Viking Cruises came to us with the question, how can we prepare for the next generation of cruisers. They were interested in learning how they can begin to prepare today for the Gen X cruisers of tomorrow.
My role on this project was secondary research, user interviews, design, video editing. My biggest learning was how to research and strategize for future trends and organizational goals.
We conducted extensive secondary research over the course of the first week; the total project length was six weeks. Through secondary research, we identified the major travel trends of now and the future. We conducted three interviews with 40-55-year-olds to identify their current travel needs and desires, and what influences them. We also conducted two interviews with travel agents. After each interview, we summarized our notes and gathered combined insights from all participants before beginning to brainstorm concepts.
Customers want pricing and detailed information about what is included and what is not when it comes to all-inclusive travel. Failure to be upfront about costs that will be accrued during cruise travel can result in complaints, negative reviews and experiences for the cruise traveler. People also like to know what they have included so they can take full advantage, which in turn allows them to feel like they experienced and got the most out of their trip.
Seamless Travel Experience
People want their travel plans to go off without a hitch. Although it will not ruin the trip, inconveniences like delayed flights, lost luggage, etc. lead to bad memories of the trip. People expect cruise services to be attentive, organized, and run smoothly. If issues arise for customers during functions such as when checking in or attending excursions, it will negatively affect their experience.
Complete Immersion in Food & Culture
Customers now wish for an experiential travel experience. Meaning they aren’t looking just to drink piña coldas they now are interested in more immersive localized activities, such as a cooking class in Naples or a wine making session in Tuscany. They are also interested in a more localized experience when it comes to dining out. They want to go to local spots and avoid other tourists. They also want to expeierence local cuisines for a more authentic travel experience.
Discuss Travel Before & After Trip
For Gen Xers discussion of travel is one of the highlights. People like to advertise to where they are planning to visit and where they have been. They want to receive recommendations from friends and fellow travelers. They are interested in connecting with people who have been to their planned destination, to find out their highlights and dislikes so they can make the most of their trip.
To prepare for the future, we did extensive research on the future of travel trends. We discovered three key trends.
People are looking for shared experiences and shared spaces. Cruises are already at an advantage for future travel because it is in line with what people future needs are. They want to meet and share travel with new people, fellow travelers, and locals alike.
Travelers will look for more immersive, local, authentic, adventurous and active travel. People will begin to take more city over beach vacations.
Travelers will begin to expect a more tailored travel experience. Personalizing customer experiences will be done through technology. Brands will have to find a balance between high tech and human touch.
During our research, we discovered that between booking a Viking Cruise trip and departure there is at least a year gap and this was the most significant prebooking pain-point. Also during prebooking, deciding where to go and planning excursions can be challenging. We set out to solve these prebooking pains. How? Through a virtual experience and building a Viking Community before the customer even steps foot on board.
We mail our potential customer's cardboard VR branded goggles and a link to our content, enabling them to explore our 360° videos from their smartphone. Once the customer chooses the journey and excursions that are right for them with the help of the VR exploration they are then invited to join Viking crew members, fellow future travelers, past travelers, and locals from the destinations they will visit. They will interact in VR with Facebook Spaces, where they can ask questions and virtually visit destinations to help plan their trips, all right from their couch.