Terracotta Helping Hotelier Build Individualized Services

InterContinental Hotels is using in-memory data-sharing systems to better anticipate what amenities customers will want during their stays.
Currently, InterContinental mainly functions around big, centralized databases, both IBM's DB2 and Oracle's, to capture all essential data associated with the operation of 4,000 hotels. But for a manager, concierge or other non-database administrator to get information out of the database is a daunting task. Peer thinks a new era is coming where daily operational data, some of which won't be stored in the centralized databases, will become available to hotel managers.

"We could use Terracotta to share information between hotels," he suggested. Minutia, such as what kind of refrigerated drink a frequent traveler likes or what candy he prefers to find on his pillow, can't be shared easily today between hotels. If a guest is moving from one InterContinental unit to another, that information could make his next stop more personalized and enjoyable, Peer said.

"That information already exists, but it's hard to tap. With this approach, transient data is more visible. We could create more services based on transient data. 'This incoming guest likes these amenities.' We could give one a spa pass, another a drink promotion," he said.

InterContinental as a $20 billion-a-year hotel chain also has a large loyalty rewards plan, the Priority Club, 42 million strong -- "the largest hospitality club in the world," he said. Catering to the individual needs of such a frequent-traveler club could strengthen bonds between InterContinental and its customers but it would depend on both stored information and recently acquired, transient information based on recent stops.

"That's part of our whole approach. Transient information will be made available between hotels," said Peer.

At this point, if there's a festival or community parade somewhere in Atlanta, Peer has no way of having the hotel aware of the event spread the information across the concierges at the 40 InterContinental properties in the Atlanta metro area. Peer sees the day when local information becomes a shared resource as well as data in big, central databases.

While the core system is open source code, enhanced versions are sold as $5,000 to $12,000 annual subscriptions, Terracotta officials said.

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