Global Business Travel (GBT) is the division of American Express specialised in the organisation and integral management of business travel and events. The company operates in more than 140 countries and organises more than 7,000 events annually, making it one of the largest travel agencies in the world.
GBT is not a familiar name to the average consumer, as its clients are exclusively corporate, multinationals and companies of all sizes. The company helps its clients plan and optimise their travel programs, through elements such as travel policies, traveller security, communication, and expense control. Within GBT, the Meeting & Events division is in charge of planning and managing events, congresses and conventions.
In 2016 we were commissioned to redesign the Spanish website of AMEX GBT. To do so, we started a process based on User Centered Design (UCD). This working methodology aims to create products or services dedicated to satisfying the demands of the end user, trying to maximise efficiency and user experience through a design and functionalities that fully serve their needs.
What the investigation has uncovered for us
The first step in any UCD process is always to identify and correctly situate the context in which we are going to work. Through different techniques – qualitative and quantitative – of research and analysis, we will be able to understand the idiosyncrasies of the company, analyse what its competitive environment is and define who its products and services are aimed at.
Obviously, in this phase we must also place ourselves on the side of the user: using different evaluation methods we must understand who the product is aimed at, under what conditions the clients will make use of the service, what expectations and motivations they have or what their level of digital skills are, among other conditioning factors.
After this first phase of analysis in our work for AMEX GBT, we came to a surprising conclusion. American Express customers in general, and GBT customers in particular, identified the company with values such as strength and reliability, derived from its years of experience. However, they also had the image of a grey and rigid company, unfamiliar with technology. A company far from values such as youth, dynamism or innovation, virtues that were associated with some of its competitors.
The truth is that this perception was wrong, or at least inaccurate. After months in direct contact with GBT, we knew from our own experience that the company was composed of a young and dynamic team, very concerned about the quality of their work (continuously fed through customer feedback), and not at all distant from technology; quite the opposite.
“The general objective would be to rethink the design so that it correctly reflected the reality of the company”.
This dissonance between the internal reality of the company and the external perception of the customers had a clearly identified origin: the AMEX GBT website, which was deficient in transmitting the true strengths of the company. Therefore, the general objective would be to rethink the design so that it correctly reflected the reality of the company, projecting the new website values such as professionalism, dynamism, efficiency and proximity.
Without forgetting, of course, the UCD paradigm.
The redesign: simplify, optimise, convert
We conceived GBT’s new website as a very dynamic product, with a strong emphasis on audiovisual elements: from the moment the home page is loaded, the videos run in the background of the screen. The corporate colours are displayed in a wide range of blues. Videos, images, infographics and other visual elements create a more user-friendly experience.
We also simplified the navigability of the web, looking for a more agile and intuitive interaction, closer to the needs of the real user. On the left, with access always visible, the main navigation menu shows the three main business lines: Business Travel, Events and Conferences. In each section, different sub-levels order the information and place the user at each point in the content tree.
With the aim of facilitating access and interaction, responsive design is fully adapted to mobile devices, the most common point of contact for most users. The incorporation of real customer testimonials and success stories provides a sense of closeness and truthfulness.
A success exported to the rest of the world
The redesign of the GBT Spain website had to be adapted to the conditions and requirements imposed from the American Express headquarters in New York. The strict guidelines imposed by the Brand and Communication Departments, especially in the case of multinationals, are not always compatible with the creative freedom that some design professionals are used to working with. Fortunately, we were able to agree on some points of balance.
The new website multiplied the number of leads and substantially improved search engine positioning. A few months after the release of the Spanish version of GMT, the parent company in the USA adopted some of the graphic solutions used for its international website, as well as for the different national delegations. In fact, these contributions were incorporated into the international redesign of the brand, carried out by the agency Pentagram in 2019.
In short, we came up with a cleaner, more practical design capable of projecting the company’s values and personality in a reliable way. And above all, it is efficient and functional for the end-user.