking engine for their clients. After a few failed attempts, they gained enough experience to set the right path. So we started assembling the team and began working.

My role in this project was UX Designer Lead and UX Researcher of a multidiciplinary and multicultural team of 5 talents.


Users already had a very defined mental model by internationals competitors who had the majority of market share, and Travelwise had little to no participation in the online space.


We had the hypothesis that we could design an experience tailor-made for local users adding features based on cultural factors.

We also had better negotiation of room prices with local hotel chains and had been building a customer base of +30 years of relationships.

Research Plan User Quotes


After some affinity mapping and card sorting, we ended up building two different types of user personas: A 50-year-old mom called Ana and a 20-year-old young adult named Miguel.

For both user personas, we mapped out different scenarios based on intrinsic motivations, like: wanting to go to a concert outside the city, anniversary dates, vacations, etcetera.

We made several ideation sessions with designers and subject matter experts, then, we mapped the customer journey for each user persona. The solutions available didn't answer common experience obstacles for locals, giving us a variety of barriers that we could solve.

Sample 1


First, we had to guarantee that the user was going to receive a familiar experience in their booking journey. Then we built features based on the research data.

We grouped hotels into "Collections," which was a list of categories curated by Travelwise experts who had experienced themselves each hotel on their list. Collections added tremendous value because users could find hotels based on activities (concerts, conferences, events) and special needs (pet-friendly, anniversary, best beaches, best for relaxation).

We wanted to maintain better prices than our international competitors and wanted to add a "Flash Offers Section" for exclusive limited time deals.

We also upgraded the checkout game with more payment options like paying on cash, installment payments plans, and returnable tax receipts (only available for local business).

We narrowed down the scope of work with the technical team and defined the MVP, which we were going to test rapidly with a paper-prototype:

Sample 2

After some iterations, we built some wireframes for the second round of testing.

Usability testing results modified and improved some of the features, but the concept of the solution was very well accepted.



After building version 1.0, We designed a marketing campaign with emails and social ads with our client CRM database (age, sex, anniversary dates, family members, pet owner) and other variables like events dates, time of the year, and zone. After crossing referencing this data with our DMP, the results were stunning.


Results Go Back to: Work