Platform for Authentic Experiences Abroad

Running a design sprint for a platform redesign

Trip Guru is a tours, activities, and experiences platform based in South East Asia. They partner with local guides to create and design unique itineraries for those looking for an 'off the beaten track' experience.

By 2018, the platform was enjoying significant month-over-month growth, with a sizeable portion being organic traffic. Yet, they were seeing sharp drop-offs in booking conversion rates. People would view trip itineraries, but fail to complete a booking for it. To uncover why, I worked with a core team of 4 people to research, ideate, and test out solutions for a redesign.

My Role & The Team

Sprint Facilitator & Designer

Team of 2 designers, 1 engineer, 1 product owner, and 2 other stakeholders


Duration

Apr - Jun 2018


  • User Research
  • Prototyping
  • Visual Design
  • Usability Testing
The Problem

Finding unique and quality experiences relies on word-of-mouth or serendipitous discovery.

More than 50 per cent of young traveller say traveling abroad is all about discovering and experiencing new things. They are overwhelmingly choosing unique experiences that also give them the most bang for their buck.

It was from this exact demand that formed the basis of Trip Guru. The platform hosts thousands of unique and authentic experiences all across South East Asia. To offer the best deals, the platform automatically creates groups for anyone to join — a way to potentially make new friends as well.

Despite high volumes of inbound traffic, the platform had a problem with drops in booking conversions. This raised questions. What if we were failing to deliver a great experience for new visitors to the platform?

42%

Inbound traffic come from organic searches

47%

Drop off after pressing the 'Book Now' button

73%

Of questions to our support team are repeat questions
The Challenge

How might we redesign our platform to help traveller discover experiences they can trust in quality and value?

To tackle this challenge, I ran the project in the style of a design sprint with a core team of 4 people. The first half focused on discovering insights about our target audience. Following that was a process of ideation and rapid prototyping. The end goal was to validate our new ideas through usability tests with real people.


The Original Trip Details & Booking Flow

User Research

To kick off the project, we conducted user research to examine our understanding of our users. After analysing our customer data and secondary data from travel industry reports, we outlined a few key insights to work with.

Characteristics


  • Price conscious (50% of respondents)
  • Culture of destination is a strong factor
    (>33% of respondents)
  • More likely to rely on word-of-mouth for recommendations
  • Looks at content posted by other people to get ideas

Research & Discovery


  • Done around 1-3 months prior to the trip
  • Making purchases are typically rare at this stage
  • Conducts research online
    (>67% of respondents)
  • Looks for a rough an idea of what there is to do

Planning Out Itineraries


  • Lasts <1 week
  • Ready to make a purchase
  • May be physically present at the destination already
  • Factors in things like price, quality, location, and interest

Reframing challenges into opportunities

We then reframed the insights and challenges into opportunities through a "How Might We" (HMW) design thinking session. Afterwards, we categorized them according to common themes that started to emerge.

Research Help
  • Aid their research in choosing a destination?
  • Help them discover all of what the destination has to offer?
  • Make it easy for traveller to discover activities that match their interests?
  • Make it easy to navigate through our catalog?
Booking Experience
  • Create an easy and hassle-free booking process?
  • Support easy-to-use payment options?
  • Give comfort over our platform's security and privacy?
  • Provide confirmation that their bookings are secured?

Prioritising Opportunities

We created a user journey map to visualise how their cycle of research, planning, and booking could be conducted on TripGuru. We got together as a team to plan and prioritise our goals for the sprint. It was important that we ensured our redesign efforts were focused and measurable. From there on, we prioritised which specific user flow we would optimise solutions for.

We settled on optimising the journey for our organic visitors because that represented 42% of our inbound traffic.

Long-term Design Sprint Goals:

1. To increase engagement rate of destination pages.

2. To get more bookings on the platform.

Low-Fidelity Concepts

We used Post-it Notes to sketch out different ideas. Its rectangular shape was perfect in mimicking a mobile device's form factor. Each design was labeled with simple annotations to give context into the design's elements.

Deciding on Designs

I gathered the team together to silently vote for their favorite designs. Silent voting meant our designs couldn't be paired with commentary from us. Thereby, making sure we designed solutions that were simple and intuitive at a glance. Votes were cast for either the entire design or specific elements that caught their eye.

Prototype

We had a usability testing session with real customers next, so our next steps were to create a clickable prototype for testing. The top voted designs were gathered, and we got to work digitising the designs to produce a prototype.



Usability Testing

I recruited participants to test the performance of our new designs. To test the new Trip Details page, I let participants compare Trip Detail pages between 3 different platforms. The new design (disguised as "Flamingo Travels", the original design, and a competitor's design. Doing so allowed us to hone in on which elements outperform the others.

The Setup & Format
  • 45-min 1-on-1 sessions
  • 5-10 min warm up
  • 30 min usability testing
  • 10 min follow-up questions and debrief

Trip Guru's New Look

The usability tests let us gather great insight about our designs from our target customer base. We had a chance to test out which ideas performed well and which ones didn't. We also discovered that some designs from the older version outperformed our new ideas.

Based on the feedback received, we incorporated the highest performing designs as the basis for our redesign. A 'best of both worlds'.

How might we aid travellers in their research to choose a destination?


Curated destination guides

  • A high-level overview of the country or city as a whole delivered across various formats.
    (Text, pictures, videos, etc)
  • Curated videos made by the Trip Guru team highlights what the community has found the most memorable about this destination.
  • Detailed summaries of information like expected costs, transportation methods, culture, safety, and so on.

Categorised trips and activities

  • Each destination has their own dedicated landing page. Lists out all experiences across different factors (i.e. top rated, categories).
  • Experiences are categorised so that they can quickly understand what kind of activities are available.
  • Categories are unique to each destination, thus making sure that visitors always get an idea of what there is to do in this location.
  • Upon clicking on a category, the list of trips and experiences are filtered to only show those of the matching category.
  • They can easily switch between one category and another to see what kind of experiences are available.

How might we create an easy and hassle-free booking process?


Clearer Trip Details pages

  • The most relevant high-level details are immediately visible.
    (Photo gallery, duration, price, availability)
  • Sticky navbar is affixed to the top while scrolling. Lets people navigate to different sections by a simple click.
  • Highlights of the itinerary is provided. Top moments are broken down and accompanied by a description and image.
  • What is and isn't included is clearly outlined. This helps them understand upfront what they may need prepare in advance or to pay extra for.

How might we create an easy and hassle-free booking process?


Improved checkout experience

  • Next 4 days of available dates are shown by default. This was because bookings on the platform were usually done no more than a few days in advance.
  • A preliminary step to illustrate how the bookings work. This assures them that their bookings are always honored.
  • Most people are first-time visitors. To reduce the friction in having them create an account first, a simple guest checkout flow is supported.

Outcomes

After the usability tests, we made adjustments to the designs according to the feedback received. We then rolled out the redesigns within a couple of months.

Since then, the platform has experienced continued growth in bookings, fewer repetitive questions for our support team, and increased engagement discovery user flows.

60%

Decrease in booking drop-off rates

25%

Month-over-month growth

64%

Decrease in repeat questions for our support team