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The outbreak of COVID-19 brought the entire world to a standstill, particularly decimating travel and tourism. Flights and hotel stays were canceled. Travelers struggled to manage their bookings and get refunds. Even as the bans started to lift, rules and restrictions were erratic, leaving travelers uncertain. Expedia tried to support by providing flexible booking, easy management, and refund tracking. As a part of that, this project was done to improve the post-purchase experience considering the pandemic situation.

Team & Role

Solo UX Designer for Itinerary. Collaborated with multiple teams and UX Designers overall. My role included: 

Systems Thinking

Process development during urgent conflicts

Web & App modifications




Figma, Trello, Miro


2 months

The unprecedented problems

The post-purchase system in Expedia allowed users to manage certain bookings on their own while for a lot of other bookings the users had to contact the customer service centers to make changes or cancellations. Refunds and credits issued against cancellations were also staggered on multiple communication channels. Referring to data between Feb and May 2020:

Due to the spread of the pandemic, travel bans were imposed in 40 countries. Expedia visitors declined by over 60%. There were no clear guidelines on the travel which made the travelers unsure of their existing bookings. Call volume for change, cancel or refunds increased by over 200% - many of Expedia’s customers started losing trust because of the difficulties they’ve had cancelling their bookings.

Need of the hour


Quick modifications on the travel portal were needed to retain customer trust and help them make informed decisions. Existing bookings were a major concern and hence improving the post-purchase experience became a top priority. We identified action areas based on the customer concerns, matched those with the business goals, and prioritized those based on the urgency of the situation. The top action areas for post-purchase were identified as:


Business Goals

Reduction in calls to customer service centers.

Customer Concerns

Change/cancel existing bookings without the hassle of calling customer service centres and long wait times. Tracking refunds.

Action Areas

Allow self-serve cancellation for all Expedia bookings. Provide clear refund policies and refund timelines for auto-cancellations.


Customer retention by rebuilding trust and brand credibility.

Refunds for cancelled travel bookings.

Work with the travel partners to provide refund or credit even for non-refundable bookings, and communicate that clearly to the customers.


Reduction in cancellations due to misinformation/ lack of information.

Travel restrictions and updates. Safety concerns.

Provide updated travel guidelines and restrictions. Inform customers of enhanced cleaning and safety practices undertaken by the travel partners (flights/hotels/car-rentals).

Our approach


A lot had to be updated in a short span of time. User feedback and data became the primary sources of problem identification and prioritization. We aimed at fast delivery and continued iteration as research and user testing went on simultaneously. While we made these quick changes we made sure that we are not providing any inaccurate information to our users neither leaving them in an open loop. It was also important that the information we provide is consistent throughout the path (shopping to post-purchase) so that there is no confusion. Major challenge was that multiple teams that worked on different products and different phases of the booking cycle were based in different time zones and geographies, and had a backlog of ongoing and prioritized projects. A new strategy was then adopted by the UX team which helped us pace up the design cycle while achieving cohesion and consistency, Expedia-wide.


A new kanban board was set-up for only COVID-related projects. Teams were asked to maintain track of all upcoming, ongoing, and completed COVID-related projects on this board. Projects were prioritized at a global level rather than a team level. This also eliminated any duplication of effort and provided visibility into other team’s projects which further helped in cross-team collaborations and consistency. Standard templates for logging the story made it easy to track the details of the work and people working on it, including the Product Managers and the Engineering team.

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Collaborate & communicate

The prioritised backlog of COVID projects was available to the entire UX team. Based on the available bandwidth and context, designers and content strategists collaborated with Engineers and Product Managers across teams to bring a project to completion. This led to better resource utilization and time management and brought in a fresh perspective. We communicated primarily over dedicated slack channels. Each slack channel was targeted to a specific COVID-related concern. These channels worked as focused groups where discussions were fast and effective.

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We maintained a common checklist of acceptance criteria for all new designs before they were handed off for development. Daily review sessions were set up in the US and APAC time zones. Handoff-ready designs were tagged for review which were then discussed in the review session and approved or iterated based on the acceptance criteria. This ensured consistency was maintained and important aspects such as accessibility, legal, and PR approvals are not skipped.

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Develop & deliver

As the design teams came together, so did the Engineering and Product Management. Itinerary or post-purchase is a horizontal team, which means it is linked to each Line Of Business (LOB). Some projects were developed by the itinerary team, while some were taken up by the specific LOB. To reduce assumptions and doubts during development, we made sure all the design files had similar and detailed annotations.


We were focused on quick delivery but we continued to iterate after the delivery to enhance our customer experience based on the research findings and customer feedback. We also identified and started working on long-term solutions to avoid similar situations in the future.

Itinerary modifications

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Need to cancel?

Cancel booking became the most frequently used action on the itinerary owing to the situation. Hence, the first change was improving the discoverability of the cancel booking option and allowing users to cancel without the need of contacting customer service. This also included providing a clear refund policy and timelines. Though the cancel option had always existed on the itinerary some bookings required calling the customer service and additional processing time. Additionally, some non-refundable bookings were also converted to refundable/partially refundable, so those changes were also reflected on the itinerary. This also gave us an opportunity to explore and enhance the capabilities of our chatbot for cancellations and related FAQs. Changes were made in phases to support quick development and delivery.

Note: The images on the left and in the subsequent sections only depict a part of the solution. Changes were made to all the LOB itineraries (flights, hotels, cars, local experiences, and package bookings). These changes were tailored to fit multiple scenarios and use cases. 


Where's my refund?

In the past, refunds were shown under the pricing section only. With a sudden surge in cancellations, refunds were the most sought information on the itinerary. Refunds or credits were issued for the non-refundable bookings as well. This was something the customers weren't acquainted with but eagerly anticipating. They were anxious about their refunds, and going a layer deep to find it under the pricing section was just adding to frustration and discovery issues. To address these concerns we started with providing relevant refund/credit messaging on the top of a canceled itinerary and followed with integrating it with the section that details the policy, validity, and describes how to use the credits. 


Ready to travel?

Local and International travel policies were getting updated to ensure the safety and health of travelers and local residents. At the same time, the hospitality industry was undertaking enhanced cleaning practices and safety measures to provide customers a safe travel experience. However, this information was distributed on multiple channels, leaving the travelers uncertain about their travel plans. 

"Are there any travel restrictions or updates to the booking I made? Would it be safe to travel or stay at the hotel?"

Travelers had concerns like these as they embarked on their planned travel. To minimize this ambiguity, we created a ranked list of these concerns with the help of the research team and matched those with the safety practices undertaken by our travel partners. We made sure we highlighted the safety practices on the itinerary that resolve the top concerns of our travelers.

What's Next

Next steps

Analyze and iterate

Develop long-term solutions. Identify and work on remaining scenarios such as travel insurance messaging for canceled itineraries.

Deeper chatbot integration

Chatbot quickly picked up when the call centers were not able to redress customer queries, as they were either under lockdown situation or gutted with customer calls. This presented the opportunity of exploring deeper integration of chatbot on itinerary for cancellations, refunds, travel insurance, and related policies. Its capabilities on the post-purchase can be further expanded as a travel planning guide and tool.


This project was a lot different from others in terms of urgency, scope, and precedence. Major learning came across the collaboration front. We could deliver only because we followed the principle-'one team, group first'. We developed new processes that can be evolved and applied to future projects to achieve cohesion and consistency. This gave us a chance to reimagine not just how we serve our customers but also how we work internally.

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