Hyatt hotel online reservation form

December 9, 2010

I booked a room at the conference venue — Hyatt Regency Long Beach — for the WritersUA conference in March 2011. I made the reservation via the link from the conference website, so it’s possible that my experience was different to that of someone reserving directly via the hotel’s website.

It was great to see some usability improvements to a hotel’s reservation process. But there are still some fundamental web form design issues that the Hyatt needs to address.

Here are some good and bad points of the process, as I experienced it in late November 2010:

The great

  • The online form allowed me to reserve under both my name and my friend’s name — typically, this requires several phone calls to get a hotel to realize that two people sharing a 2-bed hotel room for a conference just might have two different names and addresses, and might be arriving and leaving at different times!
  • I could check a box saying that my friend and I wanted to split the bill and then the form asked for the credit card details for us both. Nice. Sorting this out on checkout can be fraught with complications — “I’m sorry. We don’t split bills — you’ll have to sort it out yourself”, “I’m sorry — we can’t give you two invoices/receipts in your respective company’s names”.

The good

  • When I chose Australia as my country of residence, the State field’s drop-down list disappeared to be replaced by a text field. Nice. It’s so annoying to enter a country outside the US, then get only a list of US states to select from — and to add insult to injury, to find that the State field is mandatory!

The bad

  • No information on internet charges. Just this generic statement: Wireless Internet access (*applicable fee charged). What’s an ‘applicable fee’?
  • No information on whether a ‘Deluxe Business’ room had free internet or not. The descriptions for each room on the reservations page looked remarkably similar so it was hard to see where the value was in selecting a more expensive room. Later, I did find that the Business Plan (under Special Offers — right where you’d think to look for it… NOT!) did have internet access included, but this wasn’t at all clear from the reservations page/room type. However, when I looked at the room offerings for Business Plan King and the other Business Plan room configurations, there was a line in the ‘features’ that said: Wireless and high-speed Internet access (*applicable fee charged). So is it free or not???
  • No information on whether you could have two people hanging off the same internet connection in the room. This is a real bugbear of mine — they give you two robes, two beds, two or more towels, often two or more telephones, even a rollaway bed if you want it, more pillows, etc. but only one person is allowed per internet connection. See my blog post on my most recent rant about this: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/hotel-internet-access/
  • Not easy to find information about parking charges. (It was under Guest Services > Parking.)

The ugly

  • Fixed page widths. The entire reservation process took me through pages that were a fixed width. GRRRRR!!! I continually had to scroll horizontally to click the Next button. Fluid websites have been around for how long now? 10 years? There’s no reason this form had to have a fixed width.
  • The drop-down list for the US states is not sorted alphabetically. According to my friend, they’ve sorted it based on the spelled out name of the state. But they only list the 2-character code, not the full name! She lives in MA, yet it was well down the list from ME, MH (it’s the Marshall Islands in case you were confused too!), and MD. For me — a non-US resident — it was confusing.
  • Once I’d completed the reservation I was given the option to ’email the itinerary’. There was no information that we’d both receive an email anyway, so I emailed it to our respective addresses, just in case. We both ended up with two confirmations each.
  • The emailed reservation/confirmation only had MY name on it, even though I’d entered my friend’s details, including her email address, and even though they’d sent her a copy of the reservation too. Why wasn’t her name on the confirmation too?
  • There was also an option for printing the reservation. I expected a ‘print friendly’ printout. Nope. There was a silly summary on the left that meant all the meaningful text on the right (the dates of the reservation, for example), were chopped off. Fortunately, I was able to adjust the print settings in the Print Preview page in Firefox, but others wouldn’t necessarily know how to do that. Setting up a ‘for print’ CSS is not hard! That summary could have been printed either before or after the rest of the information. Putting it on the side only messed up the default printing.

So, while the Hyatt got it right in several areas, the user experience still wasn’t as good as I’d have expected from a multinational hotel chain that I assume would get a LOT of its business over the internet.

[Links last checked November 2010]

One comment

  1. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” — HAL, the murderously efficient computer from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

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