Contextual Research of Savannah Tourism
In this project, our team utilized methods of contextual research to analyze the tourism industry in the city of Savannah. From the secondary research at the beginning to final opportunities at the end, the process included "Popular Media Scan," "Trend Matrix," "Convergence Map," "Eras Map," "Analogous Map," "The Research Plan," "Research Questions," "ERAF System Map," "Observation," "Shadowing," "Cultural Probes," "2x2 Map," "Affinitizing," "How Might We..."
Popular Media Scan
Through huge amount of data collection, we had a broad and fast overview of the topic of tourism itself. To find common themes and insights and sort our findings, we clustered our information under different categories, which are trends, news, history, future, economy, environment, people and influences. Tourism is growing worldwide and therefore has a huge influence on toay's economy. This is hapening both, macro and micro wise.
In Georgia, tourism hit a record high with 54.6 billion dollars. Consequences are the increase in bike sharing, environmental issues and higher city maintenance costs. Another trend we observed was the increase of self-served tourism, which means more and more people book their trips by themselves. Platforms such expedia are expanding, the online market is growing and even the actual travel experience is changing from a customer to employee to a customer to machine interaction.
To uncover and illustrate past, present and future trends in the tourismm industry, we created the trend matrix for the past 20 years and inserted the information we found from barious sources. In this matrix, we specifically looked into six major themes; people, business, influence, market, travel and culture. To uncover the actual trends, we connected the correlating post-its with each other and determined the theme they have all had in common.
Compared to the average American city, Savannah is a very old city. History played and still plays a major role in Savannah's tourism industry. To see, where that history came from and how it influenced the travel industry on a micro basis, we created an Eras map that shows us a timeline divided into categories, which include cultural moments, activities, transportation, economy, technology/communication, historic landmarks, people.
For the analogous map, a diagram that shows connections between different fields, we chose to focus on Savannah's environment, activities the city offers and the people who live here either temporarily or permanently. One interesting connection we saw was the bike sharing service that Savannah offers to either locals or tourists. This could be a possible research questions for the city. It it's not even clear to us, how are tourists going to know that they can use the bikes? And if it is intended to be for locals, why is there only two stations in downtown and no other part of the city?
The Research Plan
Our data collection methods were parts of the process that led into the construction of our research plan. We need to ask, how were we going to find the data in a efficient way. Our research plan illustrates the questions that were promented to our future findings. We made this step in the procss of a center point that offered the opportunity to narrow our project into a more manageable and directional topic.
ERAF System Map
As we captured the current conditions for tourism in Savannah we created an overview that shares an understanding of the relationships of the entities within our topic. The information that we collected in this section is visually communicated in the ERAF System map, which allowed us to study the contexts holistically, create a high level model, and think about all of the elements of this system ad look into how they interact with one another.
During our observational phase, we discovered key points that benefited our scope. We were immersed into the field with open minds and a deep understanding of what we need to uncover. We went to different tours, ate at local restaurants, walked down River Street, sit in the squares in the city of Savannah. We were taking pictures and notes since we knew that every single piece of message we had got during the observation would become one of our data point, which would be very important when we went into the phase of affinitizing.
Finding the Interviewees
In order to find the right people to interview, we used the 2x2 map model. The way we set it up, it shows us how much interaction the locals have with tourists and if they interact occupationally or just for fun. We also tried to categorize the tourists in tourists who like to experience the authentic side of a city by interacting with locals, non-touristy activities and who are interested in more than just the sights Savannah has to offer and tourists who have their trips pre-planned and don't feel the urge to discover other facets of the city.
Instead of trying to find the "authentic side" of the city or the side tourists see, we interviewed people who live in Savannah nad through interacctions offer the travelers a more intimate, real glimpse of what the city is about, to find opportunities to gie a more complete view of Savannah. The interview questions are mostly pulled from our research plan. All contents of the interview were either audio or video-recorded with the interviewees' permission, we then transcribe the interview and use as our data points for affinitizing.