BoardingArea logo: "boardingArea" is written in white, sans-serif font. The "o" is a text bubble, outlined in green.

Bringing next-gen speed to a popular travel site

BoardingArea.com gives millions of daily readers access to some of the fastest sites on the web, powered by WP Engine and next-gen infrastructure from Google Cloud.

Industry: Travel, Media

Site: https://boardingarea.com/

Challenge: Add a performance boost to a highly popular (and highly-trafficked) network of travel websites.

Solution: WP Engine Digital Experience Platform for WordPress, compute-optimized C2 server hardware from Google Cloud.

Results: More than a 40% drop in server execution time, immediately, across all web properties.

BoardingArea is a network of popular business travel and frequent flyer websites sought by millions of readers daily around the world. Founded more than 25 years ago, BoardingArea’s websites have provided news, information, and advice for every type of traveler. The publication’s goal has always been to provide frequent travelers with the information they need to make the most of their trip.

"Once we switched over to the new hardware, which was quick and seamless, we actually saw an almost 70% increase in site performance. We were blown away."

—–Denny Butts, Director of Project Engagement, BoardingArea

A network of high-traffic WordPress sites.

If you’ve ever searched for travel advice or information ahead of, during, or after a trip, there’s a good chance you read an article through BoardingArea.com, the most popular network of travel blogs on the web. 

Each site included in the BoardingArea network is hand-selected for its quality of content, timeliness, and entertainment value, which has created a highly-curated content experience that so many readers seek out and continue to enjoy.  

So many in fact, that today BoardingArea’s sites see more than 200 million unique visitors annually. From sites like Monkey Miles, which offers tips for travelers looking to maximize their points, awards, MILES, or vouchers, all the way to One Mile at a Time, which provides a more serious look at travel news, tips, and deals, the wide variety of BoardingArea content is simply the best travel content on the web, and all of BoardingArea’s sites continue to see consistent, year-over-year growth in readership to prove it. 

While those sites have long been built on WordPress, BoardingArea migrated its network of blogs to WP Engine in 2015. The move was due in part to the increase in traffic BoardingArea’s sites were generating—WP Engine often helps high-traffic sites manage things like availability and uptime. But it was also meant to offload the backend management of all BoardingArea’s WordPress sites to a trusted partner.  

“Before we made the move, we were looking for two things—a host that could manage our heavy traffic load, and WordPress expertise,” said Denny Butts, BoardingArea’s Director of Project Engagement.  “As soon as we migrated over, we knew we had found both of those things in WP Engine.”

 

Adding next-gen speed to the equation.

Since migrating to WP Engine’s platform in 2015, Butts said, life was good. 

“We’ve been fans of WP Engine since we came on board, and for a while, it was all systems go—things worked, and when we had inevitable issues, there was immediately great support from the WP Engine side that could help us figure them out.” 

In the meantime, BoardingArea’s sites continued to grow, armed with the ability to deliver great content to readers, which loaded fast, was responsive on mobile, and offered the BoardingArea team easy admin control across all of the different sites that make up their network.

“Our sites were doing great,” Butts said, “and then the migration to next-gen hardware happened.”

Because BoardingArea was using a dedicated server, they were also moved—at no extra cost—to new Google Cloud compute-optimized hardware in 2019, which immediately created massive performance improvements for their already high-performing sites. 

“Our account team at WP Engine briefed us on the new hardware and told us we’d see up to a 40% increase in performance by making the switch,” Butts said. “We were excited by the possibility and agreed to go ahead, but we had no idea how drastic the change would be.” 

“Once we switched over to the new hardware, which was quick and seamless, we actually saw an almost 70% increase in site performance. We were blown away.”

Customers like the one above are seeing up to a 40% drop in server execution time after migrating to Google’s next-gen hardware.

The Results.

In addition to the immediate improvements in speed and overall performance BoardingArea saw across its sites, Butts said he and his team felt like they had future-proofed their sites, and had cutting-edge infrastructure in place to keep things running faster than ever. 

“It gave us a solid foundation to keep building our business,” he said. “And since the switch was made, we’ve been able to do just that.” 

Overall, the results BoardingArea has been able to achieve are in-line with the types of digital experiences Google envisioned for its compute-optimized cloud infrastructure. 

“Our next-gen cloud virtual machines are designed to help traffic-heavy sites like BoardngArea serve requests faster, and create a smooth loading experience for site visitors,” said Hanan Youssef, Product Manager, Google Cloud Platform.

Since moving over to the C2 hardware, BoardingArea has experienced ongoing performance benefits and additional readership growth. Even with a massive downturn in global travel in 2020, their sites have seen an increase in traffic.

“In some cases, we’ve seen pageviews increase by as much 30% year-over-year, and a big part of that is because those pages are being served to the reader faster,” Butts said.

Working remotely, too, has been a 2020 shift the BoardingArea team has had to accommodate, and one which WP Engine has made more manageable.

“Working remotely is seamless with WP Engine. My team has quick, easy access to a network that’s always up, and they can do what they need to do—redesign sites, optimize SEO, etc.—knowing they have easy access to WP Engine support when they need it.”

Get your best content in front of the right audiences. Fast. 

From blazing-hot website speed to the best mobile optimization, today WordPress is relied on as an agile platform for building incredible digital experiences. Media sites and publishers like BoardingArea are increasingly using WordPress to go to market faster and bring new digital ideas to life at the market level, without waiting on long development cycles. Click here to find out more about WP Engine and the way we help customers win with WordPress across all of their digital channels.