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Neilson ensures optimum website performance at peak following re-platform

For specialist ski, beach and sail tour operator Neilson, an efficient, responsive website is key to converting browsers into buyers. And, while managing performance is a year-round priority, ensuring customers experience optimum performance during the high-traffic challenges of peak booking seasons is simply non-negotiable. Thanks to some collaborative planning with the testing and monitoring experts at thinkTRIBE, Neilson was able to deliver a hassle-free online experience throughout, even following a recent platform shift.

Neilson’s reputation for offering the very best in premium ski and snowboard holidays is second-to-none. The company’s website is a mine of information, advice and booking options for ski aficionados and it’s essential that the website provides the consistent customer experience that Neilson customers value so highly.

“Travel is a tricky online proposition. The volume of search and personalisation options is enormous, yet customers rightly expect a swift and efficient browsing and booking experience 24/7,” comments Richard Scales, Neilson’s Delivery Manager.


Peak performance following re-platform

With a new website and platform recently implemented, there was added pressure on the tech team to ensure the site would comfortably handle traffic ahead of their new year peak.

Going back to basics

thinkTRIBE have provided Neilson with synthetic monitoring services to ensure maximum journey availability and speed for a number of years, Neilson’s move to Drupal (v8) platform presented the need for load testing.

“Already having confidence in thinkTRIBE synthetic monitoring service and knowing we’d get the same realistic metrics for load testing, we felt they’d be a good fit, especially as they already understood our site and systems,” explains Richard.

With peak booking season just around the corner, it was essential that everyone had confidence in the site’s ability to handle the expected increase in traffic without adversely impacting the customer experience.

Neilson’s Delivery Manager, Richard Scales, knew that there was no room for error once the post-Christmas stampede was underway. Having a particularly complex site with a number of APIs for accessing the reservation engine and snow forecast data amongst others, meant an intelligent load testing solution was necessary, to identify any customer-impacting issues before the new site went live.

“When we took the decision to re-platform, we knew that we’d be introducing a new content management system that was architecturally very different from what we’d had previously and would therefore need to invest in a sophisticated level of load testing
before going live,” explains Richard.

“We particularly appreciated the proactive support thinkTRIBE were already delivering and knew this would be an important component of the load testing process.”

The Solution

Keeping it real

thinkTRIBE Load testing service is modelled on the most realistic traffic profile for each client, testing a mixture of journeys including drop-off ratios.

Every load test model is created using genuine visitor behaviour data and designed to measure speed, availability and consistency of journeys across the website at peak. thinkTRIBE journeys make intelligent choices from page content as real customers would essential for testing the complexity of Neilson’s site.

Richard was keen to initiate load testing during staging, thereby ensuring the reservations system would be reliable during high-traffic periods before going live. A two-stage process was developed, testing both prior to and after launch of the new site, with capacity tested to 25% above expected peak traffic.

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