Island life may be idyllic for Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf’s guests, but it poses challenges for the company’s managers. Slow, unreliable connections between resorts made it difficult to gain insight across the hotels of the group’s luxury brand.
Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf worked with IBM to build a hybrid cloud architecture that would act as a central data warehouse and analytics platform, breaking down data silos and enabling rapid insight into global operations.
Acceleratesdelivery of insight from three weeks to a matter of minutes
Increasestimeliness and accuracy of data with near real-time updates
Enablesdata-driven decision-making at both resort and group level
Business challenge story
A paradise for innovation
Over the past 40 years, Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf has grown from a single hotel in Mauritius to one of the largest resort companies in the Indian Ocean region. The company can attribute much of its success to its pioneering approach—for example, its Constance Belle Mare Plage resort was the first in Mauritius to host a Senior European Tour golf tournament, putting Mauritius on the world golf map; and its innovative sommellerie is now raising the island’s profile among wine-lovers too.
Roshan Koonja, the company’s Chief Information Officer, comments: “When our strategies are successful, it doesn’t take long for competitors to start copying our ideas. The only way to stay ahead is to make innovation the cornerstone of our business, and constantly look for new ways to improve the experience for our guests.”
This commitment to innovation runs through every area of Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf’s business—and its IT department is no exception. When the company upgraded its resorts to use a new property management system, the IT team saw it as an opportunity not just to refresh its business intelligence platform, but to fundamentally rethink its approach to analytics.
“Our guests travel a long way to visit us, and we want them to have a vacation they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” comments Roshan Koonja. “So if a problem occurs anywhere on one of our properties, the manager needs to know about it immediately. Analytics is vital to give us a 360-degree view of our operations and help our teams make the right decisions.
“However, operational reporting is only the first step. If we want to stay ahead of the competition, we will need other types of insight too—trend analysis, predictive analytics, group-level dashboards, and even machine learning and AI. We wanted to innovate by building a platform that would not only serve today’s needs, but lay a foundation for the future too.”
Connecting the dots
In designing its new analytics platform, Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf identified two challenges that it needed to overcome. The first was to connect the isolated property management systems at each of its resorts and create a single source of group-wide insight. The second was to implement the new solution in a way that would minimize the amount of time and effort the IT team would need to spend on maintenance and support.
Roshan Koonja says: “Our solution was to build a hybrid analytics architecture, linking our on-premises systems with a data warehouse and analytics tools in the cloud. We looked at various vendors, but when we saw IBM® Watson Analytics®, we realized that IBM was a step ahead of the rest. They could provide more than just cloud-based data warehousing and reporting—they could also give us the advanced, predictive analytics that we will need in the future.”
Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf’s new solution uses IBM Db2® Warehouse on Cloud as the central repository for data from all of its resorts’ property management systems. These on-premises systems are connected to the cloud data warehouse by IBM Secure Gateway Service. IBM Data Refinery (which is now available via IBM Watson Studio and IBM Watson Knowledge Catalog) saves data preparation time by quickly transforming large amounts of raw data into consumable, quality information that is ready for analytics. IBM Watson Analytics enables data exploration, predictive modeling and dashboards; and IBM Cognos® Analytics provides in-depth reporting capabilities.
“Connecting each resort to the cloud is much easier than trying to establish a data warehouse on one island and connecting all the resorts on other islands to it,” says Roshan Koonja. “Using the IBM Cloud as a hub is faster and more reliable than establishing point-to-point connections—and even if one island is having connectivity issues, it doesn’t affect users at the other resorts.”
Harnessing the cloud also eliminates many other issues for Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf’s IT team. For example, there is no longer any need to worry about server maintenance, software patching or upgrades: these tasks are now handled by the IBM support team.
“We are a hospitality company, not an IT hosting company,” says Roshan Koonja. “The IBM Cloud helps us focus on our core business instead of wasting time on infrastructure management.”
Unlocking new levels of insight
Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf has rolled out the new IBM Cloud™ platform to both of its Mauritius properties, and has a roadmap to extend the solution to its seven other resorts in the coming months. Once the rollout is complete, it should be possible to gain a complete overview of operations across the entire group—a level of insight that has never been easy to achieve in the past.
“Previously, if we wanted to report across the entire group, we had to extract reports from each of our local property management systems and then merge them manually,” explains Roshan Koonja. “Soon we’ll be able to do group-wide reporting at the touch of a button—making performance management and decision-making so much easier.”
Operational analysis for individual hotels is also much faster. Instead of requesting data from the IT team and waiting for up to three weeks for a new report to be developed, users can now use IBM Watson Analytics to explore data and create dashboards for themselves. And since the data in the IBM Db2 Warehouse on Cloud repository is now refreshed several times per day, the insight they obtain is always timely and relevant—supporting rapid decision-making and helping to address any problems much more quickly.
Roshan Koonja comments: “We still have a long way to go with our rollout, but there have already been moments where the solution has shown its potential. For example, we were looking at some data about types of accommodation at our different resorts, and Watson Analytics suggested that if we opened a family villa at one of our hotels in the Seychelles, we would increase our revenues. We hadn’t even asked it that question—it just looked at the data, inferred the result, and highlighted it to us as a possible topic for further investigation. That’s when we really got excited about what Watson Analytics could do for us.”
The company is also keen to explore other IBM Cloud capabilities, such as integrating feeds of weather data from The Weather Company, to help it assess booking trends and predict revenues—especially from weather-sensitive areas of the business such as golf courses and outdoor activities.
Roshan Koonja concludes: “Our first priority is to finish our rollout across the whole group—that’s when we’ll start seeing the full benefits. After that, we will look at unlocking the potential of integrating with other data sources and introducing new technologies like machine learning and AI—continuing Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf’s tradition of innovation, and keeping ourselves one step ahead of the competition.”
About Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf
Constance Hotels, Resorts & Golf is a collection of five-star hotels peppered across the Indian Ocean, with properties in Mauritius, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Zanzibar. The group has a passion for hospitality, and offers tailor-made services that help guests experience luxury in beautiful surroundings, without ostentation.