Hallandale Beach, FL (June 26, 2013) — Shell Vacations LLC, a Wyndham Vacation Ownership (NYSE: WVO) subsidiary and one of the largest independent vacation ownership clubs and property-management groups in North America, is reaping big rewards from a survey pilot launched in cooperation with ZDirect and Arizona State University. The Shell Vacations Hospitality 2013 Logit Study used predictive analysis to determine consumers’ willingness to pay for vacation rental attributes like additional bedrooms and kitchens, based on guest demographic. The task exceeded expectations, with 10,000 recipients responding and $100,000 generated in room revenues.
Instead of guessing how to price its vacation rental units, Shell Vacations Hospitality enlisted the expertise of big data specialist ZDirect to distribute an email survey crafted by Arizona State University that would drive intelligence for revenue managers. The goal was to learn more about their customers’ perceptions of price vs. value. Survey recipients were chosen from a rate code within the Shell Vacations Hospitality database. Those who answered eight simple questions would receive 20 percent off their next stay at a Shell Vacations resort.
“By partnering with ZDirect and ASU to initiate the pilot survey, Shell Vacations Hospitality was able to learn far more than originally intended; they not only understand future booking probabilities, but they know how to structure questionnaires that get big results and drive big revenues,” said Shayne Paddock, ZDirect CIO. “This project is proof that people are willing to provide information, they just need an incentive — and nothing extraordinary. Shell Vacations Hospitality was already offering a 20 percent discount through other channels. By asking very real questions, rather than hiding behind a lot of marketing smoke and mirrors, and being honest and upfront as to why they were requesting the information, they produced a huge amount of intelligence. The icing on the cake was $100,000 in room revenue they never would have generated if it wasn’t for this effort.”
Dr. Timothy Tyrrell, Professor of Tourism Economics at Arizona State University, used the project to determine the viability of the survey method used commonly by academics, but infrequently by practicing revenue managers. Using ZDirect and a logit framework, Shell Vacations Hospitality was able to retrieve the information it needed by asking only eight questions. If the logit framework was not used, Tyrrell said it would have taken hundreds of questions to arrive at the same results.
“Electronic surveys are here to stay,” Dr. Tyrrell said. “If structured properly, desired results can be easily attainable. Key to survey success is found in the incentive. If the offer is good and the information you are inquiring about is of interest to the recipient, and they are connected to electronic media, the response rate will soar. The pilot survey conducted for Shell Vacations Hospitality is proof of that.”
“The pure science used in this study is cool, but the enormous number of surveys completed was unprecedented, and it resulted in statistically significant data that can be easily replicated and used for future analysis,” Paddock said. “From the onset, Shell Vacations Hospitality told us they expected the industry standard three-percent click-through return, anticipating around 1,500 responses. If only 400 people responded, they said they would still be able to gather enough data sufficient for their analysis. The results, however, were remarkable. Today, Shell Vacations Hospitality is adjusting its price points for premium units based on feedback from its customers.
“Just think of the possibilities if a hotel company set out to learn five new things about their customer through a quarterly survey such as this,” Paddock said. “Hotel companies, together with ZDirect and hospitality’s finest universities, could truly change the way eMarketing and Big Data are impacting the bottom line.”
Dr. Tyrrell said the University of Arizona would be delighted to collaborate once again with ZDirect on future hotel company surveys. Those interested are asked to contact ZDirect VP of Sales Caren de’Ath at (954) 376-3409 or email her at [email protected]
Hoteliers interested in improving their two-way communications with guests are encouraged to visit ZDirect at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC), June 25 to 27 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Booth No. 125. For more information on ZDirect, please visit www.zdirect.com.