How to prepare your travel platform for peak traffic …keep it real

Date: 10th October 2017
Author: Louise Arnold

Happy holidays!

The kids are back at school, the TV schedules are packed with moody dramas and the only thing that stands between us and Christmas is the Halloween-and-bonfire-night double bill. That said, travel agents and specialist tour operators are looking further ahead than most of us and are gearing up for their crucial post-Christmas booking peak.

Ensuring your customers enjoy a smooth, error-free browsing and booking experience is all down to effective planning and preparation but are your performance testing tools measuring realistic site behaviour? You can only base decisions on performance testing that’s intelligent enough to return accurate data and realistic metrics. Anything less and you could be making a big mistake.

Online holiday booking on mobile

Making it easier to book a holiday online

ABTA’s annual Holiday Habits Report showed that more than three-quarters of people surveyed booked a holiday online in 2016, with this figure rising to 82% among the 45-54-year-old age group. Interestingly, most holidaymakers (80%) said they preferred to book using a PC, possibly because they found the mobile booking experience to be more difficult (only 44% said it was easy).

In order to make it as intuitive as possible for the user, travel operators have to manage highly complex transactions that rely on multiple APIs and third-party components, working in concert. Not just once but every single time a potential customer interacts with the website on whatever platform they’re using.

According to research by Thomas Cook, online shoppers are likely to make multiple visits – a whopping average of 11 – before they commit to a booking. Which means that your website must deliver a satisfactory experience on each occasion (and across multiple devices) to avoid spooking your prospect before they hit the buy button.

Getting your website up to speed

The number one bugbear for customers is the sluggish page load. If your site isn’t responsive enough, your eager holidaymaker will simply abandon their journey and hotfoot it to a site that offers a better experience. Worst case, they may even equate online tardiness with real-world incompetence.

So, what can you do? It’s worth checking out our blog from this time last year which includes a list of handy tips on planning for success at peak times. But the single most effective thing you can do is to schedule ample time for realistic performance testing.

Performance testing – keep it real

Are your load testing tools measuring realistic site behaviour? You can only base decisions on performance testing that’s intelligent enough to return accurate data and realistic metrics. Anything less and you could be basing those decisions on misleading data and making a big mistake. Traditional load tests often rely on ‘snapshot’ metrics: calculating concurrent users, for instance. The problem with this kind of data is that it doesn’t take account of users’ actual on-site activity – whether they’re browsing, buying or have wandered off to put the kettle on.

SV-Load scripts intelligent journeys based on the real behaviour of visitors to your site. Our load test engineers replicate a traffic profile from your own analytics that reflects genuine user behaviour, incorporating multi-step journeys and drop-off ratios. It’s a uniquely realistic process that enables you to hone in on the genuine performance issues that impact your customers.

Not only will you be able to see the problems – such as potential bottlenecks – but you’ll also have the data you need to put them right.

Take a dynamic approach for intelligent data

SciVisum’s fully managed, cloud-based load testing service will take the strain on your behalf – with dynamic journeys making decisions on the fly like real users. We recommend you plan to test at least two months ahead of time so you’ll have the opportunity to fix any outstanding issues. When your deal codes are locked in, test key journeys again ahead of your anticipated peak to make sure all is running smoothly in a live environment.

And, when your performance testing is complete, consider SciVisum’s real browser monitoring to bring you closer to the end user’s real experience in the run up to, and during, peak, especially for mobile where page-load times are so critical.

Read our case study to discover how SciVisum helped travel specialist Neilson to polish their peak performance following a re-platforming exercise.

Discover how SciVisum helped travel specialist Neilson prepare for peak

What next?

If you’d like to learn how SciVisum could help your business plan a successful re-platforming project and/or prepare for success during peak, contact us to request a demo.

If you’d prefer to read a little more before you get in touch visit our load testing service pages or download our SV-Load service datasheet and browse our previous travel-related blogs for extra inspiration.

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