TravBuddy is a social travel app to find a travel plan and a traveler for a unique travel experience. When you travel together you travel smarter as it is light on your pocket and gives you a wholesome new experience with a stranger.
Having lived in 2 countries, travel has always been a huge part of my life. This motivated me to create a product that could help travel enthusiasts find unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences as well as fellow adventurers to share the travel experience with.
Role: Product Designer, UX Researcher
Timeline: 3 weeks in Jan 2021
Solo travelers struggle to find unique travel experiences and people to enjoy them with.
Most millennial solo travelers aren’t looking for a Top 10 Things to Do list on Trip Advisor when they travel. Instead, they want the unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences that are often only found through personal recommendations or hours of browsing through travel blogs. But more often than not, once they find something cool to do, finding someone to go with is equally challenging.
How might we help travelers discover unique travel experiences and people to enjoy them with and at the same time it shouldn’t hurt their pockets?
TravBuddy: A new social travel app that helps travelers find unique experiences and people to travel with.
Browse upcoming travel plans and nearby recommendations on the go and you are matched as per your interests
The homepage showcases recommendations and upcoming travel plans in a user’s area added by other travelers. It uses an algorithm to match users based on their interests which they provide on the registration page. Users can view plans created by other travelers or view other recommendations that might better suit their interests and schedule. Users can filter their search results by date or activity type or choose to search in a different location using the search tab.
Join another traveler’s plan
Users can join travel plans created by other travelers to enjoy the experience with others. Clicking on a plan will allow them to view the original recommendation as well as travel plans created by travelers to visit the spot.
Create their own plan that other travelers can join
If none of the upcoming plans interest a user, they can choose a recommendation and create their own travel plan! In just a few steps, users can create their own plan and share it on social media to spread the word (TravBuddy will also notify users of the newly created plan)
Ok, but how did I actually get there?
In my first sprint, I focused more on designing an experience that addressed the pain points I found. In the second sprint, I transitioned my focus to making TravBuddy more viable by spending more time thinking about the product strategy, go-to-market strategy, and edge cases.
INITIAL MARKET RESEARCH
58% of millennials prefer solo travel, and 26% have already done so.
The solo travel industry has boomed massively in recent years, with millennials and Gen Z travelers, mostly women, driving a lot of its growth. In fact, solo travel is responsible for 18% of travel worldwide with Pinterest seeing a 350% increase in “solo travel” pins. All of the research reinforced that there was massive potential in this industry and helped me narrow down my target demographic to millennials.
Interviews revealed 3 pain points in solo travelers’ journeys.
I conducted 5 interviews with millennials who had solo traveled in the past or who would like to solo travel in the future to understand their needs and frustrations. Through a synthesis, I was able to create a typical journey map of a solo travelers’ experience and extracted travelers’ 3 main pain points while traveling.
- Solo traveling is hard on the pocket.
- Spends a lot of time researching and planning.
- Unable to do certain activities due to lack of travel partners.
but also revealed areas of excitement that I could capitalize on to create an end-to-end travel experience.
- Loves meeting new travelers while traveling.
- Likes to share experiences and recommendations.
- Trusts recommendations from previous travelers.
How could I translate these pain points into design opportunities?
- How we might offer travelers with options that would be light on their pockets?
- How might we make discovering unique experiences more efficient?
- How might we make it easier for travelers to find other travelers?
Existing products addressed some of the pain points, but no one product did it all.
Many products have tried to capitalize on the growth rate of the solo travel industry and changing travel behaviors of millennials. Through research, I realized competitors could be categorized into 2 groups: products that focused solely on solo travelers such as Travello and products that have introduced features that appeal to solo travelers like Airbnb Experiences and Meetup.
How might we aid the discovery of unique experiences?
Solo travelers trust other solo travelers, so what if I could leverage that trust?
Solo travelers enjoy sharing their experiences on social media so that other solo travelers can benefit from their first-hand knowledge. So, why not leverage that behavior to create a collection of trustworthy recommendations added personally by solo travelers? To make the data more useful and digestible to users, TravBuddy could curate the recommendations by categorizing them into categories that are more appealing to users.
How might we make it easier for travelers to find other travelers?
Existing products focus more on making the initial connection between travelers vs. connecting travelers with similar interests.
Meetup is a good example of a product that fosters social connections around events that both sides are interested in.
I took inspiration from this concept and adapted it for TravBuddy’s use case; travelers will be able to join upcoming plans created by other travelers so that they can enjoy the experience with other solo travelers.
How might we offer travelers with options at a low cost?
Travel together and save more. That’s even our catchline.
At this point, I had a product that addressed user pain points. But, I wanted TravBuddy to actually be viable… which meant there were a ton of strategic factors to consider! How could it be monetized? How could it grow?
TravBuddy could include sponsored recommendations while still maintaining user trust by being transparent.
The TravBuddy team could do paid collaborations with places and personally recommend the experience ONLY after experiencing it themselves and truly believing that other travelers would enjoy it too. While they are sponsored recommendations, I want there to be as much transparency as possible so that user trust is not affected.
GROWTH STRATEGY 1
TravBuddy could integrate with popular social media apps to encourage users to share their plans with their network
Knowing how important sharing their travels to social media is for millennial solo travelers, I wanted to leverage that behavior to promote user growth. Posting their plans to social media would be both a way to share what they’re up to while traveling as well as potentially find travelers in their social media network that might want to tag along.
GROWTH STRATEGY 2
TravBuddy could send out push notifications to users in the area or who plan to visit the area when new plans are created.
TravBuddy could help raise awareness of plans by sending push-notifications of new plans to those in the area or who had indicated they might be visiting the area soon. This will help promote newly created plans to relevant TravBuddy users to help it gain traction.
TravBuddy was a passion project that I revisited toward the end of my Media Informatics degree and seeing my growth between the first-ever Design project that is Chefed and this makes me so proud.