36 sites, various languages and different currencies: this is how we secured NMBS’s leading position with Sitecore

Jun 12, 2023
  • sales, marketing and service
  • Sitecore

One of our oldest Sitecore users is NMBS, the National Railway Company of Belgium. The company offers one interface for most of the European train tickets available in the best prices thanks to their continuously growing partner list with other booking systems.

In the beginning of our partnership, we have implemented the well-known digital experience platform’s latest version at that time, Sitecore 6, and at the moment, we are working on our fifth redesign. NMBS has 36 sites which are all managed by Sitecore, enabling them to manage every content on one platform. 

Tapping the potential of Sitecore

Throughout the years working with NMBS, the biggest challenge was making it possible for such an enormous company dealing with different languages and currencies on a daily basis to use a content management system efficiently. To help the company’s content editors, we thus have improved NMBS’s REST API which enables them to manage all changes in one central interface. This way, all channels are immediately updated when in need for a modification, saving a significant amount of time and effort for the team. Our goal as developers was making the company’s life easier by giving them more options to change. Until now, we have successfully managed to create a true omnichannel experience given that both B2B and B2C customers are able to buy their tickets on mobile phones and desktops as well. 

The content management team of NMBS are now able to create contact forms for themselves by Sitecore Forms. What is more, if a new partner of NMBS does not have the resources to develop their own site, they can buy the one we have developed for the company and personalize it according to their brand. This way, we have created an opportunity for NMBS to make money on our partnership. 

The Sitecore logic made it possible to reuse many item over many websites and save time in achieving the same successes.
Anthony Cauwelier, NMBS

Adapting to the changing working environment

During the past five years, a lot has changed in the working environment which we have had to adapt to quickly. The biggest switch was made because of COVID-19: during the pandemic, lots of trains have been cancelled which put an enormous pressure on the Customer Centre. To avoid the manual refunds, we have developed an automated refund process which made it possible for customers to start the process for themselves. 

Additionally, in line with the constant technological development, more and improved bots have appeared on the market which resulted in additional costs for the booking management. To avoid these costs, we have created a unique anti-scraper implementation which is more sophisticated than the regular re-captcha solution. This way, we were able to cut the costs and to dispose of bot activity. 

The unfinished bookings have also resulted in growing costs which created the need for some booking flow changes. We have added a new passenger data step which made it possible not to lose money on unfinished bookings. 

The market & world has changed over the many years I've been working with delaware. Their adapted skills, over-all support and high-level consultancy was a great reassurance for our business.
Anthony Cauwelier, NMBS

Improving user experience to the next level

Since the beginning, NMBS has set the goal of improving the travel experience of their customers. In order to do so, we have developed multiple features and have rewritten the booking system to a new backend with additional functionality.  

We have implemented the MyTrain application which significantly decreased the workload of the Customer Centre by automating multiple processes. Customers are now able to login with their social accounts, to set their favourite travellers, to store their booking data and e-tickets and to exchange these tickets. Also, we have introduced a lowest price calendar which shows flexible travellers the days when tickets can be bought for the cheapest price. 

Staying relevant by creating new products and carriers

To maintain competitive advantage and remain the ’heart of the European high-speed rail network’, one must continuously detect the new demands of customers and introduce new products and carriers to answer these. In the case of NMBS, we have successfully managed both throughout the years. 

We have implemented multiple new passes for the company, such as the Euregioticket, the Interrail and the Eurail tickets which provided them with a wider range of customers and a source of income. 

Also, we participated in accomplishing new partnerships with new carriers. Thalys, the French-Belgian high-speed train operator and Trenitalia, the Italian train operator are two carriers whose inventory system we connected directly to NMBS, offering the lowest train fares for travellers and thus, establishing the leading position of our partner on the market.  

After five years of working together and implementing various .Net and Sitecore upgrades, we can safely say that this partnership of delaware Hungary and NMBS is a flourishing cooperation of its kind. We both have many more ideas on how to improve the booking experience of the customers while maximizing the opportunities that Sitecore creates for us. In the next few years, we are ready to face the upcoming challenges together and are aiming to reach even higher.

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