Bethany Brown // January 14 2019

Why Service Design Is Critical to the Travel Industry

We’ve all seen what functional services look like: Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, or more formally, The Four Seasons Hotel. We’ve all experienced moments where we are impressed by how we were treated: The time the waiter picked up it was your anniversary and brought you champagne. We never forget how these moments make us feel, be that good or bad. We talk about them. We remember them. We make decisions because of them.

Now as a traveler there are various elements which need to work together to create a seamless experience. These working elements are sometimes visible to the traveler and other times are not. What is not visible to the traveler is visible internally within a company.  

A basic and good experience is when a traveler has never used your service, but once they do:

  • They’re confident. They know exactly what to do with little effort on their part.
  • They don’t need to ask for reassurance.
  • There are no dead ends to their experience. A well designed experience accommodates experience needs.

Steps to a Better Travel Service

Beyond designing a seamless experience there is absolutely room in a travel journey to bring in the elements that delight and surprise us. In designing a stand out experience, it is important to design moments that are low effort to implement, but show off a business’s ability to know what a customer (traveler) needs, ultimately serving and hosting their traveler with excellence.

To reach the point where a travel journey is known for its service excellence there are a handful of angles which need to be covered.

The Customer. Know who your travelers are. Know their needs and from this knowledge, find where the opportunities are in order to create moments of delight within their experience.

Internal Teams. A business should align their internal teams to all work together towards the same customer experience goals. Encourage teams to take initiative and ownership over the travel experience.

Partnerships. Look beyond the experience journey which your business owns. Look at other businesses you can partner with to give a total end to end experience that smoothly transitions your Customer from one experience to another.

Bay Area Travel Example

So now let’s bring this to life a little more in the context of the Bay Area.

Imagine, Bart, Caltrain, Muni, SamTrams and Park & Ride systems all decided to work together. For example a traveler can download the “Bay Area Transit” app. This application would show them the amount they have loaded on their card and explain exactly how they go from A to B.

In the same app where you add funds to your card, you can also pay for your parking in any transit system parking space. Beyond the basic travel payment touchpoints, this app would ideally also provide you with activities for your commute. Activities including Audio books, links to meet-ups that can connect you to events of interest; and even an emergency alert for moments you feel unsafe.

Good Service Design goes beyond having an app and being in the digital space. Bay Area transit Service Design should consider: Designing better way-finding in the physical space that is clear and consistent across all transit systems. Providing staff uniforms that are more formal, minimal and clean. Making them feel proud to serve.

For the purpose of designing in those elements of delight, once a week a complimentary snack is provided by local restaurants where the transit system travels. To take it a step further Digitalist has the capability to go as far as using facial recognition to detect emotional analytics. In this experience this might mean assessing how the snack makes you feel, and if you clearly like it you’re sent discount codes to their retailers.  

So to conclude, travel can and should be designed well. Service Design helps ensure we are designing a customer experience that best suits the traveler.

At Digitalist, one of our focuses is the Travel Sector. We use Research and Service Design methods to consider the ideal experience travelers want to have. From this vantage point we are able to work with our technology teams to build the products necessary to enable the experience we know is right for customers.

Take a look at some of our Travel sector work for more information on how we work. Digitalist worked with Finnair to understand customer behaviours and from this were able to determine the right service offerings. Digitalist also worked with Viking Line to develop an app that brought together a variety of experience element into one platform space.

Interested in finding out more? Please join us at our AI Meets Design event on January 17 at Digitalist and find out how AI and humans will work together to provide meaningful travel experiences. Sign up on our Eventbrite page.