Fairmont Raffles uses analytics to boost profits

SAN FRANCISCO – As Fairmont Raffles’ executive director of customer relationship marketing, Andrea Johnson is helping to lead the charge at the international hotel and resort company to use analytics to create a better guest experience, and a more profitable one for the company.

It was a new role within the company when the Toronto-based Johnson took it on a year-and-a-half ago, and during analytics vendor SAS Institute’s recent SAS Executive Forum conference she told IT World Canada that it signals a company-wide shift to harness the power of analytics and drive personalization and insight for the company as a whole from the wealth of data it already has at its fingertips.

Many sectors of the hospitality industry are already making quite advanced use of analytics; the gaming sector, for example, and those with loyalty programs. Johnson said the luxury sector has been lagging a bit in terms of using the full utility of analytics.

“For many years the feeling was the storefront was really the holder of the relationship with the customer,” said Johnson. “But now we believe the utility of data analytics will drive customer analysis and new business.”

They first began using analytics to assist with revenue management and pricing strategies. With so much more happening online, they’re also now looking at a guest’s online behaviour throughout their digital journey, and using analytics to predict future guest behaviour. Social media monitoring is part of the mix, and marketing has also been optimized and automated to a greater degree.

“We know from purchasing behaviours what someone is most likely to do, and we want to expand share of wallet,” said Johnson. “If you fall within a data set where we’ve developed a predictive model, we’ll contact you to encourage you to purchase a suite, if we think you might but you haven’t. We also want that road warrior to come back and bring his wife on a leisure segment, and we know some of the triggers to pull to get someone to come back.”

Fairmont also uses analytics to inform its media approach, looking at what channels people are responding to, such as email. That’s married with transactional information to inform their future media approach.

“We wouldn’t be able to do anything without our IT department; analytics does require a great deal of collaboration,” said Johnson, particularly around creating the right data environment and enabling the analytics team with the right tools. “The relationship with the tech team is instrumental to what we’re doing.”

Fairmont is currently going through a reinvention of its data environment, bringing marketing automation online and bring in more sources of data. They haven’t made much use of the cloud to date, but Johnson said visual analytics is something they’re very interested in.

“Visual analytics is really important. Even five years ago we were just wanting to know everything, but it’s not all useful and visualization allows is to demonstrate what the value is of certain key performance indicators,” said Johnson. “It’s no longer just reporting; it’s a key performance indicator of what’s going on. It’s something we’re committed to most completely.”

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