Mapping emotional value in traveller journeys

Redesigning by starting with a fresh look at audience needs and goals

The Story

While Rent Villas had done an outstanding job of providing a high-touch travel experience, they wanted their website to give customers the same quality of experience online. Rent Villas founder had traveled extensively and was a pioneer in creating the category of independent travel and “rent a stranger’s home” abroad, long before AirBnB was ever conceived.

The Challenge​

Understanding what customers not familiar with villa rental travel needed was critical. Interviewing customers returning or planning a trip would be vital in the recruit strategy. Rent Villas wanted to learn what new travelers as well as seasoned customers found valuable and moreover how they planned and decided on how and what to rent.

The Turning Point​

Before even touching current or new design concepts, Experience Dynamics conducted a nationwide multi-city tour of customer home visits, targeting the “off the beaten path” traveler that Rent Villas attracted. We interviewed people studying Italian and seeking cooking and wine class experiences, kitchen amenities in homes, and using travel planning tools online and offline. Rent Villas learned that map literacy (yes, try finding Piemonte on a map), was not easy for most Americans.

Mapping the customer journey from idea conception to planning, taking the trip and returning to share memories with friends and family provided Rent Villas with enough ammunition to confidently approach wireframing.

The Execution

Requirements were overhauled to reflect customer needs and desires. Competitive analysis as well as rapid prototyping and iteration of prototypes based on putting design ideas in front of users in the usability lab, helped refine the vision. Rent Villas wanted customers to focus on the fun of travel planning- not the interface. Concept ideas were litmus tested to see if they worked for different traveler types. The feedback was instrumental to tightening up design ideas.

So we didn’t miss out on the voice of existing customers, Experience Dynamics deployed an online survey to existing customers. This allowed us to view a larger sample of customer views on the vacation rental experience. Combined with the day-in-the-life field research and the prototype feedback, the survey helped assess company reputation, loyalty and important behavioral metrics like primary reason for visiting and purchase intent.

The Result

The strategic blueprint gained by the User Centered Design activities helped Rent Villas understand what problems their customers were actually trying to solve. This helped plan technology and design resources- based on customer needs, habits and expectations. In addition Rent Villas gained competitive differentiation with how to position new services and value-add tools like point of interest content, trip planning tools and more features planned.

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