Expedia has seen the rise of discovery-based websites and wants to know: How can the sense of delight when someone discovers a new image or deal be applied to the experience of booking travel? Our team’s goal is to find those opportunities, identify the best ones for Expedia, and craft a solution to allow consumers to discover new, incredible travel experiences.



Once we had a thorough understanding of the problem space, we went out into the field to see how people discovered and traveled. We used four methods designed to give us the broadest view of the ways that people find new things and plan their trips. These included contextual inquiries of discovery-based websites, short and long-term journal studies, guerrilla interviews in Orlando and Las Vegas, and interviews about participants' passions to investigate delight and flow.
  • Journal
  • We asked people to fill out journals detailing their daily thoughts and actions regarding travel planning. We created two participant groups: 10 participants filled out the journals for two weeks and 22 participants filled them out for two months.

    We used journals to investigate how people plan travel in their everyday lives and to get a sense of the planning process over time. The journals were designed to lead the participants to think about their travel planning process within their daily lives.
  • Contextual
  • We traveled to people's homes and places of work to observe them using discovery websites. During the interviews, they used the websites as they normally would. We periodically asked questions to gain a deeper understanding of their usage.

    We interviewed 14 participants using a variety of sites, and focused our questions on how people found novel ideas and how they chose which ideas to explore further.

    We used interviews to investigate the many ways in which people discover new content. Project Lead
  • Joy-Based
  • We visited people doing activities they are passionate about.

    We talked to musicians, gamers, artists, musicians, and bikers and observed them doing what they loved. We asked what they loved about the activity, how they felt while doing it, and what brought them back to it over and over again.

    We used these joy visits to investigate what makes someone passionate about a certain activity, and how that passion can lead a person to do that activity repeatedly. Using this data, we aimed to understand the nature of joy and flow.
  • Guerilla
  • We journeyed across the country to interview people who were in the midst of traveling. We talked to them while they were waiting in lines, at shows, and exploring.

    Half of the team went to Las Vegas, focusing on spur-of-the-moment trips and half of the team went to Disney World, focusing on carefully-planned vacations.

    We used guerrilla interviews to investigate how people planned once they were traveling, rather than the prior planning covered by the journals. We focused on how people spontaneously made plans and how people changed the plans they had already made.


After we had collected our data, our team worked to find the overarching themes. We synthesized the information by creating an affinity diagram, in which data are grouped by similarity, and then placed into a hierarchy of trends.
The affinity diagram revealed three main categories of key insights about how people discover new things, plan travel, and share experiences with others. Unfortunately, due to the confidential nature of our project we cannot share our key insights here.


We turned the participant journal responses into timelines, which document the daily travel activities of each participant. We looked through each timeline and highlighted them based on which phase of travel planning each activity corresponded to. These were used to construct travel planning profiles, which show the trip planning strategies that people employ.
We identified five stages of travel planning that span from initial conception of a trip through actually executing a planned trip. Based on how people moved through these five stages, we were able to classify them into eight different planning profiles.


We looked to our data for inspiration and ideated dozens of concepts for a new system to meet Expedia's needs. Out of these ideas, the ten best were selected and shown to research participants in the form of storyboards to elicit their feedback. Based their reactions to these concepts, we refined them further and moved into the design stage of our process.
Our design cycle consists of ideation, and a design, build, test iteration cycle, leading up to a working prototype.


Based on the results of our visioning and speed dating, we began designing a prototype to test our design ideas. We started with paper prototypes and moved up in fidelity to a functional prototype. After eight weekly iteration cycles, we finalized our design and presented it to our clients at Expedia.