Learn / Case Studies / Spotahome
Why Spotahome hosts legendary “Hotjar parties”
Sara, the Customer Knowledge Manager at Spotahome, hosts legendary Hotjar parties where 20 Spotahome staff watch Hotjar session recordings to learn more about their users.
Sara Parcero-Leites is a Customer Knowledge Manager at Spotahome, an online platform for mid- to long-term rentals.
“It’s like Airbnb but for rentals,” Sara told me. “We operate in 100 cities in Europe and have around 180 employees.”
Sara’s in charge of understanding Spotahome’s users and website visitors. She needs to make sure the site is running smoothly and spot opportunities to improve.
When Sara started at Spotahome, Hotjar was hardly used. “The team had accounts, but they weren’t going very deep. A couple of people looked at some recordings and heatmaps but not a lot of analysis was being done.”
But that soon changed. Sara says that today, “Hotjar is widely used.”
“Right now people in product and engineering at Spotahome use Hotjar on a daily basis. We’re always running A/B tests and using Hotjar to see how the new feature performs.”
This got us wondering, what sparked the company-wide interest in Hotjar?
Sara said it’s down to her Hotjar parties.
The hottest party in town
Sara started to use Hotjar every day to better understand what was happening on the site: “I was learning lots about the users. I could see problems they were encountering and opportunities to improve.”
However, most other people in the company still weren’t familiar with the tool. Very few looked at Hotjar.
That’s when Sara had an idea. “I know that once you see Hotjar, you’ll see the value. I didn’t need to convince people that Hotjar was great. I just needed to show them.”
This is how Hotjar parties came to be.
The idea was simple. Each party had a few basic rules:
Invite everyone in product & engineering to a one-hour call
Sara prepares ~3-4 interesting Hotjar recordings and heatmaps to show
Attendees make notes on interesting insights they spot
And every attendee could expense pizza and drinks (it’s a party after all)
“Originally, we made the meetings mandatory. We were worried people wouldn’t come. But they’re not mandatory anymore! Everybody shows up to the Hotjar parties.”
These meetings were a hit. Sara said that most developers had never seen users actually interacting with the features they built. Seeing people interact with their product firsthand was eye-opening.
“After most sessions, developers and product managers would leave the meetings with a crazy amount of bugs to fix.”
The hands-on-head moment
During one of Sara’s popular Hotjar parties, something interesting happened.
“I was showing a recording of users interacting with a new feature we were A/B testing.”
The recording showed users clicking through the sign-up flow with no obvious problems.
“Everything looked normal to me, but then I noticed a group of developers on the call suddenly put their hands on their heads. They looked distressed! And then all their cameras turned off.”
Sara carried on, and the developers joined the call again five minutes later looking much calmer. After the call was over, Sara reached out to them to hear what happened.
“While watching the Hotjar recording they spotted a bug that everyone had missed. There was a button that wasn’t working. It was a real problem as it stopped some users from making a booking.”
“Fortunately, the developers saw the problem immediately through the Hotjar recordings. Without that recording, I’m not sure we would have solved that problem so fast.”
"If I watch these videos by myself, I might miss something that a developer would notice. What I look for is different from what others look for. When I have people from different backgrounds look at the same recordings, I know that we’ll have a complete analysis from everyone.”
Finding party-worthy insights
Spotahome’s website has over 50,000 visitors per day. That’s a lot of session recordings.
I asked Sara how she filters through all of that data to find the best insights to share with her team.
“Over the past few months, Hotjar has made my life much easier.”
Previously, Sara spent hours trawling through recordings to find ones worth sharing. “I’d look at recordings with lots of page views, recordings with lots of actions, but it all took a lot of time.”
But that all changed once Hotjar released the relevance score.
“Now with the relevance score, I can sort all the recordings by relevance. I’ll watch the recordings with 'high' or 'very high' relevance and usually spot lots of interesting things.”
The relevance score helps Sara cut through the noise and spot party-worthy recordings.
But Sara also needs to organize these recordings to refer back to them later. That’s where Hotjar’s other new feature—Highlights—comes in.
“Now when I’m watching recordings, I use Highlights to add an emoji to the important sections.”
“If I spot an issue, I’ll add the bug emoji. If I see an opportunity, I’ll add the warning-sign emoji.”
With just one click, these recordings get saved as Highlights within Sara’s account—making it easy for her to refer back to them during the Hotjar parties.
Going from guessing to knowing
It’s not just Hotjar parties that Sara spends her time on. She’s also regularly collecting feedback from Spotahome users.
“We’re using Hotjar surveys a lot more now. Covid meant we had to cut down on our user research budget so I turned to Hotjar to keep gathering feedback from the landlords and tenants on the site. It was much more cost-effective than normal user interviews.”
This feedback hasn’t just saved Spotahome money, it’s also led to some major improvements.
Through the surveys, Sara learned that the calendar section in the app was difficult to update.
“Landlords kept telling us that they were struggling to update the calendar. This wasn’t a problem we were aware of, but with Hotjar recordings, I was able to match the feedback with the actual user recordings.”
Sara gathers all this feedback and adds it to an email that gets sent out to the whole company each month.
“One of the things I try to do with these emails is to make them actionable. I’ll add one or two action steps. That’s how I suggested making improvements to the calendar. It worked, seeing the recordings of users struggling convinced the product team to fix it.”
Sara’s thrilled that problems are being fixed and the product is getting improved, but she says Hotjar has inspired an even greater change in the business:
“Before Hotjar we spent a lot of time guessing what the user thinks before coming up with a solution. Now we don’t guess, we use Hotjar. It’s helped us become a user-centric company.”
Sara let us know that her job would be a little tougher without Hotjar. “I’d struggle to convince others to make changes, but with Hotjar I have proof behind the idea that I’m suggesting.”
It was fantastic talking to Sara, but there was one more question that I was desperate to ask.
What drink does Sara take to these Hotjar parties?
“It depends! If it’s in the morning, it’s a coffee, of course. But if it’s late afternoon on a Friday, I might go for a gin & tonic. It makes user research much more fun!”