Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) was acquired last year by Chinese travel and tourism company Jin Jiang, establishing a combined organization with 150 million loyalty members, and 1.3 million rooms across 12,000-plus hotels. The takeover also inspired some improvements to the way RHG operated.
With a new owner keen to carry on its rapid growth trajectory, RHG was aware that as well as keeping its millions of individual guests satisfied, it also needed to focus on its relationship with the huge network of franchisees that own and run its hotels.
The group decided it was time to overhaul its property owner portal, to improve the experience and offer franchisees a better way to interact with Radisson. The aim was to offer property owners a one-stop-shop to complete an application for a new Radisson-branded hotel, view the opening status, review property performance, keep track of site visits and view assigned tasks.
The project had a rigid one-year timeframe and set budget, and RHG partnered with Accenture to deploy Salesforce Community Cloud for the new owner platform.
The first step was to assess Radisson’s internal processes, to ensure the right platform was in place to build this enhanced owner portal on. Steve Quick, Products Technology Consulting, Accenture, explains:
To make that meaningful, we actually had to go and look at the internal processes and everything that was being done within corporate to see how that could be made more efficient, more consistent, all on the same platform behind the scenes so that what was being brought ahead to the owners was all the right things, and done in a very fast and efficient way.”
As is the case in so many large organizations, RHG discovered that every team was using something different, whether their own software, shared drives, Google spreadsheets or OneNote. Amrita Mukundan, VP of Openings and Hotel Integration, Radisson Hotel Group, explains:
It was just all over the place. So first we had to change our internal mindset. Every team thinks their product is the best thing to use and didn't want to move forward. Our developers were already using Salesforce, they wanted to continue with that. “So to get everybody on there meant just getting every stakeholder in the business together with IT, and just putting everything that you want out there. We just started with that process, and this way everybody has a say on what goes next.
The team got to work on building the back end of the owner portal, cleaning up all the shared drives and the Excels and the OneNotes to make it a more efficient and common framework.
While every team was initially canvassed for an opinion on what they wanted to see included in the project via the tech department, RHG and Accenture made a decision not to meet with individual teams. This way, the project team was able to move fast and keep within the strict timeframe and budget, rather than spending time on the needs of individual teams, which always take precedence over everybody else's needs. Quick adds:
We had to move fast. So you had to get not only all the teams together so everyone was on board, but having people in decision-making authority to be able to make decisions and keep moving. We moved fast enough where we could make decisions quickly, do a little quick proof of concept and if we didn't like it we can change. Even within the schedule, we did a lot of learning and trying things out and flipping through versus make a decision and you're stuck with it because we had to keep moving. We have fixed schedule, fixed budget. So the only thing we could change to get to the end to hit objectives was scope.
Another approach that helped propel the project forwards quickly was using the vanilla version of the Salesforce application. Quick explains:
We really did leverage the platform. We had a very hard governance role from the start that we weren't going to customize much of anything. We really pushed through and looked at what can the tool do with minor customization if we needed it and keep moving at pacing to deliver the value. We could come back and customize if it was something that was really kind of a secret sauce to Radisson that really was needed outside the platform, but that helped us also move at pace and really having that communication, understanding what the platform could do and where its limitations are to find the right solutions.
The enhanced owners’ portal, dubbed Community by Radisson Hotel Group, launched in January and RHG now has a place where owners can do everything they need to. Mukundan says:
We have a lot of multi-unit unit owners. With the Community piece, they can actually go to this one place and see all their properties at the same time. So they don't have to log in separately, which was a problem with our previous software where they had to log in for every property. They can just click through each one. So one might be going through an application stage, one might be going through an opening stage and one might be in operations and they can actually see all of them in this one level.
Improved workflows in the new system have reduced the approval time on new deals from two to four weeks to less than 24 hours, while the move to digital operations has made the old 30ft tall stacks of paper a thing of the past. Quick explains:
The paper thing - it's no joke. One of our first meetings, the President of the Americas came into the meeting and he literally had a [huge] stack of paper. He sat down and as we were going through the meeting, he literally was going through the stack of papers, reviewing things and signing.
That was just a common practice because that's how things had operated. That totally got removed. All the work that went to do new opening reviews or new deal reviews is totally gone, and now as you go through you construct a deal, it's auto-put together into a summary package that gets flagged for the approving committee, and they can go in and it's entirely seamless and easy.
It wasn't something that was some big custom heroic effort. It was finding those spots of value and where the pain points were and then using the tool to the best of its capabilities to squeeze out the value.
Another benefit of the move away from printouts to digital is the access to tangible metrics, highlighting properties that are not performing well or responding to all their leads. Mukundan adds:
This helped us from a performance perspective. We could actually go and address these issues with our general managers.
As for what the overall keys to the success of the project were, according to Mukundan, it came down to having open conversations around the rigid budget and time constraints, and a working partnership that allowed any issues to be hashed out immediately. Quick adds:
We had a very, very tight coupled partnership on this between Accenture, Radisson and Salesforce. In my years of doing this kind of more transformative program, the way the partnership worked and the way that people played really close together, it was a really tight-knit group where people knew what they were responsible to do, but also were open give suggestions and work in a very collaborative manner. We would have never been able to do four major releases globally across that many business units in less than a year if that did not work that way.