Maggie’s H800 design narrative: Planning a surprise trip!
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26 April 2017
A friend of mine had been undergoing some difficult circumstances recently and mentioned feeling quite isolated where she was currently living. Therefore, I decided to explore the possibility of arranging a surprise trip to see her.
A friend of mine called Julie moved from where she lived and worked in England to Wales a year ago and had been undergoing some recent difficult circumstances. In a discussion with her she mentioned missing her friends from where she lived previously, including myself. She did not have an operational car at the moment and therefore was unable to visit friends as often as she wished. This caused me to plan a surprise visit with some of her friends who lived in England.
I was trying to arrange a surprise visit that would fit in with Julie's schedule, the people she mentioned in our discussion and my own schedule, as I would need to fly from Belfast to Wales.
Due to the different parties involved and the distance between us all this required the use of social media, phone communication apps, such as WhatsApp, organisational online scheduling tools such as Doodle and good old fashioned email!
- Set up a WhatsApp group titled ‘Surprise visit for Julie’ and invited participants
- Invited those people not able to access WhatsApp through email instead.
- Established initial interest – 8 people
- Used Doodle to establish people’s availability and to find a mutually suitable weekend
- Looked at my own schedule to see when would be best for me, as I would need to fly over to Wales and potentially take leave
- Text Julie to find out if she was free the weekend we had lined up. Told her I would be over in Wales for work reasons.
- Firmed up the numbers of people who would be attending and agreed that a one night visit would suit most people
- Used Airbnb.com to book accommodation for those wishing to stay over on the Saturday night
- Passed on my bank details so people could make electronic transfers for payment
- Agreed on a venue for meeting Julie and a plan for the day
- Determined how best to carry out the surprise, i.e. let her arrive first and meet me and then everyone else show up, or for everyone to already be in the restaurant
- Made sure that everyone had a text with the postcode of the restaurant and a separate rendezvous point, so that everyone arrived together
- Agreed that I would text the group when we were in the restaurant and seated
The surprise visit was an overall success, although there were a few complications along the way!
Trying to agree on a specific weekend for the surprise visit was initially difficult and made the WhatsApp group chat quite onerous. However, a friend suggested that we all download and use Doodle to put in our availability around the various dates we had discussed, which was a great help.
It was a challenge to make arrangements with those people not using the various communication media apps and this meant the overall planned visit was more time consuming than I had initially thought it would be.
We also had to review our restaurant choice due to dietary requirements, which we had not initially explored.
On the day one of members of the group forgot to charge her phone and just turned up in the restaurant. Luckily Julie did not see her and I was able to get her to stand out of sight until the others arrived!
Overall the experience was positive and surprisingly smooth!
Organising this trip made me realise how much we now use ICT to plan for these type of events. It also made me consider how reliant we are on everyone being able to access online apps and communication tools. For example, the issue around dietary requirements happened because I had omitted one of the friends from the discussion due to her not being a part of the WhatsApp group.
This experience did make me appreciate how useful ICT can be to plan events, as the whole trip was planned with very little actual physical discussion and was therefore much less time consuming. This included booking accommodation and the restaurant.
However, it also made me aware that by relying so much on ICT, such as phones, this can lead to issues when these either fail or are misplaced.
If I was to plan this event again I may not be so focused on using ICT and may use more physical communication, in order to avoid issues around miscommunication or misplaced information.