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Transputec helps bring devotees to Mayapur with five star service
"We are a charity and I was worried that Transputec would be solely geared to dealing with big businesses, but they gave us five star service."
Sonitra Sue Singh, Mayapur Worldwide
Mayapur Worldwide is a free outreach and pilgrimage service for international devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and guests. ISKCON has millions of devotees worldwide and thousands in the UK.
The pilgrimage and outreach service is run by devotees who voluntarily act as travel counsellors, organising travel and accommodation for pilgrims to Mayapur, the holy capital of India.
Miss Sonitra Sue Singh (Sue), a UK-based devotee, was asked by ISKCON to set up and maintain a website for Mayapur Worldwide, where people could see images of Mayapur and get help in arranging pilgrimages.
"We wanted a site that would allow people to tell us their needs so volunteers in the UK and elsewhere could arrange their flights, accommodation and tours of the sacred sites," said Sue.
"We wanted booking forms to be available on-site to make it easier to gather information such as party size and travel dates, to simplify the booking process," said Sue. "We wanted trip arrangement to be a seamless experience for the pilgrims."
She also wanted the site to have details of the free tours run by devotees at Mayapur, and travel tips such as recommended shops and services in the Mayapur area, plus a list of the books in the Mayapur library so pilgrims did not need to carry heavy books on flights.
"We especially wanted the site to have lots of pictures, so people who could not get to Mayapur could still see it," said Sue, "and we wanted lots of green on the site because it is a spiritual colour."
Sue contacted Transputec's Managing Director Rickie Sehgal. "The site had to meet Mayapur Worldwide's needs, but also be easy for Sue to maintain," said Rickie.
Rickie called in Transputec Web Developer Nabha Roy in Calcutta.
"Initially I worked with Rickie and then with Nabha in Calcutta," said Sue. "He was not a devotee but he had been to Mayapur and he understood just what I wanted to do."
Communicating by telephone, email and VOIP phone, Sue sent texts and pictures to Nabha, who designed and constructed the site.
"Nabha used page templates with standardised colour and font styles and sizes, to maintain consistent branding throughout the site," said Rickie.
Transputec also made the site background green. "Green can be technically tricky to use on sites, but we are flexible and can deal with unusual customer requests," said Rickie.
A particular challenge was the need for lots of pictures. "They came in many different sizes and levels of resolution, so we needed to optimise the quality and resize them," said Rickie.
Transputec also added e-commerce facilities to allow online bookings and payments.
Transputec used its own ActiveWeb content management system, a web design and development tool which enables new text and images to be uploaded easily.
"It makes it easy to update websites, so Sue can make changes herself and see how pages look in draft form before publication," said Rickie.
Transputec is providing Sue with ActiveWeb training. Transputec offers general training courses in the use of ActiveWeb at its Wembley offices and can also provide user-specific training on site. "Most people require no more than a half day to learn how to use it," said Rickie.
The site went live in early 2009.
"It has really helped take our message worldwide," said Sue. "The site has increased the number of people going to Mayapur and because it also has details of our festivals, festival visitors have increased tenfold."
The online booking forms have also simplified her task of booking flights and accommodation for pilgrims and the site gives details of the tours available from Mayapur, as well as helping give pilgrims an understanding of what to expect when they get there.
The site includes dozens of colourful pictures of the Mayapur site, the accommodation for pilgrims and the area.
"People have commented about the beauty of the site and especially the colourful pictures, which really give a taste of the colour and life of Mayapur," said Sue.
"Even people who are not devotees have told us that they have learnt a lot about Mayapur from the site."
Talking about the service she received from Transputec, Sue said: "Rickie and Nabha helped every step of the way, explaining how to make the website easier to read and more convenient for people to get around.
We are a charity and I was worried that Transputec would be solely geared to dealing with big businesses, but they gave us five-star service.
Transputec sells itself as offering solutions and it certainly provided a fantastic solution for us."
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