Questionnaires: how to ask questions that give you true user insights

For the purposes of this example, I use my work on’s booking process. This survey questionnaire was designed for research on Marriott’s digital products.

With any opportunity you have to engage with users, customers, or the general public, it’s important to remember that you are asking for someone’s time. Asking purposeful, relevant questions that lead you to a better understanding of your users is important. Leave the questions that don’t help you learn more behind. A method I use is to write out your questions, then justify to yourself why you want to ask it.

Survey questionnaires help to refine user research goals and questions. The qualitative and quantitative feedback collected will help to assist in the redesign of your product (in my case, the Marriott website and mobile app.) For the purposes of this questionnaire, we are focusing on closed response questions, and looking to gather and collect categorical, behavioral, and attitudinal information from users.



Thank you for agreeing to participate in our survey! Your feedback helps us create more useful and intuitive products. In this survey, we ask a variety of questions based on your hotel booking preferences, perception with rewards programs, and digital booking apps. Your participation is voluntary.

1.  How do you most commonly book a hotel room? (check all that apply)

  • Marriott smartphone app
  • Another hotel company’s website or app
  • Travel site (Expedia, Priceline,, etc.)
  • Travel agent or travel company (online or by phone)
  • Other [type other answer]

Why ask this question? This questions is an easy introductory questions that helps us gather data about how users most commonly book hotels. Marriott would like to increase digital bookings by 10 percent, and it’s important to understand this user behavior as a benchmark metric.

2. When picking a hotel what top things are most important to you? (check all that apply)

  • Distance from location (city center, airport, etc.)
  • Price
  • Loyalty program (points earned or ability to use points)
  • Amenities offered (fitness center, pool, restaurants)
  • Hotel services (airport shuttle, bike rentals, etc.)
  • Other [type other answer]

Why ask this question? Understanding user attitudes toward hotel choices is key to understanding what matters to users when making a selection. This may help refine what is advertised about a specific brand of hotel, or reinforce the need for price filtering and more upfront information about the particular hotel. It may also help to identify new organization schemes for filtering or advertising hotels.

3. If you are a Marriott Bonvoy rewards member, how satisfied are you with the rewards program overall?

  • Very satisfied
  • Somewhat satisfied
  • Neutral/no opinion
  • Somewhat dissatisfied
  • Very dissatisfied
  • N/A – I’m not a rewards member

Why ask this? This simple question helps to understand who is a member of the rewards program and who isn’t. It also helps to set a benchmark for satisfaction levels and gives us better insights on how well the rewards program is performing for users. This is a question we could ask after some point in time to see if changes to the website or app not only increase rewards members, but also increase satisfaction with the program overall.

4. Please rate the various benefits associated with a hotel rewards program. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least important and 5 being the most important, rate the following:

Ability to use rewards to book free travel

Complimentary services (free wi-fi, drinks, food, etc.)

Dedicated customer service

Exclusive rates

Free room upgrades

Mobile check-in or keyless entry to room

Third-party offers and discounts on rental cars

Credit card offering that gives you rewards points to use to book travel

Other: [type answer]

Why ask this? This question helps to understand user attitudes toward a hotel rewards program. Part of Marriott’s business goals are to increase new rewards members and that starts with understanding what people value. This helps to discover certain reward benefits that may be better to advertise to entice new users to join the program. Also, insights from this may help Marriott’s business strategy and customer experience strategy to refine the rewards program to better suit its customers.

5. If you use a smartphone, have you used a hotel rewards/hotel booking app in the past year?

  • Yes, I use a hotel app on my phone regularly
  • Yes, I have a hotel app, but don’t use it
  • No, I don’t have a hotel app on my phone
  • N/A – I don’t use a smartphone

Why ask this? Answers to this question help to understand user behaviors when it comes to mobile apps for hotels. Onboarding someone for an app experience requires that the app is making its value proposition clear to users. An app that is downloaded, but not used, can indicate users don’t perceive the app helpful for them to accomplish their goals and tasks. Part of the redesign effort involves understanding what should a hotel app offer that a mobile site doesn’t?

6. On average, how many times a year do you stay in a hotel?

  • More than once a week
  • Once a week
  • Once or twice a month
  • Once or twice a year
  • N/A – haven’t stayed in a hotel this year

Why ask this? This is a behavioral question that helps us to understand common customer habits when it comes to hotel stays. More than once a week may indicate a business traveler, whereas once a year may be a more leisure traveler. Part of the redesign goals are to increase digital bookings, and this question helps to separate out repeat stay users and potentially new users or infrequent users. Certain things may matter more to frequent travelers vs. infrequent and using this question we can show the data applied with this categorization.

7. Have you booked a hotel and airfare together in the past 2 years? If so, how have you booked this travel? (check all that apply)

  • website
  • Marriott mobile app
  • Other hotel website
  • Third-party travel site (Expedia, Priceline, etc.)
  • Through a travel agent or travel company
  • Airline website
  • Other
  • N/A – haven’t booked airfare and hotel together

Why ask this? This behavioral question helps to uncover user patterns relating to airfare and hotel coupling. First, it helps to identify the audience that has done this in the past two years, and additionally filters out those that have booked on one of the Marriott’s digital properties. It can help set a benchmark and identify users that have interacted with booking airfare and hotels with Marriott.

8. What types of online activities have you participated in the last 30 days?

  • Web searches
  • Shopping 
  • Buy or reserve travel
  • Social media
  • Email or IM/chat
  • News/weather/sports/blogs
  • Online banking / financial services
  • Lookup restaurants or menus
  • Order food for pickup/delivery
  • None of the above 
  • Other: __________________________________

Why ask this? This question helps to identify a user’s most common activities online. It can help to uncover technical skill when it comes to the web, and helps to categorize users when looking at the data from other questions. 

9. Into what age range do you fall?

  • 18-21
  • 22-37
  • 38-53
  • 54-72
  • 73-90

Why ask this? Categorization questions like this one help to understand who the audience taking the survey is. Ideally, our recruitment for this survey matches the typical user base for Marriott’s digital products, and we can better understand in what age groups our audiences fall into. This can be helpful in the redesign process since we have a better understanding of who we are designing for.

10. What country do you live in?

  • –select dropdown– (list of all countries)

Why ask this? Marriott is a global brand and this categorization question helps to learn more about Marriott’s audience. People outside the U.S. may have different values and its important to approach the redesign with information that we are designing for a global audience. This question also helps if we want to categorize particular respondents answers based on the country they live in.

11. Do you have any additional thoughts to share about hotel bookings, rewards programs, or the Marriott digital app or website? (optional)

Why ask this? This optional, open-ended question is nice to include at the end of a survey in case there are thoughts users would like to share about things not covered on the survey. This space is there for users to describe additional thoughts or opinions about booking hotels, rewards programs, or specific comments about Marriott’s digital products.


Keep your questionnaire short and purposeful and don’t be afraid to pre-test your survey with colleagues or friends you trust. Working out the kinks in the design of the questionnaire (i.e. do the questions make sense) before launching your survey is critical.

Happy surveying!