The new human being does not wish to do or to have but to experience. He wishes to experience, to know and, above all, to enjoy.
— Vilém Flusser
We in Naay Travel are Travel Experience Designers, but that leads quickly to the question: What do you mean by travel experience design?
We think it’s important to understand what we mean when we say “experience” in the context of the design. Experience design feels like a non-disciplined discipline, with the word “experience” being thrown around haphazardly and inserted into titles to capitalize on the “X” factor of abbreviation.
Experience Design is a design practice focused on human outcomes. Gill Wildman believed “experience design is about creating opportunities”.
We are left with a grander notion of what travel design can enable, beyond any activity, and into a space of possibility that lets human behavior flourish.
We create opportunities to connect, to imagine, to communicate, to learn, to delight.
There are different types of experiences we live through in our lives and Ian Coxon (2015) uses the more nuanced German words for experience as used by the original German philosophers of phenomenology to differentiate these types of experiences.
The Erst type of experience is Erfahrung, which are the mundane, unremarkable, and daily experiences we are typically less conscious about. Our daily activities that we fail to recall like brushing our teeth or getting dressed fall under this category.
Erfahrung is contrasted with Erlebnis, or the type of experiences that we are conscious of, feel deeply, and initiates reflective thinking. These experiences usually cause us a greater degree of reflection, and these are the experiences we design.
Lastly there is Erlebnisse, which represents the cumulative set of experiences that contribute to our overall life experience. These are the experiences that shape our world view and sets the expectations of the world around us.
We as Travel Experience Designers, have an approach which places pleasurable and meaningful moments at the center of all our efforts.
Should it not be possible to “design for happiness” by enriching people’s everyday lives with positive experiences?
We understand an experience as “an episode, a chunk of time that one went through—with sights and sounds, feelings and thoughts, motives and actions closely knitted together, stored in memory, labeled, relived, and communicated to others. An experience is a story, emerging from the dialogue of a person with her or his world through action”
Any experience has an “emotional thread” (McCarthy & Wright, 2004), and it is this affectivity which relates experiences to happiness.
In sum, our approach to designing for happiness is to provide people that travel with more opportunities to engage in positive and meaningful, deliberately designed experiences. Experiences, which owe their positivity and meaning to fulfilling fundamental psychological needs and their substance to situated practices, deliberately designed and shaped individually depending on each costumer profile.
“An experience designer is foremost an author of experience. Only after having outlined the desired emotional and cognitive content of an experience, the action involved, its context and temporal structure, we may start designing the ‘experience.’ And then, each and every detail (content, functionality, presentation, interaction) has to be scrutinized according to its potential to create the desired experience” .