Serendipitous road trips: Enhancing tourists’ experiences through social interaction
Thiel, Sarah-Kristin (2014) Serendipitous road trips: Enhancing tourists’ experiences through social interaction. Masters by Research thesis, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
Driving can be a lonely activity. While there has been a lot of research and technical inventions concerning car-to-car communication and passenger entertainment, there is still little work concerning connecting drivers. Whereas tourism is very much a social activity, drive tourists have few options to communicate with fellow travellers. The proposed project is placed at the intersection of tourism and driving and aims to enhance the trip experience during driving through social interaction. This thesis explores how a mobile application that allows instant messaging between travellers sharing similar context can add to road trip experiences.
To inform the design of such an application, the project adopted the principle of the user-centred design process. User needs were assessed by running an ideation workshop and a field trip. Findings of both studies have shown that tourists have different preferences and diverse attitudes towards contacting new people. Yet all participants stressed the value of social recommendations. Based on those results and a later expert review, three prototype versions of the system were created. A prototyping session with potential end users highlighted the most important features including the possibility to view user profiles, choose between text and audio input and receive up-to-date information.
An implemented version of the prototype was evaluated in an exploratory study to identify usability related problems in an actual use case scenario as well as to find implementation bugs. The outcomes of this research are relevant for the design of future mobile tourist guides that leverage from benefits of social recommendations.
Impact and interest:
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