An increase in clients called for a scalable content solution
Support for websites, mobile apps and ticketing kiosks demanded multi-platform delivery capabilities
Diverse client tech stacks and language preferences necessitated easy integrations
Cloud-native storage and configurations for roles and permissions high volumes of content and a wise user base
A headless content solution enables delivery to any channel and device
API-first integrations and language-agnostic framework support compatibility with any setup
“To reap headless technology’s full benefits, you need to develop a content strategy and follow it. The trade-off is that it might reduce your ability to be creative because a strategy means you have rules and rules mean you can’t always do as you like.”
“Our user roles are as complex as our content models. We configured some 50 lines of permissions so that all clients can live in one space — which becomes complex. The concept behind this is creating a huge store where all the touristic services can be purchased.”
“The headless approach optimizes content management by making it so you only have to do things once. The disadvantage is the generic backend. You won’t immediately see how the end product looks, but there are solutions to this like connecting preview apps."
Skiing down a snow-packed slope, warming up with a post-run drink (hello, apres-ski!), recharging at the spa and refueling at a local eatery — these are the things that define the quintessential European alpine adventure. While adrenaline-spiking, serotonin-boosting and deeply enjoyable, trips such as these require extensive planning, which is often riddled with frustration and stress. After deciding on a winter sports getaway, vacationers-to-be are sent on a tourism black diamond slope, so to speak. They jump from site to site, regurgitating personal and billing information to secure accommodations, transportation, ski passes, lessons and that massage they’ll need to address the tension pent up throughout the process.
Swiss tourism information and technology company Alturos Destinations launched Destination OS to support better tourist experiences. Envisioned by Gilberto Loacker, founder and chairman of the board, the operating system serves to unify the traditionally digitally-fractured industry by streamlining sales and customer management processes, enabling users to create one-stop tourism shops. With planning, payment and reservations occurring and recorded in one location, customers can avoid traversing multiple digital spaces, swapping stress for serenity.
A one-stop tourism shop demands six modules — and a universal content hub
While a one-stop-shop sounds straightforward, actually creating an operating system that pulls all the capabilities and technologies required is anything but. Alturos Destinations invested much time and effort into Destination OS — 1,000+ development hours spread across three years, to be exact. But this time and effort were well worth it as the company’s solution and individual modules are changing digital tourism for 350 destinations. While many clients are concentrated in the Swiss Alps, Alturos Destination supports tourism in 6 countries.
The full operating system consists of six modules: SKILINE for digital entertainment, PEAKSOLUTION for digital commerce, EMMA for digital communication, JAMES as a digital assistant, MYSERVICES as a destination manager and HELP as digital helpdesk. Despite serving different functions, each module relies heavily on content. Content must be consistent and served reliably at speed to multiple devices, including mobile apps and ticketing stations that traveling tourists largely rely on. As they connected the system, these needs plus a growing list of interested clients helped developers conclude that a dedicated content solution was in order to unify it all.
Headless, API-first technology maxes out scaling and flexibility
Aside from the obvious need for something headless to support omnichannel delivery, the chosen technology has to play well with other technology for two reasons. First, the tourism industry largely relies on third-party informational tools to display dynamic content, such as real-time weather and maps. Second, the system would be attractive to a wider client base if it were compatible with an array of tech stacks, languages and technologies. Headless API-first content platform Contentful fit Alturos Destinations’ needs and became the chosen single, scalable source of truth for Destination OS.
Contentful’s scaling capability and cloud storage provided immediate value to the first customers that benefited from the hub. “Some of our clients have more than 280,000 entries in their content hubs,” Lisa detailed. With the App Framework, Alturos Destinations’ developers had no problem adding microservices to the operating system. In instances where they found a gap in capabilities, the framework allowed them to quickly spin up a solution.
Rich multimedia content models tell stories and drive sales
In addition to storing content within Contentful, Destination OS relies on the platform’s content models to give clients complete control over app layout and menus. While the Destination OS content model is straightforward, starting with a homepage and chain of pages beneath that, the deep entries available within each model are unique and strategic. “Vacations are deeply connected to emotions, so we take a storytelling approach that kindles a desire to travel, explore, adventure,” said Lisa Steurer, Online Marketing and Content Strategist for Alturos. “The goal is to convince site visitors to vacation at customer destinations. To achieve this, we balance classic content elements — hero images, text, grids, quotes, galleries, links and different layout options — with unique features that allow site visitors to save and favorite what they enjoy. A lot of what we serve shop visitors is dynamically displayed and based on different parameters — it’s personalized really.”
To make this possible, Alturos Destinations has built out 136 different content models. By mixing and matching these models, Alturos Destinations’ clients can tell a story that is uniquely their own. Because the amount of content needed for a product listing — say an afternoon alpine hike — will be more robust (think weather widgets, a route map, guide bios, etc.) than that of a generic landing page, Alturos Destinations always makes sure to offer more content entries than they think a client will need. Contentful’s tags feature plays an important role in organizing all that content on both the back and front ends. By tagging details like dates, interests, regions and more, customers can get closer to finding a trip or experience they’re interested in booking and internal team members have an easier time updating content — big wins for sales and team productivity.
Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Alturos Destinations made their content model library universal. Features and functionalities built for one client can be used by any other Alturos Destinations client.
Governance balances brand consistency and creative freedom
While tourism sites and services seek to distinguish themselves from competitors by continuously serving up fresh content, Alturos Destinations understands how important presenting a unified brand identity is for building trust and customer loyalty. “We supply clients with many different content widgets so they can be creative in how they curate a page or story. They are restricted when it comes to a product itself, but that offers benefits. They can be creative in layout and content but not certain elements, like color, which play into brand guidelines and exist for a reason. It’s beneficial for the end-user to distinguish a brand easily and know they’ve found what they’re looking for,” noted Lisa on the subject of creating cohesive digital experiences.
Aside from setting up layout and design restrictions within content types and entries, Alturos Destinations’ developers give a great deal of attention to governance, customizing granular roles and permissions — and for good reason. Many of their clients build white label shops, which require multiple companies to operate within one space or content hub. Contentful’s governance capabilities help ensure only the right users have access to any given piece of content.
Christian Mairitsch, Alturos Destinations’ head of marketing technology, provided an overview of the operating system’s governance setup. “Each team has its own tag and, with the user roles and permissions we set up, we can dictate which individuals see which tags. We provide the governance essential for establishing workflows and building a strong content strategy. It's not just about putting content on a webpage or app. It's about doing it as a team — deciding who is responsible for what and how things are communicated.”
Planning for the next slope
With Destination OS gaining traction, Alturos Destinations plans to launch new shops weekly in the coming year. One goal Alturos has to help support this growth is to ramp up Contentful training for clients. While Gilberto, Lisa and Christian are seeing customers get comfortable in the platform quickly, composable architecture is a concept that takes time to become familiar with. By creating supplemental resources that build off the information offered in the Contentful Learning Center and help center, Alturos Destinations is confident customer understanding of the platform will move from good to great.