Designing For Travel Groups
Millennials travel more than ever. Recent studies show that 75% of millennials want to travel abroad, compared to 52% of other generations, and 58% of millennials prefer to travel with their friends, compared to 38% of other generations.
I wanted to investigate the travel habits of millennials and find a way to make the trip planning process easier. Being someone who plans a lot of trips, I’ve used a variety of methods to plan, but wanted to see how others created trips and what their process was.
User Research Methodology
I conducted a bit of qualitative user research, interviewing 5 millennials ranging from ages 21-28. I asked them questions around:
What’s your role when planning group trips?
Talk through a recent trip and how you and your friends planned it.
What are some things that are exhaustive when planning?
What tools, etc. do you use to organize everything?
User Research Findings
Group Leaders vs. Group Contributors
The process of planning trips often involves a group leader and group contributors. Group leaders often have the highest stake and proactivity in the trip, while group contributors are those who have a medium to low stake in the trip.
The User Journey: Creating Trips
Millennial travelers follow a similar pattern of steps when looking for things to do on a trip. As people progress through each step, more effort is involved to categorize, eliminate and organize events into a cohesive plan. When a trip involves multiple people, the job becomes increasingly difficult as people work to agree on similar or most popular activities.
Identifying Current Processes
Of the 5 people interviews, almost all used live docs like Google Spreadsheets to help organize their trip activities. Common problems included duplicate activities being added, the amount of time investment to research and manually add items, and getting trip participants to vote on their favorites. Because only a select amount of information is present in the spreadsheet, people had to do additional research, increasing the amount of effort it took to make an informed decision.
When planning trips with friends, how might we decrease the time invested in deciding on what people want to do?
When planning trips with friends, a large investment of time lies in exploring what to do on a trip, categorizing, eliminating and deciding on what people want to do most. Getting people to decide on what to do (especially in larger parties), is a challenge - especially when multiple steps are involved. The amount of effort required to make decisions increases as more steps are involved, resulting in decision fatigue.
Creating the User Flow
In order to prevent users from doing more work, I had to create a flow that was simple enough to use, yet exploratory enough to provide the right information to people planning, both trip leaders (who tend to have a larger investment and proactivity in planning) and trip participants (who tend to have less investment but whose proactivity varies).
Reducing Planning Effort
Friends can explore and add activities to a trip, while the app simultaneously tracks votes. By combining exploration with decision, as well as multiple opportunities to provide input, the amount of effort needed to plan a trip decreases.
LIVE PLANNING DOC
By creating a live document that explicitly tracks how many votes an activity has, people can easily see activities the majority of the group wants to do on the trip.
I conducted some concept testing with a few people in my target audience to get feedback on both the concept and the user flow. Overall, people were excited that a solution like this could exist. A few had some great points of feedback, as well as other features they would want to see, indicating signals of potential future opportunities.
“It would be great to factor in where you’re staying so you could also map out how to get to these places”
“I would want something that would make me use the app more than just on a trip - apps like Foursquare or Yelp, things that suggest things for you based on your trips [such as] ‘other people who have done this have also liked...'”
“I like the number [of votes indicated], not so much the people who voted seen. It might build friction".
Taking this a step further, I toyed with the idea of having people fill out a “Flavor Profile”, which would further decrease the effort needed to make decisions by offering a pre-determined input for each user. In future iterations, I want to explore the feasibility of incorporating a more implicit model of voting, which would take social signals (friends, social network, etc.), as well as seasonal and '“best scenario” signals to better define a top activity within a trip. This would need a large resource investment to start, but would eventually lead to a more accurate prediction model.
Flavor Profile Exploration
Helps take predetermined signals from other users to provide input on a trip, even if the user doesn’t actively vote.
These signals could also help define an “ideal itinerary” generator that users could create in order to further reduce the effort of planning a trip.