Umstead Hotel room

Know what luxury hotel customers want – before they ask

The Umstead Hotel and Spa provides five-star service with SAS® Data Management

You approach a hotel registration desk. After asking for your name, the friendly reservation clerk asks if you would like the same suite you had last time. Or a dinner reservation at the same table you enjoyed last time. He even asks how your dog, Roy, is doing.

This is the level of personal attention that luxury hotels must provide. After all, hotels aren’t defined simply by their amenities. A five-star property earns its reputation by its level of service. And it’s why The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, NC works hard to anticipate a guest’s needs – even before a request is made.

No, this doesn’t require every employee to have a photographic memory. Instead, The Umstead has integrated data from its spa, dining and reservations systems. These distinct systems once operated independently, making it difficult to see the total value of the customer.

To deliver a more personalized experience for each guest, data from these systems is integrated in a single system using SAS Data Management. Now, when a staff member greets a guest, they can see details of every facet of that customer’s previous stays – all on a web-based dashboard. And better customer service is only a click away.

Delivering a unified view of services

With 150 guest rooms, a spa and a Forbes Five Star restaurant, The Umstead has all the elements of a luxury hotel. What staff needed was a better way to delight guests with the information they already had.

“The challenges that we faced were simply trying to get information about our guests and use it quickly,” says George Viall, Director of Revenue Management for The Umstead. “You could conceivably go into all of our pre-existing systems to figure out what each guest likes, but that wasn’t efficient, especially while you had a guest on the line for a reservation.”

“We know what makes our guests happy and what will keep them coming back. That’s been the biggest advantage thus far, and it’s a differentiator for our hotel in this market.”

George Viall portrait

George Viall
Director of Revenue Management

To fuel better interactions, Viall turned to SAS Data Management, and its embedded data quality capabilities, to create a “golden record” for guest data. The solution pulls data from existing systems, cleanses it and integrates it into a single view of customer interactions. It can then display this data in a single interface that all customer-facing staff can access.

“With SAS, we’ve been able to tailor our service around that complete guest profile,” Viall explains. “The single record for each guest allows you to be much more anticipatory of the guests’ needs. Often, we know what they want, even before they ask.

“Any technology that can fuel this level of service is invaluable to us. It makes a big impression on the guest. They know that we are attentive to their needs and that we use that to inform our services.”

Building the foundation for personal attention

Building a more unified view of guest information started with an integration of existing records. Naturally, there was a significant overlap across these systems, and seeing an aggregated view of customer information led to some interesting discussions on Viall’s team.

“We reduced our duplicate profiles by 52 percent, which had a variety of impacts,” Viall says. “Not only are we more confident of our level of service, but better data means that our marketing is now more targeted. Once we merged all that information, we could see regions or customer types that might be interesting to explore as new markets.”

With new customers coming in, The Umstead relies on its data management system to keep them happy. A luxury property thrives on repeat business and personal referrals, and the only way to achieve these is through exceptional service.

“We really know who’s coming in and what they’re coming in for,” Viall says. “Just as important, we know what makes our guests happy and what will keep them coming back. That’s been the biggest advantage thus far, and it’s a differentiator for our hotel in this market.”

Umstead Hotel logo


  • Drive more lasting customer relationships through personalized experiences.
  • Understand and anticipate customer needs.
  • Create a unified view of each guest.


SAS® Data Management


  • Provided better, more anticipatory service to guests through a unified set of data about previous activities within the hotel.
  • Integrated three systems containing guest information: reservations (Opera), spa (SpaSoft) and dining (OpenTable).
  • Reduced duplicate profiles by 52 percent and uncovered new target areas for marketing.
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

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