Intrawest's Data Collection Gets a Lift
Intrawest, an operator and developer of village-centered resorts, like most companies ran into hurdles when trying to garner data to identify who their patrons are. The company's customers are skiers and snowboarders covered with snow and dealing with freezing fingers--asking them to fill out paper-based forms slashed Intrawest's chances of learning how to become more inline with its customers.
"We wanted to identify people and essentially come up with a user-friendly way that's efficient to get people to provide data to us," says Randy Cuff, director of CRM development at Intrawest. "Visitors could be coming up for a day's skiing at Whistler, for example. They would buy their ski pass, ski all day, eat in one of our mountain top restaurants, buy a snack in the village, and go home. We wouldn't know that they had been to Whistler that day."
Essentially, Intrawest required a solution that would allow it to capture a vast amount of data, including contact and demographic information along with customer feedback, while not inconveniencing its customers. So the company deployed a solution from Techneos Systems, developers of tools for mobile computer assisted data collection with Entryware software, in conjunction with AlphaSmart's Dana units. The resulting solution is mobile self-service kiosks that could be placed at appropriate, convenient locations to handle traffic flow of customers.
According to Mark Cameron, president of Techneos Systems, working with Intrawest's needs posed a challenge for developing a solution. "Given the public would be wearing ski boots and wet gloves, we had to create a kiosk that was durable, portable, easy to use, and secure." Techneos suggested AlphaSmart Dana units, which run about 25 hours on a single charge and are built to withstand heavy usage.
"[Techneos and AlphaSmart] really help us to get the data from the people directly, without even having to stop and ship out paper forms to get data keyed. The data comes off the Dana units onto a desktop computer into some form of file... and then from there, we can import it into our data mart," Cuff says.
The implementation is fairly new, according to Cuff, and was piloted for about three months last January. But according to Sean Ballard, research and revenue management supervisor at Intrawest's Blue Mountain, the company is already seeing results: "With the paper-based system we managed to collect about 150 contacts per month. In the two months we had the two kiosks on location, we increased the contacts collected ten-fold. We gained an amazing 2,200 useable contacts in February and March 2004."
By shredding the need to use paper-based forms Intrawest can now get data faster and more accurately. "People are intrigued by it," Cuff says. "It draws people to it."
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