Product Design in Travel Industry
People often describe me as an avid traveler— this is true. To me, traveling is the ultimate way to literally and figuratively expand your horizons, but also an extremely good medicine for your mind, body, and soul. In the past two decades, I’ve visited 12 countries and hundreds of cities and towns. Whether solo, with family, or with friends. Whether for vacation, for work, or for simply nothing… I know traveling is my destiny.
But traveling is a lot of work — yep — it’s much more than just having enough financial budget and a good company. At any stage of a trip, from researching, planning, booking, to actually being on the road, it could be stressful and exhausting sometimes. I remember back when I was a little kid, my mom and I would be physically visiting tons of travel agencies, buying travel books and maps at the bookstore, stopping by pedestrians to ask for directions, calling a list of hotels and restaurants one by one… Well, that was not as fun.
The good thing is that nowadays there are so many great products to help us during travels. Especially with the wave of digital emergence, it really freed people up and let them enjoy their travel times in more relaxed and meaningful ways. I will share some of my favorite travel products used here, and let you know why I love them.
As a highly spontaneous person, I often find it tough to pick a destination. So I look for inspiration online, especially on Instagram is a mega social media application with the main focus on images and short videos. It is known for its large number of users who are heavily into photography. Every time I browsed a post of beautiful landscape, I click the location tag to find out where it is. I swear this is one of the best functions on Instagram — it literally saves me so much time compared to specific searches. Like come on, most of the mountains and lakes do look similar, don’t they?
Another great product I use for browsing destinations is Skyscanner. It is one of my favorite OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), booking flights, hotels, and packages. But there are so many OTAs in the market, like Expedia and Kayak. What makes Skyscanner stands out from its competitors? Well, Skyscanner has a “Search Everywhere” function. Unlike other OTAs where you enter a specific departure and arrival, Skyscanner lets you explore different destinations all over the world, with price tags and everything. This function is extremely helpful for budget-cautious users who are looking for leisure trips. Imagine you want to go somewhere hot during spring break, instead of searching all Caribbean destinations one by one on other OTAs to compare prices, now all you need on Skyscanner is to click “Search Everywhere” and find the cheapest option. How convenient is that? Thanks to this great product, I have scored many cheap flight tickets over the years!
After finalizing destinations and booking flight tickets, the next step is to book accommodations. Unlike booking through traditional hotels, nowadays travelers would prefer Airbnb — founded in 2008 when two hosts welcomed their three guests to sleep on their air mattresses — has since grown to 4 million hosts who have welcomed over 800 million guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. The reason why Airbnb achieved such big success is that it really did an extensive research on users and its competitors to find what their needs and wants are. For example, hotels are limited to short supplies and high prices; where Airbnb allows hosts share their unused home with a reasaonable price. Hotels are often too robotic and doesn’t have a warm and relaxed atmosphere; where Airbnb markets heavily on its unique speace and welcoming “home” experience. Airbnb is a perfect example of upgrading the product design process from tangible to intangible.
With Airbnb being the leader, the trend of sharing economy is rising strong. There are more innovative products being designed in the travel industry. Another accommodation product is Couchsurfing, where it targets more on solo travelers and backpackers as it doesn’t include any money exchange. For car rentals, there is Turo where users can list and rent their cars. For rideshares, there is Poparide where users can “hitchhike” safely. For ground transportations, there is Uber and Lyft, which is now considered one of the most “cannot-live-without” apps by many people.
It is clear to tell that with the help of these digital products, the process of planning a trip has become much easier for travelers. These products mentioned above are great products and reached huge success in the travel market, because of many reasons:
- These products did extensive market research and really understands users’ needs and wants; not only the tangible ones, but also the intangible ones.
- These products offer functions that are highly useful.
- These products are easy to use and easily adaptable.
- These products focus heavily on small details. Because those small details make big differences.
- These products have something that differentiate them from their competitors.
Product design is beyond important, not only in the travel industry, but also in daily life. Do you have any other greatly designed products you recommend? Share with us!