Holland America Enhances Online Guest Experience

Cruise Industry Magazine's Monty Mathisen has issued an article on how Holland America uses Oracle Real-Time Decisions (RTD) software as a "Competitive Weapon" to drive revenue in the right direction by presenting passengers with relevant shore excursions.


In short, the RTD looks at a customer’s history, transactions, lifetime value, demographics and customer service information.  Then, it marries that data with real-time context, which is what a potential customer is clicking on on a website, putting into a shopping cart or telling a call center.

In Holland America’s case, RTD targets shore excursions to guests, and shows them three or four relevant tours instead of an A-Z list.  “It allows us to provide guests with a better experience online,” said Paul Goodwin, executive vice president, onboard revenue, planning, port operations and tours at Holland America. “Historically when they went to buy an excursion, we showed them 35 choices. Now, the software looks at the demographic of the guest coming in with historical knowledge, and will store the tours they are most likely to buy. “It’s early in the process and some of the results are very good. It can drive more revenue and the guest experience online
is better.”

For Oracle, which provides RTD to companies ranging from airlines to online betting sites, the solution is based on customer attributes. “It inputs (attributes) into a self-adaptive decision engine,” said Paul Rodwick, vice president of product management at Oracle. “A piece of the program takes those inputs and uses an algorithm to present a particular person on a channel with an offer. It continuously learns and adapts. “A set of shore excursions is presented to a given customer, and if they click on one, the system will re-score all the algorithms (for that customer) and is prepared to make a better recommendation next time,” said Rodwick. “It looks at customer attributes and determines which are predictive.”

RTD can be installed relatively quickly, and is multichannel friendly, meaning it can combine data coming across websites, call centers and more. With so much data on tap, companies tend to start out with a limited list of customer attributes.  Over time that list will grow, so much so that one financial company considers 400 attributes when deciding how to pitch each customer.  Another
financial firm has used the software to make 450 quadrillion decisions over its time, increasing the scalability of the system.  “This gives you a direct read-out on which attributes are predictive,” noted Rodwick. “If you give it 100 attributes it will tell you what’s working.”

RTD allows for new ways of understanding customer behavior and marketing more effectively.  Customer channels that had separate goals may now have to come together, and agree to use specific analytical messages while essentially sharing customer data.  But with more possibilities, more marketing ideas can be tested and instead of waiting for results – companies can see what works right away. Data on whether photos, headlines and new copy worked is available instantly.

“Real-Time Decisions is knowing in real-time context who the customer is, what they are doing on the website, their past history, and what they told the call center,” said Rodwick. “It sees real-time information and presents an offer when a consumer is most likely ready to accept it. It’s a great tactic.”

Watch Therron Hofsetz, Director of IT for Holland America Line, tell the story himself. 


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Issues related to Oracle Real-Time Decisions (RTD). Entries include implementation tips, technology descriptions and items of general interest to the RTD community.

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