INDUSTRY RESEARCH PROJECT 
Bringing Design Thinking into the travel tech space in Thailand
How do you design for tourism innovation in a country whose economy is reliant on tourism, yet cherishes its heritage and prefers the status quo? ​​​​​​

TakeMeTour, a sharing economy travel-tech startup in Thailand

This Industry Research Project was conducted in collaboration with travel tech startup TakeMeTour in Thailand, a sharing economy platform selling one day tours, curated and hosted by locals in cities all over Thailand and Cambodia.
Introducing the concept of Design Thinking into TakeMeTour's innovation orientation, this project focussed on bringing new innovation techniques into their existing U.X. and product line and equipped the team with tools to discover new opportunities to innovate. It also identified new ways to enhance the perception of trust between the company and their customers, a crucial element to the travel package.
Discover
Immersing myself into the Thai startup ecosystem, I conducted interviews with travel tech founders and industry leaders to understand the unique characteristics of Thai tourism and the challenges associated with bringing new travel products to market.
Define 
Deep desk research and synthesis of my findings uncovered stark contrasts between Western and Asian innovation paradigms, in particular the need for tour operators to create a perception of trust as well as using empathy as a tool to spot user needs.
Develop 
An iterative process of trialing new tools and techniques within TakeMeTour for enhancing internal team culture, as well as Design Thinking workshops to help the team uncover innovation opportunities through 'Human Centred' design principles.
Delivery 
A blueprint to help identify real world traveller pain points that in turn helped TakeMeTour articulate and live its core purpose of 'Telling the Stories of Thailand'.

A 'Local Expert' guides visitors around his personally curated tour of Bangkok

Working amongst a team of 15 developers, designers and customer experience experts

A Blueprint for building 'Trust' and 'Brand Equity' at TakeMeTour
Using the 'Trust Model' and 'Jobs to Be Done' theory for guidance, a 3 stage proactive route map, shown below, was designed to take TakeMeTour from a startup with weak brand equity to an innovator with strong brand equity and a transformational travel tech proposition:
1. Radically focus TakeMeTour’s offering
Be exceptional at one thing and avoid creating variety for mass appeal
Result: Using Design Thinking and empathy to discover what people REALLY wanted from their activities, unique value can be created by focussing on 40 tours, rather than 400 similar tours, with an emphasis on products that involved food discovery and access to unusual places that were off the established tourist trail.
2. Simplify TakeMeTour’s value proposition
Attention spans have become shorter, so having an easily understood value proposition makes it easy for people to choose TakeMeTour
Result: Promoting the value of the Local Expert on the website and social media channels, emphasising the unique insights they can provide. This helped differentiate TakeMeTour’s value as having access to Thailand’s best resources by focussing on WHO the local expert is, as much as what they can show.
3. Put authenticity above all else
Define TakeMeTour by the causes the company genuinely care about
Result: Focussing on Closure Experiences which strive to create friendships between people that otherwise would not meet, sending people away with memories that they’ll want to keep forever. Personally handwritten postcards from the founders of TakeMeTour upon returning home encouraged positive reviews on peer review sites.
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