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STUDY: Neilson optimises website performance

STUDY: Neilson optimises website performance
Tuesday April 8 2014

Brighton-based tour operator uses web experience monitoring software to ensure its customers get the best out of recent enhancements

From its base in Brighton Marina, Neilson delivers luxury ski, sailing and beach club vacations. The website receives over 260,000 visits and 1.5 million page views per month.
When a customer searches for a holiday with different flights, meals, and accommodation, etc., the website accesses a host of external databases and all these connections need monitoring. 

In addition, a common problem for many travel websites is one of price discrepancy – where the initial search delivers one price but the final quote delivers another often higher price.
In mid-2013, Richard Scales, Neilson website manager, was aware of a number of issues. To coincide with the installation of a new reservation and booking system, he decided to research the market for a new monitoring provider, one with more intelligent testing and the ability to detect and replicate the issues his customers were experiencing. 
Scales explained: “Our team is very busy. So, in the past, issues would often come to our attention after being reported by the users. We reviewed a number of suppliers against our well known existing one and SciVisum compared extremely well, with a definite edge in journey realism, which is relevant to us on our dynamic site. 

"And the total package was competitive on price. Also, we really like the SciVisum portal – the ability to capture screenshots and replay the steps a customer takes through the website is really helpful.” 

Monitoring customers’ journeys

SciVisum began monitoring Neilson’s website in October 2013 with user journeys running across the main website, the ski section, the beach club and sailing holidays.
“If there’s an issue with the new reservation and booking system, we can now give detailed information to our provider so that they can investigate,” Scales said. “With SciVisum’s Replayer screenshots we can see what our customer saw at the exact time an issue occurred. Without this, we would have to recreate the situation which would be very time consuming.”
In terms of price discrepancy, SciVisum will alert Neilson if the price difference between the initial and the final quote is beyond a certain threshold. Neilson is able, over time, to tune how often its local search databases are updated with the latest live figures, so that the number of discrepancies can be reduced. This feature of the SciVisum service enables ongoing optimisation of the site based on real evidence.
In addition, a few weeks back, SciVisum detected an issue that was quickly resolved. It found that Neilson’s main accommodation pages had a number of missing images, which could have resulted in frustrated customers and lost business.
“Most recently, we undertook some optimisation on the website with the aim of making it faster to navigate,” Scales added. “SciVisum flagged up that customers were experiencing delays when moving from the search function to the booking engine. We were then able to focus our attention on this area and improve the speeds – interestingly they were being impaired in the handover between the two systems that were managed by different suppliers and teams.”
Better technology tool and service 

Richard concludes, “Compared to our previous monitoring supplier, our team can relax knowing that we're now getting a much better insight into our users' experience and won’t be caught on the hop. With SciVisum, we now have a better tool and a better service.
“I particularly like the way that SciVisum is proactive at flagging up any issues,” he continues. “I don’t have a lot of time, so it’s really nice to have SciVisum acting almost like an intelligent member of my team. We now detect any issues before they impact the customer and can provide our external providers with the detailed information they need to make any changes or corrections quickly; and with minimum lost time in explaining details to them.
“Lastly and most importantly, SciVisum’s managed service has really raised the bar – their proactive approach and willingness to help resolve issues is something I just didn't get from our previous provider.”

Tagged as: Neilson | travel | online | web | digital | e-commerce | search | reservations | bookings | pricing | images | monitoring | analytics | portal | SciVisum