By now, some of you may have a vague idea of why Gerard and I founded Ski Deal Comparison. If not, check out ‘Origins #1 – Start with Why’ blog post here.
So what were some of the initial steps? Much like everyone who has an idea, we thought, let’s just rattle up a prototype, send it out for some feedback, re-develop and then have a working setup. Whatever we developed would obviously be super user friendly, attract much VC funding and have incredible traction in the market. Needless to say we would nail market alignment and hey presto, two brand new Richard Branson’s at the ripe young age of 25. Cue the meme below.
Ha! Certainly not. To metaphorically put it in a way that my mum could understand, our nice idea was like a wooly jumper. On that nice wooly jumper were some loose ended threads, representing the questions had surrounding our idea. Naturally, Gerard and I started pulling the threads to try and sort the jumper out, i.e. asking the questions to better understand the idea and see where the user experience could be improved. Hmm, if you have a nice wooly jumper, never pull the threads. Asking questions opened an array of further questioning that we hadn’t even thought of and we quickly became a bit stuck. The more we tried to discover, the more we realised we didn’t know. We called in some experience on the matter (Abby Doherty, our un-volunteered UX designer and creative) and tried to figure out an approach. She asked probing questions that poked many holes in Ski Deal Comparison’s sails, which brought us to a natural realisation that we needed to do in-depth research. We had the keys to Ski Deal Comparison taken off us and got told to go and do some market research. Start with surveys and peer groups she said!
Thus began a rather tricky and thoughtful few months. We pulled together a two pronged approach for researching. Firstly, look at all current examples of startup ideas. Find out what has worked, what hasn’t worked, how it works, what are some of the best examples, what aspects are worth replicating etc. Secondly, develop a channel where you can generate some user data and find out what people’s pain points are. We met some truly amazing people on this journey. We reached out to companies such as Jack’s Flight Club, DULO, Veed, Interrail Planner and other key influencers. No amount of words can capture how grateful Gerard and I are for all of the wisdom freely given by the people we made contact with. They gave selflessly, and hopefully in response we can give them a cool ski booking experience! The lessons learned from this may form another blog post as it focuses more on startups than skiing market research. To capture the true ski booking pain points we created a survey monkey – the aim of this was to find out how we can provide the most amount of value in the shortest period of time. At this time, we viewed value as a function of reducing time spent searching and improving what is currently an annoying and tedious experience. Our research told us a slightly different story.
Initially we realised how painful the whole booking process was to everyone. We discovered it wasn’t just us that thought it to be awful. Good, we were on the right track! However, there were certain sticking points which really bugged people. Firstly, cost transparency proved to be one of the recurring pain points. Users were frustrated by not being able to see all of the upfront costs and breakdown of costs. They started booking a deal at one price and the cost had almost doubled by the end of the booking process! Secondly, the trawling of scattered information sources required to book a holiday was time taxing. Users had to scour multiple information hotspots to understand more about what they were booking. This translated into more tabs open on your browser and more time spent trawling the web. Finally, the way it all was presented to the user was utterly tragic. Users were often befuddled about what their package consisted of, if there was travel included and whether or not it was a ‘good deal’.
The results affirmed our belief that our product could add value. It said ‘hey, you’re on the right track, here are some proper researched topic points to focus on. Off you go and solve them’. It created a warm fuzzy feeling that we could make a difference to the way people search and book ski holidays. It was thrilling.
If you’re feeling these pain points or have anything to add or complain about we would love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to the homepage of www.skidealcomparison.com to find your holiday!