To empower each member of a group when traveling together, Airbnb needed a set of new features to connect everyone and alleviate stress for the group leader.
My Role: Research, UI Design, User Testing
Airbnb has become a major player in the travel industry. Their focus is on great traveler experience, however they have accommodated little for group travel even though the average party size is 3.8. Responsibilities have been solely on one traveler which can be stressful and frustrating when planning a trip for a group typically having varying opinions.
By poking holes at Airbnb’s current model, we found vulnerabilities in the group travel planning experience. We came to understand that Airbnb has the opportunity to capture and control the entire experience of travel from where the tourists stay to what activities they do on their trip.
(Left:) User Journey Map (Right:) List of Airbnb's vulnerable moments
After conducting several group discussions and one on one feedback sessions, we arrived to the solution to spread the responsibilities amongst all members of the group so that each traveler will give input in their itinerary. We arrived to several solutions to create transparency and effective communication.
By including a chat functionality on Airbnb's current site, travelers are able to discuss budgets, bookings and activities providing a much more streamlined form of communication.
Setting up Budgets & Payments
Talking about money is stressful, especially when going on a trip. By setting up a budget functionality for everyone, we've created transparency amongst group members. We've also allowed for all members of the group to pay for their Airbnb booking. By pooling their money, all travelers are held accountable.
Individual Travel Information
Setting Up Personal Information
Before the group comes together to set a date and budget, each traveler will create their own available dates and funds.
Group Schedule & Budget
After setting their personal information, the group can come together to set up the best time for their trip and set up a budget. They then can pool their funds in the payment slider, which would allow each member to divvy up final costs. Once set, Venmo requests can be set or traditional card payments can be made for their booking and activities.
Group Comparison Travel Information
Homes & Activities Browser
Once the date and budget is set up for the group, they can access group bookings and activities on one page. There's a few key features on this page. The first being, each member can heart (or like) a home or experience. This is essential in getting an assessment of what will work best for the team. Travelers are able to toggle back and forth between homes and experiences. Additionally, once a member puts a home or experience on the group list, the group is able to view the proximity of bookings to experiences. Members have the ability to drag a home or experience over to the Request to Book section of the page. For accessibility purposes, they also have the ability to add a home or experience to the Request to Book section by clicking the plus button at the bottom of the picture.
Homes & Activities Page with a Map to show proximity
User Needs Documentation
Our R&D started with asking people how they traveled. Was it alone, with a significant other or in a group? And, why? We asked them about their experiences traveling with people. We also looking through Airbnb's research on their current target market. From here, we developed several key personas and identified the group leader from the other trip members.
User Demographic Information & Personas
Traveler Journey Map
To arrive to these features, we needed to understand our human booking this travel experience. We went through a user journey booking a home as an individual and as a group. The two experiences varied greatly. In the chart below, compared to the group's journey the leader's journey has many dips in how they experience this journey.
Group & Leader's Travel Journey Map
Usability Test Results
The original design for many of the features look completely different than the final prototype. For example, the main group page with homes and experiences was going to be set up in three columns: one for chat, one for homes and experiences and the third as the map. User testing told us this would be overwhelming for travelers. Additionally, another participant told us about accessibility and how dragging and dropping may be hard for some people, so we added the plus sign to each home and activity.
Original Sketch Wireframe of Home & Activities browser (including the chat)
It was interesting to learn what made sense to us as the product team, versus what made sense to other people when we were showing them the prototype. My partner and I had to make necessary adjustments in order to get to the easiest solution possible. I think what I learned was how important usability tests are and what they mean to the design process. We had to remove our own blinders to really get a sense of what the general public felt and go from there. It was important to pay attention to their flows as well.
Kelsey Cowan, Experience Designer
Sam Pietrzak, Product Designer