Traveal by Sabre
A simple mobile app to discover hotel deals and inspire impulse travel.
I was blown away by Jason's ability to instinctually translate business requirements into functional wireframes and elegant designs.
Will Pinnel

Sabre Travel Network, best-known as the parent company of, hired me to help their Mobile Strategy Group design a leisure travel mobile app. The goal was to repurpose the company's travel inventory and transaction API, to highlight transitory hotel deals, promote the hotel venues and make in-app reservations a breeze. Sabre's Director of Mobile Strategy, provided impeccable direction to catalyze creativity — simple, clear slides illustrating the product concept and top-level user experience.

Sketch from Sabre
Fig 0.1: Sabre provided PowerPoint slides illustrating the concept
The double-edged sword of good design is that it can make good ideas look great and make bad ideas look better than they really are, so early design attempts usually should not be polished. Crude sketches are a good way to lower inhibitions and develop ideas with the entire team. Epiphanies can come from anyone, so when team collaboration is important, I've learned to restrain visual chops until later and encourage everyone to sketch their thoughts and scribble on top of others. At this stage nothing is precious.

Fig 1: Sketches: Crude, fast
Sketch Sketch

For Traveal I began by sketching the concept of a limited time offer by placing an animated, signature countdown timer anchored in the header of every browse screen — a friendly, looming reminder that the deals were transitory.

Sabre has a lot of hotel partners comprising tons inventory, and the temptation was to offer all of it at once. When asked, users inevitably say they want more of everything, so why not give it to them? Because too many options are paralyzing, and overwhelming choice leads to fatigue and inaction. Instead, I proposed that we limit display to 8 current deals from different cities — enough for variety but not too much to absorb in a glance. A map view would provide for browsing by location.
After several iterations of sketches, presentations, note-taking and corrections, we reduced the features and screens to the bare minimum to support the experience. We had the outline of a minimum viable product encompassing a comfortable 6 screens. Final specs included the sketches with annotations, plus written documentation describing the user and system interactions.

User Interface Design
With the specs and screenflow defined I could shift focus to the aesthetics of the UI. I kept it organized and familiar with an IOS-style grid, rounded corners and subtle depth, layering price-tag icons atop hotel photos. I proposed red for the background hue for a few reasons: First, red reflects urgency — in this case the urgency to act before a deal is gone. Second, blended red hues feel luxurious evoking the elegance of the hotel accommodations. Third, red is Sabre's corporate color (duh!). While the color could become overbearing in an app where users spend a lot of time, we wanted Traveal users to purchase quickly and exit. And when they didn't, the intensity of the interface was memorable — leaving a poignant mind-print and an impulsion to return.

Fig 2: The primary screens customized for iPad

From the outset I always design for the medium and usually get involved in front-end implementation. I carefully balance design, coding considerations and deployment. With Traveal I was a proponent of building a multi-platform Web app. A single codebase of Javascript, HTML and CSS could be repurposed for any mobile platform, served to a Web browser and/or compiled to fast-performing native apps for iOS, Android™, Windows® Phone. The Ionic SDK allows for access to all device functions required in this app, including geolocation.
Product Designer
Jason Schmidt
Will Pinnel
Project Manager
Derek Peachey
Software Developer
Eric Mansfield

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