Reimagining the Future of Travel with Speculative Design: Collaboration between Somia CX and tiket.com
Have you ever got stuck on a creative block as a researcher or designer? When all of the ideas and solutions you propose feel bland and ordinary, and there’s nothing new or innovative about it.
Most days, our role demands us to be good problem solvers. The kind of designer or researcher that takes customer’s need, resource limitations, business objective, feasibility (the list goes on) into account to ensure that the proposed solutions solely answer the business objective. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, but we get so accustomed to it and slowly forget the random, creative side we once were. And just like that, “innovation is reserved for someone that is brave enough to ask.”
tiket Design Research Team team is actively open to sharing sessions. This time, our Research Team had Somia CX together to explore wild ideas through a new method called Speculative Design. It was a great exercise for our team to experience a new approach to problem-solving.
What is speculative design?
Speculative design is “a practice on how to use design as a tool to imagine possible futures, question the status quo, and discuss what kind of future we want and don’t want to live in.” The term was first coined by British designers Anthony Dunn and Fiona Raby in the 90s. The method is currently embraced by businesses to kickstart innovation. Ford’s City of Tomorrow explores how the company could still be relevant in a society where pedestrians are taking a more central role rather than cars. Visa and Pepsi have been hiring science fiction writers to help them predict the future. Even Meta has their own dedicated group for this called Pathfinders.
In the last sharing session, we joined Somia CX to exercise a speculative design workshop for the future of travel together. Here’s the step-by-step process of how we ran the fun workshop!
Overall Workshop Design
The goal of the workshop is to brainstorm artifacts from the future and discuss future issues or opportunities on the topic of traveling. To design this workshop, Somia CX drew inspiration from journals we’ve read about future-oriented design and other speculative design workshops run by different organizations. We only had limited time to run the workshop (2.5 hours), so we incorporated different tools to make it easier for participants to speculate about the future.
- Zoom or any other video call platforms with a breakout room feature → to be used to divide the participants into different groups
- Miro / Mural / FigJam (any tools to collaborate)
Phase 1: Identify the current problem
As we focused on reimagining the future of travel, we had different teams to discuss challenges and needs of different kinds of traveling activities: honeymoon travel, group outing, medical tourism, event-specific trip such as Coachella concert, etc.
We asked the team to pick one type of travel and do an assumption dumption about it. We also listed down the following questions to be discussed:
- What kind of people do this trip?
- What do they usually do during the trip?
- What is their constraint or pain point?
- What is their need?
Why is it needed?
This exercise is done to get everyone to reflect and align their perspectives on the current state of traveling before we reimagine the future of travel.
Then, we hopped on to the future!
Phase 2: World Building
Firstly, participants need to build a future world scenario using the prompts we’ve prepared. To help the team reimagine the future, we combined two tools to facilitate conversation about the future world: The Things from The Future by Situation Lab and The Trend Cards by We Design Thinking.
1. Pick 1 arc card to outline the type of the future and how far away it is from today.
There are four types of Arc:
Growth — a future in which “progress” has continued
Collapse — a future in which society as we know it has come apart
Discipline — a future in which order is deliberately coordinated or imposed
Transformation — a future in which a profound historical evolution has occurred
Afterward, the team can pick other prompts to help future visioning, such as rising tech trends and policy cards.
e.g one team took Growth (a decade) from the arc card + gaming drives innovation (tech trend). The card prompts are used as a foundation for future visioning discussion: What would the future look like when gaming takes the center stage of innovation?
2. Once they pick the cards, create field notes from the future!
At this stage, we rely on the participants’ imagination, and they can also draw inspiration from fictional works they’ve watched or read before. Using the prompts and imaginations, the possibilities are endless! We prepared list of questions to discuss the future world scenario:
- What is the year?
- What is happening?
- What is the new normal in your world?
- What is the industry trend in travel in your world?
- The rising tech / places? Regulation?
- What is the quintessential scenario / daily user activities?
In the field notes from the future, we asked the team to share descriptions of the future world scenario that they have visited. They could also draw or create a mood board to illustrate the scenario.
It was interesting to hear different kinds of future visions from different teams, and the dystopian future narrative was the big theme that came up in the discussion. One group reimagined the future where people maintain a physical and virtual avatar self and everyone is tracked with a microchip inserted into their bodies.
Why is it needed?
To set up the future world context before they proceed to brainstorm artifacts from the future.
Phase 3: Reframe the Issue
After sharing their world, it’s time to revisit the topic of travel that the team has previously discussed in the first phase of the future world scenario they have built. This is the time to spot different tensions and contrasts between the current way of traveling versus the future. The objective here is to expand the narrative of the world and try to imagine how the current traveling activity works in their future world.
Reimagine Honeymoon trip in 2052
- How is it different in the future world?
- What consequences does that have?
- Which new user pain points/opportunities spring from this?
Then, we asked the team to create a user’s need statement to conclude their discussion and share it back with everyone.
Our user needs a way to _________ because _____________,
For instance, one team reimagined a scenario where people live longer because healthcare becomes more accessible and affordable within the comfort of their homes. Thus, medical tourism became a thing of the past and they identified a new need for self-actualization for people to tick off their travel bucket lists.
Why is it needed?
This part of the discussion is needed so participants can identify future pain points and opportunities in the future world. The user needs statement will help the team to focus on the problem statement that they will solve when creating the artifact of the future.
Phase 4: Ideate Artifact The Future & Present the Ideas
This is the most fun part. As each team identified the problem statement they need to solve in the future, now it’s time to create the future artifact!
We prepared prompts to facilitate the brainstorming:
Each team takes an object and mood card. The object card is an item reimagined as a solution, while the mood card suggests how the user might feel when they experience this artifact.
Ideas gathered from the brainstorming might be super random, but the point is to brainstorm as many ideas and refine the ideas.
Then, the team went to the drawing board and presented their refined ideas! Take a look at some of the future world scenarios and artifacts that the team has created:
At the end of the online workshop, we all had fun and learned something new. As technology is evolving rapidly and the future is unknown, speculating about the future is one of the ways to anticipate future threats and opportunities.