Facilitating Trip Planning and Destination Discovery

The Chronicles of a Travel Hackathon from Hong Kong to London

Travel Tech Hackathon

As part of the 32 finalists, we were tasked to redefine and innovate travel experiences. Sponsored by major travel players like British Airways, Heathrow Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Travelport, the hackathon took us through an 80 hour immersive travel experience while we conducted user research from Hong Kong and worked our way to London.

The Real Faces of Travel

Social Media tends to showcase the best faces of travel and picture perfect frames. But we often forget the hard work – travel planning.

Planning destination, dates, budget, activities, you know the drill. And the biggest challenge is coordinating trips with friends and family.

User Research at Hong Kong Airport

Interviewing travelers at the airport can be slightly intimidating when everyone is rushing to catch a flight. We interviewed travelers with companions about their planning process and preferences.

We started with "How often do you travel? Who do you travel with?". And when we asked more in-depth questions like "How do you decide on a destination and the dates?", the frustration was instant.

"I like to travel with friends but coordinating with them is so hard. So I just end up traveling in very small groups or going solo."
— from User Research

We looked at the existing and redundant process that we all know too well.

Everyone's keen but no one wants to plan. The Lazy is, well, lazy. The Gung Ho is very keen but doesn't want to plan. The Follower is easy going and likes to just follow suit. When no one steps up, someone decides they can't take it anymore and becomes the Designated Booker reluctantly.

En Route to London

We left Hong Kong knowing that we needed to make it Designated Booker no more and easy to plan group travels.

After thoroughly enjoying the Premium Economy cabins sponsored by British Airways, we touched down in London upon endless possibilities.

The problem is clear and there are no proper tool to plan trips. Yet we didn't know what to build.

A collaborative trip planning platform, or a booking tool enhanced with collaboration functions? And why would users switch to our product and not just stick with Whatsapp or use shared Google Calendars?

We experimented with and prioritized different features like scheduling assistants, calendar tools and destination recommendation engines. So many features, yet so little time.

The Hackathon within the Hackathon

With 7 hours left before the pitch, it was crunch time. We picked up the bits and pieces we had been experimenting with and built our MVP.

We had a chatbot logic flow, some front-end web pages and potential data inputs. It was time to integrate the design, front- and back-end as one product.

Introducing Kollabo

Kollabo is a chatbot platform for collaborative group destination discovery and trip booking.

The idea is to simplify the planning process by having Kollabo facilitate the conversation, offload the Designated Booker's responsibility and help the Uncommitted commit to travel plans. As for the business model, we integrated an automated flight booking function that uses the API solutions provided by our travel sponsors.

Demo of Kollabo and the primary user journey


I’ve always wanted to make an impact in the travel industry and we were definitely onto a real need.

I've also realized that hackathons aren't always about creating drastically new or different solutions. Sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you just have to improve the experience.

There is still a lot of work to be done in the travel industry and I'm excited to play a part.

Video courtesy of Hack Horizon

Check out the Hackathon Series: