Rocco Forte: Building the Ultimate Guest Journey

Jun 29, 2021

Jason Q. Freed

Rocco Forte Hotels has seen the world shift over the past 25 years the group has been in business. Founded in 1996 by hotelier Sir Rocco Forte and his sister, Olga Polizzi, this high-end luxury hotel group has 15 hotels in its global collection with aspirations to add at least 10 more. And to realize that level of growth, the group knows it needs to lean on the customer base that has driven its success so far.

But, as the pandemic took its heavy toll on the hotel industry, guest behavior trends as we knew them went out the window. The question became: How does a brand truly know what guests want today across the entire customer journey? What can the data tell a brand as it begins the process to rebuild?

“It doesn’t matter what modeling you do for disaster scenarios. No one would have ever thought to make contingencies based on revenue dropping so abruptly or to the levels seen over the past 12 months,” says Toby Herbert, Group IT Director, Rocco Forte Hotels.

It became clear that connecting data across the company’s property management systems into one centralized hub would be the key to providing important insight into the customer journey that could then help to personalize the guest experience to further drive business.

“We wanted to revamp the integration technology behind the PMS and tie together the PMS with the single customer view that pulls together all sources from all the hotels – all of our dynamic content, segmentation, and stay behaviors across all the different hotels and locations,” Herbert says.

Simply put, the data could provide the basics – like whether the guest is a business, leisure, or family traveler, their total spend, their upsell potential, booking behaviors, and so on. Those insights then help to drive the content the team includes in direct marketing and emails. But, Rocco Forte needed a solution that would make it easy to connect the data from all of its properties to build better insight into the entire guest journey.

Connecting the Dots

As Herbert sees it, the problem is that the industry doesn’t offer a one-stop shop. “Even with the very latest PMS offering, there wasn’t a solution that would actually sit in the same database and tie them together with the outputs we need,” Herbert says. Additionally, the group has two hotels in Russia and China that require an on-premise PMS due to data protection regulations. “For one PMS vendor to talk to its own product in Russia or China, we needed a third party to help integrate that.”

So, one of the first boxes to tick was to find a solution that could tie the cloud to the on-premise installations. That’s where Hapi came in. Because, while a one-stop shop would be the industry ideal, Herbert says it wouldn’t be workable for all companies anyway.

“You’ve got legacy systems. You’ve got brands, sub-brands, management contracts. There’s a lot of movement; hotels get taken over, bought out, and so on,” he says. “Quite often you’ve got to integrate into what you have. Even if you have a longer term strategy, you might have to integrate for many years before you’ve reached that goal. It’s rare you get a turnkey, complete blank sheet and put it all in as you would want to in the ideal world.”

He says that’s where Hapi helps, by enabling companies to do just that, to plug into whatever system is available at your fingertips. And as the world moves to the cloud, Hapi is able to integrate with Oracle Cloud. Hapi is a cloud data hub that aims to eliminate barriers to innovation by reducing integration costs and increasing vendor alignment. By building to Hapi’s single API, suppliers immediately have access to Oracle APIs from many PMS instances at one end point, whether on-premise or in the cloud.

“What Hapi meant for us was that we were able to be much more agile,” Herbert says. “We could switch it on very quickly and make changes quickly. The other options we looked into would have required compromises.”

As for the process of building to Hapi, Herbert says it’s been straightforward. “The process of setting up with the Hapi side has been great. Hapi has been helpful in guiding us, and they have brought good knowledge to the table,” he says. “We chose them because they clearly have a good track record with projects. There were lots of similarities of what we were looking to do and what Hapi has delivered on or is working on in their roadmap. It was a great fit straightaway. They just got it.” 

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