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THE announcement that Pretzel Logic will redevelop Transperth’s website brings public transport users a step closer to receiving schedule information via email, SMS and even WAP.

SMS alerts already are being used on Melbourne’s Conex rail system, but before Perth sees a similar introduction of the technology to users, Transperth will concentrate on improving the functionality of its website and gathering information on its customers.

The appointment of Pretzel Logic last week is part of Transperth’s new coordinated communications plan that also includes the reappointment of advertising agency JDA as well as appointing new print, fulfilment and call centre partners.

According to Transperth marketing manager Louis Cummings, the redevelopment of the website is long overdue. The site had experienced a dramatic increase in traffic recently, coupled with a rise in complaints from visitors about the navigation and functionality of the site.

“On top of that there were all these new emerging technologies that we could see would provide another source of information for our customers,” Ms Cummings said.

The popular journey planner application on the website will remain. The application averages around 40,000 unique visitors a month and will be updated next year. It is expected the new website will be completed in February 2002.

Pretzel will concentrate on developing a customer relationship management program for the website aimed at gathering profiles from the visitors.

Pretzel Logic business development manager Simon Walsh said the information would be used to develop relationships with customers and improve the way they received information from Transperth.

“One of the core applications is the introduction of a customer relationship management program whereby people come to the site and they will be able to share profiling information with Transperth, which means they will be able to take part in special offers,” he said.

“For example if you are a regular user of route 85 in City Beach, if there is a change in schedule or there is an enhancement of that service, you would automatically get an email update about that.

“We’ll be building the site using XML, which means that down the track we can choose to send information through a variety of channels.

“That could be SMS, WAP or to PDAs or even interactive TV. But that will be subject of the second tender. The first phase now is to plan for that and gather information through the CRM program.”

Mr Walsh said the tender, worth $50,000, was a significant, high-profile contract to win, particularly at a time when Government has been criticised for reducing expenditure on IT contracts.

“It certainly has come at a good time, but one thing we’re pleased about from Transperth’s point of view is that they realise the critical value of the other channels of distributing information, which is all part of the public service,” he said.

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