William Hill Grand National Case Study

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William Hill is one of the world’s biggest bookmakers. On April 10th, 2021, they faced the unique challenge of serving old and new customers exclusively online throughout the world famous Grand National Festival.

The challenge

TrafficDefender was tasked with ensuring William Hill’s most loyal customers had an excellent betting experience throughout the Grand National, which was expected to break all records for traffic to their web infrastructure.

The outcome

TrafficDefender provided a sleek, adaptable and fair virtual queue that protected William Hill’s web infrastructure, allowing them to deliver full functionality and faster-than-usual response times to existing customers while processing thousands of bets each minute.

One of the biggest wins from using TrafficDefender was that our usual Saturday business was unaffected by the rush of Grand National traffic. Not only did our loyal customers not lose any functionality, but they also noticed the site loading faster than usual, which is unheard of.

Matt Berridge, Head of Site Reliability Engineering at William Hill

Eight times the usual traffic expected on biggest day of the year

Saturday is the busiest day for the gaming and betting industry, with dozens of league football matches plus events like the Masters golf tournament running in parallel; adding the Grand National to the mix makes it the single busiest day of the year, as the historic race attracts millions of non-regular punters.

2021’s Grand National was bigger than ever for online betting, as the last-minute announcement by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that betting shops must remain closed, and that the race was to be held behind closed doors, made the event online-only.

William Hill anticipated 8-10 times the usual velocity of traffic, especially as punters returned to settle their bets after the race. Knowing their existing customers always expect a high level of service, and with record-breaking numbers of new customers signing up, William Hill could not risk degrading their customer experience through slow pages, loss of functionality or website and app crashes.

Although their web infrastructure had been scaled up and unnecessary features slimmed down, there was no room for error as a single point of failure could still bring everything down. William Hill could not gamble with their customers’ experience by not adequately preparing their website and Sportsbook app.

Evening the odds with a virtual waiting room

William Hill had an ace up their sleeve, calling on TrafficDefender, the virtual waiting room solution developed by Netacea, for help with the Grand National project. Having worked with Netacea to curb arbitration betting and keep automated bot traffic under control, William Hill knew they could trust TrafficDefender to improve customer experience throughout the enormous spike in traffic.

TrafficDefender and William Hill worked closely together to optimize the virtual waiting room, incorporating the iconic William Hill branding. Customers could see their queue position and how long their wait would be, while being assured that they were allowed through on a first come, first served basis.

TrafficDefender William Hill case study
Customers were able to see how long their wait would be in the William Hill virtual waiting room

In a smart move, William Hill ensured only new customers would be placed into the queue to visit the bookmaker’s site, with their most loyal customers bypassing the virtual waiting room entirely.

As bets rolled in, William Hill’s digital team monitored the exact number of new and existing visitors on the site and adjusted queuing thresholds at the click of a button using TrafficDefender’s dynamic dashboard. At this point they comfortably took several thousands of bets each minute without compromising site performance.

The real test began after the big race. Punters returned in their droves, eager to settle their bets. With eight times the usual number of requests per second made on the system, and not wanting to risk damaging user experience for its most loyal customers, William Hill throttled the number of new users on the site using TrafficDefender’s virtual waiting room.

With up to 370,000 people in the queue at its peak, TrafficDefender helped maintain William Hill’s usual betting business during this critical time.

Website given “turn of foot” by TrafficDefender

It wasn’t just winning jockey Rachael Blackmore who had significant success at the 2021 Grand National. William Hill’s website and app had their busiest day ever, breaking the previous record by 50% and smashing the bookmaker’s record for most new users registered in a day, all with no site performance degradation.

About the TrafficDefender virtual waiting room

TrafficDefender’s virtual waiting room solution allows businesses to keep their websites fast, functional and generating revenue even at exceptionally busy times.

Gain control of traffic on your website or mobile app with TrafficDefender. Contact us today to arrange a free demo of TrafficDefender’s virtual waiting room solution for your business.

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