Costco Travel is a multibillion-dollar business providing travel services to millions of Costco members in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. We are a recognized leader in the travel industry dedicated to providing world-class member service.
When Costco Travel embarked on a mission to expand its offerings and provide customers an option to curate their own travel experiences, the company needed to figure out the best way to introduce this new feature. The main concern for the company was presenting this new offering in a way that was easy for customers and didn’t detract from Costco Travel’s existing curated travel packages.
While most of Costco Travel’s team agreed that the easiest approach would be to integrate a single point of entry in their existing website navigation menu, not everybody was on board. Avi Agarwal, the company’s Web Accessibility and User Experience Lead, was convinced that there was a better solution. He saw this new project as an opportunity for the company to slow down to test and improve the website user experience.
Avi managed to convince leadership that testing the user experience would be valuable to the success of this project, and quickly set out to do just that with the help of UserTesting.
“He advocated relentlessly and single-handedly for a user-centric approach based on design thinking where we could prototype designs and leverage UserTesting to test them quickly,” says Diya Loney.
Avi quickly set out to create prototypes of the team’s top ideas and leveraged UserTesting to learn how they impacted the user experience.
He first tested the Costco Travel team’s initial idea of having a single point of entry, where customers would find the option to curate their own travel packages on the website’s main navigation menu. This test quickly revealed that this initial idea did not resonate well with the company’s customers. Diya says that while the company assumed that users would be able to intuitively assemble their own travel packages, that was not the case at all.
“The single point of entry search widget was labeled ‘Vacation Packages’ but when we used UserTesting to ask website visitors to show us how they would book a hotel and flight, they simply could not complete the task."
These initial findings were eye-opening for the team and quickly made them see the value of testing the user experience before launching an offering. Further testing and a survey of competitor websites demonstrated to the team that the best approach to launching this product would be to offer customers multiple points of entry.
With this new direction in mind, Avi began experimenting with different configurations to find the best solution that would offer customers an enjoyable and intuitive buying experience. Diya points out that UserTesting allowed Avi to launch multiple tests that helped him see how even the smallest details impacted the buying experience for website users adding,
“Avi used UserTesting to conduct about 20 tests in 6 rounds of testing. UserTesting allowed him to do everything from examining layouts, icons, radio buttons, individual search fields, and much more during the course of his experiments.”
Avi’s design thinking approach combined with the insights acquired through UserTesting allowed Costco Travel to successfully launch its new product offering. In the weeks following the launch, Costco Travel saw an increase in bookings of customer-curated travel and also experienced an 82% decrease in support calls.
The success of the study conducted through UserTesting also helped usher in a new way of thinking at Costco Travel. Diya says that the team has since expanded its User Experience team and now sees the value in testing their offerings often. “UserTesting has become an essential tool for our organization as our team has come to appreciate the value of testing and providing a customer-centric experience. This tool has allowed us to examine and re-evaluate both new and old features with a new, user-centric lens.”
Adopting a customer-centric approach has been particularly valuable in setting Costco Travel apart even during uncertain times.
“We’ve seen amazing results outperforming our expectations, even as we battle travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Of course, much of the credit for this newfound success is largely due to Avi’s work and the insights gathered through UserTesting.”
UserTesting gives us the fastest insights into our members. It not only helps us understand where to focus, but why. It has become our most essential solution for testing.