January 31, 2016
Makeover Monday: Travel Agents Are a Relic of the Past and Hotels Could Be Next
The chart that we're reviewing this week for Makeover Monday is from Tech Chart of the Day. The title of the article "Travel Agents Are a Relic of the Past and Hotels Could Be Next" is quite catching, but the accompanying chart leaves a lot to be desired.
What can be improved?
- The title is boring and doesn't capture my attention.
- I'm not exactly sure which axis goes with which colour because neither axis is labeled.
- The colours of the lines are too similar for me.
- For some reason, my eyes want to match the darker blue line with online hotel revenue and the lighter blue line with # of travel agents, but they're actually the opposite.
- A dual-axis chart is often used to show a correlation, but is the correlation explained by this chart.
Ultimately, if I have to work this hard to understand such a simple chart, then it must not be done well.
This week, I'm going to walk you through my step-by-step makeover, ending with my final version. Each step along the way addresses one or more of the problems mentioned above. Let's get started.
A combination chart like this makes our eyes separate the two metrics while still allowing us to see the patterns of both at the same time. For example, it's easy to see that online hotel revenue is steadily increasing and the number of travel agents is decreasing.
However, the story here is the growth of revenue for online hotel services like Airbnb, VRBO, Flipkey, and HomeAway compared to the decline of travel agents. So, with that in consideration, I wanted to see how the respective growth (or decline) rates since 2000.
In this view, notice how I've significantly changed the title to meet the objectives of the story and how I've changed the axis titles. This view clearly shows the significant increase in online hotel revenue since 2000 and the fairly significant decrease in travel agents. Yet I still don't love it.
I'm thinking a connected scatterplot might do the trick. As Ben Jones said:
The connected scatterplot imparts a sense of travelling a pathway through a terrain that has twists and turns, loops and sudden rises and falls that encode how the two different variables changed together.That's exactly what I'm looking for; a method for showing how the two variables move together. So taking the % change since 2000 from above and converting it into a connected scatterplot, I get this:
I really like how this shows how the decrease in travel agents and the increase in online hotel revenue shifts together. I also added annotations to drive the point home even farther. Yet I still feel like this isn't quite done. I like the annotations, but not the axis scales. While the % change gives me nice context, I feel like I'm losing the overall magnitude of the changes.
Lastly, I removed the % change over time from each axis and went back to the raw values. I then made the line dashed because I feel like the dashed lines show the trails through time better.
In particular, I like how the design of this connected scatterplot starts at the upper left and moves down and to the right. I used Cole Nussbaumer's "where are your eyes drawn" test by turning my head away then back and seeing where my eyes go first. They went directly to the upper left dot for the year 2000, just like I had hoped.
You can download this workbook from my Tableau Public profile here.