Merit Circle

The Web3 gaming platform that boosts gamers’ experiences

With an increase of 32% in seven years, there now are 3.09 billion active video gamers worldwide. Top that off with the growing influence that Web3 has on gaming and the possibilities are up for grabs. Merit Circle noticed these opportunities and wasted no time.  DEPT® worked alongside Merit Circle to develop a Web3 gaming platform that boosts gamers’ experiences.

Three key takeaways

  • A pleasant Web3 onboarding & gaming experience  Just-in-time learning and a strong community make the platform user-friendly, shifting the focus back to what it’s all about: playing games. 
  • Engagement through a gaming-first platform Immersive experiences, guides, and community help make sure that gamers stay engaged at each part of their gaming journey.
  • A strong, loyal community through gamification Typical gaming elements, like leveling up and earning rewards make the platform feel like a game and strengthen social competition.
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A pleasant Web3 onboarding & gaming experience

Web3 gaming is known but unexplored by most gamers worldwide. This comes as no surprise, because the current Web3 onboarding experiences have not been pleasant (to say the least). 

Historically, there have been difficulties with wallets, trouble obtaining the right in-game tokens, and volatile pricing on NFTs. .That’s why the Merit Circle Web3 gaming platform developed by DEPT® features user-friendly onboarding to Web3 and its relatively unknown functionalities. With just-in-time learning, we guide the user through the platform, explaining new concepts on-the-go.

Altogether, the platform shifts the focus from a difficult and unpleasant familiarisation with Web3, to what it’s all about: gaming.

Engagement through a gaming-first platform 

The ability to leave the physical realm for just a moment is what gamers crave. . The visual-heavy design of the platform emphasises this feeling: it transports users  inside a game while exploring. To help gamers decide what to play, we give them a sneak peek through pieces of insight and gameplay. Moreover, guides and community help improve each gamer’s performance. By listening to the gamers’ needs and leveraging  Web3’s possibilities, Merit Circle and DEPT® created a platform that lives and breathes gaming.

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A strong, loyal community through gamification

After attracting, activating and engaging gamers, you want to retain them. To achieve this, DEPT® blended gamification into the platform. 

For example, participation earns you experience points (XP) which levels you up. Leveling up is part of the social component, creating competition between gamers and making them feel like part of the community. It also comes with early access, NFT drops and other rewards. These gamification elements result in a strong and loyal community.

 It takes a unique approach to build a platform at the crossroads of gaming and Web3. Something we’re very happy to have found in a partner like DEPT®.

Thale Sonnemans, COO at Merit Circle

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Kingmaker of the industry through a strong partnership

DEPT® guides Merit Circle in forming a dedicated team to sustain the platform and improve as the industry evolves. Possible future additions are team play, leaderboards, automated tournaments, and the development of a two sided platform that will increasingly connect gamers and game developers. 

Merit Circle aims to raise the industry standard by developing a platform that covers everything a gamer could need. They are expected to be a kingmaker in the new land of Web3 gaming. 



Jochem van Rossem

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Building an immersive experience for the leader in music festivals

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Tomorrowland is one of the world’s biggest EDM festivals. But in 2020, with the world locked down, it was uncertain whether this celebrated festival would take place. 

Find out how Dogstudio (part of DEPT®) helped Tomorrowland create the groundbreaking digital-only experience: Tomorrowland, Around the World.

An immersive experience brought to life 

Over two days, Tomorrowland fans from all around the world (one million people) immersed themselves in a magical world. Thanks to a WebGL experience made for both mobile and desktop, fans could attend their favorite sets from the comfort of their homes.

At any EDM festival, daytime and nighttime sets have different vibes, so we recreated that by designing and developing day mode and night mode. This made the festival feel as lifelike as possible, with set times aligning with a traditional music festival schedule. 

Now imagine an island filled with boats, lampoons, fishes, god rays, butterflies, and clouds. These whimsical elements were crucial to nail that magical feeling that Tomorrowland is known for.  

To delight visitors, we added several features to make the island feel alive, positioning all of them through a WYSIWYG editable spline system so that the Tomorrowland team could help us find the best placements.

Exploration & navigation 

During the festival, islanders freely roamed around the island by panning, zooming in/out, and clicking. But as for any festival, the people came for the music. By using a halo of lights displayed around the several stages, we represented the network of people around them, making them a part of the experience.

By clicking on the stages, islanders could find information about the location, stage, and lineup before entering the show. Once inside a stage, users were immediately dropped into a unique DJ performance integrated into the amazing 3D world created by Tomorrowland.

We love little details. That’s why made everything fully configurable through our GUI. We also added surprise fireworks to mark the end of the shows on the first day, just like an in-person festival. 

We’ve managed to translate the unique emotions of the festival into a digital experience.

Philippe Ben Mohamed, Lead Digital & Development, Tomorrowland


Viewers around the world, from Japan to Mexico


Different video recording studios built around the world


Of EDM’s most prominent artists performing their newest tracks


  • Creative Direction and Concept: Henry Daubrez
  • Lead producer: Sebastien Goffin
  • UX/UI Design: Camille Theveniau, Lorena Foucher & Henry Daubrez
  • 3D Simulation: Paul Guilhem Repaux
  • Lead Developer: Anthony Du Pont
  • Technical Direction: Anthony Du Pont & Samuel Honigstein (3D)
  • 3D Developer: Samuel Honigstein & Jordan Machado
  • Sound Engineering: Gimmi Pace
  • Video Music: Ocoeur – Overclock


CEO / CCO at Dogstudio

Henry Daubrez

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Inspiring and entertaining fans all over the globe

2022 came with clear goals for Inter. After updating the brand identity and iconic crest, together with Bureau Borsche, this year was all about overhauling Inter’s digital channels. With football becoming increasingly more digital — from Esports to global fandom and all kinds of digital ownership — Inter is ready to take on a leading position. And so, the following question arose: ‘How can we make our digital channels relevant for a broader global target audience?’ DEPT® answered and led the strategy, design and development of the new app and website.

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The key takeaways

How Inter uses their digital channels to grow the global fandom.

How Inter boosts sponsor activations.

How Inter connects the brand to culture.

Growing the global fandom

Football wouldn’t be football without the fans. And don’t the Nerazzuri know it. To cater to a global audience that might be interested in ‘more’ than football, we settled upon a new digital experience strategy with a focus on Milanese culture, players and stories. Content is truly king here. The same goes for Inter TV, which gives fans around the world access to a whole bunch of video content. Still, anything and everything match related is of course also available in the new Match Center, which comes with engagement features such as ‘Man of the match’. Last but not least, a differentiation is also applied into the channel strategy, with web focussing mainly on (international) sports fans whereas the app is really meant for the hardcore fans of the black and blues.

Fans can now follow Inter in a more immersive way through the website and app that have been renewed thanks to the valuable collaboration with DEPT®

Luca Danovaro, Chief Revenue Officer at FC Internazionale Milano

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Boosting sponsor activations

The new website and app host a myriad of commercial opportunities for both Inter and their sponsors, partners and advertisers. These range from well-known options such as bannering and promotional slots, to more exclusive options such as dedicated microsites with custom immersive experiences that really put Inter’s key sponsors and partners in the spotlight. The first microsite was launched in early July to present the new 2022 kits together with Nike. Other than that, Inter’s digital channels make use of accounts behind a login that give access to Inter TV and unlock exclusive content and other benefits.

Connecting brand to culture

For Inter, football is one side. Culture is the other. So it comes as no surprise that culture gets a prominent spot in the channels. Players are pushed forward on culture pages, sharing their stories, interests and likes beyond football. With around 1 out of 5 fans more interested in the player than in the game (according to The European Football Benchmark 2021) there’s certainly a demand to fill here. In the future, Inter will expand their culture pages with a focus on (local) celeb fans and their love for Milan — making the global local.

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Looking ahead

Just like on the field, in order to succeed digitally a great strategy is a must. That’s why all channels have dedicated roadmaps. These contain several future releases with new pages around collaborations and the Milanese culture, an ‘IM Premium’ account tier with even more content and benefits, special microsites with other sponsors, exclusive Inter NFTs and much more. The new digital channels are just the beginning of Inter’s commitment to becoming a leading club in terms of digital fan engagement and experience. Forza Inter!

FORZA INTER! Explore the website


Head of Strategy

Lucas Nutbey

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The Drone Racing League

Creating collectibles for a sport at the forefront of digital innovation

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The Drone Racing League (DRL) is the world’s premier professional drone racing property. Millions of fans watch the best drone pilots in the world compete in high-speed, highly competitive races broadcast on NBC, Twitter, and other international sports networks. 

DRL partnered with DEPT® to launch a series of NFT collectibles by building a branded platform on the Algorand blockchain, making them the first brand to take advantage of Algomart.

A reputation for leveraging groundbreaking technology

DRL doesn’t just hold competitions IRL. During the pandemic they launched a full-scale virtual transformation by taking advantage of the DRL Simulator. The cloud-based technology enabled DRL to broadcast live races within an immersive simulation and proved so successful that it stamped DRL as a pioneer of a new era of sports racing.

With the rapid expansion of Web3 and the metaverse, DRL has since partnered with Algorand’s Playground Labs to take digital drone racing a step further with blockchain-enabled ticketing, fan transactions, and, of course, digital collectibles in the form of NFTs. 

After learning about DEPT®’s role in creating Algomart, Algorand’s open source technology enabling brands to launch their own NFT platforms, DRL approached us for help in this endeavour.

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A non-fungible, first-of-its-kind promotion for a 21st century sport

Building a full-scale branded NFT platform from scratch represents a hefty investment of both time and money. Furthermore, blockchain technologies are still relatively new and finding a team that can marry the off-chain and on-chain systems needed to build an NFT marketplace is tricky. Most brands don’t have this capability in-house, limiting options even more. 

Algomart is a groundbreaking piece of technology in that it provides an out-of-the-box solution to these issues, putting brands in control and enabling them to enter a new and exciting market with a bespoke offering that feels like a traditional ecommerce experience and can scale as needed.

DEPT®  helped DRL take full advantage of everything that Algomart has to offer. We worked with their team to take Algomart out of the box and launch their branded marketplace in under a month. Their first run of 400 NFTs featured fourteen drone pilot avatars created by the award-winning digital artist Metapunks. Of that first run, 387 NFTs were a “common” design and the remaining thirteen were one-of-a-kind “rare” designs.

Rather than releasing their first set of NFTs for purchase or auction, DRL debuted their marketplace at Algorand’s 2021 Decipher conference as a promotional offering. They distributed 400 flyers with QR codes which attendees could scan and find out which of the fourteen designs they had redeemed. 

As a promotional release, DRL’s NFTs symbolized the brand’s place at the head of a first-of-their-kind 21st century sport. Additionally, they provide an exciting, low-risk way for DRL to test the waters for digital collectibles.

The entire ecosystem of blockchain and NFTs is going to bring people closer to the brands they love and open a whole host of new experiences.

Anne Marie Gianutsos, CMO, Drone Racing League

An exciting future

Going forward, DRL has big plans for their NFT marketplace. Recently, they’ve announced their official mobile game, which will allow fans to compete in play-to-earn virtual races for cryptocurrency and NFTs. The game was launched as part of DRL’s partnership with Algorand’s Playground Labs and DEPT® continues to have a role in helping expand the marketplace to include a secondary marketplace.

Play-to-earn games are a much-anticipated part of the future of blockchain. By integrating them with their NFT marketplace, the possibilities for new NFT offerings from DRL are almost limitless and will continue to be facilitated by Algomart.


Director of Web3 at DEPT®

Brandon Aaskov

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Transforming the Eurovision village into a 3D virtual world

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The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s longest-running, international music competition. Since its inaugural event in 1956, 52 countries have participated at least once, creating a fan base that stretches across the globe. Today, over 180 million people tune in to watch the televised competition, with over 20,000 attendees travelling to the host country to enjoy the contest in person.

Usually, The Eurovision Village sits at the heart of the physical experience of the contest; it’s a place where fans can meet up to enjoy the music, socialise and embrace the positive vibes. With the pandemic preventing mass gatherings, for the 2021 contest, Rotterdam Festivals reached out to entertainment agency Tribe Company and DEPT® to recreate the physical atmosphere of The Eurovision Village in a virtual world. The result? A groundbreaking virtual experience; the first of its kind in the Eurovision Song Contest history.

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Imagining an electric experience

“If the world can’t come to Rotterdam, we’ll bring Rotterdam to the world”. Early in the creative process, we sought out ways to showcase the spectacle of the stage performances, while conveying the energetic buzz of Rotterdam. Touring the host city is such an important part of attending an international event, and we didn’t want the tens of thousands of people that would normally make the trip to miss out on this experience. Plus, the opportunity to open Rotterdam up to the world to explore was an exciting challenge.

We wanted to evoke the same feeling in the fans as a physical visit; a simple platform filled with live streams wouldn’t suffice. Our creative inspiration led us to design a 3D world, where visitors are invited into a new surrounding to immerse themselves in the magic of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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Taking things to the next level

Designing a 3D world

How the vision is powered by technology

Managing the live environment

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A stable solution for scale

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest non-sporting TV event. This year’s Village programme was predicted to grab even more attention with crowd-pullers including Duncan Laurence, Johnny Logan, Afrojack, and the Junior Song Festival, running alongside the City Programme that offered more than 50 fringe events. 

Data from the last competition showed younger audiences are watching the Eurovision Song Contest in greater numbers, and viewership on YouTube during the week of the festival is also on the rise. This evolving viewing behaviour, as well as the depth of the new virtual experience, means more people were likely to watch online and, therefore, the platform had to be stable enough to host a rush of global traffic.

Performance, usability and accessibility were essential in the design and carried through into development. The platform is hosted in 12 different regions around the world on Microsoft Azure App Service Plans, and supported by a cloud-based fallback infrastructure, ensuring high traffic accessing the platform is optimally distributed and not dependent on the same type of resources. 
The Eurovision Song Contest is acclaimed for being an inclusive event. The theme ‘Open Up’ was selected for this iteration with the warm message of inviting people to open up to others, to different opinions, each other’s stories and of course to each other’s music. Eurovision’s use of technology had to be an extension of these values and not inadvertently exclude anyone. 

“If the world can’t come to Rotterdam, we’ll bring Rotterdam to the world.”

Applauding our collaborative approach

The Eurovision Song Contest, its lively village and iconic surroundings were open 24/7, free of charge during the nine-day duration of the festival. The strong collaboration between Rotterdam Festivals, DEPT® and Tribe Company was the key ingredient that led to us delivering this ambitious project at a rapid pace. 

Nobody knows exactly what the world will look like in a few months, but it is very plausible that virtual solutions will occupy a permanent place. The 3D virtual village we created for the Eurovision Song Contest demonstrates how a digital world can maintain the offline feeling, truly connecting people, while providing global access for everyone. This project is proof that with the right efforts, even the most legendary events can be turned into a digital success.


Executive Creative Director

Max Pinas

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Formula E

Building, accelerating, and reinventing racing

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A century-old sport, reinvented: silent, without CO2 emissions and circuits in the middle of the city – Formula E offers unique experiences, both offline and online. Brands such as Michelin, BMW, Heineken, and Boss have already linked their name to the increasingly popular motorsport, while the young fanbase is quickly expanding. Fans, who from now on, can get even closer to their favourite driver via the brand-new app, in which smart race data, innovative Augmented Reality solutions and a live race centre come together.

Racing, reinvented

Given that Formula E is 100% electric, this opens the door to previously unknown possibilities thanks to new technology. One such possibility allows spectators to play an active role in the race’s outcome by boosting their favourite driver’s racing car during the race through an online voting system. This so-called ‘FanBoost’ grants more horsepower by the number of fans a driver has. Now that’s innovative engagement 2.0. And it doesn’t stop there, because, in the race of the future, you are closer to your sport than ever before. The Formula E app gives you everything you need for a top-of-the-line race day experience. Check where famous artists are performing, virtually race against your favourite drivers in race simulators, follow live qualifications and get the latest news and important developments at any time throughout the day’s event.

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Augmented reality and a live race centre come together

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Tribe building

On the platform, both brands and events surrounding the day’s racing along with fan engagement meet in a single integrated experience. In this digital world of motorsport, it’s all about socials and influencers, but live interaction is an equally important part of the sport. The app supports this concept through tribe building, a means which enables visitors to slowly develop into real fans. The focus here is on personal and contextual touch points in which sponsored brands are also relevant in the moment. Think of live race reports, tracking board radios and accident updates.

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Power of data

Apart from the fact that the app enriches the fans with information along with an entertaining experience, the platform is also smart. It adapts to varying circumstances since race days are dynamic, different in every city and change yearly. Therefore, DEPT® developed a feature – linked to Google Maps – that adjusts every year. It informs people about where they are, what they can do and how they can get somewhere. Making the app always up to date and relevant. In addition, the app makes it easy for potential fans to indulge in Formula E knowledge: What exactly is so interesting? Who are the heroes? What are their rankings? And what is so different from our well-known Formula 1?

Smart data, full experience, social updates, contact with drivers and event information are seamlessly integrated; from the moment you decide to buy a ticket, up until race day, and up to the moment you return home satisfied.

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Roadmap to the future

Innovation is key, but the app’s development is merely a starting point for Formula E. As we speak, a larger, integrated platform supplemented with a website, is in the making. The development roadmap also includes the integration of Augmented Reality. Meaning further improvement of impressive experience features, such as the possibility to display both the racing cars and drivers in 3D, as well as the ability to virtually follow the race from each driver’s track position. All the while Artificial Intelligence thinks about possible outcomes of the race, which it discusses with you through the use of a conversational UI.

What’s next?

Formula E is more than a racing series. The knowledge gained on the circuit helps to make our already reliable electric cars even better, smarter and more beautiful. We are excited to be contributing to this via the developed super app, which will be extended even further with an all-encompassing website. Ultimately, we’re providing one global experience that brings all aspects of the Formula E race together. Not just for modern fans, but also for the race teams and the innovative brands connected to the motorsport – unique in today’s sports world. We are proud of this!


Global SVP Technology & Engineering

Jonathan Whiteside

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A new visual identity for Transavia

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Part of the Air France-KLM group, Transavia operates from six home bases in The Netherlands and France, including its main bases at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Paris Orly. The ambition is for Transavia to become Europe’s leading airline in hospitality and service. The key objective hereby is to add new routes, appeal to business passengers as well as leisure, and create a dominant online brand.

Creating a dominant online brand

The re-branding was an integrated process combining company strategy, e-commerce and brand design. Transavia started to work on a new e-commerce platform to increase ancillary sales, improve the conversion of flights and reduce operational costs. Having identified the need to redefine Transavia’s positioning and visual identity in accordance with the new e-commerce strategy and concept, Studio Dumbar (part of Dept) was invited to join the team.

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The new visual design is playful, accessible and flexible


It began by developing Transavia’s new positioning. The two most important results were changing the name from to Transavia, and defining “It’s a pleasure” as the leading principle for the company. The design is playful, accessible and flexible. A special feature is the application of icons to the underbelly of Transavia’s planes, with a different combination of icons for each plane in the fleet. Another symbolic livery feature appears next to the entrance, where the word ‘Welcome’ is written in all the languages of the countries served by Transavia. The identity has been rolled out across the brand including uniforms, catering trolleys, in-flight amenities and more.

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Operations Director

Wouter Dirks

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Ascot Racecourse

An experience like nowhere else

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Famous for its ties to the Royal Family and rich history of hosting world-class horse racing tournaments, Ascot is a legacy brand in the equestrian community. Since 1711, the iconic racecourse has evolved into two, year-round race tracks, a popular filming location and focal point for hospitality. Royal Ascot is Britain’s most popular race meeting, with £7.3m in prize money and welcoming 300,000 racegoers across five days each year.

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Transforming brand perception

Ascot Racecourse came to DEPT® with a unique challenge; they had a best-in-class venue with global brand recognition, but their digital presence was far behind where they wanted it to be. With years of legacy content, functionality and an overwhelming amount information, our teams took on the challenge of completely reconstructing the Ascot online experience.

This involved redefining Ascot’s digital brand positioning with the release of a new website. The platform captures the vibrancy and dynamism of the racecourse, whilst delivering website visitors with a clear guide to the venue etiquette. An exploratory online experience is achieved through sleek user-journeys, seamlessly integrating with Ascot’s back-of-house systems and infrastructure, whilst providing a stunning website experience.

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Unlocking the Ascot digital experience

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Conceptualising a digital estate

A high-level of preparation was carried out to devise a plan of action, which radically repositioned the brand offering to focus on the lifestyle aspect of this world-renowned sports brand.

Over a 10-week period, DEPT® led a series of discovery, UX and branding workshops with Ascot to fully understand the market they operate in,  and to pinpoint opportunities based on their position within it. This involved drilling down into Ascot Racecourse’s target personas to identify who they are, what they’re looking for, and what their pain points are, in order to map their key, on-site journeys. Based on this research, DEPT® comprehensively wireframed the optimum site structure for the platform, taking into consideration the research and recommendations from our SEO and CRO teams.

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Image is everything

The revamped Ascot website harnesses the enchanting experience a visit to the racecourse encompasses, through embedding the fashion, flare and excitement with a compelling, memorable and highly engaging user experience. The imagery on the site are editorial-style images of people enjoying the different parts of the venues such as drinking champagne, cheering at the races, eating in groups or on dates or laughing in the kids’ corners. This brings Ascot’s value offerings to the surface and visually demonstrates the broad appeal and openness of the venue which, in turn, has driven commercial results.

A taste of class was instilled site-wide, bringing the opulence of Ascot’s hospitality offering forward through intelligent design. DEPT® adopted the Ascot brand guidelines in a modern, fresh way that attracts new patrons, yet is still recognisable, to ensure the site maintains popularity among its loyal, long-standing guests. The font, colours, layout and content structure of the website nods to royalty, with blues, subtle animations, clean white space, picture-led content, clear call-to-actions, and smooth user-journeys.

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Capturing the glamour of the race day experience

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Information at your fingertips

Data, insight and Ascot’s objectives of expanding its hospitality venues and broadening its consumer base inspired the content hierarchy and user journeys on the new website. Findings from our research indicated that there was a lot of uncertainty for people contemplating attending an event at Ascot, which ultimately prevented them from booking. For example, users were concerned about parking, dress codes, and how the weather affects the day.  Helpful guides were created and incorporated within the homepage design to clearly communicate this information. Likewise, the ‘Plan Your Day’ feature was redefined to bring key details to the forefront that were previously buried across the platform, feeding users relevant information and creating upselling opportunities through tailored packages.

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Creating a slick mobile experience

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Engaging mobile experience

With digital becoming increasingly mobile-led, it was essential to create a website that presents the Ascot brand in a visually impactful way. Due to the sheer size and amount of images, our team optimised the code and files extensively for speed and performance, ensuring it is fully responsive and performs excellently across all devices.

In taking a robust mobile-first approach, the UX and CRO teams worked closely with Ascot to audit and condense their online information from thousands to hundreds of pages, and structured the sitemap to tailor to audience personas. In the process of refocusing the website on the experience of attending the races, industry-specific content was minimised. Key content pages such as the Royal Ascot Style Guide, information on the four enclosures and the ‘Plan Your Day’ sections, were fully restructured and optimised for mobile viewing to ensure customers can discover and enjoy the content, wherever they are.

In the design, DEPT® moved Ascot away from a top-heavy ‘mega-nav’ to a mobile friendly ‘hamburger’ menu with an expandable secondary bottom navigation for users to search for racedays. The website modules were designed for mobile users and include more prominent calls to action. Extensive user testing was carried out with focus-groups, with equal weight given to mobile and desktop usage prior to launch.


Conversion rate increase


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The relaunch was a huge success, providing Ascot with a solid foundation to grow their digital presence. The new website was released during a key sales period for Royal Ascot, and recorded exceptional results that far exceeded the goals Ascot initially set for DEPT®.

As a result of digitally repositioning Ascot through the new website launch, ticket sales and revenue increased which was a prime objective for the undertaking. These statistics were taken from the first six weeks after launch:

  • 21.32% year-on-year increase in revenue generated through the platform
  • 41% year-on-year increase in e-Commerce conversion rate 
  • 22% year-on-year increase in transactions
  • 22% year-on-year increase in the quantity of items purchased
  • 2.11% year-on-year increase in organic traffic, despite more than a 90% reduction in live pages on the platform.
  • 26.38% year-on-year increase in average session duration

The improvements made to Ascots mobile experience has been instrumental in driving conversions:

  • 54% increase in transactions via mobile
  • 41% increase in revenue generated through mobile transactions
  • 50% increase e-commerce conversion rate on mobile
  • Average session duration on mobile increased by 26% year-on-year 
  • Improved user experience with average pages viewed on path-to-purchase reduced by 20% year on year 
  • 10% increase in the number of visitors to the Raceday Fixtures page
  • +1.5 million views of ‘What to Wear’ content pages
  • The ‘Plan Your Day’ section saw a 147% increase in page views 

Ascot and DEPT® have a longstanding partnership, collaborating on various projects involving design, UX, web and mobile app development, through to digital marketing campaigns. As one of the UK’s most long-standing brands, our teams value the opportunity to work alongside their in-house team to uphold their digital estate and innovate how digital is activated across their channels.


Executive Creative Director

Jake Welsh

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Automation to increase margin and loyalty

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Leading European online travel organisation Otravo aims to simplify the holiday booking process by providing users with competitive offers from multiple sources, enabling customers in more than 50 countries to save money while booking flights and holiday packages.

Otravo tasked DEPT® with overhauling its marketing automation strategy to deliver more personal and profitable content, drive economy of scale across its suite of booking sites and maximise growth. The project was delivered in tandem with upskilling the in-house digital marketing team to ensure ongoing successful performance.

The ambition

Otravo’s ambition is to become the go-to platform for travellers through its network of ‘local heros’ (e.g.,,, and and meta booking sites (e.g. Travelgenio, Tripmonster, Travel2be and Schipholtickets).

One of the most significant opportunities DEPT® addressed was how to grow revenue share via owned traffic by increasing the relevance of customer content using marketing automation, making Otravo less reliant on paid channels. Here’s how we did it.

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Bridging the gap

DEPT® helped Otravo better connect with potential customers in a personal but scalable way to increase conversion, margin and brand loyalty through owned channels. Otravo wasn’t leveraging the power of its Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform, which is where DEPT® stepped in to bridge the gap. 

After completing a full audit of the marketing automation and email campaign set-up of (one of Otravo’s ‘local hero’ travel booking sites and the biggest in the Benelux), we discovered significant growth potential in:

Fixing the basics

After migrating existing, static email set ups to journey builder, we made it easier for Otravo’s digital marketing team to establish engagement journeys independently. Using custom integrations, we pushed data from the platform and CRM into Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We used SQL to define the right audience alongside AMPscript to personalise email journeys to improve margins and transactions. 

Generating insights over reports

By combining Salesforce Marketing Cloud data (open rates, recovery rates) with Google Analytics stats (sessions, transactions), we demonstrated the potential impact of through a real-time dashboard that translated insights into actions. This enabled us to distinguish the vastly different approach to booking flights, hotels and cars between two different audience types – business and leisure travellers – that would inform our strategy.

Building a centre of excellence

Alongside the Otravo team, we defined the necessary roles and responsibilities needed to drive future growth. Involving team members in our strategic direction enabled us to provide ‘on the job’ training in setting up, monitoring and improving personalised email journeys to deliver results.

DEPT® implemented this improved set up and trained the in-house marketing team in less than a month.

Enhancing the customer experience with relevant content

Customer insights and preferences were also used to develop the cross selling solution. We analysed lead times of flight bookings, car rentals, hotel bookings and group composition (single, two or more passengers), to discover strong variations. After discovering that the majority of single bookings are for business travellers and that groups of two or more are most often leisure, we implemented a strategy to send different content to business and leisure travellers that best suits their needs; enhancing the customer experience and improving conversion.

Prioritising growth acceleration

DEPT® analysed the customer journey to identify two complementary solutions that would help to drive growth: an abandoned cart solution to reintroduce prospects to the buying journey, and a cross sell opportunity to drive sales after customers purchased flights. 

The abandoned cart solution was developed with engagement in mind. After analysing historical data for defined customer segments, DEPT® built message flows that delivered the right message at the right time for different audiences. We also used personalised content, such as the user’s flight information, to direct the customer to a personalised checkout page based upon their individual preferences and behaviours.

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After simplifying and personalising the booking process, DEPT®’s strategy generated 50% more margin than originally estimated in the first four months. The solution can be easily scaled across all other ‘local hero’ and meta sites to further maximise ROI for Otravo.

DEPT® has established the fundamentals for Otravo to get the most out of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. As soon as the market recovers from Covid-19, Otravo will be in a strong position to reactivate abandoned cart customers while driving cross sales of hotels and car rentals in a way that is personal to the user.


Head of Strategy

Peter van Alphen

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Celebrity Cruises

Targeted email automation

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Consistently voted one of the best cruise lines in the world, Celebrity Cruises has been providing quality, luxury cruises since 1988. As a leader in the field, Celebrity Cruises wanted to make greater use of email marketing automation to ensure a fast response to specific user actions and bring their customers the information they need rapidly. Together with DEPT®, this became reality.

Trigger, alert, report

The objective for this project was to create a fast-acting triggered email system using ExactTarget, so that users receive automated emails with useful information when they complete specific Tridion or ShortStack forms on the website. As part of this, we needed to create two new CRM request types for Ship Visit (SHIPVIS) and Competition (COMPENT) but most importantly to expose an endpoint for third party integrations (like ShortStack/WordPress forms) to call the CRM/ExactTarget implementation.

For this project, the DEPT® Digital Operations Services team wanted to build in an improved error reporting and enable them to be alerted if certain parameters were not met e.g. if three CRM request types fail within an hour. In addition, we created a Kibana dashboard where the client can easily see reports on successful and failed submissions into their CRM, the database and for their emails.

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A fast-acting triggered email system, for receiving useful information

Working with Celebrity’s internal IT and infrastructure team we developed an effective solution which required us to refactor the current form submission process. To provide a generic way of submitting a number of different submission types, the team settled on a polymorphic design pattern to choose the relevant fields and templates for the submission.

We exposed a new controller action to allow third party integrations with ShortStack forms, using a discriminator to describe the submission type. This allowed requests that used both the existing CRM integration and a new ExactTarget integration to store the data, submit to the CRM service and trigger emails in ExactTarget. Using Log4Net.ElasticSearch we were able to index the result of any of the above requests into ElasticSearch and use this data to create statistical dashboards in Kibana and fire alerts when any errors arose using ElastAlert.

To achieve the successful implementation of the project DEPT® supplied additional support to Celebrity Cruises’ internal teams to get their Siebel implementation mapping to the forms correctly. We also introduced the ELK stack and ElastAlert as a new technology into the Celebrity Cruises’ infrastructure, this provides future opportunities for adding more metrics in, to enhance analytics.

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Celebrity Cruises’ brochure upload FTP application has been added into the monitoring service to track issues with brochure request uploads. This was an area of serious impact on customer experience, so being able to simply add monitoring of it into the system was a great way to build on the work we have done and mitigate the problem.

The analytics provided on the dashboard are straight-forward and the types of requests that come through regulate trends in a fast and visual way. Non-technical users can identify issues and the marketing team are able to identify the quantity.


Managing Director UK

Brian Robinson

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