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The future of data at Center Parcs

The future of data…at Center Parcs?

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My family and I recently went to Center Parcs (in Woburn, since you ask). We had an excellent time. The variety of the activities was very impressive; the kids learnt to cycle on the car-free roads and spent hours (and I mean, hours) in the subtropical water park.

But what impressed me most was the organisation’s ability to collect data on, and from, its customers. Or at least the potential the business had to access vital customer intelligence (since I don’t know what Centre Parks actually do with this ability).

It’s all about customer intelligence

Firstly, most customers book their holiday online, and then probably reserve some activities in advance. This gives us a good sense of our digital customer’s behaviour, in terms of traditional conversion rates and additional top-up activities. Because this is all tied back to the initial booking number, we have a decent idea of who we’re dealing with from the start.

But it’s when you arrive for your holiday that the opportunities arise for really clever data collection. Firstly, the “key” to your room is a digital flexi-wristband.

The consumer’s point of view

From the consumer’s point of view, this makes sense considering that one of the main attractions is a water park, and the last thing you want to do is to lose your metal key at the bottom of the pool.

There is a second “old-school” challenge associated with swimming pools; where to keep your cash. Everyone will remember those strange waterproof “capsule” purses that you had to keep your money in at the beach – my mother-in-law still has one and swears by it. But they were weird, and you were never entirely confident that they really were waterproof. If you took them off, you were constantly worried that someone would walk off with your holiday money.

However, at Center Parks, your wristband key is digital, covered in silicone and, therefore, waterproof. This means you can register it and use it as a credit card in the water park (and theoretically, but not currently, everywhere else).

Your transactions are added up, and payment is taken from your card at the end of your stay. This cleverly alleviates the awkward prospect of hundreds of families looking out for where they left their purse.

What does this mean?

Moreover, because your key is associated with your room, and therefore with your overall booking, it is possible to build up a full picture of your transaction history in the water park.  This could inform things like when, and how long, guests stay in the water park.

In addition, whenever you book any other activity across the resort (that is, those that are not in the water park, and therefore don’t use the key wristband), the staff always ask “what lodge number are you staying in?”. This, of course, is for security reasons, but it also means that the guest’s activity can be matched back to his or her accommodation and booking.

This means there is the capability to have a full single view of the customer. By joining all of these systems, it would be possible to create propensity modelling for new customers, based on what type of activities they have pre-booked. From their very first engagement, we would be able to identify those customers most likely to become long-term repeat visitors. Lookalike targeting profiles could be used to improve marketing acquisition, and push notifications could promote those activities that might be less busy at a particular time.

A great customer experience

I suspect that some would argue that much of this tracking is a bit too “big brother”, and runs the risk of violating data privacy. But the difference here is that the guests can see the benefits of this digital solution, (the door key that is harder to lose, and which doubles as a waterproof wallet), which makes them more willing to engage.

This is a value exchange: the company is able to track its customer, the guests keep their bank notes dry. Furthermore, much of the analysis outlined above does not require access to personal information – it can only be matched to the booking reference, and onwards to a generic customer ID. None of this would need PPI data.

The growth of the Internet of Things means this type of solution will become more and more ubiquitous over the next few years. There are, for instance, already cars that record where, when and how fast you are driving so that you can lower your insurance premiums. There are apps that give you offers based on how close to a particular shop you are.

The Future

Until now, it has primarily been the big retailers driving the development of online customer experience. But this has changed. Now any company (regardless of size) who can provide a complete, physical and digital customer experience (automotive, entertainment, specialist retail and hospitality) has the opportunity to become data-driven and improve its performance through customer data analysis.

At Station10 we believe that a complete, experiential view of the customer is necessary in order to create an integrated digital and physical proposition that makes sense and adds value to the consumer. In the age of wearable tech and the Internet of Things, this is not only possible – it is becoming compulsory.

Every company has data at its disposal. If you would like to learn more about how to make the most out of yours, do not hesitate to contact us.


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