Red open-top buses are a familiar sight in Cape Town, and they are becoming increasingly popular in Johannesburg too.
The fleet belongs to City Sightseeing South Africa, and owner Claus Tworeck and general manager Christine Tworeck have been providing excellent, commentary-guided tours to inquisitive travellers for over a decade now.
The buses have become iconic, and it's not unusual to see streams of tourists pouring out of them at popular attractions such as the Table Mountain Cableway or Gold Reef City as they hop off to explore each stop.
So it was an honour for the Flow team to build a brand-new website for City Sightseeing, which makes purchasing tickets and finding useful info as efficient and enjoyable as possible for customers.
The technical development of the website was led by Flow programmers Darren Caboz, Reatile Tshikalange and Stephen Frank. They ensured the new site's framework conforms to Flow's standards, is able to handle multiple online sales, and is fully responsive. The latter is a first for City Sightseeing, and will enable customers to buy their bus tickets directly from their mobile phones. Not only that, but with geolocation technology, travellers will be able to locate their nearest bus stop in order to hop on and join a tour.
"The team did a great job with the user journey on the site," says Darren. "Being able to see Cape Town and Johannesburg on one of City Sightseeing's tours is a special experience, and the new website reflects this."
Designing a fully responsive website is always challenging, because it means that you have to arrive at one solution for many different screen sizes, and produce a website that looks just as good on a desktop as it does on a cellphone or tablet. Flow's Ryan Levenson rose to the challenge, using the latest design principles employed by the likes of Google and Facebook to create a user journey that is intuitive and simple, whatever your device.
"Mobile first forces you to make tough choices from the get-go, because of how simple it needs to be," says Ryan.
Lastly, the content team, comprised of Flow Cape Town's Stuart Buchanan and Flow Joburg's Carina van Wyk, ensured that the copy was up to date and easily digestible.
City Sightseeing South Africa has one website, but operates in two cities, and the site structure makes it easy for visitors to find the relevant tour info they need, and also to learn more about the company's broader offerings. A new page, called The Experience, walks people through some of the basic concepts of the City Sightseeing experience: the ability to hop on and off the bus; audio commentary in many languages; special discounts at various stops; and in Cape Town, the ability to try out four tours using the same one-day ticket.
"It was great working with Christine in putting together content for the Joburg site," says Carina. "She's not only passionate about the red bus, but also about Joburg and what it has to offer."
The project was managed in Cape Town, but required a lot of collaboration between Flow's Joburg and Cape Town offices.
"The dual destinations, coupled with the e-commerce element, provided its challenges, especially with the project teams being located in different offices around the country," says Leanne Pohlmann, Flow's project manager for the site launch. "The co-dependencies needed to be managed carefully to ensure a smooth transition to the new site."
Flow Communications CEO Tara Turkington congratulated the project team, adding that it is great to be working with such a prestigious client.
"We are proud to be associated with one of South Africa's leading tourism attractions, and are thrilled and excited at the prospect of helping them grow their digital presence and online ticketing solution. Our future is bright ... filled with many, many red buses," she says.
Mandi Jarman, City Sightseeing's sales and marketing manager, is very pleased with the site: "Please pass my compliments on to the team – the website looks great, and thank you for all the effort to get us to this point."
The website development is one part of a broader partnership with City Sightseeing. Flowstars Quathar Jacobs and Carina have also been overseeing the social media channels, compiling newsletters and providing general on-the-ground support since May. We look forward to further developments with the online shop in the coming months, and many more years of making sure that the wheels on the bus go round and round.