Turning the ship around

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Further complicating Aramark's marketing was that disparate data sources and management systems made it difficult to retrieve information. “We recognized that there was a bad business situation for Lake Powell, but there were no data-driven answers,” explains Murphy. “Nothing that said ‘here is our problem and here is how we can fix it'.”

No more”best guess” marketing
Aramark first needed to consolidate data into one unified marketing database that could be easily accessed. Intrasight president Jeff Walters says that unlike Aramark's initial rudimentary customer database, today's program is in step with the new generation of predictive modeling.

“All of the [new] data has been overlaid on the customer database to give a much fuller profile about interests, characteristics and demographics,” he explains.

Intrasight deployed software to automate the export and transfer of Aramark's data from its reservation system, property management systems, and Web sites into Intrasight's marketing intelligence platform. Imported customer data was then cleansed and consolidated, which gave a more complete view of customer activity. Aramark's marketing department can pull lists and query the database directly via the Web, allowing property-level analysis of all customers and can identify key patterns, trends, and customer segments for future marketing efforts.

The new system enables extensive modeling of customer behavior, permitting Aramark to predict the results of marketing initiatives before the investment is made. What's more, the system automatically reports on the ROI of marketing investments.

Murphy says the new system provided crucial knowledge immediately, which allowed business improvements within the first two weeks. “We were sending the wrong message to the wrong people at the wrong time,” he explains. “We found out our customers are a lot wealthier than we thought.”

Protecting against customer defections was an important first step. Once top customers were identified, Murphy's team started outbound calls. The effort resulted in a sustained 45% conversion rate. “It was the hottest lead sheet we've ever worked,” he says.

Based on messaging and creative suggested by analysis, marketing materials have been changed. Murphy credits these alterations for recently delivering “the most successful direct mail program ever.”

Best of all, Aramark can quickly and accurately answer questions about the characteristics and buying habits of its Lake Powell customers. “We know our customer now, and we have new ways to talk to them that will be incredibly more interesting and more effective,”Murphy says.

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