Travelogue was inspired by the idea that your phone is a connection to anywhere in the world. We thought about what prevents potential travelers from experiencing the world, and we realized that it’s more desirable if they’ve already been introduced to it. Virtually touring the globe is already feasible, but it misses the magic of those personal moments. We want those moments showcased to anyone. We want people to experience each destination in its entirety and not just by the big tourist attractions that destinations are typically represented by.

Going beyond the virtual interactions, we wanted the application to be completely inclusive to travel needs. Booking travel and lodging is easy and integrated into the app, so we can also recommend areas to travel to or avoid based on COVID-19 reports.

What it does

Travelogue allows users to take and post pictures or videos of their trip, or events around their area. The application stores all the photos or videos the user has taken with their geo-tags and populates the feed with recent posts from around the world. When browsing the feed users can see posts others have shared, and if the user sees a place they want to visit, we provide potential flights and hotel details. By clicking on the plane button under the picture, the user can directly look up the flight or hotel prices of that location. The flight and hotel options are provided by leveraging APIs from Amadeus. The application also uses Logi Analytics to generate visuals that help provide insights to our user data.

How we built it

The application was built with Google's flutter framework. This meant that the app could be programmed in the Dart programming language and be deployed for both android and IOS. We used Google firebase to authenticate users and the store app data in a NoSQL manner. The app uses the Amadeus API to pull all relevant flight and hotel information for a potential trip. Additionally, it uses the tours and activities API to develop a feed of activities near the user. We used the Logi Composer to generate visual graphs to better understand our user data.

Challenges we ran into

The 5-day development process was one with extreme challenges. We were able to implement both APIs in our application while building out the business logic but it came at the cost of implementing other features in the application. It was important for us to learn that we couldn't program it all before the end of the hackathon and prioritize essential features. It was interesting exploring the full list of Google Flutter’s functionalities and we learned a lot from building an application from start to finish.

One other challenge that we ran into with Logi Composer is that since we were using the trial version, we were limited in the sources that we could use. This was easily resolved however because we were able to write a function that converted NoSQL data into a CSV file and use that CSV file as the source. However, the more interesting problem was implementing the Logi Composers dashboard in our mobile application. Since we were using the flutter framework, the implementation was not as simple as it would have been for a web application.

One of the issues that we ran into with the Amadeus API was that the quantity of the responses was often inconsistent. Therefore assuming to expect a certain number of responses led to a couple of null errors.

Arguably the biggest challenge during the development process was coming up with the application name. One of our team members refused to start working on the application till we came up with the name, so it was a while till we settled on a name we could all agree on.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • Implemented global user feeds
  • Incorporated travel and lodging with Amadeus API
  • Generated synthetic user data to populate the application feed
  • Utilized Logi Composer for data analytics and visualizations
  • Added Travelogue to Android App Store

What we learned

Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on travel has taught us that the industries will see substantial changes from prior years, such as the volume of air travel, air filtration systems, and other safety aspects like social distancing. It was evident that amidst the global pandemic, people are less likely to travel, and may feel disconnected from the global community. As such, it was a challenge coming up with a way to promote travel. It helped to think about ways to build traveler confidence and pique interest as opposed to solving the problem of getting people to travel.

What's next for Travelogue

Were Travelogue to be pursued as a business, future changes would be focused on the user experience. The main targets would be transitioning Logi Composer from just an administrative tool to being integrated into the app for users. This integration could directly support users finding new areas to travel to, as well as feeling more secure in their travel choices with a Logi Composer generated view of COVID-19 affected areas.

Expanding the user base will be critical, but this can be accomplished by partnering with travel and lodging providers. Partnerships and even outreach from cities could lead to mutual advertising, and help businesses or travel destinations gain a better understanding of global perceptions about visiting there. This could be additionally beneficial for government leaders to see COVID-19 impacts in their regions. The user base will also expand as Logi Composer visuals are enabled, by using them we hope to allow users to see analyzed sentiment from user’s posts. By making the app as general-purpose and inclusive as we have, we hope to negate the typical rating system where individuals only rate extremely positively or negatively. This will give users a fuller understanding of the subject and may help showcase different tastes without discriminating against any user groups.

As users join, the feed will be a key feature to update. Currently, the feed only shows the most recent posts across the database, but adding feed options means we can show content based on user reactions, regions, and subject matter. Once we are able to collect user data, we hope to leverage this information with machine learning to make travel recommendations. The pertinent data sets are currently being collected, with which we can build user profiles based on posts, likes, and comments processed for sentiment analysis. This user profile can then be compared against similar traveler profiles to better recommend destinations to visit.

With global communities interacting, we can leverage pre-trained models such as GPT-3 to provide real-time translations across the global data feed. This use could then lead to expanding the language capabilities of the models for a more diverse audience. The long term stretch goal would be to then use the models to allow travelers to communicate with anyone while abroad.

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