Destination Discovery

Case Study 03 | Personalized, top-of-funnel trip inspiration


Historically, Utrip has helped DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) own the traveler lifecycle via improved engagement, and has also added incremental value to our enterprise partners via increased share of wallet. In an effort to scale our global travel brand partnerships and increase conversion on core product, we identified an opportunity to improve top-of-funnel engagement via personalization.


Spring 2018

My Role

UI/UX Design
UX Research
Product Management


Research Reports
Design Documentation
Final Product


Usability Studies
Rapid Prototyping


The new Destination Discovery experience expanded Utrip's product capabilities and has since enabled Utrip to bring on several airlines, cruise lines, and global travel brands. Our new design documentation process has significantly increased product efficiency and engineering satisfaction.


Reduced turnaround time


Increased document output


Increased engineering team satisfaction


How might we inspire a traveler's next trip via personalized destination recommendations?


We interviewed several industry experts, conducted 12 usability studies, and utilized past survey data to frame the design challenge.

Help travelers find what they’re looking for

90% of travelers said they would select a destination and start planning, therefore the page should facilitate simple destination selection.

Travelers appreciate destination context

When choosing a new destination, 80% of travelers liked seeing what a destination is “known for.”

Ideation & Prototyping

Based on our initial research, we sought out to create an experience that was both functional and inspirational. We evaluated our first round of prototypes with travelers, and then used their feedback to make improvements and launch quickly.

Unified personalization experience

In order to reduce the user’s cognitive load throughout the rest of the experience, we designed a unified, coherent system that provides a consistent personalization experience across all pages. Travelers can now favorite destinations to build their own travel bucket list.

Building bucket lists

We know that most travelers keep some sort of travel "bucket list" in their head, so we wanted to create a fun, interactive space where they could build their very own bucket list and collect personalized recommendations.

Design & Iteration

We utilized Elastic Search to build a destination recommender to help undecided travelers choose their next destination. We also streamlined the design documentation process, moving from Google Docs to Zeplin.

New inventory types

We set out to design the Destination Discovery experience for multi-destination, enterprise clients (e.g. hotels, airlines, etc.), however, realized that we could repurpose the page to sort other inventory types as well, which led the creation of our cruise/vacation recommendation engine.

What I Learned

The Destination Discovery experience was one of the first products I helped manage from end to end, and enabled us to fully implement our new, more efficient product development processes.

Ask the right people, the right questions

We were working with several brands within a large, international travel company. One of the brands thought they wanted Utrip’s white label because they wanted to go to market quickly. However, when product was able to speak with the stakeholders, we learned that their primary objective was to sell more cruises/vacations, which meant that we could offer a better solution (so we did).

Scalable, non-obvious solutions

To make it as a startup, there exists a fine line between focused and distracted; obvious next steps and crazy ideas. We knew that we needed a destination recommendation engine, but thinking more broadly, early enough in the process, our engineering team was able to build a scalable system to recommend new inventory, and enable business development to sign new types of partners.

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