South African Tourism has a large variety of stakeholders to service, all the way from potential travellers(both domestic and abroad), the local travel industry to 12 country offices around the world. With a growing digital dependency, especially in the travel industry, it has become increasingly difficult to meet the needs of all these stakeholders.
This resulted in over 70 platforms delivering an inconsistent brand experience with skyrocketing maintenance costs. It was clear that this model was no longer sustainable. Our challenge, and in the end success, was to consolidate this disconnected ecosystem into a single entry point - providing a unified brand experience.
The Renovation project is central to building a strong brand identity across all markets within the South African Tourism ecosystem. It achieves unity through a consistent user experience and interface design language. No matter where you’re from, what language you speak or how you engage with South African Tourism, the same familiar face will be there to inspire and assist you with all your requirements.
The travel category is extremely competitive online and it would be prudent for us to identify the specific niche we would ultimately occupy on our platforms, to avoid duplicating the models offered by the likes of Google, TripAdvisor or Expedia.
Our extensive research identified that South African Tourism online properties will be most effective in playing a role to inspire and excite potential travellers. In order to do so, our approach is to capture the visitor’s attention by leading with emotional connections, followed by rational information and underpinned by social proofing to guide the traveller to a decision.
We gathered research from user surveys, card sorting and comprehensive audits to assist us with identifying the platform architecture and structure. Our design system created a modular, timeless and approachable framework that portrays the content as the hero. We included subtle travel-themed design cues within various components that reflect boarding passes and airport signage. Not to mention adding a local South African flavour through the use of custom Shweshwe patterns.
Our content card components helped us condense information into a digestible format, allowing users to easily pinpoint items of interest among an abundance of content. The platform was built off of the modular design system, making it easy to maintain a solid brand identity and experience. This has given the entire organisation the online agility it needed to succeed in this competitive marketplace.
The South African Tourism Renovation portal was essentially created as a platform to service and grow the experience between various products within the ecosystem. We established one content management system capable of delivering all content through a web service/API.
The backend was built using .NET MVC utilising flexible load balancing to ensure the environment can scale as the demand for content increases. The strategic intent for development of the new platform was to create reusable components. This allowed all stakeholders and country managers to create unique content experiences without any limitations.
By successfully constructing a unified brand experience through a single entry point for the 70+ platforms, the modular platform structure and user-friendly content management system gave power to content creators that reduced ongoing development maintenance costs.
Through the modular design system, we enabled content creators to tell more imaginative stories which in turn increased traffic per article.