First Published on 11th June, 2018
Ai Editorial: Kiwi.com is on the verge of introducing a new webpage form where consumers just fill in where they wish to go rather than filling information in different tabs. Ai's Ritesh Gupta spoke to Kiwi.com's CEO Oliver Dlouhy about how the team planned and executed this new search page.
E-commerce organizations, including ones from the travel sector, today are focused on being "agile entities". One of their core strengths is their organizational culture and how teams work in unison.
The culture is all about encouraging the team members to experiment, let them fail and always strive to improve upon their digital interfaces, be it for their .com or app.
These organizations avoid quick wins, adopt a fail-fast attitude and are part of a culture that supports curiosity, learning and problem solving.
New concept of search page at Kiwi.com
Booking an air ticket for multiple destinations can be a laborious task. Virtual interlining specialist Kiwi.com has been assiduously looking at ways to simplify an interlined itinerary. The company asserts that every virtually interlined itinerary is covered and guaranteed to get the traveller to their final destination.
So what's new as far as the core product i.e. flights is concerned?
According to Oliver Dlouhy, CEO and Founder, Kiwi.com, his team has been working on plans to launch a new webpage form where consumers just fill in where they wish to go rather than filling information in different tabs. A traveller would share names all of the cities and dates on Kiwi.com's interface. The results would feature a sequence of flights. The order of bookings is recommended to optimize the budget.
It started as an idea to have a search-page like no other in the industry, shared Jakub Skopec, Senior Manager - Airline Partnerships, Kiwi.com.
Skopec said, "As an experiment, Oliver and our designers created a new concept of our search page from scratch in various iterations. Along the way, a couple more people were added to the loop devs, product and project manager. Oliver's ask was to move fast and still take it as an experiment, so qualitative user-testing went on even during development. Feedback from the users has shown that the concept as a whole is a too much of a change to digest, so, actually we decided to deliver selected parts of the concept in smaller parts – incrementally."
Skopec said, "We started with a clean, new, look of search, and built on top of that. Adding Rooms, Cars and Holidays to the homepage, ability to put a flight into favourites in case you want to compare and return to it quickly or explore more destinations, share your flights via social media to motivate your friends to come with you, or searching by points of interest (e.g. Berlin Wall or Grand Canyon) so you don´t have to look for the nearest airport, we serve you up relevant and informative results, saving you the bother. All of the above features originated in the new concept, but are tested in an A/B test and will be delivered individually."
Taking through the journey of development of this new search page, Dlouhy shared that once there is a feature project launched the UX designer makes sure to invite to the table everyone involved - the Product Manager, UX, Customer Service, Marketing, Analyst, and other stakeholders - depending on the project.
"Gathering requirements and insights from all of these parties is important to enable the designer to frame the problem we’ll be solving and understand also what we don’t know - what blocks us from executing the project. UX Researchers help here with filling the information gaps through various set of research activities. Once we know what problem is to be solved the designer can start exploring ways to solve the problem - typically through a digital user interface but the solution can be found elsewhere too. Loops of concept tests and user test ensure that we design the right thing right," shared Skopec.
Taking complexity out of travel via agility
Dlouhy says Kiwi.com's offering is "super-complex" and "will never be finished".
To keep pace with the same, the staff count has risen considerably over the last two years and there are 350-400 members in the IT team.
So what qualities does Kiwi.com look for in employees?
"(We look for) honesty, transparency, openness, ability to quickly adapt to a constantly changing environment, passion for travel, efficiency, willingness to fail fast and improve," shared Dlouhy.
He added that there are numerous things in the organization designed to make people work together, collaborate and interact.
"Office space, tools we use, encouraging various workstyles and best practices/ guidelines, and key is clear and concise communication across the company," said Dlouhy.
A couple of examples on product delivery level are Product Managers and UX sitting with or close-to Dev teams, office space where project teams can sit together, open and public project channels on Slack, shared docs and definitions, the organization structure itself and many more. No proxies, no silos, more of a matrix structure where everybody can talk to everybody freely and openly.
Continuous refinement of product means teams are eyeing agile, quick development cycles.
For Dlouhy, agility is a mindset.
He says Kiwi.com (or Skypicker previously) was born agile – without people collaborating, focusing on delivering working software, relentless focus on customers and ability to adapt quickly a start-up could not survive, not to mention grow like it did.
"So now the recipe is simple – try to avoid anything that would disrupt progress and growth and identify tools and agile practices that will help us to achieve and make sense to people using them," he says.
It is being pointed out that if organizations end up settling for commodity-level task for incremental enhancements then it won’t serve the purpose. Don’t incentivize the team to progress only for quick gains. So is Dlouhy for mindset of “incrementalism” or against it?
"I think “purpose” is the keyword here. Let´s say you want to optimize a product – shipping improvements often shortens your feedback loop, enables you to learn, adapt, get better and try again. Innovative features usually require more work and polishing – you can still produce them incrementally, you even might want to get feedback along the way (prototype, beta, etc.), but you might release them once the increments work as a whole, fulfill the need and deliver the experience the customer shall receive. Incrementalism is harmful when confused with “doing only one-offs” or shipping half-baked products," he says.
How can airlines and travel companies embrace innovation? Hear from experts at the upcoming Mega Event Asia-Pacific (Ancillary, Loyalty and Co-Brand Conferences) to be held in Bangkok, Thailand (28-30 August, 2018).
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