How unifying customer profiles is paying off for this iconic travel brand
Xanterra is using a customer "Golden Record" to deliver on its promise of personalized customer experiences.
Xanterra Travel Company owns a collection of travel and hospitality brands. All share the mission of providing travelers with unforgettable experiences.
The company manages concessions at many well-known national parks and destinations including Glacier National Park, The Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore. It also owns or manages over 30 hotels adjacent to these iconic locations, along with six rental yachts, seven golf courses, and 89 food and beverage outlets.
“We’re a company that grows through acquisition,” explained Andrew Heltzel, Xanterra’s corporate director of marketing, CRM and analytics. “We just sort of get what we get”, Heltzel said, in the way of data and systems when acquiring a property.
Five years ago, Xanterra set out to consolidate customer data collected across its properties into a single record per guest. The goal was to enable the company to personalize marketing messages and unearth opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling the 20 million people it serves annually.
To achieve this monumental task, Xanterra partnered with Redpoint Global, a customer experience platform that presents its offering as an evolution of the traditional customer data platform. Redpoint specializes in creating a “Golden Record” for each customer by combining and resolving multiple profiles into a single identity, enabling much more targeted and relevant personalization.
The goals of the implementation were:
- To create a single-source-of-truth profile for each customer that identifies individuals across properties.
- To consolidate those data into a single record.
- To enhance customer records by appending third party data.
- To accomplish these tasks in real time.
Onboarding the technology
Because Xanterra makes frequent acquisitions and inherits martech and data from companies acquired, it doesn’t have the luxury of standardizing on a single system. Heltzel and his team needed a solution that overcame the complexity of combining data from many systems.
Implementing a customer experience platform “allowed us to leave our existing infrastructure in place. We brought in over 100 different sources of data and established a ‘golden record’ across the different interfaces and source systems.”
Heltzel notes that when scoping out vendors — a process that began in 2017 — he was looking for a vendor that understood Xanterra’s data complexities and brought the best and fastest solution compared with the competition.
To kick off the vendor selection and onboarding process, Xanterra established a core team of about 15 individuals made up of leaders from every brand in their portfolio. “This was probably one of the first enterprise-wide projects that impacted all the companies within the organization,” explained Heltzel. “It was new territory for us.”
The onboarding process took about six months. “It was surprisingly fast in my view,” said Heltzel. “We could have gone even faster, but we decided to go through the implementation process brand by brand. Redpoint allowed us to leave our existing infrastructure in place. We brought in over 100 different sources of data and established a Golden Record across the different interfaces and source systems.”
A leap forward in personalization and ROI
Once all the data were combined and customer identities unified, Xanterra began delivering personalized messaging to audience segments.
The impacts were felt almost immediately. For the first time, Xanterra was able to segment its audiences in a way that allowed the company to deliver offers to specific groups of customers (e.g., a family group, golfers, retirees, etc.). Some properties saw increases in email ROI of more than 400% in the first year.
“It was absolutely stunning,” said Heltzel. “We were coming from basically nothing — just a batch and blast type of email tool that didn’t even allow us to manage customer preferences.”
Technology as a means of future proofing
For companies looking to undertake this advanced level of digital transformation, Heltzel’s main piece of advice is to do your homework up front.
“We took our time doing due diligence around the type of customer experience we wanted to achieve, which was delivering real-time personalized experiences across every channel. Hands down, all of our marketing leadership said yes, that’s the future. That’s where we need to be,” Hetzel said.
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