Check out the prototype
Volo is an app that lets travelers feel like locals, everywhere—connecting travelers with cool locals around the globe for authentic & personal experiences. I collaborated with Lynn Hao, Kandarp Khandwala and Natalie Tongprasearth on this quarter-long project for the first ever Interaction Design—Startup Studio class at UC San Diego. Our work was to understand unmet user needs and to create a value proposition that balances technical feasibility, financial viability, and desirability. We prototyped the mobile app, developed a full-blown business plan, and produced a video sketch suitable for launching a crowdfunding campaign.
Random GIF-worthy moment from the project:
1. Need-finding and User Research
We explored the travel industry as much as we could, and garnered perspectives from travelers all over the world. We analyzed the travel market and came up with a detailed Competitive Analysis that explored the following potential innovation opportunities, a.k.a. Product Opportunity Gaps:
- No service which provides travelers with real-time, on-demand advice.
- No single platform linking activity-planning (museum tours, bungee jumping, photo-walks, etc.) and booking services (flights, hotels, etc.)
- No service that planned a trip according to personal travel mood/personality
While interviewing and surveying travelers, and compiling the responses we got a lot of interesting insights:
- Want local advice: Travelers, in one form or the other, always ask locals for tips as to what to do around that location. These locals can range from the Airbnb host, taxi driver, hotel concierge, etc. A lot of them mentioned that they want an off-beat and authentic experience, and are bored of the same, old “touristy” stuff.
- They were generally willing to provide advice about the places they’ve been to in the past.
- While everyone generally expressed positive and pleasant views regarding traveling in general, people seemed to dislike certain aspects of travel too: getting ripped off, flights, the cost of traveling, packing, etc.
We synthesized our research and outlined unmet user needs and the hurdles they faced in realizing them:
We also created a Value-Proposition Model outlining revenue flow and ensuring the business’s sustainability:
The value flow model was constantly in iteration throughout the project, as we pivoted and iterated throughout.
We concluded this stage in the product development process with 3 key challenge statements:
- How might we hook people up with cool hangout spots beyond the same old touristy spots?
- How might we help travelers enjoy and forget about all planning, logistics and booking?
- How might we help tourists feel comfortable (rather than as outsiders) while experiencing local life and culture?
After our initial research, we created user personas and made storyboards to highlight key scenarios and situations a user might relate with. We then opened these storyboards up to the public, and asked them to rate in on a scale 0 to 5 and indicate how much they could relate with.
We prototyped an idea in low fidelity, for an app that would organize a travel plan based on somebody’s travel mood and personality.
After more research and interviews, we also corrected some of our misconceptions:
- Experiencing local culture is interesting, but having fun was more important to people on vacation.
- Local, offbeat activities are great, but mainstream spots are iconic and nobody would want to leave Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower.
3. Branding and Market Research
We developed a visual language for the brand to be used across various media.
At the end of the last stage, we were still confused between two app ideas:
- Local + Local: Making groups of locals so they can travel together
- Local + Traveler: Connecting travelers and locals so locals can show them around
To decide which one to move forward with, we did A/B Testing two different products. We made two sample landing pages using Unbounce and linked them two different ads on Yahoo! Ads. We used the results as a means of gauging public interest in the app ideas.
We got the following results:
To actually test out the app idea, we pretended to be the human version of the app and did exactly what the two apps were meant to do: connect travelers with locals and connect travelers with fellow travelers. At the end of the service enactment, we would measure results of the enactment and take feedback from the users to iterate further.
For the traveler + traveler idea, we made a Typeform form to survey about their travel style and destination, and then hooked them up with a match.
Conclusion: Depending on type of traveler and their mood, they may or may not hit it off! This idea may be better suited to the social space than travel
For the traveler + local idea, we ourselves acted out matching the local and the traveler and then observed their conversation.
Conclusion: Travelers would love to buy the local a drink/meal to chat about the area, but we need indirect incentives for locals as pricing is difficult.
At the end of our enactments, we decided to focus on the traveler + local idea.
4. Final Deliverables
We launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds through crowd-sourcing, and created a hi-fi prototype, a video pitch and a poster for displaying our product in a investor’s meet.
embed this: https://marvelapp.com/i06jd4/screen/12715557
In the end, our team was required to take part in a startup exhibition, where we were to set up stalls with prototypes and potential investors gave us feedback and invested a certain amount of pseudo-currency in our startup.