1 in 3 women feels unsafe when walking alone. Women note that when traveling, safety and comfort are their biggest concerns.
How might we empower women traveling solo internationally?
A little context
In an age of online access, unending choice, and overwhelming travel reviews, we sift through the
clutter and change the way modern women travel, especially when they’re alone.
We know that personal choice is the most important decision a brand can never make for its
people — so we’ve created an app that gauges each woman’s travel experiences and focuses on the things that make her feel comfortable while traveling abroad, including preparedness, trusted sources, or just knowing there’s something who will have her back in case she needs it.
Amelia is a crowdsourced tourism app and community space for American millennial women who seek comfortable, authentic local experiences and connections while traveling internationally.
Unlike other travel social media platforms (such as all in one platform.Wayn, Rent a Local Friend, or Foursquare) that provides "quantity of recommendations" for all types of travelers, Amelia empowers women, promotes exploration and curates personalized tourism content for international urban connections
The white space
As traveling becomes more popular, and as women feel more empowered, there are more women traveling than ever before. However, safety and comfort is the number one concern for women traveling on their own. In fact, it’s the number one concern of all millennials traveling internationally. And though the tourism industry is growing, female users confirm that the industry is not catching up to their needs.
increase in the number of women-only travel founded companies in the past six years
of millennials rank safety as their primary concern when planning a trip
of millennials would like to access personalized experiences and services that they feel big companies don't have the bandwidth to provide
We made it our mission to truly understand the pain points and gain creators of the current tourism, exploration and discovery experiences
of our audience. We started with secondary research and informed our product from the findings of one-on-one interviews with women. We then surveyed over 100 women about international travel. We understood fear and discomfort through the lens of many different personalities. We created a matrix grouping these and ranked them according to likelihood, and potential danger associated. This helped us create archetypes that we profiled better later through interviews. We were then able to develop many prototype iterations of our app leveraging our fear matrix of what women need and consider when traveling, crosschecking it against competitive offerings, and making sure that it appealed to our target demographic through user testing.
We know empowerment is central to positive travel experiences.
In fact, after months of indepth interviews, journaling, social listening and experience mapping with young female travellers, we learned that feeling empowered (whether that means comfortable or simply aware of surroundings) is the most important part of their travels — and something that gives both them and their loved ones peace of
mind. We understand confidence is triggered by community and inclusion. This has helped us make international travel more female
accessible, all while keeping empowerment in our back pocket.
Amelia asks users to evaluate aspects of their own city and locations they visit to categorize them within a demo&psychographic group that will allow them to view reviews through that lens.
They can assess what elements make them uncomfortable when traveling we will recommend venues that fit their criteria. All this content is free.
If a user wants to dive deeper and day plans, itineraries, and content created for their group they can pay for a membership that invites them to browse all the content created by brand ambassadors and locals (prioritizing those that match her lifestyle).
This membership also allows her access to our physical clubs around the world where they can meet other women travelers, and locals as well as take part in curated boutique experiences.
This place is always open for them to visit if they feel endangered and their network is always connected and at any point, a user can send an alert signal to women in the area if she feels unsafe.
The Market Opportunity
Tourism market overview over the next decade (2016 to 2025), digitalization in aviation, travel, and tourism is expected to create up to $305 billion of value for the industry through increased profitability, migrate $100 billion of value from traditional players to new competitors, and generate benefits valued at $700 billion for customers and the wider society through reduced environmental footprint, improved
safety and security, and cost and time savings for consumers.
“Research shows that the consumption of digital tourism content is on the rise with a growth rate of 41 percent in the U.S.”
Our Competitive Advantage
An annual membership of $19.99 grants users with access to curated, personalized, tourism related content that allows them to connect with locals.
This places our customer acquisition cost based on our operations at $4.33 per customer on year one and $1.90 by year 4.
Based on the numbers and a 1% conversion with an 80% retention rate for subscription we break even by the 4th year of operations using 3 key cities in the US as launch pilot cities and 3 cities in South america as launch destinations.
lo-fi to hi-fi
both versions were tested on usertesting
The marketing strategy is focused on getting our users to belong and advocate for our brand. We raise awareness and continue to create curiosity through social and physical media, using the free version of the app and the freemium model to entice them to use our app before they trust it. The brand advocates allow users to believe in the app and the personalized content and community leads to belonging.
We focus on marketing on the key travel hubs for our demographic in the US (Los Angeles, NYC and Houston.) We use Mexico and a partnership with Mexico City, a city that has so much to offer but is still seen as a dangerous destination, to launch the app and community hub.
After Year 2 we expand to the South American continent and continue our global expansion until year 5. We break even around year 4.
For this forecasting we designed the organizational structure and team growth for the design, innovation and research teams.
Learnings & Conclusion
Focusing on a product that promises "Safety" to users is extremely risky.
Creating nowadays a product that excludes half of the population is a poor strategy. Both put us at risk of being sued.
We decided to invest in lawyers right away, as well as work on the PR and marketing copy that would explain our mission without putting us at risk.
We decided strategically the vision for the company would be to start with women but expand to other minorities and psychographic groups in the future, never excluding anyone.
We also decided to focus on "Comfort" instead of "Safety".
We also did not have time to do further usability testing and service experience mapping in situ in a foreign location. This is something I understand would have had a great impact on design for further iterations.
I personally learned how important it is to organize the information, and dissect what makes up for certain concepts we could have assumed are the same for each user - such as comfort. Creating our matrix we understood that what one woman felt uncomfortable with was not even important to another, and we needed to categorize all of these elements to truly get to what the user wants, the big picture, of what any woman can think of to feel at ease.