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InterContinental Hotels Group

InterContinental Hotels Group Relies on Evidon Marketing Cloud Management to Increase Digital ROI and Performance

THE PROBLEM

As the Director of Web Delivery at InterContinental Hotels Group — the world’s largest hotel company, with 4,732 hotels globally across 11 different brands — Chad Westfall is focused on maximizing key functionalities like search, inquiries, and bookings. Every millisecond of page latency costs thousands of dollars in lost sales. In 2013, Chad began experiencing slow website response time across a number of IHG’s domains. He suspected it was coming from unauthorized digital vendors collecting data and slowing down several of IHG’s domains. But he had been unable to identify the source. Westfall needed to regain control of the vendors that comprised IHG’s “Marketing Cloud” to understand how they were impacting his company’s digital ROI and take action.

THE SOLUTION

In September 2013, Westfall implemented Evidon’s Marketing Cloud Management (MCM) platform, a turnkey, tagless, and cloud-based SaaS solution. “IHG views marketing cloud management as an important function within the technology group to assess the vendors across our properties, monitor their performance, and ensure that we are delivering the best customer experience to our clients,” he said.

THE RESULTS

With MCM in place, Westfall found an alarming number of unknown vendors across IHG’s domains. While IHG had direct relationships with some, many were accessing the site through complex redirect chains. Armed with a complete view of how each vendor gained access to an IHG web property and their impact on the website’s performance, Westfall began the process of taking back control of IHG’s marketing cloud.

It began with an audit of all digital vendors seen across their sites. Then Westfall determined which department was responsible, and went to work to solve three big issues that impacted IHG’s digital ROI:

  • Slow Vendors – Latency was a perpetual issue. With MCM, Westfall was finally able to determine why a vendor’s tags slowed down his pages, leading to shopping cart abandonment and lower conversions. Some tags were implemented incorrectly on the IHG sites, relative to the rest of the web, while others were consistently below best practice benchmarks. Sorting this out lowered cart abandonment and increased conversions, driving ROI forward.
  • Redundant Vendors – Westfall found that IHG was using different vendors to solve the same problems. Removing these duplicative vendors from IHG’s marketing cloud lowered customer acquisition costs and improved operational efficiency.
  • Blacklisted Vendors – Relying on the same vendors as competitors posed a threat of customer data leaking out to them. Westfall was able to see where this competitive overlap occurred, and removed vendors who risked utilizing IHG’s data to service competitors.

Filling vacant hotel rooms each night is no small task, making IHG’s marketing technology vendors critical to driving ROI. As digital marketing strategies continue to grow in scope and complexity, having a full cost-benefit analysis of each vendor has become essential.

With the MCM platform, Westfall has a common set of metrics that articulate across the company where digital vendors are causing problems. Creating best practices for marketing cloud management took time, commitment, and coordination from each department, but according to Westfall, “It was well worth it in the end. With the many websites we manage, Evidon’s MCM is a great benefit, especially since it did not require us to add more technology to our sites to figure out what was going on. MCM also helped bridge the divide between IT, marketing, legal, and security by enforcing cross-department communication and alignment of our website strategies.”

NEXT STEPS

While progress has been made, Westfall acknowledges that the work does not end here. “MCM is not a one-time incident that then requires little upkeep,” he said. “If we want to see results, we know we’ve got to have a process in place for continuous monitoring of our vendors.” To start, he plans to create a vendor questionnaire to make sure that both parties understand and agree to IHG’s data collection and sharing policies.