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Facebook-study reveals what travellers want

Sanne Broeder, Bibi Eckhardt, Lotte Wierema, Maartje van Engelen and Esther Nijdam (students of the Masters Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam) conducted a study from 14 till 20 January, in the context of their research seminar and our project Smart CitySDK.

The study was designed to gather information about travelers for the travel app that we are developing. This app should support users during their journey with up to date information. Travel data provided by carriers will be combined with information that travelers themselves collect.

The broader objective of the study was to have a look at the experiences and needs of travelers. We wanted to know what kind of data our targetgroup wants to share and what kind of information is useful. We also wanted to know what it is like for travelers to share information whilst traveling. Is helping others in itself a reason to do this or is sharing only fun if you get responses? Based on these insights, we can optimize our app.


The app is currently programmed by developers Bert Spaan and Taco van Dijk and is in the development stage. This means, that we had to make use of another medium for the research. Facebook proved suitable because participants could share their experiences here in a confined space (a specially created page).


The respondents were divided into two groups: one group posted messages anonymously, the other group used an alias. Both groups found the participation fun, but the possibilty of using an alias proved an added value. The study also revealed that the participants especially like personal stories if there are combined with messages that contain relevant information. Many participants were for instance a big fan of the personal messages posted by 'Mr. Chung'. The initial motivation to participate was mainly to assist the study. It was during the participation that people experienced the value of the service. We will certainly use this insight in the development and promotion of the app. Finally, in the beginning articipants felt shy to post their experiences because they did not know if others would appreciate their contributions. An incentive for sharing information will therefore be important for a successful use of the app.

 But once started, it is proving difficult to stop sharing information. Because although the study was completed in a week, reports about travel experiences are still posted.