Planning a vacation? Wondering which exotic locale to explore? Which airlines fly there? Which beachfront hotel serves the best margaritas? Today, travelers hunting this kind of information can rely less on the agents and guidebooks of old than on independent websites packed with customer reviews based on real, first-hand experiences.

holidaycheck logoTake HolidayCheck, for example—the largest travel portal in the German-speaking part of Europe. Beginning as a humble website built by two friends frustrated by what they saw as a lack of unbiased hotel ratings, the company was formally founded in 2004 and has been growing rapidly ever since. Key to its success is the fact that users, once they’re done researching, can make reservations without having to jump to another site.

“That’s the key differentiator between us and other travel portals,” says Maximilian Schöfmann, head of operations at HolidayCheck. “You visit our website, look at the reviews, look at the pictures, and then directly book.”

Today, HolidayCheck is available in 10 countries and languages. The German site alone receives 25 million visits each month from customers looking to browse millions of reviews and photos of 500,000 hotels worldwide. That kind of traffic is great for business, but brings with it certain challenges, too.

Keeping standards high

maximilian schofmann

Maximilian Schöfmann of HolidayCheck

HolidayCheck prides itself on delivering a great customer experience, keeping outages and performance to a minimum. With user numbers growing all the time, developer and operations teams were working extra hard to maintain those high standards. This was particularly true during seasonal traffic spikes in January, when new travel brochures are published, and in the summer, when European travelers book their last-minute jaunts.

These difficulties were exacerbated by the fact that HolidayCheck was running on a managed hosting environment. “That left a big, big wall between developers and operations,” says Schöfmann. Going forward, the company felt that it needed to improve collaboration between those two teams. It needed deeper visibility into the performance of each individual site—visibility that would help keep things running smoothly, especially during the seasonal spikes.

Moving towards a DevOps approach

These needs were addressed when HolidayCheck began using New Relic APM, New Relic Servers, New Relic Plugins, and New Relic Mobile. By providing a single interface and a common set of metrics for developer, operations, and quality assurance teams, the New Relic Platform enabled rapid resolution of production issues.

“Now people are talking about the same things, looking at the same graphs, talking about the same numbers in terms of requests per minute, error rates, and so on,” says Schöfmann. “This has really helped bring the DevOps approach forward.”

The benefits of using New Relic were immediate and significant. Troubleshooting is now proactive, not reactive, and has proven to be far more efficient than it used to be. “New Relic saves us time by enabling us to quickly drill down into the root cause of a performance issue,” says Robert Jacob, senior developer at HolidayCheck, “whether that’s in the native mobile application, the backend, or a third-party service.”

Schöfmann agrees, noting that New Relic has helped the company to reduce its mean time to resolution from half a day to a matter of minutes. “It gives us a visual early-warning system for performance,” he says.

Now, HolidayCheck believes that is better equipped than ever to give customers the experience they want—perhaps one they’ll remember almost as fondly as that idyllic vacation they booked through the site.

Watch the HolidayCheck video:

 

Read the full HolidayCheck case study.

 

Beach image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

B.J. Hinshaw is a freelance writer based in Northern California. View posts by .

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