UX & Web Design
Monarch Airlines Travel Portal Phase 1 Goes Live
Thu 24 Sep 2009
We started working with the Monarch Group in June 2007. We were originally tasked with designing and developing a new Cosmos Holidays website. This wasn't just a web development project, it was an exercise in transforming Cosmos from a brochure and travel agent focused enterprise into a direct online holiday business. We worked primarily with Cosmos’s marketing, commercial and IT teams to completely rebuild the website, content management system and booking processes.
The project was a huge success and soon we found ourselves doing the same for somewhere2stay, the group’s accommodation only website. We also worked with Cosmos’s IT team and OpenJaw, a third party, in developing a dynamic packaging solution, which gave the user the ability to pick and mix different flights from different operators and hotels from a different bed banks as well as somewhere2stay accommodation stock.
In May 2008, the group came up with a new strategy to develop a full travel portal under the Monarch Brand. The first stage of this was simply to ‘reskin’ the Cosmos and somewhere2stay brands in Monarch colours, positioning them as Monarch Holidays and Monarch Hotels.
The next stage was to develop a brand new site, taking the best elements from the 3 separate Monarch sites and combining them into one Monarch Travel Portal. This was planned to be a two phased build, the first of which would focus on all the content elements of the portal (flight information, holiday destination guides, product research, supporting essential information and frequently asked questions).
Working alongside Monarch’s IT and commercial teams, after a 6 month period we’re happy to announce phase 1 is complete and live - www.monarch.co.uk
We were effectively developing the website from scratch. The site is built to ensure that it is fully search engine optimized and as such there is research content across the website that is specific to flights, holidays and hotels across all destinations and resorts. The user can drill down the research paths to Hotels in, for example, Alcudia, Majorca and will be presented with flight, accommodation holiday prices allowing for an easy cross sell.
A key goal for the new site was eliminate many of the previous manual processes. All prices and promotions now automatically update with inventory fluctuations, greatly reducing the IT and commercial team’s maintenance time and associated costs. The site also now features lots of useful content to aid the user’s buying decision. It’s full of interactive maps, weather charts, engaging video, beautiful photography, user reviews, and content around sights and activities for all the destinations.
We’ve completely simplified the site structure, allowing users to select flights, holidays, hotels and car hire from the main navigation, with more specific product on the secondary level (for example, villa holidays, safaris, tours and cruises).
A huge database of frequently asked questions and answers has been added and categorized, making it very easy for the user to find a whole host of information about their flight or holiday, from insurance policies to vaccinations needed. This is also available in Spanish and Portuguese languages.
The search panel has also been greatly improved. It’s now a fully dynamic search panel allowing the user to select the type of main product (flights, holidays, hotels) and once selected the search panel automatically reconfigures itself to display the relevant search fields.
The look and feel of the website completely dovetails with Monarch’s advertising campaigns bringing the below-the-line activity together with the above-the-line. Another box ticked.
The next stage is to re-design the booking paths for holidays and hotels. We’re hoping to have these completed before spring 2010.