Color Your Journey: Meet Palette
When does the travel bug first bite you? Is it when you stumble upon a breathtaking photo on Instagram or read about a hidden gem on a travel blog? Why do most travel tools in this oversaturated market only kick in at the booking stage?
Introducing Palette - your travel companion from the very beginning. We believe the journey starts long before you book your flight or accommodation. It begins with that spark of inspiration, that desire to explore. Palette is here to ensure those sparks don't just fade away. We help you consolidate all those scattered travel inspirations, organizing them meticulously. So, when the time feels right, or when wanderlust strikes, you're not starting from scratch. You have a palette of inspirations, collected over time, ready to be transformed into your next great adventure.
The modern traveler's journey often begins with a spark of inspiration from various digital platforms. However, the current travel planning landscape is fragmented, leading to challenges in consolidating and acting upon these inspirations.
“Empowering travelers to effortlessly transform their travel inspirations into personalized, unforgettable experiences.”
Meet Alex, a 28-year-old traveler. Like many of his peers, Alex frequently discovers breathtaking destinations on Instagram and reads about hidden gems on travel blogs. But when it's time to plan his trip, he's overwhelmed. His inspirations are scattered across multiple platforms, and he often forgets or can't find where he saved them. This fragmented approach not only hampers the travel planning process but also diminishes the overall travel experience. In fact, our research shows that 55% of travelers like Alex face challenges organizing their inspirations in a useful way, leading to missed activities and inefficient travel planning.
Research & Discovery
User Research: Our extensive user research involved gathering insights from a diverse group of travelers. Here are some key findings:
- Travel Inspirations: All of our respondents acknowledged the importance of travel inspirations in sparking their desire to travel. However, 32% of respondents don't save these inspirations, possibly due to the lack of an effective method for saving, organizing, and using these inspirations.
- Planning Challenges: 55% reported challenges with organizing their inspirations in a useful way, highlighting the need for a centralized travel planning tool.
- Recall Efficiency: While many travelers face challenges in recalling saved inspirations, it's worth noting that 25% rarely forget their saved inspirations, and 18.33% never forget. This suggests that a segment of travelers might have established methods or don't heavily rely on saved inspirations during planning.
- Desired Solution: A significant 74.5% expressed a desire for a solution that provides suggestions based on their inspirations, while 70% want the ability to create itineraries directly from these inspirations.
Market Analysis: The travel planning market is vast, with numerous tools focusing on various stages of the travel process. However, a significant gap exists in the initial stages – the ideation and inspiration phase. Most tools kick in at the booking stage, leaving travelers to juggle multiple platforms for their inspirations. This gap presents a unique opportunity for Palette to step in and offer a solution that caters to the early stages of travel planning.
- Market Size & Growth: The global travel planning tools market is expected to grow by 4.42% from 2023 to 2027, resulting in a market volume of US$1016.00 billion in 2027 [Source: Statista]. Additionally, a recent post by Bloomberg Pursuits on Instagram highlighted that by 2033, travel is set to become a $15.5 trillion industry, accounting for more than 11.6% of the global economy. This represents a 50% increase from its value in 2019 [Source: Bloomberg Pursuits on Instagram].
- Competitive Landscape: While TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Expedia are dominant players in the travel planning market, their strength lies in bookings and leveraging their vast internal databases for travel inspirations. However, this often results in a generic travel planning experience for users. In contrast, Palette's strength is its ability to centralize user-sourced inspirations from diverse platforms, offering a truly personalized planning experience.
Palette's Position: Palette is uniquely positioned to bridge this gap. By centralizing and organizing travel inspirations, and then seamlessly transitioning users into the planning and booking phases, Palette offers a comprehensive solution in a fragmented market. Our tool promises not just to simplify travel planning but to revolutionize the entire process, starting from the very moment inspiration strikes.
Strategic Data Utilization: Palette's approach stands out in its ability to capture and analyze inspirations from diverse platforms, offering insights that are both deep and broad. Unlike many tools that gather user inputs through predefined questions, Palette offers a more comprehensive and multi-dimensional view of user desires. By analyzing where users source their inspirations, we gain unique insights into:
- User Preferences: Understanding the type of content users save, from which platforms, and how they utilize these inspirations in trip planning.
- Platform Engagement: Identifying which platforms are most engaged, providing valuable insights for businesses and potential partners.
- Tailored Offerings: Enhancing the user experience with more personalized travel recommendations based on their saved inspirations.
Monetization Strategy: The rise of digital travel planning and the dominance of social media platforms present a clear business opportunity. By integrating affiliate marketing, Palette allows users to seamlessly transition from planning to booking, generating commission-based revenue. Strategic partnerships with travel agencies can further offer exclusive deals, incentivizing bookings through our platform. Even capturing a mere 1% of the market could translate to potential annual revenues of $10.16 billion. This demonstrates the immense potential and scalability of Palette in the rapidly growing travel market.
User Acquisition Milestones: These milestones are crucial as they not only validate our product but also provide momentum for further growth.
- 1st User: Leverage internal networks and personal connections.
- 10th User: Engage with travel enthusiasts within our immediate community.
- 100th User: Secured 30+ user commitments from a preliminary post on a social platform before Palette's official launch.
- Alpha Testing: Current phase focused on refining the MVP based on internal evaluations.
- Beta Testing: Engage our group of beta testers for invaluable feedback and product iteration.
- Influencer Collaborations: A unique approach where we curate trips based on travel influencers' shared suggestions. We then directly showcase these curated trips to the influencers, highlighting Palette's capabilities and the ease with which their content can be organized and enhanced. This strategy not only demonstrates our value proposition but also provides influencers with a tangible example of Palette's potential benefits for their content creation process. Engaging with influencers not only provides direct exposure to their followers but can also create a ripple effect, drawing in a wider audience.
- Growth Goals: Aim to acquire 100 active users within the first month, measuring success by user engagement and feedback.
Palette's unique value proposition extends beyond just centralizing travel inspirations. By understanding user preferences through their saved inspirations, we can curate more personalized travel offerings, enhancing the user experience. This data-driven approach allows us to collaborate with travel companies, ensuring our users receive bespoke travel deals tailored to their preferences. User privacy is paramount; all data utilized is anonymized and aggregated, ensuring individual privacy is maintained.
Landing on a Solution
In response to the challenges faced by travelers like Alex, we introduced Palette. Our primary goal is to provide a centralized platform where travel inspirations from diverse sources come together. By consolidating these inspirations, Palette ensures travelers can effortlessly transition from scattered inspirations to tangible travel plans. The result? An organized, stress-free, and enriched travel planning experience that allows travelers to truly streamline the journey from ideation to cherished travel moments.
MVP and Product Development
Current Status: In a span of 8 weeks, our team has made significant strides in the development of Palette:
- Discovery and Ideation: We've completed the initial discovery phase, understanding the core needs of our target users and ideating solutions to address them.
- Design: High-fidelity designs for our website have been finalized, offering a visual representation of our product vision.
- Development: Key functionalities have been developed, including:
- User account creation and login.
- Adding travel inspirations with details like title, location, and external links from diverse sources such as YouTube, Instagram, blogs, and TripAdvisor.
- Note-taking capabilities for each inspiration.
- Tag creation and assignment for better organization.
- Trip palette creation, allowing users to consolidate selected inspirations into a planned trip.
- A robust search functionality, enabling users to find inspirations based on titles, tags, or a combination of both.
Lo-fi Designs: Homepage, Trip, Saved Inspirations
Hi-fi Designs: Homepage, Trip, Saved Inspirations
In the 8-week design journey utilizing Figma, I gained vital insights from both low-fidelity and high-fidelity design stages. Low-fidelity wireframes taught me the essence of scoping and essential structuring. Transitioning to high-fidelity design allowed for visualizing the product and integrating user feedback, emphasizing the balance between aesthetics and usability. Notably, diverse user feedback showcased varying perspectives, reinforcing the need to cater to different user expectations. Understanding the pain points of modern travel planning, including information overload and lack of organization, underscored the vision for Travel Palette—to simplify the journey from inspiration to comprehensive travel plans.
- Database: MongoDB Atlas
- Backend: Render
- Frontend: Vercel
Tech Stack Used:
High level journey of a request: Backend tools are tasked with managing HTTP requests originating from the frontend. They interact with the database, retrieve the required data, and send it back to the frontend as JSON responses. Subsequently, the frontend processes this data, makes relevant changes, and presents it interactively to the user.
Technical challenges: When attempting to display a preview of the received links,not all links were images, and certain websites prohibited their display. To address this, we developed distinct functions to handle various link types, each with its unique patterns and requirements. This approach allowed us to tailor our solutions according to the specific challenges posed by different types of links.
At Palette, our journey is ongoing. We're committed to refining our platform, ensuring we always align with our users' evolving needs. Here's a glimpse into our roadmap:
> Iterative Design: Before diving into beta testing, we're focused on addressing bugs identified during alpha testing and refining the UI aesthetics. Feedback from our beta testing will further guide our design and functionality enhancements.
> Streamlined Travel Planning: Our vision is to create a seamless transition from inspiration to memorable travel experiences. To achieve this:
- Itinerary Templates: Users can easily drag and drop inspirations onto customizable templates.
- Map Integration: A visual approach to travel planning, helping users spatially organize their trips.
- Collaborative Planning: Traveling with friends or family? Plan together on Palette.
> Mobile Optimization: While our current design is desktop-centric, we're working towards a more responsive mobile website to cater to on-the-go users.
> Monetization & Direct Booking: As we evolve, we aim to integrate direct booking capabilities. This not only provides users with a one-stop solution but also opens up revenue streams for Palette through affiliate marketing and partnerships with travel agencies.
Our backlog is filled with ideas, and we're excited about the journey ahead. Stay tuned for more innovations from Palette!
Product Manager Learnings:
During Palette's development, a few key insights stood out:
- Scope Adjustment is Key: We had an ambitious 8-week timeline for our MVP. This tight schedule highlighted the importance of scope adjustment. Things don't always go as planned, and being able to adjust our focus early on was crucial. It ensured that we stayed true to our vision and met user needs, even when we had to make changes to our initial plans.
- Clear Communication Matters: Collaborating with my team reinforced the value of open and clear communication. Every team member brings a unique perspective, and it's essential to ensure everyone is on the same page. For me, being a PM is as much about understanding people as it is about the product.
- Simplicity Over Complexity: It's tempting to add many features, but I realized the importance of focusing on our core functionalities. Making them simple and user-friendly was more valuable than adding more and more options.
These experiences have been invaluable, teaching me that being a PM is a continuous journey of growth and adaptation.
The importance of Minimum Viable Product (or MVP) scoping, valuable feedback loops, and effective project management. Emphasizing a MVP approach prioritized TravelPalette’s primary objectives.
User testing feedback showed a drastic contrast from two interviewees with our high-fidelity prototype—one praised it, while the other felt it needed more much more work for their usability needs. It showed importance of addressing diverse user perspectives and needs when it comes to traveling. By conducting further research, we carefully iterated the design to enhance functionality by introducing a left hand nav bar.
Additionally, utilizing project management tools like Notion was crucial in meeting weekly deadlines and ensure positive progress in the Co.Lab program.
Overall, I’m grateful for the experiences In this 8-week design journey and for the team to work under real-world constraints (remote, drastic time differences, resources).
During my 8-week experience in the Co Lab, here are my key learnings
- UI Development Challenges: Building the user interface (UI) from scratch was an eye-opener. While it's exciting to have a design to follow, I realized that it can be a daunting task. The importance of attention to detail, pixel-perfect design, and ensuring the UI is not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional became evident. This experience taught me that UI development is both an art and a science, and it requires a meticulous approach.
- Remote Collaboration and Communication: Working in a remote setup with a diverse team taught me the utmost importance of effective communication. Ensuring that everyone on the team is on the same page, despite geographical distances, time zones, and different working styles, became a significant challenge. I learned that clear and open communication is the backbone of successful remote collaboration. Being able to bridge the gap between team members and understanding their unique perspectives was a crucial aspect of my role.
- Importance of Scoping and Planning: One of my greatest takeaways from this experience was the significance of scoping, planning, and estimating before diving into a project. It's easy to underestimate the complexity and time required for development tasks. Through this experience, I gained confidence in my ability to assess the scope of a project, plan effectively, and estimate realistically. This not only helped me manage expectations but also ensured that I could deliver on time and within budget.
These insights have not only enhanced my skill set but have also given me a deeper understanding of my role and the continuous growth and adaptation required in this field.
My key learnings during the entire CoLab journey
- Gaining Diverse Perspectives: Collaborating with a diverse team provided valuable insights from various angles. This diversity helped me design the backend more efficiently, ensuring it aligned perfectly with the project requirements.
- Mastering Remote Teamwork: I acquired essential skills for remote collaboration, such as breaking down tasks into manageable components. This approach enabled us to work seamlessly as a team, ensuring effective management of our workload even in a remote setting.
- Bringing Solutions to Life: I learned how to transform theoretical solutions into tangible products, understanding every step and process involved in product development. This practical experience was invaluable in bridging the gap between concept and reality.
- Continuous Improvement through Communication: Regular communication and feedback loops were instrumental in enhancing both my technical expertise and communication skills. This consistent exchange of ideas and insights allowed me to grow significantly in these areas, fostering a collaborative and productive environment.
Full Team Learning
Throughout our journey in developing Palette, we've been shaped by both insights and challenges. Our ambitious 8-week timeline underscored the importance of MVP prioritization and scope management, teaching us to focus on essentials and adapt when needed. With a team spread across different backgrounds and time zones, effective communication became our foundation, ensuring seamless collaboration and mutual understanding. As we delved deeper into Palette's design and development, we grappled with balancing aesthetics and functionality, leading to iterative design sessions and constant user feedback loops. This journey wasn't just about creating a product; it was a testament to our team's resilience, adaptability, and commitment to excellence. As we move forward, these invaluable lessons guide our path, fueling our passion and anticipation for what lies ahead.