Data Helps Wyndham Hotel Group Deliver a Five-Star Experience
The hotel company relies on technology to ensure that its rates and inventory are in sync across platforms.
With more than 7,500 hotels in 69 countries under 15 brand names, Wyndham Hotel Group is the largest hotel company in the world. However, guests aren't the only thing Wyndham has to accommodate. The parent company of such brands as Dream, Planet Hollywood, Ramada, and Super 8 also has to house travelers' data. Keeping track of available inventory, rates, and discounts is challenging, but ensuring that this data is accurate and available across Wyndham's various brand sites, distribution systems, and online travel agents is an entirely different feat. Yet, it's a necessary undertaking to guarantee that customers get the correct rate and have a positive experience no matter where they book.
“You get to the point that the customer is confident that the price that they're getting is the correct price,” says John Reilly, Wyndham's director of global ecommerce systems.
To keep its data and platforms in sync, Wyndham makes sure that the organization always has room for technology and testing.
A large portion of Wyndham's data, including its brands' inventory and plan rates, resides under the company's own roof. Additionally, Wyndham relies on a third party, loyalty and CRM firm Olson, to manage its Wyndham Rewards loyalty program across seven websites and five different languages, as well as ensure that its rewards program content is relevant to each region. Through integrations, Wyndham is able to sync the loyalty program data with its own customer data, Reilly explains.
Still, this bulk of data is no good to Wyndham unless the staff can access it quickly. So, the company has moved to in-memory solutions where the information is available in the computer's cache and easier to obtain. “If I have to go through the hard drive, it's going to be slower,” Reilly says. “Keeping things in memory is a key technology shift that's occurring as the price of memory continues to decrease at a pretty good rate.”
Testing the service
So how does Wyndham turn its data into insight? The company currently uses Adobe Experience Manager, which it adopted about a year ago, to evaluate customers' experiences across desktop and mobile--and is considering using it for tablet, as well. In addition, the hotel chain relies on Adobe Analytics, which it has been using for the past four years, to track visitors' site activity, including what reservations they make, which properties they look at, and how much time they spend on a particular page. Reilly says that the company is considering tying in Adobe Campaign to use the insight from its other two tools to personalize its content and promotions, such as for its loyalty members.
“It's all about learning so that we can hone the process and make it a smooth customer experience, whether they're on the homepage or they're getting a confirmation once they made a reservation,” he says. “We can always learn more from all of that data.”
Based on the insight from Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Analytics, Wyndham then conducts A/B testing to optimize the customer experience. For instance, Wyndham tested changes to its products detail page about four months ago. In the test, the company showed visitors one of two site versions: The old version, which had heavy text and smaller pictures, or the new version, which features larger pictures that people could click on to expand and read further information. According to Reilly, the test resulted in a “pretty good lift” in conversions; although he declined to cite exact figures.
Having an on-the-move mentality
Given that travelers are on-the-go, Wyndham also uses Adobe's tools to monitor visitors' mobile activities. The majority of Wyndham's customers, according to Reilly, use the company's mobile app and website for “task-oriented” activities, such as checking rates or booking rooms. So, Wyndham has simplified its mobile experience to reflect its customers' behaviors. For example, if customers grant Wyndham access to their GPS location, the company can display the hotel closest to them and its rates on the mobile homepage. In fact, Wyndham won an HSMAI Gold Adrian Award for its mobile websites and app in 2012.
With all of its mobile success, Wyndham has no reservations about expanding. Currently, customers who access Wyndham's websites via a tablet only see the desktop version; however, Reilly plans to enhance the tablet experience by make the pages less crowded. Furthermore, he says the company is exploring new types of multimedia, including ensuring that all of its property images are shot in higher resolution so they'll render correctly in each customer interaction channel.
“We want to be in those channels that our customers use,” Reilly says.