This project is my Senior Design Thesis. I spent the entire Spring 2020 semester conducting research and designing a solution for a problem I observed.
With the current economic struggles the island of Puerto Rico faces, tourism has become one of the most important industries. I choose to focus on Puerto Rico because of my personal connection to part of my family living there, as well as having travelled there many times. The island attracts millions of tourists every year, many becoming repeat visitors, such as myself. It also hosts several study abroad programs, one of which is through Miami University. Miami consistently ranks among the top universities in the nation for the number of students studying abroad. And more than 1,500 Miami students each year earn academic credit through study abroad.
In what ways can the likelihood of Miami University students traveling to Puerto Rico be increased?
My design will have succeeded if Miami students feel that they are knowledgable and interested in the travel and excursion options Puerto Rico has to offer while they are participating in a study abroad program on the island.
Miami students who like to travel
One method of research I used was interviewing students who have study abroad experience. I asked them questions about their education abroad and how they interacted with the local culture. Many people talked about their time with their host family or taking excursions to other parts of the country or visiting surrounding countries.
A separate group of people I interviewed was local residents of Puerto Rico. I asked them about their experience with tourists and how they would like travelers to interact with their home and culture. Most responses were very positive in regards to tourists. Locals just want outsiders to learn about the Puerto Rican culture and celebrate it with them.
A third research method I used was surveying Miami University students about their knowledge and perceptions of Puerto Rico. In one question, participants were asked to identify Puerto Rico on a map. Out of 42 responses, less than half choose the correct option.
The survey also included a fact sheet about Puerto Rican culture and tourism. After learning more about the island, over 75% of participants said they would like to travel there.
Participants were also asked what barriers were keeping them from going and some of the most popular answers were cost, language, and not knowing the culture.
Based on my research and similar case studies on tourism, I decided to create a company that acts as a supplementary study abroad excursion planner, specifically for Puerto Rico. I started my design process by creating a name for the company. The name “Coquí Tours” comes from the Puerto Rican national animal: the coquí frog. The symbol in the logo comes from the native Taíno drawing of the coquí. I choose to design with bright colors because Puerto Rico is fun and vibrant in a cultural sense, as well as physical.
Coquí Tours logo
I created the website for students to browse all of the fun activities Puerto Rico has to offer based on region and type of experience.
Engage with the Coquí Tours mockup
On the home page, students can jump into exploring each region or look at the students’ blog posts from other students who have used this service. When you click on ‘Explore All,’ you are brought to a page with short descriptions of all the regions. Each region is color coded to keep all of the experiences organized. Once the user clicks on a region, the experiences are organized into four categories: culture, history, food, and activity. Or they can explore all of them at once.
If the user is interested in a trip, they are brought to a details page with pictures, travel accommodations, pricing, and let them know if they would need a guide. They can add this trip to their wish list or book it. When a trip is booked, it is added to the ‘My Trip Planning’ page. On this page the user can look back at the details page or browse their wish list.
Another helpful page is the ‘Travel Tips’ page. This lists quick facts about traveling in Puerto Rico and hosts the ‘Student Blog’. This is where students can share their stories of traveling around Puerto Rico as a student and how Coquí Tours helped to accommodate them.
The last page is ‘About Us’. This explains why Coquí Tours is a great option for students in Puerto Rico; which is because it reinforces safety for young adults, partners with local businesses, and keeps your travel plans organized, so that the student can focus on their study abroad classes. This page also tells the story of why it was created, which relates back to why I choose this topic of travel and Puerto Rico for my project.