The Organization

Columbus Direct Insurance, a Collinson Group company, is a leading travel insurance company. With access to quotes for standard travel insurance as well as insurance for more exotic travel (ski trips, adventure travel, backpacking, the elderly, and more), Columbus Direct prides itself on providing a quick, efficient, and hassle-free service that allows customers to save up to 60% in commissions charged by other travel providers.

The Problem

Like other Collinson Group business units, the Columbus Direct Insurance Web site was initially built without a content management solution, requiring the technical assistance of developers for routine site updates. The development team at the Collinson Group had already deployed PaperThin, Inc.’s CommonSpot™ Content Server to manage content on several other sites, and saw the opportunity to upgrade the Columbus Direct Insurance site as well, in order to allow non-technical staff to take ownership of site changes.

The Solution

Developed by an in-house team in the Netherlands, the revamped Columbus Direct Insurance ( site was built in approximately four weeks. Site design, provided by a designer in the UK, includes the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) in the base template, enabling better control over the ‘look and feel’ of the various multi-lingual sites. Any changes to the style or font at the base template level automatically propagate to all other pages utilizing that same style sheet. In addition to using CSS support, the site leverages many other CommonSpot out-of-the-box features, including multi-language support, custom elements and workflow as well as custom metadata, personalization and replication functionality.

To reach Columbus Direct Insurance’s diverse audiences, content on the site is published in English, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and French. CommonSpot’s template-driven architecture allows for template reuse across the various language versions of the site, ensuring continuity in design and navigation elements. With several content authors managing content across the various sites, Columbus Travel Insurance plans to take advantage of CommonSpot’s flexible workflow processes that will allow for complete control over who can edit and publish content to the site. 

A primary driver for the site is the ‘Quote Finder’, which provides visitors with instant quotes for travel insurance. This custom ColdFusion application was easily integrated into the site using CommonSpot. Columbus Direct Insurance also works with more than 300 affinity partners who help to drive traffic to the site. Using CommonSpot’s personalization and scheduling features, the company is able to serve up personalized partner-specific logos and promotional offers based on where the visitor was coming from. This feature also allows Columbus Direct Insurance to track the number of visitors by affinity partner, and measure campaign effectiveness.

To serve up content for its ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section, developers deployed custom metadata, in combination with a page index filter that allows site visitors to search on various frequently asked questions, providing a useful facility for customers to get answers to commonly asked insurance policy questions.

In order to ensure that content on Columbus Direct Insurance’s Web site is readily accessible to its more than 30,000 visitors each month, developers have employed CommonSpot’s replication functionality. Content is created and managed on an authoring server and then synchronized to a read-only production server, allowing for a faster, high performance site.

According to Marco Tjong A Tjoe, General Manager of Travel Information Services, “CommonSpot's out-of-the-box features and customization capabilities provided for rapid development and easy integration of all of our external applications.” Developers were able to leverage their prior skills and knowledge of CommonSpot, to shorten the implementation time and conversion of the company’s site to CommonSpot.

The Return

Since Columbus Direct’s affinity programs are so important to its business, providing an easy and efficient way for the marketing staff to maintain specific partner Web sites was a primary objective for implementing a content management solution. Now, site visitors have access to content and promotions that are up-to-date and relevant.

By deploying CommonSpot, Columbus Direct Insurance has also achieved a number of significant operating efficiencies – site content can now be updated faster and more affordably than ever before. Non-technical business users can now maintain control of site content while developers are freed to focus on other critical technical projects. More importantly, Columbus Direct Insurance is able to provide a variety of services on-line to a diverse customer base. Customers seeking travel insurance information have access to the latest products, services and promotions, while also being afforded a highly interactive and personalized site visit.

In addition to the Columbus Direct Insurance site, Columbus Direct plans to leverage CommonSpot’s technology across other Web sites to further support the company’s multi-brand strategy.

Customer Information