Our goal was to imagine we had just been hired as a Product Designers by a new travel startup company to build a mobile app within four weeks to help modern travelers plan their next trip, giving them options for authentic cultural activities to help them connect with local people to better understand their culture and customs.
Travelers want to learn about the local culture on their trips, not just visit the popular tourist traps.
Sonder is a mobile app that helps users learn about the local culture of their travel destination so they can connect with local people to better understand their customs and become a well-rounded global citizen.
Who is it for?
- Traveler’s who love to learn about local cultures
- Adventurers looking for hidden gem locations
- Food lovers keen on finding the latest hot dish
- Fans of location history and architecture
We followed the Design Thinking Process:
By conducting travel industry research, we discovered that Cultural Tourism is on the rise. Based on these findings, we developed the hypothesis that travelers enjoy learning about the cultures of the locations they visit. We developed a proto-persona to establish some initial assumptions about our potential users, then refined this into our User Persona.
We then interviewed six people to understand the following research objectives:
- Understand what travelers like to learn about the local cultures they visit.
- Assess how users organize their trip activities while at their destination.
- Understand the users pain points when traveling to a location they’ve never been to.
- Understand the user’s thought process about how they choose their travel destinations.
“I love to learn about local cultures - how they live, what they eat, the local language, local places, non-touristic, off the beaten path locations that allow me to become immersed in an authentic local experience.” - Juliana C.
All of the responses to our interview questions were separated by interviewee and tags were added to indicate which category each response could belong to.
Once categorized, we discovered more about what our travelers wanted to learn on their trips and empathized with the pain points they experienced while traveling.
The main takeaways from our interview responses were:
Learning a New Culture Interest Areas:
- Lifestyle, language, secret local places
- See the real day-today of locals
- Cultural architecture
- Food, restaurants, cafes, scenery, festivals
- Language barrier
- Packing, bringing everything
- Local corruption
- Dealing with airlines
- Not getting lost
- Not knowing local transportation system
A survey based on our interview questions was also sent out via Slack. Eleven participants - 54.5% Female, 45.5% Male - ranging from 21-35 years of age who travel an average of 2-3 times per year responded to our survey.
Results showed that 90% of respondents felt that learning about a new culture was significantly important to them while traveling. The top three categories they were interested in learning about were: local food, the local lifestyle, and local architecture.
How might we improve the authenticity and increase the variety of local cultural activities shown to users so they feel successful in planning their trips based on an increase in return visits to the “Sonder” app over a six month period?
- Ability to find local cultural activities
- Easily plan trips
- Use the app to find hidden gem locations
- All necessary info can be saved offline
- Local cultural activities are well listed
- All travel info in one place
Lisa is leaving from San Diego, CA for a week long vacation to Bali. She has never been to Indonesia, but she has wanted to go there for a long time. She’s intrigued by the local religious sites, beaches and food. She needs to find authentic, Balinese activities so by the end of the week, she feels that she truly understands this beautiful culture.