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Remote Collaborative Holiday Planning

keywords: research, scenario-based user-centred design, group travel, collaborative search, exploratory search, social discovery 

The facts

This project approached the group travel planning process as a case of collaborative information seeking and it examines the way in which remote asynchronous and synchronous groups of people undertake the activity of travel planning. A series of interviews, followed by a set of observations and evaluations were conducted. The study suggested a new design for supporting remote asynchronous collaborative travel planning, following a scenario-based user-centred design approach. 

The story

Travel planning frequently involves taking the preferences of individual users and aggregating them into a single search query. This task can prove to be highly complicated, and it can fail to take into consideration the tastes of all of the group members. For instance, when planning a trip, each group member might have a different destination preference, a unique budget and a different time availability. Taking into consideration the tastes and the preferences of everyone can waste a lot of time and energy and might not result in favourable outcomes - sometimes the travel plans might not be finalised. The project examined the way in which groups of people undertake the activity of planning travel among themselves. The focus of the project is on the information exchange that occurs while planning group travel. Even though web search is in general considered to be a companionless activity, collaborative information seeking has been the subject of multiple research studies in different environments, such as healthcare, academia, architecture and design.Drawing from the experiences of the participants, the project aimed to suggest a new design for supporting remote asynchronous collaborative travel planning. The study followed a scenario-based user-centred design approach. Scenarios help capture stories about application use, they aid in understanding people's needs and they on the activities "that need to be supported". 
Participants were interviewed about their travel search and planning habits, and they were observed using their preferred travel planning tools, both individually and as a group. Taking into account the findings of the two in-depth interviews conducted, a focus group was organised for the purpose of eliciting requirements further, this time focusing on groups and on collaboration within groups in the process of travel planning. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data from interviews and observations. 

Contributions

This project made the following contributions:
  1. It described the iterative design process of a multi-session collaborative travel planning dashboard;
  2. It discussed the system features of popular meta-search flight engines;
  3. Tested a new method for aggregating group flight search results;
  4. It defined requirements for asynchronous and remote collaborative travel planning;
  5. It proposed a novel interface for searching and exploring and organising group travel. 

Project Tags

  • research
  • user-centred design
  • group travel
  • collaborative search
  • social discovery
  • information seeking

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