SleepandStay holiday rental agent is a niche holiday business focused on providing unique properties in Gironal near Barcelona. They use their website for direct booking as well as synchronising inventory, booking and pricing with OTAs such as AirBnB, Homeaway, Booking.com, and many more.
The original website was designed in 2002 by a US-based company using their off-the-shelf property database. The database and the website looked tired and were not performing well enough to enable the company to effectively compete in very tough trading conditions of post 2009 property crash.
The website failed on some fundamental and critical areas that are crucial in today’s Internet operations. “To our surprise, we were not allowed to install Google Analytic or any other tracking or analysis codes on the site as the company refused to give us FTP access! This was frustrating as we could not analyse, measure and react to the traffic patterns. We were driving with blindfolds on” remarked Karen Banham, the owner of Marbella Property Solutions.
Customers had commented that the site navigation was not easy and the engine had not kept up with the new browsers hence not rendering properly. The support and back office also was found to be wanting. This was frustrating given the limited changes the website owner could make to the site. So a new supplier was needed with a good understanding of the Estate Agent’s needs as well as the European support base that could provide real-time and personal attention.
Given the lack of historical data, the first challenge was to identify the keywords and other sources that generated traffic and leads. Getting this wrong would significantly reduce the traffic and output of the new website.
Cognisant Associates were chosen to provide consulting, re-branding and delivering a new website. “We chose Cognisant as we knew of their work with other Estate Agents, and they were highly recommended for their service and expertise.” said Karen.
The creative department started to work on our branding project in June 2011. “It became clear early on in the project that Cognisant work methodically. They were thoroughly engaged with our business. It was evident that this was not just a pre-sales pitch but the reality of how they work.” says Karen. New ideas, concepts and designs were presented and then narrowed down to the final version. “I had only given Cognisant an outline of ideas in my head. We wanted to portray the life-style of Marbella rather than just selling properties. The final design was so close to what I had envisaged that it was almost spooky!” commented Karen.
Meanwhile planning work commenced on the website project with the difficult task of finding traffic data without access to the server or Google Analytics. Without the benefit of traffic data, it was down to old fashioned desk research, data mining and a lot of manual search to identify SERP performance.
The new branding was finalised in the summer of 2011 with new logo, headed paper and business cards delivered at the end of July 2011. The new website went live in August 2011 which incorporated our new branding, new content, social media, and content management system. The content management system gives full control of the site content. The new property database with an easy-to-use management system allows users to add, delete, and edit details of the properties, providing a quick method of adding new listings or change existing ones.
In 2016 the design was change to meet the new requirements by Google for Responsive Websites. The website was redesigned in WordPress offering full Responisve Design.
The general feedback from visitors has been very positive. Both time-on-site and number-of-pages-viewed have increased, indicating high level of so-called “stickiness”. Leads started to flow through and have continued to increase averaging twice the monthly rates of the old website.
“What was to be a major change and upheaval was made painless by Cognisant. They have proven to be attentive, helpful and above all a valuable ally of our business.” commented Karen.
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