Two airline industry veterans approached the Simublade team with the idea of wanting to create a new way to find people and travel together. The founders wanted an app to connect people based on their travel interests and shared benefits in order to allow collaborative travel experiences at a low-cost to each party. We developed an iOS mobile app for them that gamifies the matchmaking experience and allows people with shared travel interests to connect and explore destinations together.
Since the project scope was global there were a lot of factors to take into account when matchmaking. Most importantly, we needed to develop a comprehensive matchmaking algorithm that would take a variety of location, interest and industry data into account.
Simublade developed a gamified app model where users could swipe on people they were interested in traveling with and communicate with them in realtime. We leveraged the users’ travel interests, benefits, location and other key datapoints to create the most optimal adventure-seeking matches. Our model allows users across the world to be able to share travel experiences with just a few clicks.
The client came to us with over 10 years of experience in the airline industry and an idea to pair up people from different industries to mutually share benefits and reduce overall trip costs.
We helped them conceptualize an app that would initially be exclusive to certain industries. We wanted to make sure to gamify the app, sort of like the Tinder approach where you can swipe right on people that you’re interested in and swipe left if you’re not.
We first scoped out the UI because we wanted to make sure that it was very intuitive for users to find travel companions. Thus the gamification model was born where people could swipe left or right based on their interests.
After making sure the match UI worked, we focused our efforts on scoping the interest algorithm. Here we took into account age, gender, travel interests, industry, benefits, and the primary location a person wanted to travel - that way we could appropriately match users.
Lastly, we scoped out the messaging part of the app to ensure that all users were being notified of matches, messages, and people nearby with the same interests in real time.
Our development team started with mockup designs for each of the screens in the following order: matching UI, login, profile, backend, messaging, notifications/real time communication, and added benefits matching.
Majority of this application was built from scratch using Swift and Objective-C. The technologies we used were Firebase Realtime MEssaging to build the messaging platform and Google Cloud Messaging to trigger match notifications. This also helped us create a re-engaging feature that notified users if there was someone close by with the same travel interests as them. We also implemented our proprietary matching algorithm and designed our own UI cards.
The development process was broken into six milestones consisting of two sprints each. Each sprint lasted two weeks, so the final product, with all the changes and feature additions took about 6 months
After a series of internal testing cycles we realized that the UI could be improved. Initially, the app was very image heavy, showcasing tons of destination images, but we realized that this could lead to data shortage even after image compression. That said, we moved to a more modern design for the app, showcasing destinations in the forms of colors.
Our last phase before officially launching was to beta test the app with users from the travel industry. After several rounds of beta testing, we found that users who had experienced using similar apps were concerned about the authenticity of the user they were matching with. In order to prevent any spam or bot accounts from flooding the service, we added a verification option to ensure that the people signing up were real and that they worked in an industry.
After launching in the airline/hotel industry, the app was expanded to a few more industries and then eventually to the public. We continued to provide support for our clients by improving the functionality of the app, enhancing the algorithm, and increasing compatibility for when new versions of the iPhone were released.
We continue to help maintain Cotravel even today and are currently working with the client to develop an Android version of the app as well.