The CIOs Role as Marketer
Of course, the competition boils down to a market of one - the individual consumer. People often assume that because of our high volume of guests, the experience we provide for them also had to be geared for the masses. But digital technology now enables guests to customize their experience, whether it` s a Web-based interaction or an in-park attraction. For example, our new Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit roller coaster, launching in 2009, will allow guests to customize their ride experience by choosing the music that plays around them while on the roller coaster. When the ride ends, guests will be able to edit video footage of that experience into a music video to keep, share with friends or post online.
As CIO, I drive the knowledge, abilities and technologies to enable our customer-based market focus.
Our systems have always had valuable market-defining customer data, but we didn` t always know how best to leverage it. Fortunately, I` ve been able to work closely with executive peers to implement business intelligence that triggers a more analytical, customer-centric approach to marketing and sales.
Knowledge of our market helps me drill down into our data to understand what is really happening in our business. For example, trends indicated that our annual passholders - Florida residents primarily - spend less on food, merchandise, and other items than our day pass guests. I wondered why that was, and thought that perhaps we were losing details by averaging out the spending data. It turned out that some pass holders do spend on par with day guests, particularly when they attend our special events, Mardi Gras and Halloween Horror Nights. This analysis showed that we need to segment those annual pass holders more deeply in order to better understand them and market to them. So we are building a new data warehouse and business intelligence tools that will calculate spending by hour and by pass type. The initiative started in IT, and we can find many similar opportunities if we look at market details and ask questions.
Placed in the revenue-producing seat
In an economy where the overall market for vacation spending is shrinking, boosting the conversion rate of consumers considering a Universal vacation has become a business priority, which also means its my priority. Our conversion rate - the number of people considering an on-line ticket purchase who execute the transaction - had plenty of room for improvement. We found that a lot of the conversion failure stemmed from clunky purchasing systems stuck together as e-commerce tools. By integrating these systems and improving business process flow, I` m able to improve conversions and put IT in the revenue-producing seat - a seat I like to be in.