Team Weevil Weekly Report

Week 7, 23-FEB to 27-FEB

Objectives

Our goals for this week were to 1. synthesize our research findings, 2. finalize our research plan for the coming two weeks, 3. review our team name in a group brainstorm, 4. prepare for our meeting with the branding and operations firm that was recently hired by our sponsor, and 5. prepare and present our progress to the M-ITI community in our Quarter-Term Presentation. It’s been a busy week!

Actions

Research Synthesis

We began this week by sharing our individual researching findings in a synthesis meeting. We prepared for this by reading each other’s notes from our competitive analysis and literature review and highlighting or noting the things that seemed most relevant. During the meeting itself, we took turns presenting our findings, discussing the most useful takeaways from each item of investigation.

A few highlights from our findings:

  • The hotel landscape in Funchal includes many 4 and 5 star all-inclusive resorts, where guests have all needs met (such as meals, activities, and entertainment). We also found 3 star hotels that operate more on the “home base” model in which guests go out and explore and return to their hotel to rest. Because the Gorgulho will be a 4 star hotel but will also fit more closely with the home base model, it is in a unique position in the market.
  • The most common demographic of tourist right now is middle-aged and older, from the UK or Germany, traveling as a couple, and staying 1–4 weeks.
  • Some promising concepts of service design from the literature review include: 1. the idea of re-bundling existing services and resources to create new experiences and 2. the concept of co-creation, in which users are empowered to create their own experiences.
  • Finally, research on a comparable destination, the Greek island of Rhodes, suggests that potential visitors decide whether to visit a destination based on 1. possible activities, and 2. other visitor’s reviews. These will useful to bear in mind as we come up with design ideas.

Research Plan

For the next two weeks, we will be focusing on on-the-ground research, conducted individually and in pairs. Our goals are to better understand both the current state of tourism in Madeira (what draws people here, how things function, etc.) and to think about where tourism in Madeira may be going.

Team Name

In response to our sponsor’s suggestion that we change the team name, we individually thought about the team name and logo and presented our ideas to one another. Ideas ranged from new concepts to tweaks and redesigns of the existing concept. While we did not decide on our team name, we established that we want our name and logo to convey that we are forward-thinking, and that our designs connect people and places and are thoughtful and personal.

Meeting with the Branding and Operations Firm

We prepared a brief presentation and set of questions for the branding and operations firm, but the meeting was canceled. We hope to meet with them in the near future, likely through Skype. Going forward, we intend to think about ways to form a successful partnership with this group, which will require communicating our role in the project (as separate from theirs) and conveying the value we can bring.

Quarter-Semester Presentation

Following our Quarter-Semester Presentation, we received feedback from our faculty mentors. Some of the main points of that feedback include:

  • Think about the future of the island. While the tourism sector is currently dominated by couples in their 50s-70s, that will not necessarily be the case in ten years. Instead of designing for the current needs, think about how people will want to travel in the near future, and design for that world.
  • With that in mind, we should consider spending more resources in learning about the future of the hotel industry. This means visiting forward-thinking hotels and interviewing younger travelers to learn about their priorities in traveling.
  • If we are unable to partner with the branding and operations firm to conduct our research, we will need to be creative in finding our own participants. One idea was to book a tour and offer free participation in that tour for island visitors who were willing to be interviewed.

Next Steps

For research, each team member will complete:

  1. One fly-on-the-wall observation at a competitor hotel.
  2. One session of guerrilla interviews with tourists in Funchal
  3. One service safari with a tourism operator in the area

Challenges

Because our meeting with the branding and operations firm was canceled, we are unsure whether we will be able to use them as a resource for conducting user research. We are also unsure when and if we will find out their plans for branding the hotel.

Finally, the future of our team name remains undecided, and we’re not sure how to move forward on this issue. Some team members remain committed to our original name, while others want forge a new identity. Deciding this issue will be one of our main challenges for the coming weeks.