How new websites saved money and sent visitor numbers soaring

A site by site make-over was called for that would increase traffic, allow easy content management and give a more corporate, standardised look.

The internet is a vital resource for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and its portfolio of websites attract millions of visits each year. As the voice of Britain’s passenger railway it markets a range of travel products to the public and supports a vast network of agents and, over time, each separate division developed its own web identity. A site by site make-over was called for that would increase traffic, allow easy content management and give a more corporate, standardised look.

Work started in 2005 and since then 10 ATOC sites have been developed and are maintained by Quiet Storm. Quiet Storm’s On-line team also regularly build the html for bespoke landing sites for special ticket offers and promotions. All sites are simple to navigate and include Quiet Storm’s ‘Easy Edit’ content management system. Crucially, all the sites are fully optimised and this has helped to fuel a dramatic increase in recorded visits by Google search engines..

ATOC’s Agency Communications & Training Manager, Paul Upton has been working with Quiet Storm for four years now and has responsibility for the Travel Agents’ website. He said: “I have been delighted by the results. The ability to manage the website content has been a huge bonus for ATOC as Quiet Storm’s on-line team has worked closely with us to ensure the sites meet customer needs and fit with the brand.”

www.atoctravelagents.org was the first ATOC website to undergo a complete redesign with Quiet Storm. Its mission is to support travel agents and supply them with information on licensing and fares. Paul Upton explains: “Our old site was prehistoric! It was literally one page with a couple of click through links. It wasn’t interactive or particularly informative. The rail industry is constantly changing so we needed the facility to allow us to make instant updates. Quiet Storm gave us an editing toolbar that is simple to use. We have also moved from a paper-based fares manual and directory to a much more efficient on-line version. This has resulted in huge efficiencies and cost savings for us and the agents. We are now taking the capabilities of the site a step further and are about to launch an on-line training course and exam for travel agents. Previously we held two-day classroom courses, mainly in the London area, which agents from all over the UK have had to attend in order to comply with licence conditions. This will no longer be necessary. On-line study guides have been uploaded and Quiet Storm has built a module for the on-line exam. Agents will know immediately if they have passed and will be able to download their certificate. As well as saving money this makes the qualification easily accessible to all.”

www.railcard.co.uk is the portal to four Railcard sites. The 16-25, Senior, Family & Friends and Disabled Persons Railcards collectively get around 4 million visits per year. A new site for the HM Forces Railcard was introduced in July 2008 that retains the new Railcard branding but is still distinguishable as a separate site.

www.trakkies.co.uk is a lively and colourful interactive site for children with information about trains, a history zone, quizzes and fun facts.

www.stationtravelplans.com follows the progress of pilot schemes across the UK where better use is being made of station car park space and alternative modes of travel to the station are being promoted.

www.atocrailwarrants.org explains how businesses and organisations can open a rail warrant account that will enable them to issue vouchers that can be exchanged for rail tickets.

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