“Every time we add another step to some system, the probability that the system works is reduced.”Peter Bevelin, Author of Seeking Wisdom

Solving Product – TravelClick Learning from B2B2C Products

Early in his career, Simon Seroussi worked as a product manager for TravelClick, makers of a hotel reservation and booking platform.

As a Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C) organization, their product had two distinct user groups:

  • Hotel chains: the companies paying TravelClick to use their booking engine on their websites; and
  • End users: the consumers using their booking engine daily to make hotel reservations.

Two completely different user types with different needs, both critical to the success of the organization.

As the customers, hotels made constant feature requests. But although they knew about their needs, more often than not, the requests they made with the aim of improving the end user experience failed to improve it.

Their requests were either based on research, what competitors were doing, or gut feelings; it was hard for Simon to tell those apart.

Hotels were not their own customers. Maybe they thought their customers wanted to use the engine in certain ways—but it wasn’t always the case.

“It’s already hard enough to not put your own perception into someone’s understanding of a problem. But when it’s a customer voicing it to a business, who then voices it to us, we get a completely new different problem. It’s very challenging to try and go back to that source.”

Learning From End Users in Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C)

Although Simon and his team had access to metrics, they were missing qualitative feedback from the booking engine’s end users. Simon wanted to speak directly to the end users, to short-cut the game of telephone.

Because access to their customers’ users was limited, Simon had to get creative. As a large company itself, TravelClick had teams and departments that had never been exposed to the booking engine. This meant that there were employees who had never been exposed to the product.

Since just about anyone could use the booking engine to make hotel reservations, internal stakeholders could be used as proxies for user tests.

Simon organized guerilla user tests, asking colleagues to go through different hotel booking scenarios. It took a few rounds, but the tests generated enough insights to significantly improve the experience of their customers’ customers.

In B2B2C, you often need to go directly to the end user to learn about their experience. This might require a bit of creativity, but the learnings will help to move your product forward.

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This post in an excerpt from Solving Product. If you enjoyed the content, you'll love the new book. You can download the first 3 chapters here →.

Categories: Case Study