The backbone of XUP is its deep integration in communities. Matt and Sam wanted XUP to provide the best experiences that would feel locally sourced and resonate with its users. And the only way to do that was to have real people in the community be involved from the very beginning. XUP Get Downs were born.
Matt and Sam decided that running light, thought-gathering workshops would allow them to generate unique itineraries based on real experience. It would also act as an excellent way to spread the word about the company while enganging potential new users.
Co-creating itineraries with real people would negate a lot of the guess work that Matt and Sam would be faced with when generating the content on the XUP platform.
How it worked
In order to stay light and fun, Matt and Sam wanted to disguise some classic design thinking exercises as drinking games. This style of workshop would come off as fun, maybe even hip. And it fits perfectly with the character of Matt and Sam: two dudes that like to get together with friends and play games. The beer and wine was bought, and the Get Down was scheduled for 2 hours in an intimate setting: Matt's house.
First Game: XUP CUP
In XUP CUP, the group had a main topic such as, "Austin Coffeeshops." Then, in turn, each player named one coffeeshop until a player couldn't name a place. The player that drew a blank had to drink. The game was then repeated using different topics like venues, sushi restaurants, or dive bars.
Through this, Matt and Sam broke the ice by getting people playing and drinking right away. They also got people to think about places of interest around the city.
Following this game, they had the group document names of places and events on stickies that they then sorted into categories on a whiteboard. The outcome of this was having several options in each category written out and up on the wall for everyone to see.
Second Game: XUP or Down
This game was based on storyboarding in design thinking. Using the names of places and events from the board, each person created 3 itineraries with 3 stops each and drew a little picture for each stop on the itinerary.
Through this activity, people at the Get Down were able to flex their creativity forming itineraries, remember their own community experiences, and get crafty drawing ridiculous depicitions of each stop. A huge outcome of this game for Matt and Sam was finding out what places worked together around town. And with the drawings, they could visually understand what the most important things were at each place.
After everyone was done with their itineraries, each person would present one itinerary and everyone would vote XUP or down. If an itinerary was voted down, the creator had to drink. If an itinerary was voted XUP, everyone drank.
How it went
Having done 2 XUP Get Downs so far with the same format, it's pretty amazing to watch people get together and share stories about their community. Maybe we're blessed in Austin with our never ending list of cool new places and hot events to go to, but everyone has a story to tell and a different way of seeing their city. People really enjoy creating itineraries and sharing them with one another. It becomes this space where people start trading the best things to do around town and both times we've run a XUP Get Down, we've left with plans to go do an itinerary (what we affectionaly call an Xperience).
2 hours seems to be the perfect amount of time for people to get nice and loose without getting bored or distracted by our design drinking games. And having no more than 6 people in an intimate setting assures everyone gets a turn in the spotlight and everyone is heard.
Even though this is just research and brand awareness, everyone seems to forget what it is and the moment ends up feeling like a normal get together, lots of laughter, cheersing, and, as the Irish say, great craic.
We just hired a new researcher who's going to go out into the community and run regular XUP Get Downs at all kinds of places with all kinds of different people. We hope to get in touch with people outside of our circles, connect with businesses and interest groups, and gain a greater and more diverse understanding of the Austin community.
Look out for invites from our researcher in the next month or so, and if you'd like to participate, don't hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.