Creating a globally scalable, yet locally relevant payment process for hotels is one of the world’s leading digital travel companies. The FinTech business unit develops new products and drives innovation to remove financial friction from the travel process. This makes buying and selling travel-related products and services easier for both travelers and partners.

At the end of 2018, I joined their FinTech business unit (Payments). As Team Lead I was responsible for forming a new team within the Partner Payments track that focused on improving the user experience for the accommodations on the platform.

Over a period of two years, I worked on multiple projects to bring new payment products to market and improve the user experience from payout to reconciliation. This required a continuous design process.

I had to combine multiple journeys to capture the complex payment sign-up process.

Connecting the dots

I started doing research to understand the problem space. Connecting the dots between different data sources. By interviewing the end-users of the platform, gaining knowledge from different stakeholders and from colleagues in product, marketing, engineering, and data science. Based on that, I created a visual representation of the partner’s journey, pain points, and emotions.

One of the key lessons was that different types of accommodations have specific payment needs. And that payments are very local. Our improved sign-up process, therefore, had to be globally scalable, but locally relevant. Otherwise, this would be a block for the user and the company.

From ideation to prototyping

I organized multiple creative workshops (brainstorming, storyboarding, card sorting, critiques, and co-creation) with my team and relevant stakeholders. Once the ideations sessions were completed, we evaluated the ideas. I also facilitated several sessions that helped us in the convergent phase to pick the best idea.

After that, I started designing our new sign-up process together with UX writers and product marketing managers. Localized and personalized for the needs of the partners, including a better onboarding experience with easily digestible step-by-step information.

Storyboard for one of the user scenarios that we tested in new markets.

Usability testing

The next step was to validate our prototype with real users. Together with the team, I visited partners in Bangkok to gain more insight into the market and to do usability tests with the prototypes. I led the research project and interviewed 15 hotel employees in four days. I have synthesized the notes from the interview into observations and insights and actionable user stories.

I made storyboards based on the user scenarios. We used these to keep the team aligned and explain our findings to relevant stakeholders. Once everyone was on board, I designed all the necessary components. These blocks allowed us to tailor the experience to partner needs, local regulations, payment methods, and product options.

Learn & Adapt

We successfully first tested our new sign-up flow in Thailand and Malaysia. But as said: payments are local. Each country needs a different approach due to regulations, taxes, and different payment methods. We tested elements of the new flow (local pay-in, localized value proposition, onboarding flow, or payout methods) and adapted them further as we rolled out in new countries in the following years.

Over a two-year period, we increased adoption in Indonesia, enabled payments in India to comply with tax regulations, and unlocked payments in the United States. Furthermore, we tested and learned in strategic markets such as China and Spain by offering a new payout method to our partners.

My role

  • Leading an iterative, data-driven design process
  • Facilitating co-working workshops with stakeholders
  • User interviews and usability testing
  • Creating a componentized framework & MVP.
  • Executing the plan through experiments & iterations
  • Creating high-fidelity prototypes

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