This is a critical reflection on Ben Jordan’s ‘Trip Tailor’ application which was his idea for a digital artefact for DIGC302. I was particularly attracted to this artefact as I have just returned from a 6-week trip around America and can relate 100% to the difficulties that come with choosing a place of accommodation that is just right for you. Not only accommodation, but also hidden secrets of certain locations, as well as good food. I was very interested in seeing where this project would go, and I was not disappointed.
According to the apps Facebook page, the aim for the ‘Trip Tailor’ project is to create an application that helps you to “Avoid getting buried in endless reviews, find information relevant to you, and allow us to tailor your trip.” Essentially then, the aim of this application is to learn your travel browsing patterns, and tailor a search experience that fits your interests. This includes accommodation costs, exciting destinations and places to eat. The app also aims to link through social media so that the user can see the ratings and experiences of other Facebook/Twitter users as well as their friends. I think the aim of this project is excellent, especially when considering the time that Ben estimates it will save when planning a stay in a city. He estimated that it took roughly 4 hours to plan accommodation and site seeing for a city using various other apps and websites currently available. However when using Trip Tailor, this estimated time would be cut down to 1 hour. Fantastic aim.
The trajectory of Bens project was probably one of the best I saw in the class. I feel like this was helped significantly through his two co-designers in America who have been able to pay various visits to Silicon Valley in San Francisco. I like how Ben actually improved his app in between the first draft and the beta presentation. I was also impressed on how he had future goals in mind, such as the promotion aspect of the Facebook page once it had reached 100 likes. The only thing I would have to criticise in the trajectory was the apparent lack of funding that the project had received thus far. While Trip Tailor plans to take advantage of targeted advertising in order to make its revenue, I couldn’t see any evidence of the team contacting advertisers and offering them a look at the product so far.
The main concept of the project that I picked up on was that it used ‘Machine learning algorithms’ in order to learn an understand a users interests and hence tailor their searches accordingly. This is definitely the way that applications are heading, and even most websites are starting to use techniques such as this. (Think the content displayed in your Facebook newsfeed, or the ‘recommended for you’ section of YouTube.) Being a complex process I can completely understand why there is not actually a hard copy of the app available for the Beta test. The only qualm that I have with this algorithm system is that users may miss out on seeing things in a search that they could be interested in, despite what the app thinks. (Demonstrated by the loss of culture slide in the BETA presentation). Aside from the ‘off the beaten track’ solution the team came up with, a possible suggestion I had would be to have a setting that turns on and off the tailoring option, giving the users even more opportunity to find things that suit them. Not sure if this is an option or not, but it was the only criticism I had in this area.
I have to commend Ben on the methodology that has gone into this project. The extensive market research done by himself and the rest of his team is a commendable effort. He has also taken advantage of various forms of advertising, through Facebook, and Twitter with the aim of promoting his product. It is widely acknowledged that promoting online through the use of social media is incredibly effective. The only suggestion I would have now is to try and get the short 1:18 BETA video onto YouTube and have it play at the start of various videos. I have no idea how much that would cost but once the project gets some funding it would be a viable avenue to consider.
Project Beta Demonstration:
Bens Project BETA demonstration was fantastic. It was quickly evident that he had done a lot of the market research into this app, as he had all the major bases covered early on in the presentation. The important information into the market share of Trip Advisor is an important step as they will be the main competitor when it comes to gaining a foothold in the industry. I think that it is important that in all advertising the team makes it clear how much time will be saved when booking accommodation or looking up travel destinations on their app, as this is definitely one of the main drawcards in my opinion.
There is really no more advice I can give on the project as I genuinely think that the team has everything covered.