So what is the problem?

So what is the problem?

06/08/2023 - 15:48

Starting to work on Design Thinking in the Tourism Impact Lab. Daniek Roovers, who is currently doing her graduation project, is telling me what it brought her.
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I’m meeting Daniek online since she is doing her graduation project in Seville. She’s in her apartment, but I see the city in front of me; so enthusiastic she is about it. ‘I was here once as a little girl and I immediately fell in love with this city,’ tells Daniek. ‘When I heard on the open day of BUas that many students do their work placement abroad, I said to my mother: that’ll be Seville then!’

Passing the selection with flying colours
Daniek Roovers is now in her fourth and last year of the English-taught professional bachelor’s programme Tourism Management. In the third year, she really wanted to do a work placement in Seville, but unfortunately, things went differently. Daniek was not to blame for this as she had passed the selection rounds with flying colours, in which she had no less than ten competitors. ‘I was so happy, I had arranged everything, the flight, a place to live, and then it couldn’t go ahead. I don’t have to explain why; because of the corona pandemic it wasn’t responsible, they told me in the department. Logical, of course, but it hurt.’

‘I could do the work placement online, but I found that such an anticlimax, so I solved things differently. I thought: I’m still very young, I’ll take a gap year. I used that year to learn even more at the Tourist Information Centre in Tilburg. I’ve worked there during my entire studies and have meanwhile gained a lot of experience in the front and back offices. For this TIC I compiled a book about Tilburg. I found it very nice to work on such a product. I love to learn things in practice, and that’s why I opted for the Tourism Impact Lab. It’s a fourth-year minor that goes further than theory and doing an exam. You start working for real clients and they have real problems.’

Speed dating
‘We often work on projects for the industry, of course, which is exactly why I chose BUas, but in the Tourism Impact Lab minor you really work together for a long time and intensively, which I feel really makes an impact,’ says Daniek. ‘You work with a small group on a business case for a company for eighteen weeks. The client also has an active role and you talk to each other regularly, so it’s important you’re on good terms with each other. Therefore, the minor starts with a speed dating event during which students present themselves to clients, and vice versa. We had the fastest match ever; the client we had in mind really wanted to work with us!’

Open and honest
‘The company we started to work for is a start-up who wants to do things differently from, for example, a Open and honest communication is central. So no “book quickly as there are only two rooms available” when there are still twenty available. The company didn’t have a review platform yet and our assignment was to come up with a fair construction for it. A handwritten review in a guest book would be an ideal solution, but it must also be workable,’ explains Daniek. ‘Using the Design Thinking method, we delved deeper into the problem.’

Simpler and faster
‘Because what’s actually the problem? That’s what you must have in mind. Before you know it, you’re solving the wrong problem. We firstly aimed at the readers in our research; what do they consider an honest review? Eventually, we ended up with the writers of the reviews; what causes them to write a review in the first place? Research among city trippers who regularly leave reviews showed that the problem is mainly in the complexity of systems. You have to go through too many steps. It has to be simpler and faster, otherwise people will drop out.’

Design Thinking
‘At first, we had also included too many steps in our prototype. Also because we work from the honesty principle with an e-mail verification. By following the Design Thinking method, you can gradually make your product better and better. Conducting research, devising, developing, testing, adjusting and testing again, that’s the cycle you’re going through together with your client. It’s so cool to be working on something that can really become something; a product which people respond to “yes, this would solve my problem!” That motivates you to do your utmost. Because of my experience in the Tourism Impact Lab I now know for sure that I want to continue working in product development!’

Lean Startup method
‘It sounds cliché, but I’ve mainly learned how to cooperate and communicate well. Really listening, giving each other space, not shooting down ideas too quickly. You learn a lot by sharing experiences with your classmates. In eighteen weeks you get to know each other better, which is also good. I also benefited a lot from working with the Design Thinking method and the Lean Startup method. How does a process work? How can you see the bigger picture? You hear and read so much when you’re going to conduct research; what’s really important? We started to work very concretely on everything from years 1, 2 and 3. Creating personas, working out the customer journey, really cool!’

Cycling in Seville
‘And everything I’ve learned I can use in Seville now,’ says Daniek. Oh yes, Seville, almost forgotten, you’ve eventually ended up there! ‘Exactly!’ Smile. ‘But first I did a work placement in Amsterdam. Corona was not over yet, so I thought: Amsterdam it is, then at least I can get hold of some international vibe. I developed a new trip for students there. When I had to do my graduation project, I asked the placement company in Seville if there might be a place for me there. They were enthusiastic immediately. The company focuses on bike tourism and I’d been writing blogs and other content for it all this time. So even now I’m fully engaged in product development, and I can test it out directly because I also guide bike tours myself!’

Interview by Maaike Dukker-'Hart