FINAL THESIS INTEGRATED DESIGN
COLOGNE / BERLIN, 2016 - 2017.
B.A. Digital Territories: Impact of media
on travel planning
The starting point for this thesis in the area of Design Concepts is a reflection on the term “Virtual Territories” in the context of tourism. The thesis researches key points where the user interacts with a virtual representation of the territory by planning a trip. In this context, pre-travel visualization of destinations is very important as it becomes a tool to compete on the market. The thesis explores possible scenarios of how to affect the representation of the "Virtual Territory" with the use of user-generated content for a selected destination.
research proposal and presentation (3 months, 2016), work on the final thesis (2017), qualitative interviews, infographic, layout.
User Journey: planning a trip
To represent the user journey while planning a trip four stages were taken: I-want-to-get-away (=dreaming), Time-to-make-a-plan (=planning), Let’s-book-it (=booking), Can’t-wait-to-explore (=experiencing). The user journey starts from the very first idea of planning a trip (trigger) and finishes not after the tourist arrives back home, but also includes a sequence of sharing the experience in a form of user-generated content (e.g. leaving reviews, uploading travel photos online, sharing experience on social media).
User-generated content of each single traveller affects the representation of the destination online: the wish to take a photo with a Sydney Opera (that was triggered through media) will create a visual content (photo depicting tourist and the sightseeing) that later on will be shared through social media and become another visual trigger for next travellers.
In order to test my research hypothesis, I held 6 in-depth interviews followed by a discussion. The aim was to see how people start to plan the trip and research information regarding their future trip. Users were asked to start planning a trip with certain parameters using the internet. The 'search path' of each interviewee was documented and analyzed. I was looking into the data of what types of visual content were appearing in their search scenario and what was the proportion of user-generated content.
The aim of this design proposal was to develop a set of tools that can be used in order to populate data for digital territories and enrich their online representation. For this purpose, the Arctic territory in Russia was selected. The reason for it is that the Arctic region has a high tourism experience potential but unfortunately has low representation as a Digital Territory.
In order to plan steps towards a better representation of the Digital Territory – the Arctic – a set of tools and the concept map was created. The concept map included work on Commercial Avatars – profiles that have unique visual content to show. The model had a description of the ways where to receive user-generated content, how to generate them and what online media platforms are more suitable for such travel product.