How to write a Problem doc? Product: TripAdvisor

Sanjeev Sahu
5 min readOct 31, 2022

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Introduction

TripAdvisor is a review platform. It is the world’s largest travel guidance platform. Users post reviews about the places or destinations that they have visited, and other users can make further decisions for planning their trips by looking at the reviews. TripAdvisor also provides trips and other plans by partnering with local vendors.

User Personas

TripAdvisor is used by anyone who is planning to travel sometime in the near future. We can find types of users by the frequency of time they use. This has to do something with their overall life journey and where they are in that. So, let’s start with

  1. Financially Independent people: These people are generally aged between 45 and above and they have some money saved and they generally prefer to spend it by traveling. These types of users take 5 or more trips in a year. These trips generally tend to have a longer duration and can be foreign in nature.
  2. Working people: These users are currently working and they save some money to go travel. These users take 1–2 trips in a year. These trips tend to be domestic in nature or in nearby lost-cost tourist destinations.
  3. Group trips: Business trips or family trips are other occasions where travelers need a lot of guidance on planning. There are many variables in planning a group trip. These travelers are not frequent travelers and maybe go once or less to travel in a year.

User Journey

  1. User is burnt out from work/ family or friends make a plan to go somewhere for a trip
  2. The user plans to call all the people interested in the trip by confirming dates and preferences
  3. The final list of people is decided
  4. They have to sit together to plan things
  5. One person plans with a laptop and the other with a mobile device
  6. User searches for the destination
  7. Looks for available prices, places, trips, etc
  8. Evaluates the best option by discussing it with all the members
  9. The final decision on price, place, and dates is done
  10. The user goes to book the flights, hotels, and trips
  11. Searches find the right option by evaluation
  12. Books the itineraries
  13. Goes on the trip
  14. After the trip posts the review on TripAdvisor

Problem Identification and Understanding

The users are having a hard time believing an author’s review as the users think that the author has completely different tastes/ preferences from them.

Let’s define preferences.

In psychology, economics, and philosophy, preference is a technical term usually used in relation to choosing between alternatives. For example, someone prefers A over B if they would rather choose A than B. — [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference#:~:text=In psychology%2C economics and philosophy%2C preference is a,connative states%2C they are closely related to desires.)

Consequently, preference can be affected by a person’s

  1. surroundings and
  2. upbringing in terms of geographical location, cultural background, religious beliefs, and education.

These factors are found to affect preference as repeated exposure to a certain idea or concept correlates with a positive preference.

Relation with trip advisor’s review problem

As with any type of preference, the past traveler’s experience in traveling and job and other factors are the reason behind the difference in preferences.

Let’s see the pain points of the users.

Understanding user problems

Solutions

Let’s look at a few of the solutions now that we understand the underlying problems.

Current profile screens
  • Author’s profile: As we can see the author doesn’t seem to have any details about himself. So, TripAdvisor should add a complete profile like on Facebook. Where people can add more details about themselves. This would help other users empathize with the authors.

Pros:

  1. A community can be developed and maintained.
  2. Better communication among the users.

Cons:

  1. Might be eventually useless because this is not a communication platform
  2. Information leakage to hackers and stalkers.
  • Upvote and downvote: There should be an option to upvote and downvote the reviews that are posted by the authors. This will make better reviews stand out.

Pros:

  1. The authors will take their review posting exercise more seriously
  2. The new users/travelers will have better judgment of the reviews

Cons:

  1. The authors of the reviews will take this more seriously than needed and will eventually not make these reviews not genuine and will sound made up
  • Comments: The users should be able to comment on a particular review to say their opinions on the review and also the particular experience.

Pros:

  1. This will also urge the reviewer to post his answers in case of any confusion or query.
  2. Both the reviewers and users will get a chance to share stories about their experiences thus eliminating any confusion.

Cons:

  1. There will be a few instances where the conversations might get heated and the participants might also start to abuse each other.
  • Subtle details/patterns about the review author: There should also be subtle details about the author’s purchase/traveling behavior. There can be small tidbits like ‘this traveler is more likely to be traveling by premium class or be resting in a resort’.

Pros:

  1. If the user who’s looking at the review should also know what the author is used to i.e. if he is a traveler, a business traveler, or a family-oriented person. Therefore, the user will be more aware of the author’s preferences.

Cons:

  1. Invasion of privacy. The author might not want to release that private information into a private domain.
  2. Also, this can lead to other fraudulent activities with the reviewer and the platform.
  • Attach photos or blogs with the review: The stories work like charm. In case some users are not able to believe any user they can certainly look at their social media pictures, blogs, and other content related to that trip.

Pros:

  1. Increases trust in the author’s review
  2. Verifiable proof of travel and experience

Cons:

  1. Data leaks and the chance of identity theft.

Targeting metrics

As we need to instill confidence in users that what they see is trustworthy and is free from any personal bias: it would be important for the users to understand what type of traveler the review poster is.

Some of the metrics are:

  1. Increase in Authors’ profile visits
  2. Engagement in comments: Number of upvotes/ downvotes, comments
  3. Impact of the auto-generated trivia on the posters
  4. Tracking the Blog/ pics visits

Here is the original doc in Notion:

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Thanks a lot for reading. Let me know what you liked the most and what can be improved further!

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Sanjeev Sahu

Product Management, Machine Learning, Tech, Business, Startups