Boat International is renowned as the global elite in publishing for the super yacht and luxury marketplace. With the global Coronavirus lockdown in place and demand for a virtual event high, Byte9 were tasked with getting Boat International to market first, with the Global Virtual Boat Show.
The highest quality global luxury brands demand the highest quality presentation and with only a two-week turnaround from conception to event, time was also of the essence. The combined Boat International and Byte9 team needed to work fast and effectively.
In order to break the mould and with ‘webinar fatigue’ setting in around online events, the brief was for a highest quality, rich multi-media editorial driven showpiece. Immersive sponsor and exhibitor product and multimedia editorial content were to form the core of the Virtual Boat Show experience.
Utilising the pioneering flexibility of the Blaze Headless Content Management System (CMS), some engineering ingenuity and a large dollop of creative and editorial elbow grease, we pulled together with the digital, editorial and commercial team at Boat International, to deliver Boat International’s first global Virtual Boat Show.
The Byte9 Solution
The first task was to create cost effective, scalable web infrastructure. Super-Fast deployment to on-demand hosting infrastructure was achieved on Amazon Web Services (AWS) templates. This gives the Virtual Boat Show a low cost, high performance, scalable hosting infrastructure – paying only for what they use, with computing that scales instantly to meet traffic demand.
Blaze deployment infrastructure was implemented, creating a continuous and Immutable deployment system from GitHub. This is managed using CircleCI, AWS Code Pipeline and quality controlled using Jest, Cypress and Sonar Cloud. With this continuous deployment infrastructure in place functional changes, security updates and performance tweaks can be released, quality controlled and tested in a semi-automated way, with no downtime.
The AWS infrastructure and Blaze continuous integration and deployment setup is how Boat International maintain uptime, manage on-demand computing and retain quality ongoing during iterative changes to the Virtual Boat Show, over the three months that it will now run.
Blaze content ingestion tools were then used to elegantly populate the site with data from the incumbent CMS and the Super Yacht Directory. This made the initial deployment of content and product information as simple and fast as it could be. Blaze content import and ‘mapping’ processes allowed Boat international to absorb data from many sources, and to create rich media content types from that, which update dynamically.
Editorially, Blaze page-builder tools have transformed what Boat International writers can achieve – text layout. carousels, images, backgrounds, live data tables, parallax backgrounds, embedding of virtual reality and video media. Page-builder also facilitates templates for mobile responsive and adaptive content, from a single source. The ability to blend rich media editorial, with complete control over layout across devices has been transformative, enabling new editorial and sponsor opportunities. Control over all section page layouts using customisable component and card layouts, with embedded yacht search and directory data and advertising has allowed the non-technical team to build a sophisticated show, with limited web developer overhead on the ‘build’. Page-builder tools have enabled the rich editorial, media and yacht experience that has created the ROI for Boat International, exhibitors and sponsors.
We also undertook a review of webinar and broadcast tools which could be embedded and integrated. Big Marker was selected as the Blaze GraphQL API framework allows us to integrate easily and share user data between systems. Broadcast presentation, and delegate interaction tools can also be seamlessly embedded into Blaze Page-Builder templates. This approach created an immersive editorial content and event experience for Boat international, overcoming the ‘walled garden’ experience that plagues many virtual event systems.
Event Delegate analytics are collated at the web page component level, via the Blaze Google Tag Manager (GTM) tools and integration. This allows content and event data to be pushed to Google Data Studio, and to Event Tracking in Google Analytics. Rich user data is collected and reported on user engagement around Yachts and event data for enquiries. This validates the high value proposition for Boat International, their sponsors and exhibitors.
Google Ad Manager integration is also managed at the page component level, so the Boat international commercial team can create combinations of inventory and map that to content by type and category. Blaze page-builder allows fine grain control of advertising inventory within any page component or page template on-site, with ‘adaptive’ templates allowing this to be managed even at the device level, serving different advertising media to each device type.
With Images of yachts and interiors being of paramount importance and many high-quality images to manage, resize and optimise (sometimes hundreds, per boat) an innovative solution was required. Blaze Image Management is an AWS Lambda microservice that creates, optimises, caches and renders multiple images from a single high-resolution image, in real-time. This means that Boat International Blaze users only ever need to worry about a single image and future design changes are easy. A huge time & cost saving.
In order to manage messages and notifications between prospects and brokers The Blaze messaging and notifications micro-service was deployed. This uses AWS Pinpoint which supports the management of emails and push notifications, between site users, prospects and exhibitors and brokers. Where delivery and notifications are key, Pinpoint provides a robust and scalable service.
So that Boat international could manage the quality and performance of the Virtual Boat Show ongoing, the Blaze implementation is supported by Snyk, to manage code quality, Sentry to report on any emergent issues and Datadog to help collate resource usage data and manage the implementation. This helps the Boat International and Byte9 teams to maintain quality, performance and up-time.
The team at Boat and Byte9 produced a Virtual Boat Show product suitable for the international yachts and luxury market in a few short weeks. Because of the speed of implementation and the quality of the product the commercial opportunity was seized, as physical boat shows were cancelled or postponed. This enabled Boat International to expand into the virtual space and service the demand, capitalising on the sponsorship opportunity that still existed.
The Virtual Boat Show is characterised by the speed of deployment and the rich, immersive editorial experience that can be achieved by editorial, commercial and marketing teams, without web developer involvement. These are characteristics that define the new Blaze open-source, headless content management framework.
Because of this success the team are working hard to extend the product and create innovative new components for brokers and exhibitors to enhance the virtual Boat Show experience over a three-month period, the duration of which is sustained by the highest quality editorial driven event content, made possible by the Blaze platform.