Product & Design
Mar 17, 2023

Book to the Future: Domus Academy x GetYourGuide

Craig Johnson
UX Manager

How might GetYourGuide as a concierge service look 20 years from now? Students from Milan’s Domus Academy have been sharing their ideas as part of a visionary eight-week workshop. Here, UX Manager Craig Johnson shares details of how the partnership is a catalyst for creativity. 

Last November, we challenged students at Milan’s prestigious Domus Academy to imagine how Artificial Intelligence will transform GetYourGuide as a service. Because we’re always looking to the future, the creative brief was set in 2042: what might a local concierge service look like 20 years from now? How might our customers share their memories with family and friends? And how will these future technologies change our brand? Led by UX Manager Craig Johnson and Head of User Experience Ignazio Moresco, the eight-week workshop delivered visionary proposals for how AI might shape user experience. Here, Craig discusses the project’s goals, the role AI might play in the travel tech industry, and the importance of engaging with the talent of tomorrow. 

How did the collaboration with Domus Academy come about?

The partnership was initiated by GetYourGuide’s Head of User Experience, Ignazio Moresco. He was looking for ways to establish a partnership program with external organizations to highlight the unique design culture we have at GetYourGuide, and to further our impact in the broader design community. Through his network, Ignazio established communication with the folks at Domus Academy in Milan, and the collaboration between us began to take shape.

What was the main goal of the project?

Our main goal was to further establish GetYourGuide as a company with a strong design culture, and challenge the class to think creatively about the future. For us, it’s inspiring to see how up-and-coming designers tackle some of our known customer pain points today, and we hope we can also demonstrate to the students how working through a professional project brief might look.

What went into defining the scope and focus of the workshop? 

We worked closely with Cecilia Messina from Domus’ Career Service & Industry Relations department, and Andrea Desiato, Program Leader, MA Interaction Design & MA Service Design. We knew we’d be putting together a creative brief for an international group of ten students from the Master’s in Interaction Design and Master’s in Service Design programs, and that the course would run for roughly eight weeks. Regarding the project brief, we had complete freedom, so Ignazio and I opted for the futuristic route, hoping speculative design would be an enjoyable and engaging prospect for the students. 

Pushing the brief out 20 years to 2042 allowed students to analyze our product of today, identify various customer problems and needs, and extrapolate their solutions into the future – without the hindrance of confining their solutions to the form of today’s tech.

For us, the futuristic brief helped move the work away from students designing for the challenges that our customers are facing today, and allowed us to have a view into how these challenges may evolve in the years to come. It invited us to think about what new challenges may emerge, and how advances in technology may help us in some ways, and hinder us in others.

The brief was centered on AI – how do you envisage the technology’s role in the future of the travel and experiences industry, and why make it a focus for students? 

AI is a big topic in the industry at the moment. We’re witnessing monumental leaps forward with products like AI artwork and image manipulation sites readily available, as well as tools like ChatGPT. With these advances in technology comes great responsibility, especially for designers. We’re seeing such technology encroach further and further into our work, so attaching our creative brief to this topic was a way for us to explore broader possibilities for our current product, and to allow the studying designers of today to investigate what topics they may very well be addressing head on in the years to come.

What was your role in the workshop, and how closely did you work with students?

My role was similar to that of the ‘client’ – in this case, GetYourGuide. The class was led by Andrea Desiato and Alberto Andreetto who is Lead Interaction Designer at the international strategic design studio, Sketchin, and project leader at Domus. I was in Milan for the project kick-off, and halfway through, assembled a group of GetYourGuide designers to participate in the mid-project critiques online. This was an opportunity to give feedback on designs and creative direction to the students. Then I was in Milan again for the classes’ final presentations at the beginning of February, where we saw everyone’s finished works.

How did you align the workshop with GetYourGuide's vision and mission? 

GetYourGuide’s mission is to create unforgettable experiences for our customers. This is a mission that will persist into the future, regardless of how technology evolves. To kick things off, I presented GetYourGuide as a company to the class: who we are, our mission, business model, modern explorer persona, and a run-through of our current product experience. With all of this in mind – and some vouchers in hand – students were able to conduct product research by experiencing some GetYourGuide tours in Milan. From this, they were able to understand some of the current challenges our customers face and look to innovative, future-thinking ways to solve these points.

What was your takeaway from working with the Domus Academy students? 

This partnership was an incredible opportunity to get GetYourGuide out there and in front of a group of design students who could really think creatively about how we’re going to tackle some of our core product and customer problems in the years ahead. It was inspiring to see such talented, young designers diligently work through the design thinking process to capture some of our known pain points, and produce some really creative results. 

How did the students approach the challenge?

We did not go into this project hoping for particular results or wanting to see certain solutions. We left the brief decidedly open for students to determine which customer pain points they were going to focus on, and how they would look to solve them. We discussed various technology concepts like AI, machine learning, virtual reality, and augmented reality, but it was up to the students to decide how best they saw technology solving the issues they’d researched. 

We were delighted with the overall results. Each group, with direct guidance from Andrea and Alberto, followed a typical human-centered approach to their design thinking process. We were very happy to see that everyone came up with a unique, innovative idea, and each group’s presentation told an interesting story through service and interaction design.

What do you think the future holds for the travel industry from a UX standpoint?

In alignment with the work the students put together, I think we can look to the next 20 years of technology as a period of great transition. The internet revolutionized the world, as did smartphones, and so too will advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality. We’ll see more customization of product experiences, and more innovative ways of path-finding and experiencing locations – whether they’re still intact or not. We’ll also see whole new levels of automation, recommendations, and personal service. The future is filled with exciting opportunities and areas of great responsibility; as designers, we have a duty to ensure these advances in technology will be used in human-centered ways.

To learn more about the outcomes of the 'Book to the Future' project and be inspired, take a look at students' final proposals here.

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