Case Study: Digital Experience and Mobile
SITUATION & BUSINESS CHALLENGE
An adventure travel microsite expanded the mission of its parent company by inviting adventurous travelers on activity-centered excursions on every continent in the world. The microsite highlights and markets these vacation packages, but as the parent company’s other web properties advanced into more modern design and functionality, the microsite remained a collection of XSLT and HTML pages with no backend services or integration.
Some of the backend systems that fueled operations underwent a recent transformation. Customer information was consolidated into a CRM and applications were digitalized so that customers could fill out forms online. However, the payment process was still executed through physical paperwork and the site wasn’t connected to the CRM or inventory management system, so when customers booked a vacation package, follow-up was needed to problem solve if trips were already full. In addition, the digital experience lagged behind other company web properties and modern web design trends, not having been updated for a number of years.
Divisional leadership decided to breathe new life into the digital experience with three main goals:
- Offer a modern digital experience to match the excitement of the actual trips using “sticky” content that makes customers want to spend more time on the site.
- Update site functionality to provide real-time trip availability and dynamic integrated bookings along with improved SEO and analytics to track conversions.
- Deliver this functionality with microservices.
Lacking internal resources with availability to tackle the scope of the project, the company sought a consulting partner to lead the effort. After reviewing proposals from several consulting organizations they had worked with before, they chose AIM Consulting for demonstrating the clearest understanding of their digital infrastructure, having the most robust front-end development capability, and positioning the team with the best opportunity for success.
AIM Consulting’s solutions delivery team blended with the client’s internal teams to create a beautiful, modern website integrated with backend systems. In the first phase of the project, the team implemented the foundational architecture and modernized the site design. Building the site responsively optimized the experience for desktop, tablet and mobile regardless of device or screen size.
Microservices enabled development efficiency and extensibility for future site growth. Other modern technologies utilized include AngularJS, JSON, Bootstrap, and a custom content management system. The goal of providing a website experience befitting the life-changing power of the vacation packages was achieved with immersive, arresting imagery and emphasis on editorial content.
After the initial launch of the new architecture and new design, the team implemented additional features in smaller subsequent phases, including:
- Updating the payment processing for PCI compliance
- Connecting the front-end to the existing CRM backend via microservices
- Adding options for finding and viewing departure dates
- Changing the site review platform
- Implementing real-time trip inventory data and a checkout summary
In addition, while the company had planned for a new, robust Search API across its web properties, it would not be complete until project’s end, so AIM bridged the gap by developing Search functionality using AngularJS to serve data up in smaller ways. The interim solution provided search results on all the travel packages while filtering out items that customers would not be interested in. In the final stages of the project, the new Search API developed by internal teams was implemented.
AIM Consulting transformed the microsite from a static, dated travel website into a beautifully immersive and modern digital experience that blends with the rest of the company’s brand, streamlines processes for greater efficiency, and catapults the company ahead of its travel site competitors.
Users can now see the availability of vacation packages in real-time, book a trip online, and have their payment information automatically and securely processed through the digital interface. Operational savings are substantial; because the booking process is automated, there are now enough sales and updates that the new system can be maintained with two FTE resources instead of three.
In addition, the client is the only company in the adventure travel industry that allows customers to review trips. This, along with mobile responsive design and an improvement to the SEO, has resulted in 50 percent growth in natural search rankings, which in turn increases search traffic to the site.
The cumulative effect is a tremendous increase in sales. In the short time since the website launch, the company has experienced days with more than a 60 percent sales increase. Two weeks post-launch, the business team processed more than 100 online bookings in a single day. Before the redesign, processing that many bookings would have taken an entire business day, but with the new site, verification of the bookings took less than two hours.