Voted as the “world’s coolest indoor waterparks,” Kalahari Resorts & Conventions are full-service vacation destinations including meeting & convention facilities that combine America’s largest indoor Waterparks with the magic of Africa. Located in Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, Sandusky, Ohio, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and Round Rock, Texas, Kalahari's innovative Waterparks, family entertainment centers, luxury spas, adventurous restaurants and convention centers deliver beyond expectations, all under one roof.
The latest Umbraco CMS was the answer.
After years of Kalahari and Emergent working together to continuously enhance their current Umbraco website, Kalahari decided it was time for a refresh. They approached their trusted Emergent team to help them build a site that met three key business goals: the site must provide a cohesive user experience across Kalahari’s growing number of resorts and programs, it must have a fresh new look that better reflects their updated brand, and above all, it must be reliable and scale to the major spikes in traffic that comes with being a top destination across the country.
With their web development partner firmly in place, the next big question was which Content Management System (CMS) fit their business goals best. With Emergent’s experience across numerous CMS’s, they turned to our team of experts to guide them in this decision. The team considered all CMS options, and eventually determined that the latest version of Umbraco fit their unique needs best. Some of the Umbraco features that appealed to Kalahari included: a better multi-lingual editing experience, the introduction of a new block editor, and the re-platform to .net core/5+ (Microsoft’s latest development framework), allowing Kalahari to future-proof their system and provide better performance on the site. With these powerful new features, coupled with its open-source (free) price tag, Umbraco was a clear winner.
To give the website a fresh new look, Emergent Software enlisted the help of LN Design Co., a long-time design partner of Emergent based in the Twin Cities. Starting with a full review of new and available assets in Kalahari's portfolio, followed by in-depth competitive research, and a color study, LN Design was able to provide a bright, fun design with a lot of movement, generating excitement for guests looking to plan their next family vacation.
Building a cohesive user experience.
The Kalahari website serves as a centralized digital hub connecting the variety of services, amenities and experiences they offer their guests. What was once at times a disjointed and confusing experience for users as they were brought to various vendor sites to book a variety of activities for their stay, has become a unified experience, incorporating everything Kalahari Resorts has to offer in a single, streamlined user journey.
Of the many services to bring into the new unified user experience, the top priority was their ecommerce cart functionality. Ultimately, Vendr was selected for its ability to be easily customized to meet Kalahari’s ecommerce needs. The solution integrated nicely into the site for a seamless experience for guests looking to add souvenirs, gifts and treats to enhance their stay.
Website Reliability, a top priority.
Kalahari's old website struggled to handle surges of traffic generated during their busy season or following one of their many successful marketing campaigns. To solve this challenge, Emergent Software hosts the new website on Microsoft Azure Cloud Services using location-based load balancing to isolate traffic surges to a single location, which will in turn scale dynamically to meet the resource need caused by the surge. Emergent load tested the site to prove out this strategy before going live and, to add a bit of insurance just in case, we implemented a fully-redundant instance of the website that kicks in if the primary instance ever becomes unavailable.
Down to the wire.
The proposed four-month timeline was ambitious for a website of this size. Then, Kalahari challenged us to try to beat their Spring Break booking rush, which meant the Emergent Software team had just over three months to complete development of the new website. That included transferring more than 600 pages of content - thousands of content nodes - from the old site into the new site’s templates.
Our team proved up to the challenge, and the result is a beautiful website that will allow Kalahari to meet their goal: striving for an interconnected user experience across the entirety of their digital footprint - Emergent Software is proud to partner with them to make that happen! Emergent Software continues to work with the Kalahari team to improve their guests’ online experience on an on-going basis. Watch for more exciting changes to come!