50% integration reuse
26% increase in trade
2 week new partner onboarding
Keeping up with digital demands
Big Bus is the world's largest owner-operator of hop-on hop-off open-top sightseeing tours with a global fleet of 400 buses in 19 cities, turning 5 million tourists into explorers every year. However, facing an ongoing decline in traditional “on-street” sales using paper vouchers and market demand for online sales options, Big Bus had to dramatically transform its sales strategy and the customer experience. Opportunities for new sales channels included web and mobile app access, as well as an extensive partner network, but the company did not have a unified integration strategy to support all these channels. Data was locked in monolithic legacy systems, and the company had to establish disparate, inefficient point-to-point connections with each new partner that was added to their ecosystem. This slowed and even prevented new partner onboarding. Big Bus needed a new technology to effectively and efficiently integrate internal sales systems with digital channels and partners.
Enabling multi-channel integration
Big Bus embraced a new digital strategy to:
- Use APIs to rapidly integrate with new partners, providing them with real-time access to the Big Bus booking system
- Re-use APIs to launch online and mobile sales channels as well as other new functionality
- Maintain a convenient, consistent experience for customers to purchase Big Bus tickets across multiple sales channels
Empowering partners with APIs
Big Bus deployed MuleSoft so the IT team could develop APIs to enable sales across various digital channels, connect with a global network of partners, and deliver a seamless customer experience.
The first API built with MuleSoft was a booking API that allows more than 1,000 partners across 27 countries – such as travel agents and online travel websites – to search Big Bus products, check availability, make and cancel reservations, and generate digital tickets.
“We can now reuse this API across our partner network,” explained Richard Smith, Senior Vice President of Technology at Big Bus. “A growing number of partners are leveraging our APIs, which means the work on our side is minimal and the engagement with the partners is quick and easy.”
Utilizing the APIs built in MuleSoft, it takes partners only two weeks to connect to the Big Bus booking system.
“We can even reuse the APIs across our own website as well,” Smith continued. “Using API-led connectivity, we're able to build functionality once, and then deliver it across all our digital channels in a much shorter time. We're gaining real value from that reuse.”
Rather than spending valuable time establishing point-to-point connections, the Big Bus IT team can focus on innovation, and improving the customer experience.
“MuleSoft is at the heart of everything that we're doing in terms of our digital strategy,” Smith added. “Our goal is to turn tourists into explorers, and the digital element is key to bringing this to life.”
Growing revenue through multiple channels
“MuleSoft has been beneficial to Big Bus as a business,” Smith said. “We're able to have more productive relationships with our partners, and provide better experiences for our customers.”
Big Bus IT operations is very lean. But this small team of eight people can deliver the results of a much larger team, by reusing APIs to rapidly develop new functionality and deliver it to market. The company has achieved 30-50% reuse for bespoke integrations.
“With MuleSoft, we are building reusable APIs that allow us to integrate with our partners faster and focus more on innovation to improve the customer experience.”
Senior Vice President of Technology
In addition, what started as an opportunity to connect with partners via APIs has produced assets that Big Bus can reuse across its own direct channels.
“Within two weeks using MuleSoft, we built an API for our own e-commerce platform,” Smith noted. “Now customers can buy through digital channels such as our website and app, or through one of our partners. Customers can buy in their own language and engage with our experience, research it, understand it and ultimately feel more comfortable.”
Maybe the greatest benefit customers gain from APIs: Big Bus now offers a convenient digital ticket with a barcode that can be printed at home or used on a mobile device.
“Our customer experience has improved significantly by the use of APIs,” Smith said. “When customers arrive in a city, they already have a digital ticket on their phone. They simply scan their ticket, hop aboard, and enjoy the experience.”
MuleSoft and APIs have paid off for Big Bus, generating a 26% increase in revenue every year. Big Bus attributes this impressive ROI to streamlined and strengthened partner relationships due to easy API integration, user-friendly digital ticketing, and API-enabled direct to system bookings.
“The Big Bus vision is to continue to drive the customer experience,” Smith concluded. “We want to give our customers information at their fingertips, so they can own the experience and enjoy their time in the city – all enabled by MuleSoft and our digital strategy.”