A message to Hosts

Turo’s booking process has many similarities to other marketplaces in the shared economy. For example – Turo asks Guests to write a message to their Host when booking a car.

If you’ve ever booked on a marketplace (car, home, or service) and prompted to write a message before checking out, you’ve likely asked yourself: “What should I say?”

The Guest conversion team

I was the product designer on this initiative alongside a PM, five engineers, and a data scientist. We shipped our solution available on web, Android, and iOS in 6 weeks.

As a part of the conversion team, we were responsible for helping Guests book a trip as quickly and painlessly as possible. We had 3 basic tenets: reduce friction, increase motivation, decrease stress.

Identifying issues at checkout

Aiming for a lift in conversion

Through our research, we learned that only 20% of Guests convert at the checkout page.

Checking out has a lot of friction

Guests have a lot to consider when selecting a car for their trip (price, car type, location, etc). Once they find the perfect car, they’ll start the checkout process:

Sign up
Price and fees
Message to Host
Message to Host: potential for high impact and low effort

After careful consideration, we decided to focus on reducing friction in the “Message to the Host”. Our team felt strongly that this initiative could result in high business impact with lower effort of our resources.

Message to Host in checkout

Designing for less friction

Assessing concepts

I started designing tradeoffs for several concepts to help Guests get through the messages faster on checkout. 

Providing instructions to a required message

The first concept is still required for a Guest. Turo will provided instructions and suggestions to make it easier when Guests write a message to the Host.

Making it completely optional

This concept focuses around letting the Guest either write a message before or after checking out.

If they know what they want to say before, then they can write a message at checkout. If not, Guests will be led to the messages to start a conversation with Hosts.

Removing the message from checkout

The last concept completely removes the “Message to Host” section from checkout. The Guest will land on messages after the confirmation screen.

Turo will provide suggestions in how to start the conversation.

We ultimately chose the route of removing the message at checkout because:

  • Reduces the overall number of steps at checkout
  • More simple design and logic
  • We’ll learn more through an A/B test

Additional key features

Remove messages for Instant Bookings

Turo’s booking process has a Pending request and Instant book feature. Hosts who own 1-2 cars want an upfront message from Guests with their bookings and use the Pending requests feature.

Knowing this, we decided to only remove the required message for Hosts utilizing the Instant book feature. This is because these Hosts are more business minded and generally more flexible with their bookings.

Screen flow: updated navigation and states for "instant book" and "pending requests"
Didn't forget the Host experience

I was concerned about a few features that were released earlier in the year that benefitted Guests, but made it more difficult for Hosts. Some Hosts view the message as a method to understand who is booking their car.

I proposed to the team, we provide more upfront detail about the Guest in the messages.

Tweaking our goal

We switched gears and asked ourselves – how could we make it easier for Guests to book a car AND help Hosts with the information they need to feel comfortable renting their car to the Guest?

Improve trip detail navigation

Lastly, Guests might get confused when they land on Messages after checking out – instead of traditionally landing on Trip Details.

I remembered a study at Turo, which highlighted that Guests had difficulty with navigation on trip details.

I discussed with my team and we agreed to improve the usability of the navigation – to ensure Guests can easily wayfind easier in a booked trip.

Eye tracking: only 7 out of 55 participants were able to correctly navigate in their task

Bridging communication between
Guests and Hosts

Guest booking process

The first change we made to checkout was removing the Message to Host section. We replaced it with  the message that explains they can message a Host after checkout, which can alleviate any concerns for contacting the Host.  

The Guest is provided clear context that they can message the Host after the confirmation screen.

When a Guest lands on the message screen, they will be greeted with a Turo message which guides them with instructions to message the Host.

Making navigation and content more clear

I solved the issue with the icon navigation and replace it with clear labels. I also improved the information hierarchy by clearly separating trip information from the navigation. 

Additionally, it was important to relocate the car image from the background for better readability.

Helping Hosts

We added upfront information about the Guest to help Host understand who is booking their car.

We also added an empty state message below from Turo to help guide Hosts on what to write. This Turo message will disappear once a message is sent from either party.

Empty state change when a message is sent

Data is in!

1.8 %
- 1.9 %
Trip cancellations

Additionally, we saw that Guests communicated the same amount in our new designs while Hosts had a slight increase in messages sent. Some of our secondary metrics resulted in:

  • ~95.2% of trips had conversations started between Guests and Hosts
  • ~73% of messages have Guests starting the conversation

It was amazing to see that our work had a positive impact on the business, both from a conversion and net cancellation point of view, while providing our users the right context to start a conversation.