Travel Project

This project was a needfinding deep dive to uncover design insights, metaphors, and imperatives in the travel space.

Extreme Users

To start the project, we wanted to look at some extreme users, understand their world, and extrapolate learnings for the rest of us. After considering many groups, we decided to talk with au pairs. We thought they would be good candidates because:

  • They quickly have to become locals in their new home so that they can do their job.
  • They go on a lot of weekend trips.
  • They host friends and family when they visit.

Ethnographic Interviews

We conducted 4 ethnographic interviews with au pairs living in the area. These interviews lasted about 1.5 hrs. We used an interviewing technique that helps people feel comfortable sharing their stories. Its in these stories that we uncover real insights.

We analyzed these interviews using a variety of frameworks and tools like:

  • Empathy Mapping
  • User Journey
  • 2x2 Matrix
  • and Power of 10s

Insights + POV

From our analysis we landed on several interesting insights:

  1. Word of mouth was the preferred way to learn about travel opportunities.
  2. There was a desire for transparent information. People want to know the source of the information and understand the algorithms behind recommendations.
  3. Two-way communication was important. They wanted to feel understood and listened to.
  4. There was also a need to be understood as a complex individual. There shouldn’t just be general preferences, but multi-dimensional inputs. By this we mean preferences, trip criteria, feedback opportunities, and current mood.

All of these insights pointed to trust. When traveling it is really important for an individual to trust the person or thing recommending their experiences.

We conducted an experiment to verify our insights. In this experiment, we planned a trip to NYC for two participants. Each participant was given the same recommendations but they were delivered in a different form. The first participant was delivered the plan up front, with all the information in one packet. The second participant was given their plan over time. They had a chance to give feedback through text messages, tell us how she was feeling, and share the ideas with her friends.

And while the content we delivered was almost identical, the second participant had a better experience and trusted those recommendations more than our first participant. We were able to build a relationship with our user. We then realized that one way people build trusting relationships is through dating rituals.

This lead us to our main point of view:

How might we use dating rituals to build a digital relationship with our user.

Design Examples

To show our client how this point of view could be used to extract design principles, we built mock ups with this in mind.

The grand invite sets the tone, adding in a personal touch and showing the user that we take the time to make sure the trip is unique for them.
Local suggestions continue the conversation in a familiar setting. It helps the app get to know the user better and allows the user to build rapport with their new travel companion.
Like a good significant other, the app will check in at the end of a long day and see how you are feeling. This empathy for the user strengthens the relationship by making the user feel cared for.
The trip timeline uses causal, conversational language to give “personal advice” for each activity. Simple nudges persuade the user into activities we think they will enjoy without coming across as controlling.
The activity details gives the user the ability to choose an alternative activity so they have a deeper sense of ownership and freedom within their trip. They also can view recommendation analytics that show why each activity was selected for them.