City of Bruges was looking for a digital partner to manage the city's tourism data management system (TDMS). Thanks to Cronos Public Services, they came to us for a complete revamp and optimization to make it a user-friendly tool for all users.TDMS is the management platform for all events, sleeping facilities and tourism partners that the city has to offer. These so-called "sheets" are managed in a central system so that VisitBruges' digital applications have a single point where it can manage and retrieve all information about these tourist attractions of Bruges.

Our challenge

When working for a client like the City of Bruges, you must always consider all stakeholders. Each stakeholder has its own requirements and will use the tool in a slightly different way. Therefore, it was important for Visit Bruges to build an application that takes into account the needs, wishes and frustrations of each stakeholder. 

For this we went through an exhaustive analysis process where the input of each type of user was collected in a functional analysis document. On this basis, we were able to list a holistic overview of needs and wishes that each player involved could identify with.

  • A clear system that can process large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. 
  • An API provided that allows the finished sheets to flow seamlessly to the various applications such as the website or CRM system. 
  • A customized version control system, where every change is tracked and you can always revert to older versions. 
  • A fast, logical search engine that allows administrators to quickly navigate between different sheets. 
  • A user-friendly query system to give the Bruges entrepreneur control over his enterprises.

With the functional requirements fresh in our minds, we set to work on the technical elaboration. We went through several brainstorming sessions and workshops to finally arrive at a powerful architecture.

Our digital program can be seen as a block box consisting of several building blocks with the tourism database at its core. Given the crucial role of this database in this digital program, a solid foundation is indispensable. We could not have achieved this without Codana's professional hands-on approach. The level of professionalism was really an added value and the structure of working with sprints ensured that we from Visit Bruges not only could always follow up but also that a customized approach could be achieved.

Emmy Lagast

Building Blocks

We choose to build the application in Laravel Nova. Nova is a code-driven admin panel with a Vue front-end. It allows developers to quickly provide several standard functionalities. If a project has more specific needs, a developer can also extend the admin panel with custom Vue components. 

To ensure the speed of the versioning system and the search engine, we also use Elastic Search. Elastic Search is a powerful document-based database that allows us to quickly perform complex searches in a large amount of data.

Seamless integrations with data from the Flemish Government

We integrated the APIs of the UiTdatabank and Toerisme Vlaanderen for this project. Thanks to these integrations, the latest events and accommodations from the Flemish government automatically appear in the system every day, ready for Visit Bruges staff to process and publish on the website.

UiT database

Thanks to a seamless integration with the UiT database, we keep our sheets up-to-date at all times. UiT provides all the information of events and activities taking place in the West Flemish capital.

Tourism Flanders

Looking for a nice, cozy bed-and-breakfast in Bruges? We know them all by now! From the API of Tourism Flanders, we get information about accommodations, hotels, B&Bs ... in short, every sleeping place within Bruges.

A public API for VisitBruges

The main task of the TDMS is to keep data from all tourism enterprises within the city up-to-date. Of course, the validated data must also flow through to public buyers. Therefore, Codana built an API where the brand new website of VisitBruges is our main customer. Through the public API, customers can find all published data of the tourist attractions in Bruges.

Finding the necessary information quickly and efficiently

When you work with so much data, a logically built and fast search function is a must. With Elastic Search, we configured an arrow-quick search function for the city, where administrators can quickly and easily consult both the published and latest versions of their sheets. Using handy filters or clever keywords, administrators can compile a desired dataset and export the results to an Excel file.

"I accidentally deleted my data"

No worries! Thanks to the comprehensive version management system, this is no longer a reason for Bruges employees to panic. A staff member can easily consult and restore every change within a file in order to reduce data loss to virtually zero. To make it even more user-friendly, we enable them to compare two versions.  

For this purpose, we also built a logical publication flow for each file. This way, not every modification flows blindly to the public API. Sheets are therefore validated and approved before they are ready for publication. All without compromising current publications on the VisitBruges public website.

A user-friendly survey system for the Bruges entrepreneur

The TDMS is not only there for the city's employees, but also for all the enthusiastic organizers and entrepreneurs who make Bruges a true tourist attraction. They too can give input on the published data on VisitBruges through this platform thanks to the query functionality. An administrator within the platform can launch a query on a regular basis to give an entrepreneur the chance to update his current sheets.

A seamless migration of an existing system

Of course, when you choose to renew, you can't simply undo the old. Therefore, Codana provided a complete migration of all the existing content into the new system. This allowed us to guarantee a streamlined transition to the new TDMS.

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