New Metaphors&Models of Travel Plan_Apps like Airbnb

Dazhen Yang
6 min readOct 13, 2020

I love traveling and used related apps a lot. These apps like Airbnb are convenient for gathering information, but I always have to organize these information in another documentation. To find a favorite house to rent among so much information and under such unfamiliar circumstance could consume lots of time, which is hard to compare between each plan. Also, during the trip, I need a notebook or other apps to help me memorize experiences. When I want to travel with friends, it is also difficult to share these findings and discuss about the plan. Therefore, to redesign online travel planning experience, I took 10+10 Strategy to clarify my design process and followed Design with Intent toolkit by Dan Lockton to brainstorm and design the details.

The Design with Intent toolkit contains cards and worksheet, I could not access worksheet, which is mainly for group work, so I just used the cards. Go through questions on each card is inspiration for new mental model to create the app and a kind of notification during design process.

Step 1 State Design Challenge

I am trying to redesign the travel planning app to enable more convenient and concise planning and memorizing experiences and stories while travelling.

Step 2 Generate 10 design concepts of a system that addresses this challenge

I could come up with the first five concepts quickly after I start thinking about the challenge. Then I check cards, especially of Ludic and Interaction Lens for the latter five ideas.

Card I used for brainstorming
Sketch of ten ideas

Step 3 Reduce the number of design concepts

Reviewing these ten ideas, I deleted the first one, because diary form is difficult to compare information at the planning phase, though beautiful interface could attract users to keep memories. Online traveling experiences are needed especially during the pandemic, but most people prefer real travel to the place. Game form could be interesting, but it would make the app too complicated. Users might compete with each other, which I do not encourage. But I do want to keep the quiz part, because nowadays so many people just take pictures at internet-famous sites and share pictures to social platforms. They do not feel and learn culture there. Concepts from 6 to 9 are technical problems that could be fixed by big data and artificial intelligence. I thought that these could be useful, but not as creative as others for the user experience part. After recheck some activities, there are already some concepts similar to my tenth idea, but just some articles. I wonder if there are users would travel following one particular celebrity. ( I really wish a chance to travel to places Sushi, a Chinese poet, had been to.)

Finally, my favorite are idea to design a trip like visiting friends and finding partners to travel with. Through my observation, apps are getting more socialize. People like to interact with other users online. And a great app should connect people and value relationship between people. So I determined to redesign by this concept.

Reduced concepts

Step 4 Share concepts with the group

I talked these concepts with some friends. Some would love to try this experience. It could be economy-practical to change stays with friends living in different cities. And living in friends’ house might bring more fun and memory. But some worry about the safe and privacy. Some feedback said that they did not like to bother friends while traveling.

Most thought that planning on the app with friends together would be more convenient. Sometimes they have to ask friends through chat on other platforms, but if they could mark favorite places to travel, friends could see each other’s. When their desire is the same, they could start planning on the app. Also, some people are shy or afraid to talk about which scenic spot they wish to travel and what experience to take while talking with travel partners, since they are not certain whether other partners would like these. But on the App, all these saved plans could show user’s bias, which could enhance the efficiency of meeting every traveler’s demands in a group.

Step 5 Choose the most promising design concepts as a starting point

To connect friends in travel planning app.

Step 6 Produce 10 details and/or variations of a particular design concept

  1. Friends’ saved scenic spots could be combined easily while planning together.
  2. Users have expecting travel time tag at each saved scenic spots.
  3. The system could automatically recommend friends or people with similar plans for you.
  4. Users could choose whether to welcome friends to their house on the personal page.
  5. (Inspired from Watermarking card) To make the user feel more willing to travel with friends, they could check degree of interaction or intimacy with each friend.
  6. (Inspired from Commitment&Consistency card) Travel pictures could be marked on the map, to remind the user great memories and encourage them to continue.
  7. (Inspired from Habit card) Daily city news and friends’ posts could keep users to look at the app.
  8. (Inspired from Personality card) The app’s personality is an outgoing, enthusiastic and accommodating person whom everyone likes to make friends with.
  9. (Inspired from Bundling card) The user would like to record their travel with friends, but it is always troublesome. And they would forget to write down thoughts while traveling. So the app could remind them everyday and friends could edit one travel diary together, which is based on a map.
  10. (Inspired from First One Free card) If users invite friends to use the app, they could get discount coupons, then they would rely on the app.

Step 7 Present best ideas to the group

Low-fidelity Prototype

Step 8 Continue to refine and generate concepts

Please comment some suggestions so that I could continue iteration.