The Travel App

Travel may not be on everybody’s mind right now. That was not the case last year when everyone was either en route or already relaxed at their dream destination at this time of the year.

“I want my customers to ‘dream’ about my hotel property” was the design brief given to me by a client. It was odd and challenging at the same time. How can someone influence travelers and make them dream? Unless you are Christopher Nolan! The realms of “inception” are best suited to fiction. However, there could be a way to make a traveler aspire about destinations, thereby leading to make one dream.

I started off by interviewing users for the travel app – individuals who have been planning their annual vacation, backpackers, hikers, roadtrippers, etc. Through them, I discovered what things these travelers do to their homework – what apps they use, what sites they browse, whom do they talk to, how do they zero down to a single location, etc.

The MVP (minimal viable product) of the travel app was to design an iPad app. The grand scale vision was to design an ecosystem – a platform with end-to-end touchpoints integrated with every step of a traveler journey – right from a coffee table book to invoke interest, to a website & digital apps to sustain excitement and notifications to guide the traveler what to do, what to expect before embarking on travel.

The iPad app that I sketched was one of the most exciting projects for me. In addition to sketching, I used paper cutouts to show how the app pages would look like. In addition to the iPad app, I also designed the hotel experience iPhone app (I will share that in my next post).

When the app is launched, messages like these (full page images with good lettering design) will kindle the user interest. These messages will do the “inception” – they stay on the screen long enough to transition to the next page automatically.

A first-time user will be guided through steps that will help the traveler to zero in on a location, on the basis of questions. A returning user can skip these steps and land up directly on the recommendations page. The recommendations page is built upon users’ browsing history, likes / dislikes and social interactions.

All the interests “pinned” by the user will be presented on the pinboard. The app will curate the “day-travels” and let the user choose anything that matches one’s interest. The user can also customize no. of days and the activities corresponding to the destination will change.

The user can browse detailed information of day-trips. The app will create a travel plan based on the user’s selection and topical data (e.g. “if it rains that day, the best places to visit are….”).

Every destination is presented as a form of a story that suits the traveler’s persona. If the traveler finds anything appealing, that trip is pinned to the pinboard.

Curated content engages the user about the place by introducing the user about the history, the culture, people, etc. Notice how the destination is told through movies & books. The movie trailers & the books kindle the interest in the minds of the traveler. Long vertical page scrolls and the magazine format of the content builds curiosity about the destination.

The idea is to keep the traveler engaged and not to hard-sell the destination hotels at this point. Once the user has decided to pick up a destination (after deliberation), then present the choice of hotels.

It is a wise call for now too. Take all time you need to bookmark the places you want to go next year. We may not travel now, but then the time to pack your bags will be on the horizon soon.

Here we go…..again!

We now live in a world where the iPhone has no home button, the iPad has a pencil & NASA has started sending back the astronauts from the US soil. To cut a long story short, it is time to revive the blog after a gap of 5 years :).

Starting this month, I will post new examples of paper prototypes. Stay tuned!