Changing perspectives on service design challenges: positive emotions related to peer-to-peer type of accommodation in a millennial context (Part II)

3 April, 2017
  • 6 min read

In this blog post, we share our insights on methods and tools we have applied in our research focused on which positive emotions last in the memories of millennial travellers when they look back on their stay in Peer-to-Peer type of accommodations.

We have recently presented our findings based on this research at the ITB conference in Berlin titled “How ‘Sharing And Caring’ Is Context Dependent: Underlying Motives In Millennials’ Choices For Peer-To-Peer Accommodation” (eTravel Lab Day 3, click here).

Our other blog post via this site will give more insight on the overall findings and outcomes of our study.

Working with millennials every day, we asked ourselves how can we dig deeper in the motives of millennial travellers? How do they emotionally connect with Peer-to-Peer Short Rental type of accommodations? We also know that this is a very diverse group of young individuals that’s why we tried to make this more specific for different types of millennial travellers. Our research is based on a combination of the approaches and methods such as design thinking and service design more in particular with the customer journey as a framework. Our project started with a generation approach that provides the broader societal context, while trend analysis focused on the signs of the times when Millennials were raised. We have used personas as archetypes of groups of guest with similar interests, needs and expectations.

How can we design experiences that address relevant positive emotions and build meaningful relationships with our guests?

In experience design customer-centricity is key. As lecturers, we have been involved with design thinking and a customer-centered approach in the courses we teach at Hotelschool The Hague. Design thinking is a mindset shift in business, based on the way designers work. In our courses, we use contemporary design methods that are focused on customer empathy and emotion driven. What these methods have in common is that they take another angle than the more traditional approaches such as e.g. segmentation and ‘design for all’ by identifying very specific needs and emotions of consumers and guests.

More recently we came across the work of the Delft Institute of Positive Design that focusses on ‘design for emotions’ that caught our interest. The institute has developed tools incorporating a multidisciplinary approach, e.g. knowledge from the field of psychology to research and capture human emotions and how to measure these. We have used their validated set of 25 Positive Emotion Granularity Cards (see more) that articulate emotional states of a user that enable him or her to identify basic emotions that are triggered in a specific context.

A generation approach: Millennials have influenced the world of travel and tourism as we know it today

Generations have been shaped by the times when they grew up and how they were raised, the cultural changes and historical and life changing events, the shifts in values and beliefs and the like. Younger generations have always played an important role in introducing significant change to society as they are often at the cultural forefront. The same counts for the Millennial generation and how they have recently influenced travel and tourism. If we look at the important signs of the times, we see that Millennials grew up in a world with a lot of tension, turmoil, instability and uncertainty around us. Next to growth and prosperity, this has led to unemployment, obsolete or insecure jobs, feelings of insecurity and unsafety for many. Furthermore, they have lived through economic, financial and ethical crisis since 2008. The Millennial generation grew up in a less stable society, with more diversity in types of relationships and households. And last but not least, they were raised in a time when the Internet came of age; they can be seen as exponents of the digital age.

Millennials communicate differently and value different things when they travel. Key insights from research show: that they love to travel the world, see travel as a luxury but a necessity and top priority rather spend their money on experiences than material items and budget more for trips and eating out than previous generations. They go off the beaten track to experience a particular culture and learn something new while travelling and prefer unique experiences and authenticity.

Once this generation’s influence has been embraced by the society we prefer to refer to ‘a Millennial lifestyle or mindset’ rather than a target market divided by age.

Personas as archetypes for different groups of millennial travellers, with different emotions related to their last stay

We have explored the memories of different types of millennial consumers, so-called personas. Personas are archetypes for potential users, based on a fictional character that represents an existing group. Personas are applied in service design to empathy (future) customer and identify their (future) needs, wants desires as a basis for designing specific, focused services or experiences (see more).

We asked our respondents which of the six persons they identified with most, based on a Canadian study by Abacus Data (see here). When we used the classification of different personas from this Canadian study, we found that we had the following division: 36% ‘Achievers’, 39% ‘Fireflies’, 12% ‘Stampeder’, 8% ‘Sparks’ and 5% ‘Simple lifers’.

For example, the Achievers are top performers in all areas of their lives they want to have it all. When they are away, they want time to relax and get away from the stress. And what we saw is that the Achievers experienced a much stronger sense of relaxation than for example the Sparks and the Stampeders.

In a similar vein, we saw that Sparks who want to have a positive impact and Simple lifers who are easy going and social experienced much more joy than Stampeders and the Fireflies. Fireflies who are spontaneous and carefree score very high on satisfaction especially if you compare with the Sparks. And Stampeders who are very status-minded reflect back on their stay with a feeling that it gave them a lot of energy.

These insights can be used as a source of inspiration for hospitality businesses to design new concepts and services to interact with their customers and guest on an emotional level in contextual experiences.

We conclude and advise hospitality providers to focus on the customer’s feelings and positive emotions, and the particular context where their service will be used. The final impressions we have identified can be vital for the type of emotions that lives on in our memories that are far more fine-grained than only satisfaction…. How are you sending your guests away?

Get to your guests and users’ feelings and hearts and aim to touch a human emotion with your innovative services, focused on emotions. The clearer the positive emotion is addressed, the more likely the service will resonate with people in a similar or the same context.  Keep the focus in the design process on creating customer value by very clearly articulating a vital emotion, for different (types of) people and make this very relevant for them, in that situation.

Future loyalty for travel brands will centre upon the connection companies can achieve with their customer. Brands that harness insights will be able to deliver an enhanced experience to customers that ensure they are embedded in the emotional experience of travel and eventually deliver enduring brand loyalty.

About the author

Anna de Visser-Amundson & Annemieke de Korte

Anna de Visser-Amundson 

After holding management positions in both Operations and Sales & Marketing for multinational hotel companies like the Four Seasons and an independent design hotel in countries like France, United States, Ireland and the Caribbean for more than 12 years, Anna de Visser-Amundson left the international hospitality industry and joined Hotelschool The Hague in March of 2008. Since then she has taught in all phases of the curriculum but primarily in introductory marketing courses as well as in marketing management. In august of 2013, she became a joint course owner of the course Business Model Innovation where she gets to work very close with the industry and students to design new business models for real life case companies.  Anna de Visser-Amundson finds it the perfect combination of her commercial background and current position as a Lecturer. 

Annemieke de Korte

Mrs de Korte has worked as a product manager for PTT Post, as a Business Analist and later on as a future researcher for KPN Research. She has done consultancy work at TNO Information and Communication Technology.  At this moment, Mrs de Korte is working as a freelancer at Ventura Quest, where she is active in trend analyses, vision and strategy tactics and creating creative workshops and interactive sessions. She also works at Hotelschool The Hague as a Lecturer in Strategic Management, where she teaches, and coaches in courses: Trends & Future of Hospitality, Strategy Development, Business Model Innovation, and LYCAR.

Share this post