Hoxton Hotels halts web downtime during traffic spikes

Hoxton Hotels has moved to the Ultraspeed Infected web hosting platform in a bid to prevent server downtime during promotions.

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Hoxton Hotels has moved to the Ultraspeed Infected web hosting platform in a bid to prevent server downtime during promotions.

The company runs £1 room promotions every quarter, but sudden high visitor numbers were crashing the servers at DomHost, its previous hosting provider, where it relied on one dedicated server. As a result, customers would not be able to make bookings.

By moving to the new provider, Hoxton Hotels has been able to keep its website running, and complete its room sales in 20 to 30 minutes instead of over an hour previously.

On a sale day, around 35,000 unique visitors view the site, making up to 300,000 page refreshes. In January during the latest sale under the new system, the hotel sold 1,000 rooms in 27 minutes. During that time it ran at 200 simultaneous users per second.

It was able to improve the process because it has access to nine more servers during promotions, on top of the full-time dedicated server. The Ultraspeed platform can be specified to handle up to 100,000 simultaneous connections with peak data rates up to 2 gigabits per second. Charges are by the megabyte of information transferred.

Tom Napier, IT consultant at Fluent2, Hoxton Hotels’ IT service provider, said: “Previously, ten minutes before our promotion started, the website would grind to a halt. The pages weren’t refreshing and the graphics weren’t loading.”

“We decided to simplify the site, reducing graphics from around 200 kilobytes on the front page to 20k or 30k, but the site was still crashing,” he continued. “Since the first time we moved to Ultraspeed in September, our website has been working almost faultlessly during promotions.”

But there is one major hurdle the site still faces - its separate payment server, hosted by TravelClick, does not always handle the spike in traffic and sales are processed more slowly.

Napier said: “Working on their shared system, we would see other hotel websites coming down when our traffic flooded the system.”

Nevertheless, he said, Hoxton Hotels was sticking with that supplier, and it was working to improve infrastructure.

Hoxton Hotels sells half of its rooms through its own website, and half through airline online sales systems, known as global delivery systems. All payments go through the TravelClick servers.

It also runs an HP server rack in-house for point of sale, terminal server purposes, administration, and credit card processing. It is planning to expand to 10 hotels from the current 205-room location, over the next few years.

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