The advent of the digital economy adds a new wrinkle for any business looking to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Why? Because to create a seamless connection between a brand and its audience, this experience has to be delivered at the digital edge—but the exact location of the digital edge varies from business to business, and from application to application.
In the case of travel and transportation companies, it becomes even trickier—because the customers themselves are always on the move, and they carry the digital edge with them in their pockets. Whether making bookings, managing trips or interacting with their preferred travel providers, their devices and interactions are, by definition, mobile. Which means travel businesses need edge infrastructure that can service customers wherever they are.
This was the challenge facing IHG Hotels & Resorts, a global hotel chain that manages more than 1,600 properties across 27 countries, welcoming about 10,400 guests every day. I sat down with Eric Norman, Head of Infrastructure, Architecture & Innovation at IHG, to learn more about how the company transformed its digital infrastructure to better service customers. Here are some highlights from our conversation, and be sure to check out our full conversation to learn more:
Around the world and back again: Equinix helps IHG build global network infrastructure
According to Eric, IHG has made incredible strides in the last two years from a technology perspective, including going all-in on virtualization and automation (think: seamless check-in, member rewards, and immediate hotel assistance). To support those new capabilities and get closer to customers, IHG worked with Equinix to build a distributed IT architecture with performance hubs located around the globe—wherever its customers are on the move (which is almost everywhere).
IHG can now quickly and easily shift data and applications from one region to another to offer customers in-region services with higher performance. The company can also move data into its enterprise data warehouse, unlocking analytics capabilities that provide a better understanding of customers and their expectations. In turn, IHG is using these insights to inform and improve its interactions and engagement with customers (both virtually and IRL).
Finding the edge: IHG is meeting guests where they are
The company launched its IHG One Rewards mobile app about a year ago, and has already enrolled 115 million customers. Using Equinix Fabric®, our software-defined interconnection solution, and Network Edge virtual devices, IHG has created an agile network infrastructure with global reach. As a result, the company can now provide an exceptional customer experience at the digital edge—no matter where in the world that edge may be.
Using the mobile app, IHG can deliver innovative services that meet customers where they are. This can help with everything from booking a stay to enjoying the property once they get there.
Eric emphasized how the new network infrastructure will help IHG future-proof its operations. The company can develop agile services, including bringing in new partners and service providers whenever they’re needed. In addition, it can continuously deploy those new innovations without ever having to rebuild the network. As customer expectations continue to evolve, IHG will be able to change its offerings without sacrificing network stability. With the help of a global digital infrastructure, the company’s experience now lives, evolves and responds to the needs and preferences of those who matter most: IHG guests around the world.