Strategy and kickoff

Turnkey is a full-service vacation rental management company. By handling the booking process with guests, and managing the day-to-day cleaning and maintenance of the rental, - they truly own the end-to-end experience.

CompanyTurnkeyYear2018Duration1 weekMy workPlanning, facilitation, record-keeping, paper prototypes

The problem

In order to be a profitable business, Turnkey needed to educate owners in order to truly maximize the income of the rental property. Currently, marketing, onboarding, account management and revenue management had no centralized strategy to accomplish the goal of vetting, onboarding and educating owners.

Our approach

Given that this problem spanned the entire company we thought that a structured problem-solving exercise had the potential to generate new ideas and get everyone on the same page about a solution. Given busy schedules and a large team, we chose a one-day sprint process to see what kind of results we could get with a low overhead of time.

We started the sprint by aligning on goals. Obstacles were phrased in the form of a question.

The gap between owner experience and expectation became a point of alignment for the group. The implicit understanding was that the gap was creating low trust. We were asking owners to trust us with the delicate matter of pricing their vacation rental nightly rates – but we weren't earning their trust.

Participants used the questions as prompts for working on a solution

The group had ideas about the spectrum of processes, conversations and products that could solve some of our biggest obstacles.

Ideas went into a round of voting

With no constraints on the solutions, participants flexed their knowledge of the business, the customer and the lifecycle of service. Once everyone had 20 minutes to refine their favorite idea, we had each person present the obstacle and solution they were working on. Once presented, participants were able to vote on their favorite.

A participatory consensus emerged

Many of these ideas already existed in previous projects and conversations in the company. The innovation of the design sprint wasn’t that new ideas were generated. What was new was that everyone in the room participated in a meritocratic and democratic process to choose a winner. This made it much more likely that disagreeing participants would still lend their support to the solution that had the most consensus support.

What I learned

It was exciting to solve organizational issues (IE need for alignment) with design tools. Many issues were happening across the customer lifecycle, and I hoped to use the sprint process again to solve larger issues that had previously resisted single-department solutions.

Summary and communication

As stewards of the requirements phase of this project, I wanted to make sure to organize the learning and consensus that had emerged around various projects. I created a document to share that could help to summarize the work of the group during the design sprint.

I wanted to first summarize the problem we were trying to solve

Simply, owners were being hit with surprises during their work with Turnkey. This lowered trust and hurt us when we made a big ask (like allowing Turnkey to set the nightly rate of a rental).

I paired projects with the part of the customer lifecycle that they would impact

Since much of the work to be done focused on the sales and onboarding process, it made sense to show how smaller projects could impact various parts of the customer lifecycle.

I shared a hypothesis about how various owner personas could be impacted by influence and education

I believed that we could create more structure around hypothesis testing for various owner personas. This would be a way to test the efficacy of our work.

I created paper mockups as a final contribution

Working with some of the sprint participants, I put together some paper mockups to help illustrate ways in which education and expectations alignment could be digitized. Working on paper is another way to generate creativity and encourage greater participation.

What I learned

As a facilitator for the requirements phase of this project, I was excited to see the alignment created between various departments at Turnkey. The project wobbled a little as we got into the execution phase, as each department was responsible for their own piece of the overall project. In future projects I would advocate for a temporary project manager who could coordinate the work as a whole and track metrics related to the project (vs. related to individual project goals).