Desti is Shutting Down

On September 3, we’ll be taking Desti offline. Desti recently joined the HERE team to help build intelligent location services: expect great things from us in the future! You can learn more on the HERE Three Sixty blog.

What does this mean for you?

On September 3:

  • You’ll no longer be able to search in Desti
  • You’ll no longer be able to access saved trips in Desti
  • Until September 3, you can continue to use Desti as you normally would.

If you have questions or if you’d like more information, please reach out to Emily at emily@desti.com. We hope you enjoyed using Desti as much as we enjoyed building Desti.

FAQ

How do I delete Desti from my iPad?

On your iPad, tap and hold the Desti icon until a little “x” appears on the left corner of the Desti icon. Click on the “x” and confirm the delete.

What happens to my trips?

On September 3, you’ll no longer be able to see or access your saved trip. We recommend you share your trip plans with yourself and any co-travelers to save the information.

I still see Desti on my iPad but it’s not letting me search. Why?

On September 3, we’ll take Desti’s servers offline. Any searches in the app will not have anywhere to go, so you’ll see an error message if you use Desti after September 3.

- Desti, Emily, and the team.

How to: Edit and Remove Routes in Desti

Thinking about taking a different route? Not a problem! It’s easy to change your route while searching and to remove a route from your trip plan.

Search Along a Different Route

To change a route while searching, click the small arrow next to the route in the search box, and select the route you’d like.

Change Route in Search

Change the Route

You can also remove the entire route and pick a new route.

  • Click the “x” on the route in the search box to remove the route from the query
  • Type in a new city
  • When the city appears on the map, click the blue “i” next to the city name
  • Select “route to” or “route from”
  • Enter the corresponding city in the search box

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Remove a Route from the Trip Plan

To remove a route from your trip plan, open your trip plan and swipe left on the map icon (route) you’d like to remove. From there, click “remove”.

Remove a Route

You can also remove the route when looking at the directions page: simply click the gold star to remove the star and the route from your trip plan.

Remove Star

That’s it!

Questions or issues with route planning in Desti? Please reach out to us through the feedback button in Desti or at contact@desti.com.

- Desti and the Team

 

Introducing Desti’s New Road Trip Planner! 7 Steps for a Great Road Trip.

Planning a Road Trip with Desti

Since launching Desti, we’ve been inundated with requests from users to build Desti into a great road trip route planner. We are excited to introduce a beta version of road trip planning with routes into Desti!

When you’re planning a road trip with Desti, you’ll be able to use Desti’s smart search capabilities to find routes and directions, search along routes, save everything to one trip plan, and take your trip plan (including directions) offline with you in the car. Consider this to be our first draft, and we’d really like to hear your thoughts on how we can make road trip planning even better.

7 Easy Steps to Planning a Multi-Stop Road Trip with Desti

1) Start by Planning a New Trip and Entering Relevant Details

Start by taping “Plan a new trip” on Desti’s homescreen and entering relevant details into the pop-up. You can add as many or as few cities as you’d like.

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Once you’ve created your trip plan, begin with “add places / routes.”

Add Places / Routes

2) Pick Your Route

Begin by adding the first section of your trip to the query. Once a city is in the query, select “route to” or “route from” in the pop-up menu. You’ll then be prompted to enter the to/from city.

Route Query 1

Once you’ve entered to/from destinations, select your desired route by tapping one of the blue routes on the map. Click “save to trip” to save directions for the route selected directly to your trip plan. This will allow you to view basic directions for this route even when your iPad is not connected to wifi.

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3) Create Your Query to Search Along the Route

When you see your route in the search box, you know you’ll be searching along the route. How about a scenic attraction where you can pull over and enjoy the view, or maybe a family friendly restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat? Desti can help.

Map Query

4) Add Places of Interest to your Trip Plan

Click places on the map, or view points of interest in the “cards” view. Swipe up on places you’d like to add to your trip plan. In your trip plan, you’ll be able to arrange places of interest into the correct dates.

Add POI's to Trip

5) Edit Your Query to Find More Points Along the Route or at the Final Destination

Click edit next to your query to change your search and find other points of interest along the route or in your destination city.

edit query

6) Search Along the Next Route

To search along another route, remove the current route from the query and type the next destination in your trip. Desti will again prompt you if it’s a “to here” or “from here” route.

next route

Don’t forget to save each route to your trip plan!

7) Continue Searching and Editing Until Your Trip is Complete

Add as many routes and points to your trip plan as you’d like by editing your query.

continue to edit 

That’s it! We hope you enjoy planning your next road trip extravaganza with Desti, and we’d love to hear what you think.

- Desti and the Team

Learn more: How to Edit and Remove Routes from your Search in Desti.

Why Natural Search is Awesome and How We Got Here

First – the short summary.

We just released a brand new user interface for doing searches in Desti called Natural Search. It’s the culmination of 18 months of tweaking our search UI, and we love it.

What makes Natural Search so awesome?

  • It allows you to ask for whatever you want and be as specific as you want to be. You can literally ask for “hotels in San Diego near Seaworld that are good for kids and pets and are under $250 a night etc…”
  • It helps you put all this stuff into a search. Typically you won’t have to type much, you can use auto-complete, pick the dates, click the map etc.
  • It automatically suggests relevant things you may ask in relation to what you already typed – the specific city, who’s going on the trip etc.
  • It shows you exactly what it understood and lets you easily refine or change your search.
  • And it understands you whether you use English or Googlese. So “hotel SF pool” works as well as “find me a hotel in San Francisco that has a swimming pool please.” Yes, you can even be polite.

If you’re a Desti user – try it, we hope you love it. A video demo is here:

If you’re also a user experience designer, or an algorithms developer, or just a curious person – the rest of this post is for you.

The Evolution Of Desti’s Search Interface

So What Were We Trying To Achieve?

Desti’s search was built on a premise that sounds very simple, but it’s actually very hard to pull off. We believe that people should be able to ask specifically for what they’re interested in and get results that match. This sounds reasonable, right?  If I’m looking for a beach resort on the Kona Coast in Hawaii, it’s pretty obvious what I want. And if I also want it to be kid friendly and pet friendly, I should just be able to ask for it. Our goal was to get users inputting relevant, specific queries because that’s what people need. That’s where Desti shines – saving you time and effort by delivering exactly what you want.

Now let’s assume that Desti knows which hotels on the Kona Coast are actually beach resorts, are kid friendly and pet friendly. How can we make expressing this query easy and intuitive for the user?

Episode I: Desti is Siri’s Sister or Conversational User Interface:
When we started, we were very naïve about this. We said – first, let’s just put a search box in there, allowing the user to type or say whatever they want, and let’s make sure we understand this. Then, let’s leave that box there so they can react to what they see and provide more detail (“refine”) or search for something else in that context (e.g. a restaurant near the resort – we called this “pivot”). And let’s run a conversation around it, kind of like Siri. What could be more natural? To do this we used SRI International’s VPA platform, which is almost literally a post-Siri natural-language-interaction platform with which you can have a conversation in context.

This is more or less what it looked like in our beta version:

Search box: simple search bar

A conversational UI:

conversation_Desti1

We launched this and monitored use. And quickly realized is that early users split into two groups:

  • Those who speak Googlese, but not a lot of it. Their queries looked like this: “Hawaii”  “hotel kona” or at most “hotel kona beach.”
  • Those who came to meet Siri. They had questions like “Are you Siri’s sister?” “what is the best hotel in the world” “tell me a joke.”

Discarding the 2nd group (we’re busy people), we learned that people don’t know how to interact naturally with computers, or they have no idea what to ask or expect, so they revert to the most primitive queries. Problem is, our goal was to answer interesting, specific queries, because we believe that if we give you a great answer that caters to what you want, your likelihood of buying is that much higher.

Furthermore, absolutely no one got the conversational aspect – the fact you can continue refining and pivoting through conversation. We decided to take away the focus from conversation for the time being.

Episode 2: Vegas Slot Machines or Make It Dead Simple

We realized we have to focus on the first query, and give people some cues about what’s possible. And came up with this interface:

tripspinner_1

These contextual spinners turned interaction from a totally open-ended query to something closer to multiple-choice questions. In essence these were interchangeable templates, where you could get ideas for “what to search for” as well as easily input your query. What you picked would show up as a textual query in the search bar, which we hoped people would realize they can edit or add to. Hoped…

The results – on the one hand, progress. We saw longer and more interesting queries and more interaction. However when talking to users, we realized that they were assuming that the spinner was a kind of menu system, which means (a) they can only pick what’s in the menu (b) they have to pick one thing from each menu. So while this was better than what most sites have for search, it was still a far cry from what we wanted to deliver. Here’s what we learned from this:

  • Suggestions give people a feel of “what’s possible” and also reduce the amount of typing needed, which is a boon – especially on a virtual keyboard
  • But, if the suggestions look like a menu, people just assume they are limited to those suggestions and to the template provided. They won’t try to add anything beyond it, or drop anything from it
  • Furthermore, this UI breaks as soon as you want to input quantitative stuff that won’t fit in there visually like a calendar-based date entry or prices.

Episode 3: Fill In The Blanks – Smartly

At this stage, it was clear that we needed better auto-suggest and smarter auto-complete. This is similar from a UI perspective to Google Instant, but Desti is about semantic search, not keyword matching. In most cases, Google will auto-suggest a phrase that matches what you’ve been typing AND has been typed in by many other people. Desti should suggest something that semantically matches what you entered and makes sense given what we know of the destination and about your trip. Because Desti is new and there haven’t been a million users searching for the same things before you, Desti should reason about what you may ask, not suggest something someone else asked.

We realized we have to build a lot of semantically-reasonable and statistically-relevant auto-suggesting. We still wanted to keep to the template logic because we believed it helps users think about what they are looking for and form the query in their minds. So we came up with a UI that blends form-filling and natural language entry, and focused on building smart auto-suggest and auto-complete.

Template search box

This UI was built of a number of rigid fields (e.g. location, type) that adapt to the subject matter (so if the type is “hotel” you’re prompted for dates), and a free text field that allows you to ask for whatever else you want.

We iterated a lot over the auto-complete and auto-suggest features. The first thing is to realize they are different. With auto-complete, you have a user who already thought of something to type in, and you have to guess what that is. With auto-suggest, you really want to inspire the user into adding something useful to their query, which means it needs to be relevant to whatever you know about the query and user so far, but not overwhelming for the user.

All this requires knowing a lot about specific destinations (what do people search for in Hawaii vs. New York?) and specific types (what’s relevant for hotels vs. museums?).  Also, on the visual side, what the user is putting in is often quantitative and easier to “set” than “type” – e.g. a date, a price etc. So we came up with our first crack at blending text with visual widgets.

template with widget

The results were a big improvement in the quality and relevance of queries over the previous UI, but a feeling that this was still too stiff and rigid. When people are asked for a “type of place” – e.g. a museum, a park, a hotel – they often can’t really answer, and it’s easier for them to think about a feature of the place instead – e.g. that they can go hiking, or biking, see art or eat breakfast. For linguistic reasons it’s easier for people to say that they want a “romantic hotel” than a “hotel that’s romantic”. So while this UI was very expressive, often it felt unnatural and limiting. Furthermore many users just ended up filling the basic fields and not adding any depth in the open-text field (despite various visual cues). And editing a query for refining or pivoting was hard.

At the same time – the auto-suggest / auto-complete elements we’ve built at this stage were almost enough to allow us to just throw out the limiting “templates” and move to one search field – but this time, a damn clever one.

Episode 4: Search Goes Natural

To the naked eye, this looks like we’ve gone full circle – one text box, parsed queries shown as tags. What could be simpler?

full query

Well, not exactly, because we still need queries to be meaningful. One thing that the templates gave us was built-in disambiguation. We need a query that has at least a location + a type (or something from which we can derive a type), and without a template telling us that the “hotel” is the type, and the “restaurant” is something you want your hotel to have (vs. maybe the opposite), the system needs to better understand the grammatical structure or the sentence, and cue you into inputting things the right way when it’s suggesting and auto-completing.

Typing a query:

museums for kids

The query is understood – you can add / edit:Tags Parsed

With this new user interface, changing queries (“refining and pivoting”) is very natural – add tags, or take away tags. Widgets were contextually integrated using the auto-suggest drop-down menu, so they are naturally suggested at the right time (e.g. after you said you were looking for a hotel, we help you choose when, how many rooms etc.). It’s also very easy to suggest things to search for based on the context. For instance if we know your kids are traveling with you, we’d drop in “family friendly” and you could dismiss it with one click.

Kona widgets

So Where is This Going

So far, Natural Search looks and behaves better than anything else we’ve seen in this space. From now on, most of the focus is on making the guesses even smarter, with more statistic reasoning about what people ask for in different contexts, and more contextual info driving those guesses.

We believe this UI is where vertical search is heading. Consider how nice it would be to input “gifts for 4 year old boys under $30” into target.com’s search bar, or “romantic restaurant with great seafood near Times Square with a table at 8 PM tonight” into OpenTable – and get relevant answers. But then again, answering specific queries is not that easy either, but that’s the other side of Desti…

To be continued.

Nadav Gur, Founder & CEO of Desti

 

 

 

 

Planning a Road Trip with Desti!

Nothing spells adventure like a good, old-fashioned road trip. But there are lots of decisions to make before you go. Like, how far to travel? Where to stop along the way? Where to stay? And, of course, where to eat? Desti can help you solve all these questions in one convenient platform, so you can spend less time planning and more time having fun!

Here’s an example of a road trip from Northern California to Disneyland in Anaheim!

Step 1: Plan a New Trip to Disneyland. Start by tapping “Plan a Trip” and entering as many details as you’d like.

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Step 2: Search on the Map to find Stops Along the Way. Start by tapping “Add items to trip” in your trip plan.

add items.jpg

Zooming out on the map, a natural route will appear to your destination, and you’ll find various cities that land between your starting point and your destination.

Santa Barbara is on the way to Disneyland, and a great place to stop for a day. Tap on the map and start searching in your first destination, Santa Barbara. No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without a visit to the beach! Swipe up results to save them to the trip plan.

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To find a hotel for a night in Santa Barbara, edit the query and continue to search until you find everything you’re looking for.

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Step 3: Onwards! Next stop, Disneyland! You can edit your query, search for Disneyland in the first search box, and add it to the trip to quickly get oriented.

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Once you find Disneyland, search for hotels, restaurants, and more nearby by using the “search nearby” box or editing your query.

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Step 5: Share the Trip with Your Co-Travelers. With Plan Together, you and a select group of co-travelers can view and edit the trip plan. Click the “Share” button from your trip plan, and invite others to share ideas!

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That’s it! Creating a comprehensive and personalized road trip has never been so easy. Let us know what you think! If you have any thoughts, please reach out to us at desticares@desti.zendesk.com.

- Desti and the Team

Take Desti On the Road!

We’ve made some changes to Desti, and we are excited to introduce offline trip viewing! Now, you can open Desti and view the last trip you opened without an internet connection.

How to Take your Trip Offline

When Desti is not online, you can still view your last planned trip. To take your trip offline:

  1. Open your trip while still online. Your trip should show up in the “continue previous trip” slot in the homescreen.
  2. Go offline!
  3. While offline, tap your “continue previous trip” trip from Desti’s homescreen. You’ll be able to view the trip, but you won’t be able to edit the trip.

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We’ve also made some changes to how you can search in Desti. Searching is now broken down into two parts: Plan a Trip and Quick Search.

Plan a Trip

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Planning a new trips allows you to jump head first into planning your trip! Start by entering your trip name, destination, and any details you’d like.

plan_1.jpg

Start adding items to your trip!

add items.jpg

From there, it’s same Desti search as usual. Swipe up to add item to your trip plan. Flip between your viewing you trip plan and searching by flipping “Trip” (top left) or “Results” (top right).

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Quick Search

Quick search is a way to explore what’s around and find new ideas. A “quick search” allows you to search the same as before in Desti: type in your query or search on the map to find what you’re looking for! At this time, you won’t be able to add items to a trip plan from a quick search.

Let us know what you think! 

Drop us a line using the “feedback” button in Desti, or email us at desticares@desti.zendesk.com. We’d really like to hear your thoughts.

- Desti and the team.

See What’s Right For You!

At Desti’s core is smart technology, and we use this smart technology to help you find exactly what you are looking for! Since launching early in 2013, Desti has gathered knowledge and understanding of:

  • 300,000 activities, attractions, hotels, and more in North America

  • Over 2.3 million images associated with point-of-interest.

  • 10 million articles, professional and consumer reviews related to things in Desti

Desti now more clearly shows you how your search results match your travel needs, saving you time and frustration!

Looking to take a romantic trip to Miami? Just ask Desti for what you’re looking for!

Right away, Desti will show a variety of romantic places in Miami and why Desti thinks these places are romantic. These first few results are “great matches” because they:

  • Are highly rated places, and

  • Match all parts of the query

Further down, results are marked as “good match”. These are points that”

  • Not as highly rated by Desti

  • Match the query

Miami_2.jpg

Toward the end of the results list, Desti will alert you to places that might have issues. Places to “also consider”. Places to also consider:

  • Match the query but they are far away from your search area, or

  • Only match part of the query

miami_3.jpg

 

That’s it! With these new updates to Desti, we hope you spend less time planning and more time discovering.

Questions? Reach out to us at desticares@desti.zendesk.com. We’d love to help.

 

We Built a New Desti for You

Since launching Desti in July of 2013, we’ve received countless emails with feedback, ideas, and questions for Desti. We listened to everything you had to say, and we built this new version of Desti for you.

Here’s what’s new.

Planning is Merrier Together.

With Desti’s new feature, “Plan Together,” it’s never been easier to plan a trip with the folks you’ll be traveling with. With Plan Together, you and a select group of co-travelers can see a communal trip plan and make edits to the trip. Click the “Share” button from your Shortlist and anyone you invited can share your Desti travel plan.

plan_together

Click here to learn more.

Say You’ve Been There to Share What you Know

Share what YOU know, whether you’ve explored far reaches of the country or know a thing or two about local parks. Simply swipe down on your search result and tap “Been There” to let Desti and your friends know your thoughts.

beenthere

Click here to learn more.

New Ways to Plan a Trip

Planning a road trip with stops on the way? We’ve added a new feature to Desti that allows you to search on a map. Begin by selecting a stop on your trip and searching in and around the first location. Add points of interest to your trip plan, such as attractions you’d like to see when passing through, and a hotel for overnight.

Continue editing your query and adding more ideas to your trip plan. Once you’re done, you’ll have a comprehensive trip plan to take on the road and share with your fellow travelers!

planonamap

Click here to learn more.

New Additions: Restaurants and Vacation Rentals

Restaurants are back in Desti, and we are working on adding more! We hope to show restaurants that are authentic and significant in your destination city.

We’ve also worked with VRBO and Homeaway to add more vacation rentals to Desti’s knowledge. They will be ready soon!

What are you waiting for? Head to the App Store to download the latest version of Desti and see what’s new!

We would love to hear your thoughts on the changes we made to Desti. Drop us a line at desticares@desti.zendesk.com.

- Desti and The Team

Desti Finds Restaurants that Highlight Your Travel Experience

Some of the best travel experiences consist of the moments you spend around a table, enjoying good food with friends and family. Now, Desti makes it easy to find authentic, local dining establishments when you’re visiting a new town or just passing through. Our advanced search functions and new mapping technology will steer you in the right direction, without your having to spend hours planning ahead. Here’s how:

Navigate toward the Authentic. We find restaurants ranging from high-end, critically reviewed establishments to local favorites known for their authenticity. In other words, restaurants that matter when you have limited time in a particular place.

Find Restaurants Along Your Route. Our new mapping technology makes it possible for your road trip to evolve into a culinary adventure. Simply input your destination and Desti will calculate your mileage, revealing a map of your route. From there, the power is in your hands! Customize your route on the map, choosing the cities where you might wish to stop along the way. Desti will search those stops for great restaurants, take-out food, or picnic areas. Add your favorites to your Trip Plan by swiping up, and you’ve got yourself a personalized itinerary.

Specify Your Cuisine or Dining Preference. Traveling with a family? Tell Desti you’re looking for a “kid-friendly” establishment. Don’t eat meat? Specify “vegetarian” in your search. Desti is unique in understanding our users’ individual needs and travel preferences.

With Desti’s convenient and quick travel planning capabilities, you’ll never have to stop at the drive-through window again. Log in soon and let Desti help you get the culinary adventure started.