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Understanding Authentic Experiences

Investigated travel and tourism experiences to find the underlying elements needed for authentic experiences and design opportunities in an age of global tourism and technology.






Generative Design Research, Travel & Tourism, Ideation

People are looking for experiences that are more . . .


As travel and entertainment industries have shifted their focus to experiences, there has been a growth in AUTHENTIC experiences. The more society uses the term “AUTHENTIC”, the more inconsistent the meaning.

What does it mean to "have" or "seek" authentic experiences? 

Diverse Interviews

Participants selected from different demographics and who self-identified as authentic travelers around the LA area. 

Expert interview with  Geetika Argawal, Founder of VAWAA.

Generative Design Methods

Using open ended research tools, I was able to draw out deeper conversations that can draw insights from diverse interviews. 

Research Findings

Authentic Experience Checklist

Authentic has different meanings for every person. Planning a trip or excursion? Or designing an experience for others? With a little thought, you can optimize your experience based on individual needs. Use these questions to help define what experience can best suits you.

Predefined goals and outcomes can be small or extremely outlined. Take time to make it clear and let it guide your experience.

There can be a lot of tourism in travel. Consider historical and iconic elements carefully and look for less tourist filled alternatives.

Be willing to accept change and learn about others (or yourself!) Let go of your biases and assumptions.

Are energized by new people or through pure nature, or both? Immerse yourself - "Life begets life” (Sarah Bernhart).

Allow yourself to be in the moment and away from the "every day" tasks to enjoy freedom.

Safety is essential. There are different levels which includes external and internal factors like confidence and mentality. 

The most essential element of these experiences can be difficult to explain. Focus on the feelings over the details to replicate that experience.

Take time to clarify goals and different definitions for authenticity for each person. Meeting different goals within groups can be hard to balance.


After analysis, the selected insights and opportunities below are some options to create products and services that will meet the unique needs of those searching for "authentic” experiences.


People want to treasure experiences but also share them with discretion.

How might we have a trusted way to share these authentic experiences?

Tasks / chores we do at home are dull but a part of an authentic experience.

How can we reframe our daily lives to be more authentic?

Safety is essential to everyone but can mean different things.

How can you make universal guidelines and benchmarks for safety?

People you love or like have the potential to ruin experiences for you.

How can you have different experiences in parallel with others?
At this point any team would be able to take the idea through the design process and work towards launching a solution in this space.

Expanding One Opportunity

Moving one of the opportunities forward, here is an example of just one way to take the insights forward.

How might we have a trusted way to share these authentic experiences?

Sharing can be a way to relive experiences. It is also a way for people to give back and help others achieve similar outcomes, building a community.
But with experiences that are so special, authentic travelers can be cautious about how they share it.

“Travelers who aren’t driven by status ...  will cherish the experiences”

 Geetika Argawal, Founder of VAWAA

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