Business challenge

In the resort and hospitality space, customers expect relevant outreach from the brands they follow and trust. How could Inntopia help clients reach their guests with timely, personalized messages?

Transformation

Inntopia uses IBM Watson Campaign Automation to tailor its clients’ messages to each customer’s unique preferences, and reach out on the optimal channel and at the best time to drive engagement.

Results

Boosts

email open rates thanks to personalized, relevant content

Drives

conversion and increases guest loyalty with compelling offers and incentives

Attracts

hospitality clients, helping Inntopia grow its business into new markets

Business challenge story

Keeping guests engaged

Since 1998, Inntopia has partnered with leading ski resorts across the world to help keep their guests coming back season after season. Building on its success in the industry, Inntopia now aims to grow its business into the competitive hospitality sector.

Donnie Clapp, Brand Strategist at Inntopia, begins: “We offer a comprehensive, integrated package of digital marketing, e-commerce and business intelligence capabilities to help our clients nurture the long-term loyalty of their guests: the Inntopia Marketing Cloud. In the hospitality and resort world, many marketing departments are stretched to the limit—and our technology and expertise helps them free up the time they need to invest their skills and creativity in strategic activities.”

Targeted email campaigns are a crucial component of Inntopia’s digital marketing offering, as Brian Elliott, Director of Digital Strategy and Partnerships at Inntopia, explains: “We see that personalized messages are a powerful way to grab a prospect’s attention and inspire them to make a booking. By harnessing data on guest purchasing histories, preferences and demographics, our goal is to help our clients build more targeted and effective approaches to customer engagement.”

Legacy email marketing platforms place limits on the level of personalization that hotels and resorts can achieve. For instance, depending on the system, businesses might be unable to tailor subject lines and images for each guest, or find it difficult to send emails at a specific hour of the day. For these hotels and resorts, there was always a risk of a sending a message at a point when customers were unlikely to be checking their email, and of the message going unnoticed.

In addition, insufficient time and resources can sometimes prevent hotels and resorts from developing and managing email campaigns that could improve their bottom line. Through automation, Inntopia aims to help its client send more targeted messages.

Amy Josef, VP Client Services at Inntopia, comments: “We send anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of messages on behalf of each of our clients. So when we were searching for an email and automation provider to partner with, we knew we needed someone with a comprehensive approach to digital engagement.”

In many cases, the IBM solution has been a key factor in clients deciding to work with us.

Donnie Clapp, Brand Strategist, Inntopia

Transformation story

Reaching out with personalized and automated messages

To achieve effective personalization and automation for its clients’ email campaigns, Inntopia selected IBM Watson Campaign Automation. Today, the IBM solution is a key component of Inntopia’s Marketing Cloud offering.

“We use a custom-built database and portal to integrate with our clients’ systems for booking, lodging, activity and customer relationship management, and we needed a solution that could connect to it seamlessly,” recalls Brian Elliott. “It was very straightforward to connect IBM Watson Campaign Automation with guest data on our portal. We can now build a 360-degree view of each guest, which enables us to segment audiences for our campaigns in a more granular way. Better still, the solution determines the optimal time to send messages based on each guest’s engagements with past campaigns—helping ensure that we are connecting with every member of the audience.”

Today, Inntopia empowers its clients to target customers based on unique attributes such as number of visits, total lifetime value and relationship status. For example, clients can send first-time guests different copy and images than repeat visitors. Similarly, repeat visitors with a high lifetime value can receive different promotions than guests who have only stayed at a resort a few times.

“Everything we do is geared towards finding the best message, offer or incentive to nurture a guest’s loyalty,” continues Amy Josef. “Understanding each customer as an individual is crucial to achieve high levels of engagement. Our clients can now use behavioral data to detect changes in customer needs and preferences, such as going from being single to getting married, or going from being a couple to starting a family. For example, if guests who previously visited a ski resort as a couple have started searching for kids’ passes, clients can display images with a family theme, as well as offers for kids’ ski packages.”

Inntopia can now enable clients to drive everything from simple nurture campaigns to complex, omni-channel engagements. The company helps leading resorts use localized event triggers—like ticket scans and check-ins—for messages in IBM Watson Campaign Automation. For instance, when customers step onto a ski lift, the resort can automatically reach out with tailored promotions such as après ski entertainment, delivered via SMS or push messages on its mobile app.

Brian Elliott adds: “No one knows their guests better than our clients do. We offer them full access to IBM Watson Campaign Automation, and the guidance and advice they need to make the most of its capabilities. Without a doubt, the solution plays a key role in our value proposition—between our robust platform and IBM Watson Campaign Automation, we know that we can deliver on practically anything a client wants to do around digital marketing.”

Results story

Driving conversion, nurturing loyalty

With IBM Watson Campaign Automation augmenting its digital marketing offering, Inntopia is empowering its clients to maximize customer engagement and retention. Today, the company runs an average of six personalized campaigns at a time for each of its clients—enabling them to connect with their guests on a one-to-one level.

Amy Josef comments: “The subject line is typically the first part of a message that a customer sees, and personalized content there can make the difference between sparking a guest’s interest and missing out on an opportunity for engagement. Today, our clients can tailor their subject lines with information specific to each guest, and some of our resort clients have seen a substantial increase in open rates across the board as a result.”

Deeper insight into customer data is enabling Inntopia’s resort and hospitality clients to shape higher-quality guest experiences.

“For most of our clients, the definition of a VIP customer is based on value and frequency—but the rise of the digital channel has added another data set that can be overlaid,” says Brian Elliott. “We now use data from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to determine whether a customer is an influencer on social media, and also feed attitudinal data from surveys and review platforms like TripAdvisor into the mix. If a VIP customer has had a disappointing experience, we can suppress all automated emails until the client has contacted them and restored the relationship.”

By helping its clients achieve their digital marketing goals, Inntopia is supporting its own expansion into the hospitality space.

“Our goal is to be as well-known for our work in the hospitality industry as we are in the world of ski resorts,” says Donnie Clapp. “When we are starting a conversation with a potential client, one of the first things we do is give them a demonstration of our services, including IBM Watson Campaign Automation. In many cases, the IBM solution has been a key factor in clients deciding to work with us.”

He concludes: “We have forged long-term partnerships with some of the country’s largest ski, golf, and hospitality brands based on a greater level of expertise and better-quality software tools. At the end of the day, our job is to provide our clients with the best possible solution to their business problems, and that’s why IBM Campaign Automation is such an excellent fit with our other in-house tools.

business logo

About Inntopia

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Stowe, Vermont, Inntopia allows resorts to connect their lodging, skiing, golf, and other software systems into an integrated platform of e-commerce, automated email marketing, and powerful business intelligence solutions. Built to solve the uniquely complex challenges of the destination resort, Inntopia’s software and expert consulting have become the gold standard for ski resorts, golf courses, waterparks, destination hotels, DMOs, resellers, and other players in the travel industry.

Take the next step

To learn more about IBM Watson Campaign Automation, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/marketplace/digital-marketing-and-lead-management

View more client stories or learn more about IBM Watson Customer Engagement