Team KEP consisted of Katie Johnson, Phoenix Heller, and myself, Emerson Dameron.
Intrepid Travel offers highly organized international travel packages with varying themes, activities, and levels of physical challenge.
Intrepid’s current clientele consists mainly of younger travelers in their mid-twenties. Through market research, Intrepid has identified a huge market for an older demographic. Intrepid is thus creating a new offering of “comfort” trips designed to appeal to this demographic and seeks to upgrade its digital experience for this new product offering.
Intrepid has received feedback from travel agents and potential customers that it is difficult to search for trips on the existing site. Customers want to be able to choose destinations based on their vacation time availability and need specific and detailed results when they search.
- Increase visibility of Comfort packages
- Improve overall search functionality
We identified several direct competitors, organizations with similar value propositions and who are also courting an affluent 50+ clientele. They include Grand Circle Travel, Elder Treks, Walking the World, and Viking RIver Cruises.
For the most part, these direct competitors leave much to be desired in the way of digital presence. Since Intrepid is already outdoing much of its competition in the digital space, we found ourselves in a good position to iterate on the company’s already successful ideas.
Intrepid’s indirect competition comes mostly from third-party travel brokers such as Expedia and Orbiz and from search engines such as Google that allow travelers to arrange their own trips.
Preliminary Research and Interviews
We were all fortunate enough to be able to reach out to older international travelers, including relatives, for their experience and guidance. We found that, although they had a variety of preferences and stories, most of them historically used the tools of Indirect Competitors rather than purchasing prepackaged trips from the likes of Intrepid.
Using SurveyMonkey, we created a ten-question travel survey and distributed it to our broader social networks. It quickly garnered 40+ responses. In the main, respondents take travel planning quite seriously and prefer the do-it-yourself approach.
The Key Insight and a Big Idea
Intrepid Travel caters to a small slice of the overall international travel market. As distinguished from do-it-yourselfers, travelers who know about and prefer Intrepid’s prepackaged, organized offerings place a significant amount of TRUST in the company, its services, and its overall culture and approach. This must be nurtured and rewarded at every turn.
Thus, we discovered that the most important factor in our success would be cultivating and maintaining customer TRUST.
From that point, we found that all of our important ideas flowed directly from TRUST.
Personas, Scenarios, and Stories
Based on our interviews and research, along with Intrepid’s key goals, we crafted three personas and walked them through scenarios in which they planned journeys using tools designed for Intrepid.
Chuck is planning his 50th birthday party as a trip overseas with his wife. He wants both organized activities and and some personal flexibility as parts of a packaged trip that is within his budget.
“As a person who likes to discover things on my own, I want enough structure to allow well informed personal exploration.”
Chuck uses advanced search functions to narrow down his options. Once he has chosen three, he compares the details and add-ons and makes his decision based on package itineraries offered.
Sofie wants to browse the site and gather information in order to find a trip that adds excitement to her life. Once she has her information, she leaves site thinking she will returen later.
“As a traveler, I want an in-depth experience so that I have stories to tell my grandkids. As a person with a few health issues,
I want to find a trip that is exciting but safe so that I can make the most of my golden years.”
With our precise filtering functionality, Sophie narrows her search to trips that will provide sufficient amenities for her. She finds herself with plenty of relevant options to compare and choose from.
Edgar and his wife are searching for a package trip that fits within the time allotted by his job.
Much like Sophie, Edgar needs options that are low in physical activity.
“I want to book a pack a package tour so that I can use my vacation time efficiently. I also want to understand how active I’ll be on my trip so that I can enjoy the trip.”
Filtering by date and by the physical challenges entailed, Edgar can easily find the journeys he can realistically plan to undertake.
Taking the characteristics from Chuck and Sofie, we created the following user cases and flows to illustrate how they would use the new search functions on the Intrepid Travel site.
To instill delight, visually engage users, and create a sense of excitement about travel and the possibilities of planning it through Intrepid’s interface, we created a world map for our desktop and tablet versions. The map is populated with flags representing trips available through Intrepid. Clicking on flags opens more information and marks the first step on a user’s booking journey.
Search and Filtering
We decided that creating simpler and more useful search-filtering functionality was crucial to providing the user with informed and customizable search results. We focused upon three main areas: date, location, and physical challenges involved – the latter is particularly important to mature users. By adding these filters options right next to an explorable map, users may refine and explore their interests without becoming overwhelmed with information.
User Testing: Common Threads and Subsequent Iterations
Overall, users were enthusiastic about our prototypes and had fun exploring them.
However, users generally demanded clarification, particularly regarding the meaning behind the terms “physicality” and “themes.” Globally, we changed “physicality” to “physical challenge,” as it is intended to clarify the demands on stamina and health for customers, particularly those in our 50+ demographic. “Themes” became more prominent and detailed, with added focus on the new Comfort trips, increasing awareness and trust.
Some testers were more visual thinkers, while others placed more faith in detailed textual ex- planations.
We maintained Intrepid’s existing level of honesty and detail in explaining every reality involved with its offerings. Users already intrigued by certain trips can learn as much as they want – the deeper they go, the more exten- sive information they can peruse.
Visually, we embraced the idea of a JOURNEY.
Our prototypes are carefully design to lead users through a process of exploring options, selecting a destination, and making sure they’re getting what they want before purchasing.
This concept is a wonderful fit for the company. By the time a user books a trip, she has already “taken a trip” with Intrepid’s guidance. This increases trust through the course of exploring the site.
Our new Intrepid designs draw attention to the company’s Comfort products, create trust through more precise and flexible search functionally, and enable more exciting and fruitful relationships with new and existing customers alike.
We are excited to work with Intrepid and its customers and trust that our designs, research, and testing will open up the 50+ market and result in even stronger relationships for the company.