Simple way to round up friends, let them pay individually, and ensure everyone sits together.
Ever tried to organize a bunch of your friends to go to a game or concert? Lots of emails, texts on who is going, who not, how do we pay, where do we sit…. All the back and forth! And then being the debt collector!… ring a bell? We identified a REAL problem that we could all relate to and went about solving for it. The end result: SAP Group Seating app (phone, tablet or PC). We now have a pilot underway with our co-innovation partner, Stanford Department of Athletics. The app connects fans and enriches the social experience of going to a game right from the time they plan to attend one. It reduces the friction associated with group ticket purchasing as folks can purchase tickets individually while still sitting together in their group. The group organizer does not need to worry about paying for all the tickets and subsequently collecting money from all their friends after the game. With this responsive app, anyone can initiate group attendance, rally friends, and organize seating using their desktop, their tablet or their phone. The group organizer simply identifies the event and invites friends using social media or email. He or she can feel free to invite every fan that’s a friend, knowing that there’s no increase in effort with added invitations. Friends get notified via email or Facebook and buy their own tickets anytime before a date close to the event. The app then runs an algorithm that ensures all friends are seated together. Tickets arrive electronically in each guest’s email inbox prior to the event. Instead of worrying about logistics, guests can just focus on face paint, foam fingers and lots of fun ahead.
Why is this project worthy of a UX Award:
We started this journey with a series of blue-sky workshops in identifying pain points for the Stanford University. We explored personas on a spectrum of avid fans to casual fans to non-fans amongst others, and started by asking ourselves how might we bring the casual fans or the non-fans to the stadium on the game day – with the aid of avid fans. Based on several rounds of user observations and interviews, we found out that people like to tailgate together in groups, but may not end up attending the game, as they don’t have seats next to each other. When asked about the most difficult part of going to the game as a group, one casual fan said “the issue of everyone having purchased tickets separately, so no one is sitting together – the group bonding under such circumstances happens almost exclusively at the tailgate”. With this core problem space identified and backed with solid generative user research, we went about exploring different design concepts. We set out to create an app that would evoke emotions of being simple to use, friendly, casual and fun. We used a wall at the coffee area (yes, high tech, we know!) to gather feedback on visual design directions in our Palo Alto offices where people could look at design options while grabbing their coffee and vote or comment using sticky notes & dry-erase markers. This was only possible because everyone in our offices (however, not on our project), could still relate to the core value of the app. They were all end-users we could readily test with. And the feedback people left us wasn’t only for the visuals, some of the feedback that looked like it was for the visual layer really related to the core interaction design. With simplicity in mind, we designed features such as ease of importing contacts for the organizer. This seamless integration of their existing contacts on different social media channels across Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo! or regular email makes it easy to round up friends and family. Once decided, one can purchase the ticket individually (“Its really cool they can buy their own tickets, and I don’t have to worry about it!” – test participant). There are no big surprises or complex interactions for the user. When testing the app, we heard comments like “That’s straightforward” and “That was easy.” With SAP Group Seating, there’s no worrying about whether seats will be close, and no need to collect money.