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Red Lion Hotels Company

We localized national travel.

Overview

Data Centralization through Data Warehousing

THE CHALLENGE

Red Lion Hotels’ existing colocation facility was cost-prohibitive and inflexible. They needed a hosting environment for their hyper-local web and mobile platform for travelers that could scale and reduce operational infrastructure costs.

THE SOLUTION

We performed a vendor evaluation and migrated their platforms to AWS, increasing network speeds and load times and decreasing costs by almost 40%, making a better travel experience for their guests.

THE OUTCOME

Red Lion anticipates increased network speeds and faster load times which will improve the corporate site’s conversion rates. Red Lion is also planning to establish scalable testing environments within AWS for future marketing initiatives, in addition to migrating both TicketsWest and other production systems.

About the Business

Red Lion Hotels Corporation is a hospitality and leisure company headquartered in Spokane, Washington. The company has forty-seven hotels throughout the United States and one in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to the Red Lion hotel brands, the company operates TicketsWest, a ticket distribution service for concerts, theater, sports, and family events.

The Business Challenges

Red Lion began developing hyper-local web and mobile platforms for travelers. Each of the company’s hotels populates its online storefront with information unique to that location within these platforms. Users can then research and book travel destinations based on these regional perspectives.

Red Lion had already started to build the new platforms using the Umbraco content management system, Windows, and SQL Server but was undecided on a hosting environment. The company was dissatisfied with the cost and scalability of its existing co-location facility, so it brought in cloud computing solutions provider Ollion to conduct an analytical evaluation of hosting options concerning Red Lion’s technical and business goals.

David Barbieri, Red Lion’s SVP and CIO, explains,

“Our IT department is very lean, so systems infrastructure issues can easily distract our resources from more value-added strategic work. We are looking for ways to avoid operational infrastructure burdens, as well as their associated capital infrastructure costs. The AWS product set is perfectly aligned with these goals.

With AWS and Ollion, we have found a much more cost-effective way to keep the lights on for a critical part of our infrastructure while reducing the risk of IT resources getting distracted from our core business strategies.”

The Ollion Solution

Ollion’s evaluation revealed that Red Lion would save approximately 38 percent with Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) on-demand pricing, compared to their existing co-location facility. AWS also provides improved monitoring capabilities and Level 1 Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS) validation.

Because Red Lion’s web and mobile platforms cater to travelers, usage naturally spikes around the holiday and vacation seasons. To handle these traffic fluctuations, the company requires a highly-scalable infrastructure. Ollion assured Red Lion that AWS designs its solutions to handle such variations.

With the hosting decision made in favor of AWS, Ollion began Red Lion’s migration away from the co-location facility. The platforms are now running on Amazon EC2 with Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon S3, Amazon VPC, and Amazon CloudFront.

The Business Benefits

Since the migration, Red Lion has seen increased network speeds and faster load times, improving the corporate site’s conversion rates. Red Lion is also planning to establish scalable testing environments within AWS for future marketing initiatives, in addition to migrating both TicketsWest and other production systems.

"The infrastructure resources available through AWS and Ollion enable us to avoid certain operational ‘keeping the lights on’ distractions so we can maintain our focus on core business strategies."

David Barbieri notes, “Certain aspects of our business are very dependent on IT. In those areas, we often find that IT understands the business better than the business understands IT. In other words, we are better at identifying technology-based opportunities to address business needs. This is to be expected, but to do this well and deliver the most value possible to the business, it is critical that IT stays focused on understanding and meeting the strategic needs of the business.

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