Solving a UX challenge for
Once in a while, potential clients include a UX exercise in the application process. In spring 2015, Ryanair Labs approached me with an opportunity to join their UX team in Dublin. After several weeks of communication, I got a task to design a feature that would simplify a trip management for a group.
"Determining how many is a group"
Booking and managing a trip for a group of people is often a tedious task. With a current approach, a reference code is issued immediately after the booking. The ability to check-in, retrieve boarding passes or make any amendments for all passengers is then associated with this reference code.
My challenge was to identify the issues with this approach for various group scenarios and design a UI feature to improve trip management for the whole group.
I start every project by asking questions. Arriving at the right ones frames the way I approach the problem and identify the most suitable UX techniques to progress forward.
Right before diving into the process, there was something I wanted to clarify. The number that defines a group can differ from source to source. I decided to do a research into Ryanair itself, to see if there is anything relevant on the subject.
Turns out, 20+ passengers is what they consider a "group booking". Clearly, this category is my priority and smaller groups are secondary focus.
To better understand the problem, I firstly had to learn the reason why people opt for a group booking in the first place. A mindmap below explores the benefits from user point of view and eventually arrives to the explanation.
Clearly, flying together is a fundamental objective behind a group booking. Following the same thought, "flying together" is also a task that group has to achieve. The next question is a self suggestive - "so who flies together?"
At this point, there were 4 main groups identified. To understand each group, I went on to talk to people who booked journeys for a group in the past.
The research has been summarised into personas and then reduced down to focus on the following questions:
- Despite the number of people flying, one has to manage a trip. Who is it? What type of person?
- Capture the quote that shows users attitude towards the product.
- Can you recall your latest booking experience? Have you experienced any issues? How about other travelers?
- What is the purpose of the journey?
A mother of two children. Married. Goes on vacation twice a year. She books and manages the trip for the whole family.
Run away from routine
"I always talk to my husband. We act together"
- Remember to check in.
- Deciding on activities.
A graduated lawyer. Travels to basketball and football games a few times per year. Often takes initiative to gather friends to fly together.
Get to event
Relax / watch live sports
"Sometimes planning is the pain in the neck."
- Collect money on time.
- Sole responsibility is stressful.
- Checking out the others.
An administrator working at the global software company. Books the tickets for developers to attend seminars and various educational workshops.
Arrange the trip / Assigned task
Find a good deal
"Quicker I can get it done - the better."
- Sometimes the booking process is unclear.
- Time consuming.
College tutor from UK. Organizes the trip to Berlin for 30 students every year.
Get to event
Inspire and get inspired
"Booking Berlin was an issue, because everyone wanted to know
what the progress was, but had no access to any of the info."
- Collect money on time.
- Find a compromise.
- Information distribution to the group.
The development of personas gave me a rise in clarity for viable scenarios. It became evident that with increased number of passengers a trip is harder to manage. Only one person can book and make changes to the journey as well as continuously keep in touch with other passengers.
For the next step, I mapped out a user journey for a tourism group. It represents the most complex scenario out of all groups and is also my priority for this task.
- Decision. College has plans to visit Berlin, which is scheduled some time during the year.
- Planning. Plans are then presented to the students. Estimate cost for the trip is given. The students who want to go are required to pay for the trip prior to booking.
- Booking. With the money collected, a tutor Chris books the tickets for the whole group.
- Information distribution to the group. Students are updated.
- Retrieve boarding passes. Chris checks in all passengers.
- Distribute boarding passes. E-tickets are then emailed or printed out and distributed to the whole group.
- Flight to event. Everyone arrives to the airport for the flight to Berlin.
- Flight back. After a week, everyone comes back home.
- Personalisation. A potential step that can happen any time during the trip. Individual requirements would result in amendments.
This is the part why I love user journeys. We can clearly see the problem, so there is no need to create more detailed journeys for other passengers.
The primary task is completed after the booking. The remaining steps are problematic for both - a trip manager and the rest of the group.
You could guess what my solution to the problem is. Elimination of a post-booking phase for a group altogether. Instead, offer to generate individual tickets for each adult during the booking.
Tickets would be emailed to all travelers, while the original invoice remains confidential and gets emailed to the person booking a trip.
Here is a quick look at the visual UI broken down into 3 steps.
User provides the names for all passengers.
New feature is disabled by default.
Once activated, user provides email addresses for every passenger.
Names are autofilled with data from the first step.
How it works for other groups
Administrator Sandra can generate individual tickets for all employees flying. Every staff member would have to check-in and get the boarding passes for themselves. She does not need to worry about anything else after the booking. In fact, Sandra can spend more time on other administrative tasks. Ultimately, it's saving time for a business.
Arthur, on the other hand, can relax after the booking. By generating tickets for his friends, he equally shares responsibility and no longer has to do all the work just by himself.
Family category is slightly different. Two adults can merely be considered as a group. However, two or more families flying together would benefit greatly by having a control over the holidays, which can be easily personalised to suit each family.
I dedicated 2 days to the project, including the interviews and presentation. Although, I was offered to join a local tech startup in Edinburgh and cancelled application with Ryanair Labs, it was an interesting problem to solve.