Hilton Hotel Case Study

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Date Submitted: 08/20/2011 06:05 AM

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Hilton Hotels Corporation: Data-Driven Hospitality

Hilton Hotels Corp. has learned that customers are more satisfied when they have a problem and that hotel staff takes care of it then if the stay goes flawlessly.

Giving hotel staff the information to make those critical recoveries is the “ reason for being” for CIO Tim Harvey and the rest of Hilton’s IT team. Its also the reason Hilton, during one of the industry’s worst downturns in decades, oiled $50 million into a custom-built customer information system that since late 2003 has been integrated to cover 22 million guests in every property across eight brands that Hilton owns. “The hospitality industry is a people business,” Harvey says. “It doesn’t do any good to have great customer information that’s only in the reservation system and available to the call center. We need to have it common across all systems.”

Hilton is putting its customer information system, called OnQ, to the test in a high-stakes expansion program. As the industry regains momentum, Hilton opened 125 hotels in 2004 and is estimated 150 in 2005. OnQ is the IT centerpiece of a tw0-year-old Hilton customer-relationship-management strategy, officially known as “customers really matter.” The strategy is pinned on the idea that employees with a clearer idea of who customers are and what their past Hilton experiences have been can engineer constant improvement.

There’s plenty of risk in the strategy. For one, Hilton needs to present its deep customer histories clearly enough that employees at the front desk, where turnover averages more than 100 percent a year, can put it to use. And Hilton is trying to use the integrated information system, combined with its HHonors frequent-guest program, to build loyalty with customers across an incredibly diverse mix of eight hotel brands – so the same customer is recognized checking into a $79 room at Hampton Inn in Davenport, Iowa, or a $140 suite at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in...