London Gatwick, one of the world’s busiest aiports, has been flying passengers around the world since 1933. Operating the world’s most efficient single runway, London Gatwick is home to a mix of airline operators from scheduled to low-cost and charter airlines. Fifty-three airlines currently operate regularly from the airport including easyJet, British Airways, Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Thomas Cook, Thomson, Turkish Airlines and WestJet. In 2016 London Gatwick handled 43.1 million passengers flying to 228 destinations in 74 countries.
The Voyage Team has been working with London Gatwick since 2010, across a variety of projects, all of which have focused on creating more seamless, informed and intuitive travel experiences for passengers.
Our initiatives have spanned multiple projects throughout the years, for both the physical airport and the online presence of London Gatwick. Airport projects have included the deployment of the first Dynamic Flight Information Display Service (FIDS) system that Gatwick used in order to accommodate the Airbus A380, the Real Time Coach Information (RTCI) service, which displays real time data from coach operator feeds on dedicated screens at the airport coach terminal, and the Onward Travel Information Screens (OTIS) that provide newly arrived travellers with information about the status of London Gatwick transport links (road, rail or bus) so that they may plan their journeys to their onward destination.
Work on the online side has been equally pressing though, as London Gatwick recognises that a traveller’s journey begins before they reach the airport. To this end, The Voyage Team have been powering the websites for both gatwickairport.com and the myGatwick loyalty scheme.
Over the years, various upgrades in service and functionality have been needed to keep the website current and functioning. From scaling using always active nodes and load balancing to meet high demands of traffic (which averages in the low hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per day, spiking to over half a million when busy), to an infrastructure service and 24/7 Service Desk to provide support, to the integration of the myGatwick loyalty scheme, we have provided strategic guidance and helped develop and deploy the major features on the London Gatwick website.
The Voyage Team’s work with London Gatwick began in 2010 with the introduction of a brand-new website based on EPiServer and an ASP.NET content management system (CMS), with development and application support undertaken by a third party. Seeing an opportunity to remove further pain points, Piksel approached Gatwick with an offer to take on development and application support duties.
This work was undertaken in concert with London Gatwick and the third party following the drawing up of the transition project plan. Following this, our technical architects and application support team performed their audits to assess third party code and documentation, server utilisation, hardware performance, capacity interface points and support models. These audits allowed key issues to be addressed before a rapid implementation schedule was undertaken to transition, completed in 30 days.
Since that initial transition, which largely focused on improving stability and scalability, recent key projects have ranged from backend improvements to front end development.
A key part of site functionality was the flight arrivals pages – the most important part of the website. The focal point here was in improving its performance and functionality, ensuring it could handle the huge loads it was sometimes under, as well adding new features like the ability to email flight alerts. In addition, we delivered visual and user experience enhancements, which have improved usability.
However, we provide more to London Gatwick than just iterative improvements on existing functionality, including recently introducing the ability to reserve products from home and collect them from the airport when the passenger flies. This has required key collaboration between the third-party retailers based at the airport, London Gatwick and The Voyage Team, with the project being deployed Q3 2017, initially in partnership with Dixons and their Reserve and Collect program. This delivered key functionality that has made the travel experience smoother for passengers, and gives Gatwick an additional edge on its website.
Over the last several years the partnership between The Voyage Team and London Gatwick has gone from strength to strength. In addition to ongoing support and maintenance of the website, we have continued to assume new responsibilities in an order to improve the functionality, scalability and stability of the site.
In addition to this program of incremental enhancements and changes to existing functionality (including to previously third party managed areas of the site), we have also delivered new functionality to the site, like Reserve from Home. That improves the richness and usability of the website and the in-airport experiences for passengers as well.
We also continue to provide optimum availability critically during key events such as ash cloud I & II, snow closures, strikes and emergency landings. Although the specification for the environment was 99.95% availability, over the last 18 months we have ensured that it has averaged 99.997%.