Project Summary and Client Background
Bit-Wizards created a fully integrated software solution for Wind Creek increasing online reservations by 300% while creating a single administration point that reduces maintenance time.
The ChallengeWind Creek Casino & Hotel, located in Atmore, Alabama, is a massive 225,000 square foot facility with 57,000 square feet of gaming floor and over 1,600 electronic gaming machines and includes a 17-story, 236-room luxury hotel. While the casino and hotel are the main attractions, other lines of business include a spa, steakhouse, cooking studio, and special event registration. Wind Creek is owned and operated by PCI Gaming Authority, an agile organization that is continually adjusting their business needs and practices to the marketplace and operates two other casinos in Alabama.
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel opened using a Micros hosted reservations web solution, MyFidelio, that provided an integrated solution between their website and their on-site Oracle-based Micros Opera resort management system. MyFidelio is an integrated solution provided by Micros that offers the ability to sell hotel rooms, but had limited capability to cross-sell the other Wind Creek lines of business and little customization capabilities. Moreover, there were on-going issues with reliability from the MyFidelio system resulting in the website frequently being unavailable to potential customers.
Soon after opening, Wind Creek Casino found that the local telecommunications infrastructure is not reliable for real-time e-commerce transactions. The solution would have to work independent of the existing PCI Gaming Authority backend business systems, but integrate periodically with these systems without causing interruptions in service or overselling their current inventory of products. Additionally, it would need to share data with third-party websites, such as Expedia, and have a single point of administration. They turned to Bit-Wizards for a solution.
The SolutionThe first step before providing a long-term solution was an interim fix. This was developed quickly to provide Wind Creek with a basic website that could fulfill reservations without integrating into the PCI Gaming Authority’s business systems. While Bit-Wizards engineers worked to get the temporary website developed, the senior engineers worked on the architecture for the permanent solution.
The new reservation website, built on Microsoft’s .NET framework, utilizes two Microsoft SQL server 2008 based databases that are continually updated through a data sync process via securely encrypted web services. Additionally, the new system processes reservations, and coordinates both availability and pricing data with Expedia, through the use of a Windows service that monitors real-time availability and pricing information with Wind Creek’s business systems through a custom web service.
And everything is administered through a custom pricing tool developed using Silverlight. This tool works within SharePoint 2010 and also provides important business intelligence pulled directly from PCI’s internal business applications. It allows the Wind Creek staff to configure the product names, descriptions, pricing schedule, availability schedule, and images from a single administration point within SharePoint.
The ResultBusiness has boomed for Wind Creek with online reservations up 700% with 30% of those including at least one or more from the other lines of business from Wind Creek’s spa, cooking school, restaurant, and special event registration. Wind Creek is now able to sell all products and services available at the casino, including customized packages that combine all multiple products and services. All of the product and service information is also shared with Expedia through the vendor’s web services. The reservations data captured through both the website and Expedia are managed and are integrated into the back-office business system automatically.
Downtime for the system has been virtually eliminated through the real-time availability service, a web service that works to provide a real-time call into the business system to confirm the availability and pricing of products and services a website or Expedia customer are requesting. This prevents over booking and other such events due to the scheduled cyclical nature of the Data Sync Service.
Overhead efforts are reduced by gaining a single administration and analysis tool within SharePoint and repeat business has improved through new marketing efforts coordinated through the use additional customer data captured within the new system.