Lenda Research

This described the foundational research that went into the development of Lenda. The iterative prototype research will be described in the Lenda section.


TEAM | Mike Henderson, Miki Nombumori, Sara Stalla, Trisha Suri

ROLE | Project Lead, Research Lead

TOOLS | Sketch, InDesign, AfterEffects, Photoshop

METHODS | Interviews, service safaris, competitor analysis, fly-on-the-wall observations, usability testing, participatory design, visioning


A visioning sprint.




OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS, THE HOTEL INDUSTRY HAS EXPERIENCED SIGNIFICANT CHANGES. The rise of sharing economy services such as Airbnb and HomeAway have offered travelers an alternative to hotel accommodations, and these options have proven very appealing. At the same time, hotels are beginning to incorporate guest-facing technology and the use of customer data to improve the guest experience, leading to both opportunities and risks. 

In this project, we seek to imagine the future of hotel accommodation in a post-Airbnb world, and how that future can be adapted to meet the specific tourism needs that exist in Madeira. Our client, Pereira & Filhos Investementos, purchased the Gorgulho Hotel in the Lido neighborhood of Funchal and in the middle of a complete rebranding and remodeling. In this project, we aim to introduce interactive technologies to improve the guest experience and drive repeat bookings.


research approach


WE CONDUCTED 2x2 RESEARCH FOCUSED ON WHAT BRINGS VISITORS TO MADEIRA (NEEDS ASSESSMENT) AND HOW HOTELS ARE INNOVATING (COMPETITIVE RESEARCH). First, we looked at the current state, both of tourism in Madeira and of hotels' use of technology and service structures. Then, we looked at possible futures by focusing on the kinds of visitors that will come to Madeira in 5-10 years and how particularly innovative hotels are changing their service models and using technology to differentiate.  


Research insights

Tourism: understanding the current state

Our team performed field research by participating in some of Madeira's most popular tourism activities. This gave us a chance to talk to and observe visitors in the context of their stay. 

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Some people come to Madeira to relax, others come for adventure.

People who visit for outdoor adventure generally visit only once and for shorter periods of time, while people visiting for relaxation will often spend 1-3 weeks and are more likely to return.

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Tourists choose hotels for a variety of reasons.

These reasons can reflect very specific goals (get fit, learn more about your favorite soccer star), or more general goals (good location or price)

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Because Madeira is a tropical island only a short flight from Europe, it offers a unique value proposition for European visitors.

This makes it an affordable quick getaway or good value for a longer holiday. 

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While majority of Madeira's current visitors are older Europeans, there are strong trends toward younger European visitors coming in increasing numbers.

These visitors will expect a different type of hotel service that is more contemporary and less formal. 


hospitality: understanding the current state

From our competitor analysis, fly-on-the-wall observations, and traveler interviews, we found that different types of travel accommodation serve different guest goals, whether for ease, efficiency, authenticity, or a unique experience.



  1. Because travelers choose hotels over Airbnb when they want to interact with other people, it is important to support human interactions as part of the value that hotels offer.
  2. Travelers choose resorts for ease and comfort. Traditional hotels are better suited to travelers who want some independence.
  3. While boutique hotels offer a specialized experience, our design must be able to support a wide variety of travelers and goals.

Notes from fly-on-the-wall observations at competitor hotels. 


hotels: insights into innovation

After conducting service safaris in 12 different hotels, we mapped out service and tech innovations to understand the different offerings. We then considered the risks and successes shown by these tech-enabled experiences.


A room at CitizenM in Glasgow.

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Many tech products are not maintainable.

Custom content is often poor-quality.

Tech can be “gadgety.”

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Hotels are leveraging staff members' expertise to provide authentic guest experiences.

Hotels are investing more in public spaces that encourage interaction between guests and locals.

Hotels are exploring alternative models of promotion and revenue by customizing spaces for business uses and events. These go far beyond the traditional hotel business center.


tourism: possible futures

To supplement our research on visitors to Madeira, we reached out to frequent travelers who represented modern attitudes and values. We found that many of their contributions validated our early findings, and drew valuable insights that would help us flesh out opportunity areas for concept development.

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Authenticity is a priority.

Small encounters are delightful.

Information you can trust comes from real people.

The future of travel is about more information, empathy, and awareness.

The future of travel is about more information, empathy, and awareness.


identifying opportunity areas

feeling like a local


supporting the needs of families with children


creating personalized guest experiences


creating inviting public spaces and events


connecting visitors to locals and other visitors



connecting guests to unique activities

Help hotel guests find and select activities that are local, off-the-beaten-path, and authentic. These activities could be a mix of unique offerings only available through the hotel and partnerships with small-scale service providers.


Provide guests with experiences that they otherwise would not have access to while also generating revenue from commissions.




This system would require for relationships with service providers to be actively maintained, and for there to be high-quality content for each activity (description, photos, etc). Also, the hotel might be held accountable if the activities weren’t good.


employees as locals and experts

Feature the hotel employees’ local expertise to help guests learn about and feel connected to Madeira.



Use personal connections to provide a better guest experience while also empowering employees and increasing job satisfaction.



In order for employees to feel comfortable sharing their interests and knowledge with guests, they will have to be confident that management supports these kinds of connections. These interactions will also give the hotel a more contemporary but less formal atmosphere, which would have to be consistent across service touchpoints.


rental services

Provide a seamless way for guest to rent needed equipment and more unusual items that will enrich their stay. These could be practical items like cars or hiking equipment, but also enriching items like instruments or art supplies.



Provide guests with the equipment they need to enjoy Madeira while giving the hotel another source of revenue.



Because some items will have to be purchased, the hotel could lose money if the items aren’t rented by guests. Similarly, items could be lost or damaged.