Airbnb’s catapult into a household name is no fluke—it provides a convenient way for individuals across the globe to lessen the hassle that accompanies travel, and allows travelers to experience their destination in a more integrated way. With the integration of Experiences into the product line as well, users are now able to personalize and curate their trips with more detail than ever.
With all the functionality that Airbnb provides as a company, the one thing I find it missing is a convenient tool to match people with places.
The world is vast and planning vacations are a large undertaking—how can I be sure I chose the best place to go?
Planning trips take so much time and energy, and long spans of vacation time are few and far between. When we do have the opportunity to travel beyond our local scope, we find that there are so many places in the world to choose from. This creates a gap between two essential actions in the travel experience: a user deciding they want to explore somewhere new, and then actually figuring out what that “somewhere” is so they can start planning, and ultimately actualize a valuable trip.
While this idea was borne from personal experiences I've had, I wanted to figure out if it was more of a universal issue as well, so I set out to do some research.
Based on their Travel Trends post at the tail end of 2017, Airbnb has seen that:
These statistics all show that people who book with Airbnb are all actively seeking new, non-mainstream experiences through travel.
Delving into the habits of actual users of Airbnb’s existing products.
According to Statista, over 50% of Airbnb’s users are comprised of people between the ages of 18-34. I set out to survey people of this demographic, using a mixture of social media surveys. I posed questions like:
— How do you normally decide where to travel?
— How difficult do you normally find it to finalize travel destinations?
— What factors ultimately affect where you choose to go?
— Have you ever not travelled because you couldn’t decide where to go?
I then compiled the results into visual data representations. Here are a few main points, summarized:
Some direct quotes:
“I really like to travel, so for me the stressful part of planning of the trip is always worth it if I’m excited about the place I'm going to.”
“Trips are inherently just overwhelming because of all the possibilities, and there’s no one particular way to search things up. There’s so much out there that it’s paralyzing.”
Ultimately, my field research and my online research yielded similar results: young people like to travel and collect new experiences, and are seeking to do so at growing rates, but find it difficult to commit to the onerous nature of trip-planning without a more convenient way to decide and actualize travel goals.
With all this research in mind, I synthesized the responses into a persona through which I could better interpret potential users’ needs, wants, and priorities.
Trip Matching targets users who are unsure of where to travel, inviting them to list the aspects of travel that they prioritize in a short quiz. Their answers are run through an algorithm, and they are ultimately matched with destinations and experiences that fit their specific wants and needs.
Trip Matching is designed with individualization in mind—each travel experience is unique, and everyone’s needs are different. Users are able to use this function to find well-suited travel locations without as many intermediary steps and exhaustive research.
Integrating new product with Airbnb’s existing functionality.
While laying out the skeleton of this proposed product, I wanted it to blend well with Airbnb’s already-existent products. If a user chooses to complete the questionnaire to find a fitting travel destination, they are ultimately lead back to Airbnb’s booking options (after being successfully matched!).
Seamless and attractive user flow, with on-brand visuals.
After nailing down the optimal flow for this extension, I created a hi-fidelity mock-up of what the product would look like, adhering to Airbnb’s visual brand of vibrant illustrations and general contemporary look.
This was the first completely user-driven personal project I have embarked on, and deep-diving into integrating a product into an already-strong line of functionality made me appreciate the intricacies of everything Airbnb offers. The product itself is not just a convenient way to book housing or find restaurants—it actively includes detail-oriented ways to make both guests and hosts feel more comfortable and connected with the greater world. Designing an extension of Airbnb’s product using the same user-centrism was challenging but extremely exciting, and reminded me of how powerful designing and curating user experiences can truly be.
As more and more young people choose to venture out of their own bubbles and accumulate new travel experiences, I hope to have a hand in making their situational microcosm more convenient and delightful.