Airbnb

In one of my classes in college, I was given the great opportunity to work closely with one of the biggest name in the tourism industry in helping them create a product that can reshape the way we travel. Airbnb is a company that currently connects travelers to short term renters in locations all across the world. They have also begun connecting its users to restaurants and activities in select cities and this is what my team dived in to. To give travelers the Airbnb experience beyond the rooms.

 

Initial Research

 
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There are many struggles Airbnb users have when they travel, finding the right issue and figuring out how to start was our first challenge. A quick set of user interviews quickly determined that one of the key challenges users face is that they sometimes do not know how to find the right attractions or do the right activities in a place without falling into tourist traps. This problem is especially difficult when users have little time to plan or research in advance.

User Journey

The best way to bring our design to life is by putting ourselves in the user’s shoes. Hence, we created a persona that we centered on our user journey on when designing our product.

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Our persona Jess is your average college graduate traveling around the world before she begins her career. Just a day before her flight home, she decided to change her flight and have a 2 day layover in Milan, Italy.

She has never been to Europe and has no experience or knowledge about European culture, but she is very curious and wants to experience the true authentic local experience of the beautiful Italian city. But as a young, energetic and well educated traveler, she knows all too well of avoiding commercialized tourist traps. How can we help Jess plan the best 2 days of her Milan adventure in less than 24 hours?

 
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Current App Features

In addition to accommodations, Airbnb currently already offers some activities, tours and restaurant bookings in its app, marketed as “experiences”. However, they are very limited and not as well organized. As a result, many users we interviewed were not aware of such offerings or had difficulty trying to use it in the current app. This does not come as a surprise as “accommodations” is still Airbnb’s core business model

Our goal in this project is to better integrate both “accommodation” bookings and “experience bookings” together. So that users can use Airbnb not just to book places to stay during a vacation, but also to plan their vacation and look for things to do from start to end.

Final Product

Our final solution is split into 2 parts. First is an additional feature to the current Airbnb app. After users booked a pace to stay on Airbnb, they can be prompted to a “Explore this area” button that would lead them to a page to search and browse local experiences near the accommodation they reserved. That same button can also be accessed in the “Upcoming Trips” page of the app should the user prefer to look for experiences several hours/days after booking their accommodation.

Once the users finds a desired experience they wish to reserve, it takes them to the existing feature of reserving the experience that Airbnb currently already have. However, the second part of the solution is that we also proposed a calendar feature inside the Airbnb app. A calendar is a crucial tool when it comes to traveling. Having this feature will allows users to better plan their experiences during their visit so that it does not clash with one another while also giving them more to commute or rest.

As an agreement in this project, I cannot share our final high fidelity designs, here are some low fidelity wireframes for our proposed products throughout various stages and iterations.

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Explore experiences near you

This button will take users to the page listing all experiences near location of their upcoming reservations. This button will be available at the confirmation page once the user has completed their reservation, or at their reservation details in the “My trips” page should the user choose to look at it later.

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Feature 3

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Trip Calendar

A trip calendar is essential when it comes to planning your travels. So we decided to incorporate a calendar in the app that summarizes your schedule during your trip so that you can better plan on reserving their experiences and allocating enough time for commutes.

Limitations and Future Considerations

While this idea seems simple on paper, there are also other factors to take into account. One of the feedback we received from Airbnb was the question of ensuring the authenticity of these experiences. This would require thoughtful planning from a business operations end in auditing and managing these listings to ensure they are safe and up to standard. While it is beyond the scope of this project, this is an area that my team and I would consider diving into to improve and grow our solution in the near future.

Moving forward, we also suggested that our product can be integrated with ride sharing, taxis and public transportation apps to help take users from one experience to another.