EasyJet plans Web 2.0 travel engine to increase sales


EasyJet plans Web 2.0 travel engine to increase sales

John-Paul Kamath

EasyJet will redesign its website using Web 2.0 technologies to allow customers to plan complete holiday itineraries rather than just book flights within the next year.

Paul Curtis, head of application architecture at EasyJet, said the airline wanted to make easyjet.com a travel planning destination, rather than simple a flight booking engine, as this would lead to more sales.

"Only 40% of visitors to the site know when and where they are travelling. So if they find it difficult to find the ideal flight and hotel in combination, the remaining 60% will go elsewhere," he said.

The new web application is being developed for launch next year. It uses an Ajax software controller to let customers specify travel dates and uses Microsoft's Silverlight interface which shows a map which changes as the customer alters their travel preferences.

The new website will also use external applications such as Microsoft Virtual Earth to let customers explore their destination in detail and will accept feeds of data from other hotel and car hire websites such as TripAdvisor.com.

"The real value is in the external data we can consume and relay to our customers. We are looking to build an architecture where we hold less data locally and only access what we need over the internet on an on-demand basis, when our customers need it."

The company is currently using Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 to build the application, but plans to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 with Internet Information Server 7 for a full launch.

"One of the challenges we saw in building a new interface was that, for us to offer that rich user experience, we needed a platform to support the increase in traffic and one that can load bigger pages."

Curtis said that being able to configure the software modules that are loaded into an application when the web services start was a key feature in being able to fine-tune the website for optimal performance.

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