In our era of constant technological development and an intricate network of information exchange, people tend to rely on online sources for their travels more and more. But because of the time crunch, people travel in, many places of authentic value go unnoticed. Take the ramen shop in Sankri, at the foothills of the Siwalik ranges of the Himalayas for example. It was here that I had one of the most authentic ramen noodles at a small little quaint shop which used hill spices to give it a unique flavor. This store was nowhere on the map, and if I had not stumbled upon it by mistake, I would have never had that experience which was truly authentic to that place. Many such sites are overshadowed by the commercial nature of travel currently present.
The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, making a total contribution of 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars to GDP in 2015. The industry was forecasted to contribute more than 2.6 trillion U.S. dollars by 2027. The most popular vacation type for U.S. travelers was beach vacations in 2017, followed by all-inclusive packages. This commercial nature of tourism, places of authentic value tend to get lost, and people fail to have the local experience.
There are many travel guide websites and applications which give useful search results for different places to visit. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com, and much more. But most of the time they do not accurately offer the most authentic locations in a place, and it does not put you in touch with the local culture. Airbnb does a better job at this by helping travelers meet the local residents and stay at their place as a rent-paying guest. This can include travelers in the local culture.
My thesis explores the interaction methods involved in providing users with an authentic experience while leveraging local social media to bring local gems i.e., places that have an authentic value on the map and give a chance to the travelers at a truly authentic travel experience.
Travelers will be continuously notified of the local gems when they are near one using geofencing technology and augmented reality, so they don’t miss out on anything that borders being authentic to a region. They will also have an opportunity to contribute to the travel community and build their credibility as a traveler, by marking new places they discover, rate and even collect places that other travelers have marked. This application aspires to bring the joy and serendipity of discovery in the form of a mobile application.
Visual Communication Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Design (CAD)
Arun, Akshay Kumar, "ROVAR: Authentic Travel Leveraging Local Social Media" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus