Upgrading to the Cloud Fast Track
The Los Angeles–San Diego–San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency assumed management responsibility for the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service in July 2015, following the execution of an interagency transfer agreement with the state of California. The Pacific Surfliner travels along a 351-mile coastal rail route through San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, serving 27 stations. It is the busiest state-supported intercity passenger rail route in the United States with 26 daily trains and annual ridership of nearly 3 million.
“The Pacific Surfliner is a critical vehicle for connecting diverse and unique communities to iconic attractions and popular destinations across Southern California,” said Emilia Doerr, Marketing and Communications Manager at the LOSSAN Agency. “When we assumed management of the service, we knew we needed to make our website reflect that. We needed an experience-driven site that would help us compete with the prevalent car culture in California and ultimately inspire more people to travel by train.”
Built on the Ektron CMS, the existing Pacific Surfliner website was functional but not experience-driven. The Pacific Surfliner team elected not to transition to the Episerver platform and to instead move forward with its own rigorous technology assessment. Any platform they selected would need to help the agency grow online sales, improve customer service, as well as provide technological flexibility to grow with the constantly evolving world of digital marketing.
An Increase in Customer Engagement
Emilia cites Episerver’s strategic roadmap, behavioural targeting capabilities, scalability, and Cloud-first model as key considerations for their selection.
“Technically-speaking, the Episerver platform checked all of our boxes, but it was their excellent partner success program that made us confident in our decision to move forward,” Emilia mentions.
After a competitive procurement process, Nansen was selected as the LOSSAN Agency’s implementation partner, and as an Episerver Gold Partner the Nansen team is highly specialized in Episerver solutions. From day one, Nansen set out to create a website that presents a highly engaging and personally relevant experience.
While the website now delivers timely, accurate, and relevant information to users, including service alerts and announcements, its main purpose is to drive traffic through to Amtrak’s points of sale for ticketing. The site’s booking widget pulls data from Amtrak about stations, promotions, and schedules and displays that information to the user through an embedded application on the Pacific Surfliner site. Once a visitor makes a selection, they are directed to Amtrak’s website to complete their purchase.
The customer data captured in the booking widget enables the LOSSAN Agency to better understand their customers and how they’re interacting with the tool. The LOSSAN Agency can now create personalized content for passengers based on their website interactions. The redesigned PacificSurfliner.com enables the LOSSAN Agency to provide targeted and impactful website experiences based on actual customer insights and research.
Meaningful calls-to-action (CTAs) are dispersed throughout the Pacific Surfliner website at key points along the visitor journey, enabling customers to more easily find what they’re seeking. A scrolling, stylized route map inspires visitors to learn more about the many destinations served by the Pacific Surfliner, while the booking widget has been optimized to help make selecting preferred travel options more intuitive. Improvements have been made to the way promotional codes are managed and offered to the user, in some scenarios automatically adding them to specified passenger types for a more seamless booking experience.
- Amtrak’s ticketing API
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Tag Manager
Today, the site uses Episerver personalization to help returning customers navigate more easily. The user simply uses the map on the homepage to find a station or destination, when they revist the site. The site then automatically scrolls the map to the the stations they were looking at to enable them to continue their journey from where they left off with relevant content.
We spent over a year evaluating various content management vendors and partners who could help us balance user experience with the functional transit features our customers would need - and in the end, we came back to Episerver
Emilia DoerrMarketing & Communications Manager LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency