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Oz Experience: Australia

Oz Experience

  • Project Name: Oz Experience
  • URL: http://www.ozexperience.com/
  • Project highlights:
    • Website design and development
    • Booking Engine Development and real time integration into Respax API
    • Unique Google maps integration
    • Extensive web strategy
    • Internet marketing programme
    • Use of You Tube Chromeless API
    • Itinerary building software
    • Recommendations engine

In October 2006 began working with the team at Oz Experience looking at their whole strategy behind their website with a view to increasing sales. Over the next 6 months we devised a complete strategy and with approval of a really forward thinking Board of Directors. one of the main things to come out of that strategy was a realisation that the travellers that were looking at the Oz Experience website were more interested in Australia and the travelling experience than in the actual bus itself. The result is what we think is one of the coolest websites ever – not just in tourism but across a lot of the Web 2.0 world.

The strategy behind the development of this website was emphasise the destinations, activities and places to stay rather than just the bus pass. We broke every bus route down into the short hops the travellers liked to do (where they hopped on and off the bus) and mapped these onto a Google map. Making the Google maps actually move along as the bus route is traversed with next buttons was quite a challenge.

Within the Bootstrap content management system every product, activity, destination etc has it’s own page along with geo-code data, descriptions to appear in roll over boxes on maps and relationship tables to map accommodation and activities to a destination which is subsequently mapped to a bus route. Icons were designed to tie everything together.

With recognition that the customers were now basing their purchase decision on which bus passes they wished to buy (or even more to the point whether they chose Oz Experience over competitors) on the destinations they wanted to visit, we looked to bulk up the destination information. The first area is by adding random images taken as RSS feeds, from Creative Commons searches of the destination rather than using the standard marketing stuff. The second area and probably the coolest was to offer Oz Experience access to the Travel Generation destination guide data. Setup as a wiki, Oz Experience customers can read and edit destination information on the Oz Experience site without leaving that site but from a much larger pool of content being collected and moderated on Travel Generation. Travel Generation content now extends to over 125, 000 users per month with the Base website also drawing and adding to the content. The integration into these sites uses the media wiki API.

The backbone of the whole website is the travel planning software, known as My Oz Ex, in which a traveller traverses the website adding destinations, things to do, accommodation etc to an itinerary builder. From the bundle of products they select as wanting to do, a recommendation engine then suggests the best pass to buy that suits the customer’s itinerary. In this was the emphasise is on the experience of the trip instead of just the bus. The customer can then add their blog and photo albums to the itinerary and share with friends and family.

This is such a cool site that there really is too much to talk about here, but some of the other things are:

  • One of the first sites in the world to use the chromeless You Tube video API. You will see that the instructional videos throughout the site are not in your normal You Tube frame but have our own speech bubble border and controls. It is using the You Tube API to receive the video “chromeless”. It looks simple and really effective – but it’s really cool and we are one of the first sites in the world to do it.
  • Use of Sifr which uses flash to convert text headings to non-standard web fonts which maintaining the search engine readability of the headings. It means that the headings throughout the site look great but are still search engine friendly.
  • Use of a content footer throughout the site to assist the user with cross-navigation. At all stages, bus passes are recommended that match the page content as are things to do and previous page visits tracked.
  • The booking engine is linked real-time into the Response reservations system API.

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