VELTRA Cuts Costs and Improves its Visual Experience with Cloudinary

Executive Summary

VELTRA, an online travel experience marketplace, has adopted Cloudinary’s advanced image optimization technology delivered as an Amazon CloudFront service from the AWS Cloud to enable maximum flexibility and greater efficiency to ongoing COVID-19 travel sector disruption. As a result, VELTRA—a play on the word TRAVEL—is now set up to deal with whatever the market demands from it in the next phase of post-pandemic leisure experiences.

The Challenge: How to Optimize Cost Expenditure When Web Traffic Drops

As a marketplace dedicated to tours and activities, attractive images of the travel destinations is a key factor for VELTRA as it translates directly to the users’ likelihood of signing up with its services. At the same time, when users search for tours and activities on the website, the pages need to be highly responsive so that users don’t leave the site.

“VELTRA is the go-to resource for more than 300,000 hopeful tourists and explorers,” explains its Vice President of Technology Service Planning and Technology, Naoyuki Matsuo. “Previous functionality for handling the vast amount of high-quality photos and videos provided by our subscribers and 4,000 partner tour operators had started to limit our agility. At the same time, a fixed-cost model for supporting this vital resource was beginning to limit our ability to flex to meet rapid market changes during the first pandemic months.”

In the past, VELTRA developed and used an in-house image optimization tool, but then switched to an image optimization tool offered as an additional service by their Content Delivery Network (CDN) service company. However, due to the contractual arrangement of this service, peak usage was reflected in higher fixed monthly fees. The fixed monthly fees increased as the number of visitors and processes to the web service grew. The management team was faced with the challenge of finding a way to reduce costs, as the monthly fee during the off-season ended up being the same as for the peak season.

“With Cloudinary, we have a media experience solution that exceeds our functionality requirements, improves internal efficiencies, and reduces costs. And thanks to big improvements in image display and response times, our engineers can add new destinations faster and we can keep delivering on our core brand promise of changing customers’ lives one visit at a time.”

- Naoyuki Matsuo, Vice President of Technology Service Planning and Technology, VELTRA

While researching new services to meet not only functional specifications but also cost-saving requirements, VELTRA came across Cloudinary’s CDN and image optimization capabilities, delivered as a Cloudinary ‘CloudFront AWS’ service from the AWS Cloud.

“Cloudinary also has a fixed monthly fee, but with Amazon CloudFront, the CDN is fully charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, which we can benefit from because it reduces the cost when there is less traffic on the website,” explained Naoyuki Matsuo. “We found this service to be a good fit in terms of cost as well as regarding its image management functions.”

Cloudinary seemed to be the perfect solution for VELTRA as it met its specifications and had additional value-added features. Furthermore, Cloudinary only required few internal resources, allowing the manager in charge to handle the project practically by himself.

The Cloudinary Solution: Unleashing the Potential of the Cloud

For the implementation, VELTRA turned to AWS Partner Cloudinary and AWS reseller Classmethod. There was no need to make any major changes to the existing environment to get the system up and running quickly. VELTRA could use the same content resources stored in its existing AWS environment. It replaced its old CDN with CloudFront, using Cloudinary for image optimization. Also, as an AWS Partner Network (APN) solution, Cloudinary can be rapidly deployed on the AWS Cloud as well.

Additionally, VELTRA did not need to modify the source code, which greatly reduced the implementation workload. The implementation consisted of only about 100 lines of code, and the work itself took less than eight hours.

“It didn’t take long to get the test environment up and running, and I got the impression that we were able to do it in no time at all,” said Matsuo. “After the test environment was handed over to us from Classmethod, they explained to us in detail how to work and verify the test environment. There were no technical obstacles, and it was very easy to work with. We were able to spend a good amount of time on evaluation instead.”

The service switchover was conducted when VELTRA had contracts with the previous service and Cloudinary running in parallel to ensure enough time for possible bug fixing. However, this time buffer wasn’t needed and the process went fast and smoothly.

“By integrating Cloudinary with VELTRA’s CloudFront CDN to create a high fidelity scalable image management and delivery solution, the total amount of data transfer for page display has been reduced by 15% when compared with the previous service.”

- Naoyuki Matsuo, Vice President of Technology Service Planning and Technology, VELTRA

Veltra-reference-Architecture

VELTRA Reference Architecture Diagram

The Results: Optimizing Costs While Improving Image Display and Response Times

By using Cloudinary with Amazon CloudFront and AWS Lambda@Edge, VELTRA gains a much more responsive consumption model that stops the company having to pay for unused capacity in times with less web traffic like during the pandemic. “These circumstances tested whether we were able to meet our goal of ‘optimizing cost with regards to seasonal fluctuation’.” That goal has been met, with an additional benefit: superior delivery of a key process, image handling.

Specifically, VELTRA management values outsourcing this important feature of its web offering to a trusted third party, Matsuo adds. “We had been using image optimization tools in order to deliver images efficiently,” he confirms. “But instead of having our web engineer make decisions concerning the resolution and quality of the video content users see, it is better to leave that up to an external service which specializes in displaying images at a reasonable size.”

“We have also noticed improvements in image display and response time,” Matsuo commented. As a result, VELTRA engineers can keep adding new destinations and it can keep delivering on its core brand promise of changing customers’ lives “one visit at a time.”

Next steps for Cloudinary at VELTRA will include use of the company’s content moderation function to offer more convenient services for travelers, such as blurring and other image processing, as well as functionality to help suggest keyword-on-photo-tags based tour plans.

VELTRA

About VELTRA

VELTRA offers a website specializing in the sales of local tours worldwide. It offers approximately 27,000 local tours and activities in more than 150 destinations, while maintaining partnerships with 4,000 travel organizing companies internationally. More than just a travel itinerary marketplace, VELTRA highlights travel plans offered by travel organizers to heighten their appeal to tourists around the world, while simultaneously providing customers with support to help them feel at ease with their tour choices.

About Cloudinary

Cloudinary’s mission is to empower companies to deliver visual experiences that inspire and connect by unleashing the full potential of their media. With more than 50 billion assets under management and 7,500 customers worldwide, Cloudinary is an industry standard for developers, creators, and marketers looking to upload, store, transform, manage, and deliver images and videos online.

Published July 2021