HOT PROJECTS: Travel & Hospitality

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Meeting customer demands can pay off. Seattle-based travel site Expedia.com uses E.piphany E.6 for its analytics capabilities, to orchestrate its email campaigns, and to act as a de facto workflow tool for its call centers. The nearly $2 billion travel Web site claims those tools have helped it keep up with demands of customers. The company has also achieved a favorable return on investment due to an increase in customer retention, which is partly based on Expedia's ability to finely segment its customer base for targeted email campaigns. Expedia also saw a 400 percent increase in targeted email response rates for airline special fare offers. "We've got a much clearer picture of when we expect people to call and what they will call about," says Jon Zimmerman, Expedia's director of IT and applied research. Getting a handle on its sprawling business, Thomas Cook AG, the world's third largest travel group, is now using MicroStrategy Inc.'s Business Intelligence Platform. The travel group, which comprises 30 tour operator brands, about 3,600 travel agencies, 73,000 company-managed hotel beds, and a fleet of 86 aircraft operated by five holiday airlines, uses the software to better understand hotel capacities and contractual terms, optimize travel routes, and track the types of rooms that are booked, according to Hans Dresler, data warehouse manager at Thomas Cook. Approximately 200 Thomas Cook workers are able to analyze 500 gigabytes of sales information contained in an IBM DB2 data warehouse. The company expects to link customer information to the data warehouse in the near future, thus allowing decision makers to receive corporate indices proactively in real-time via a variety of channels, including email and short message service, Dresler says.
Managing accounts and customer status is difficult enough, but for a hotel chain in 63 different countries, the task is downright daunting. That was the problem facing Le Meridien, the global hotel group comprising 169 luxury hotels in more than five dozen countries and territories. The company was managing all of its accounts and contacts on a paper basis in each hotel office. Susan Clark, senior vice president of marketing and sales, says the company needed to manage its guest data in a central location accessible by all sales and customer service employees. So Le Meridien deployed Salesforce.com to 200 workers in under two months, and is already claiming big dividends in the form of customer data organization, sales efficiencies, and better corporate account service. Also, management can now oversee any Le Meridien location with real-time reports and forecasts.
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