“Do I need a conversation starter?”
It’s not an uncommon question.
We want to get know people better, have genuine connections, and be closer to each other. Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a traveler we meet, a colleague, an acquaintance, or even our friends at home.
But, sometimes we don’t know what to ask, or how to start a conversation.
To help create engaging conversations around travel and culture, I launched Travel Banter, a deck of conversation starter cards based on the popular #CultureTrav chat and blog.
I’ve been hosting my #CultureTrav Twitter chat for almost 4 years now. It’s been incredible to watch travelers connect with each other online, become friends, and have fun meetups offline.
I wanted to create the same fun chat interactions in a new way: an offline version of #CultureTrav chat called Travel Banter. Travel Banter travel-themed conversation cards feature popular questions asked by my #CultureTrav community.
The design process for Travel Banter
The concept of conversation starter cards came to me at the dinner table earlier this year. I started thinking that while it’s great to talk about travel, it’s even better to talk about it when you have a question or interesting prompt to consider.
Over the years of hosting my Twitter chat, thousands of questions have come my way. Fellow travelers, my co-hosts and I would think about engaging questions that we were curious to know the answers to. While I love hearing about people’s personal favorites, I find it even more compelling to hear about how people deal with things like language barriers or mishaps. I love hearing about people stumbling upon hole-in-the-wall cafes or having unexpected adventures, or discovering local street art.
A lot of these types of stories and conversations often come up during my Twitter chat, so I thought, “How can I translate the Twitter chat questions into in-person conversation starters?”
The concept of a conversation starter isn’t new. Companies have used conversation starters in their HR process to get to know candidates, and people have used conversation starters during events or orientations. But, I wanted to add a fun and engaging twist to travel-related conversations.
After thinking about it more, it was time to get “down to business” and start brainstorming design concepts. My boyfriend has advanced Photoshop skills (and is an entrepreneur of several product-based endeavors), so I asked him for help with the initial design of the cards. Additionally, I hired three graphic designers on Fiverr to see what they could brew up for the design. In the end, the final card design is a mix of my boyfriend’s design, elements of designs from the Fiverr designers, and feedback from family about an added visual element: a photo. Each card features two conversation starter questions on one side, and a community-featured photo on the other. I love that I’m able to highlight my traveler community’s photos as part of the game, because this game is very much a communal effort.
How to use conversation starter cards
While there is nothing “wrong” with talking about the weather, that’s not exactly exciting.
We carry around flash cards when studying Spanish or French verbs, but for some reason, it’s considered unusual to carry around a conversation starter card. And, when we have conversation starters on hand, how do we introduce them to people in a way that invites the conversation, and isn’t awkward?
It’s not that you’re bad at having conversations. But, a conversation starter can be a fun and useful guide to getting people to share stories that you may not have heard otherwise.
It’s easier than you think!
Here’s a real conversation brought to you by the Travel Banter question, “Would you try a local delicacy, even if you found something about it objectionable?”:
“And, yeah, I ate a jellyfish!”
“….what did you do that for?”
“I know! Crazy, right?! Part of it was revenge for that time I got stung by a jellyfish.”
“But, really, jellyfish tastes like nothing. It’s like nothing. Which makes sense, I guess!”
“But, we were also on a trip with my students and I was trying to impress them by eating this weird thing.”
(Overheard at the Travel Banter Kickstarter launch party on Wednesday, October 17).
And, there you have it! A conversation created by Travel Banter. A story told that you may not have otherwise heard at all.
Wouldn’t it be great to have questions to ask to create a better conversation?
Travel Banter wants to make stimulating conversations happen. Travel Banter gives you a fun and easy way to bring you closer together, and share memorable moments.
Get to know your friends and family better, and also learn about strangers on the road. The next time you’re at a family gathering or party, pull out a Travel Banter card and ask a meaningful question. You’ll be pleasantly surprised about the things you can learn.
By guest blogger Nicolette Orlemans. Nicolette is the founder of #CultureTrav and CultureTrav.co. Travel Banter is the byproduct of the conversations shared on the #CultureTrav Twitter chat. Follow her on Twitter.