Delighting 160 million guests every year is not an easy task. To succeed, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) uses vast guest interaction and experience data in support of the more than 4,400 hotels that it owns, manages, leases or franchises across seven brands worldwide.
In 2008, IHG was collecting and analyzing about five terabytes of information. The data volume and the number of employees accessing the information strained the performance limits of the legacy warehouse IHG then owned. System performance had slowed to unacceptable levels, with some critical reports taking far too long to complete while others failed to run at all.
As the company faced issues with an overtaxed infrastructure, IHG also wanted to collect, integrate and analyze even more data in order to drive the business forward. IHG needed to expand its understanding of guest experiences by collecting and integrating guest information with information about customer relationship management campaigns, market analysis, direct marketing, hotel operations, reservations and even contracts. Clearly a new data warehouse was in order.
The selection process began in late 2008 with an evaluation of systems from three leading vendors. In addition to system performance, IHG considered speed of implementation, initial price, total cost of ownership and the ability of any new system to expand to handle even larger data volume.
IHG selected a Teradata Data Warehouse Appliance as the new platform in late 2008 and a four-phase installation by a 10-person team of IHG and Teradata employees began in December. By March 2009, the new platform was live and supporting many functions. Additional functions were added over the next few months and in June the new system was completely functional. In July, the old system was fully retired and shut down.
Reports in a snap
The new system delivers critical reports in a fraction of the time. A report on earned or redeemed loyalty points that previously took seven-and-a-half hours to complete now runs in five minutes; another report on revenue per room night dropped from six hours to three minutes; a third report that took 15 hours to complete is now completed in less than 10 minutes.
The new Teradata Data Warehouse Appliance not only meets the hotel company's current needs, but it provides IHG with room for additional data analysis in the future. The data warehouse appliance can scale linearly to 140 terabytes, meaning that performance and efficiency does not degrade as the system grows. And unlike IHG's previous data warehouse, the Teradata platform does not require continuous performance tuning and optimization, delivering more robust data analysis without the IT support costs.
One of those future uses will include near real-time use of information in support of the company's website. For instance, when one of IHG's more than 47 million Priority Club Rewards members logs in to the IHG website, the company will be able to present customized and relevant offers based on the member's history as a hotel guest.
Alex Grigorian is the senior vice president, enterprise technologies, for InterContinental Hotels Group PLC. In this position, Alex is responsible for delivering marketing and loyalty technologies, worldwide sales technologies, enterprise data governance and management & business intelligence, all the corporate systems (ERP, HR, legal, corporate services) that provide IHG with a competitive position in the hospitality industry. He defines technical direction, sets strategy, and develops and delivers next-generation technologies that facilitate the achievement of company goals.