The goal of this company’s project was to design a customised and unique digital-free travel experience that would be transformational and have long-lasting wellbeing benefits.

The Challenge

The company needed an injection of expertise to help achieve their aims in the following areas:

- Theoretical and methodological expertise in qualitative empirical studies of tourist experience and behaviours.
- Practical and academic expertise in marketing strategy planning, product innovation, and tourism experience design.
- Practical expertise in tourism marketing research and operations.

The Solution

Unplugged applied for a KEEP+ grant provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This was done in the form of a 15-month RIC (Research & Innovation Collaboration) – a two-way partnership between a business and a university where the university injects and embeds expertise into the business to achieve agreed goals in agreed timescales. The company were supported by the KEEP+ team throughout the procurement and project approval process and Unplugged chose to work with the University of Greenwich. The university’s academic expertise in tourism and digital well-being made them the perfect fit for the business.

The RIC grant helped Unplugged to build a digital-free experience that offers lasting benefits to customers. promote digital-free travel by innovating in the space, embed digital-free expertise and knowledge into the company from working with the knowledge base as well as develop a deeper understanding of the problems faced by target customers and a better understanding of the market as a whole. In addition, with the expertise of the knowledge base the company were able to improve operations, reach a wider audience with support on marketing strategy and develop processes to better facilitate longevity and growth.

With the injection of expertise from Dr Wenjie Cai, Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Hospitality at the University of Greenwich who has academic and industrial experiences and expertise in qualitative studies, marketing research, experience design and digital detox, opportunities were developed to transfer knowledge and expertise of digital-free travel into Unplugged’s experience design. The research area of digital-free tourism in the Tourism Research Centre was developed and cutting-edge case studies for research-informed teaching were generated. An Impact Case Study for Research Excellence Framework was formed by proposing a transformational experience design focusing on digital wellbeing within the SME and potential opportunities for students’ internships, placements and research projects were also created at the host company.