Akamai allows us to use rich media for campaigns and promotions, and to easily scale to support tens of millions of site visitors – all without spending more on hardware or software.Vineet Gupta, Senior Vice President of Technology, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (Fairmont) is a leader in the global hospitality industry with a worldwide reputation for excellence. With over 50 distinctive hotels worldwide, the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts portfolio is an extraordinary collection of luxury hotels that includes well-known landmarks like The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts San Francisco, The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Banff Springs and New York’s Plaza Hotel. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’s website Fairmont.com – with more than one million unique site visitors per month – services travelers and travel professionals in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, and generates the highest booking rates of all the company’s booking channels. The site has been recognized on many occasions for its excellence in the digital marketplace and was named the World’s Leading Hotel Brand Internet Site at the World Travel Awards in 2006.
Committed to delivering high-touch service at every phase of the travel experience, the company goes to great lengths to ensure it delivers a stellar online environment. With that in mind, the company planned to re-launch its online presence and enhance its web-based booking application in March 2007. Of critical importance was its ability to offer a portal that reflected its luxury product and affluent customer base. This entailed improving website performance. With its core infrastructure based in North America, Fairmont realized it would be challenging to ensure fast and efficient website performance for site visitors around the world.
Fairmont’s website needed to meet three key requirements to support the brand’s objectives:
- Improve the Web Experience for Guests: Fairmont wanted to improve website performance to meet the ever-evolving needs of if its loyal and valued guests – especially in international markets – and to offer a web portal that was superior to those offered by its competitors.
- Scale to Support Planned Growth: With ambitious growth objectives and brand expansion plans, the hotelier needed to accommodate a sizeable increase in site visitors from new geographic locations.
- Maintain a Consistent Global Brand: Fairmont wanted to deliver a consistent customer experience to guests around the world.
Focusing on Core Competency
To address its requirements, Fairmont initially considered building out more data centers, but quickly realized that this approach was impractical. “We run a centralized operation and prefer to manage technology via a core infrastructure. On top of that, it would have been impossible to deploy the needed data centers in such a short timeframe,” explains Vineet Gupta, Senior Vice President, Technology, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
As it began considering content delivery networks, Akamai was top of mind. “Everyone knows that Akamai is the industry leader. Not only did we discover that Akamai could help us overcome the performance and scalability issues we anticipated, but that its solution is easy to maintain from a central location. Once we were up and running, it was hands off,” continues Gupta
Increasing Revenues through Better Performance
Fairmont guests are seasoned travelers who insist on prompt and attentive service throughout their travel experience, be it in the hotel or prior to arrival. Not only does Fairmont provide a number of online features – such as rich images, virtual tours, interactive maps, the ability to indicate personal preferences and preferred rates – it also offers a simple booking process and real-time booking engine that make it easy to make reservations online. “Travel agents and travelers will not wait long to complete an online booking – if the site and booking application are slow, they will pick up the phone to make their reservations,” explains Gupta.
In addition to upgrading its online booking platform and streamlining the reservation process, implementing the Akamai cloud-based solution was critical to improving web performance. With Akamai, online booking transactions – including searching for availability and rates – occurred dramatically faster, putting Fairmont in the top quartile of Gomez’s industry benchmark. “Shortening our site’s response time is key to fulfilling guest booking and pre-arrival expectations. We’ve essentially improved our end-to-end response time by 90%, which in turn enhances the overall guest experience,” says Gupta. In addition, overall website performance has improved around the world by 81%, and by as much as 132% in the Asia Pacific region. These improvements have translated into increased online revenues for Fairmont. “We experienced our highest bookings online in August 2007, and nearly doubled our conversion rate that month. And year-over-year bookings have increased by 40%,” continues Gupta.
Supporting More Traffic Consistently
As one of the world’s leading luxury hotel groups, it is imperative that the Fairmont brand is consistently represented across all channels. Upholding the brand’s presence in cyberspace requires support for high-quality images, rich movies and dynamic transactions. “Akamai helps us deliver an engaging experience that meets our customers’ expectations while allowing us to serve even more guests,” explains Gupta. In July 2007, Fairmont.com served 10 million page views, a 71% increase over the previous year. “There’s no way we could have served over 6 million pages views on our previous platform,” says Gupta. Improved website performance has also given Fairmont’s marketing department a new level of confidence. Akamai has ensured that both email campaigns and landing pages are delivered quickly. “In the past, our marketing group had to carefully consider the number and timing of campaign distributions. With Akamai’s solution in place, we are able to execute a larger number of campaigns of greater complexity, and drive more people to our site,” continues Gupta. In fact, Fairmont’s month-over-month traffic patterns have increased dramatically – year-over-year, the hotelier has seen a 60% increase in monthly traffic, and in the four months after it implemented the Akamai solution, traffic increased 20% month-over-month.
Growing without Constraints
With an eye on rapid growth in new international markets, Fairmont needs to ensure its website can support its objectives. “Akamai allows us to use rich media for campaigns and promotions, and to easily scale to support tens of millions of site visitors – all without spending more on hardware or software,” concludes Gupta.
About Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
A leader in the global hospitality industry, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is an extraordinary collection of luxury hotels that includes iconic landmarks like The Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Monte Carlo and New York’s The Plaza. Fairmont hotels are one-of-a-kind properties where sophisticated travelers can discover culturally rich experiences that are authentic to the destination. Situated in some of the most exclusive and pristine areas in the world, Fairmont is committed to responsible tourism and is an industry leader in sustainable hotel management with its award-winning Green Partnership program. Fairmont’s portfolio includes over 50 distinctive hotels, with plans to develop over 20 new properties in the coming years in destinations as diverse as Beijing, Abu Dhabi and South Africa. Fairmont is owned by Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, a leading global hotel company with over 80 hotels worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands. The company also owns Fairmont and Raffles branded Residences, Estates and luxury private residence club properties. For more information or reservations, please call 1-800-441-1414 or visit www.fairmont.com.