When you go to a spa, you want stress relief. You want relaxation. And you want to escape the taxing minutiae of everyday life. Long lines and extended wait times are not a part of the equation.
“An afternoon of relaxation can be completely undone by a frustrating checkout experience,” says Paul Kaczmarek, CIO of Red Door Spa. “And we can’t have that.”
Red Door Spa is built on personal pampering. With 50 luxury spas and hair salons indulging thousands of guests every day, the company must balance a high-volume business with a service-oriented philosophy.
“Our customers expect leisure and personal attention,” Kaczmarek says. “Technology must enable the guest experience, not get in the way.”
- Unfortunately, Red Door Spa’s former IT infrastructure was getting in the way.
- Scheduling and point-of-sale (POS) applications—the backbones of any day spa—were slow.
- A hodgepodge of underutilized servers made it difficult to maintain current services, let alone deploy new ones.
“With upwards of 10,000 guests per day across all of our locations,” says Kaczmarek, “improving screen loading or transaction times by five or six seconds can make a huge difference.”
Consolidation, virtualization deliver speed, cost-efficiency
Before application performance could be improved and new services deployed, Red Door Spa needed to update its technology infrastructure. NextNet Partners, a leading technology services firm, suggested the company look into the Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®), which is based on Intel® Xeon® processors.
“We never thought of Cisco as a server provider,” Kaczmarek admits. “But we compared [Cisco] UCS to our former server environment, and the choice was clear. We’ve pretty much replaced everything with Cisco gear since then.”
The transition to Cisco UCS® has effectively consolidated and virtualized Red Door Spa’s technology infrastructure, helping:
- Reduce costs
- Improve systems management
- Ease the move to a colocation facility
“We moved our company headquarters and avoided $250,000 by not building a new data center,” Kaczmarek says. “Because we had already transitioned to [Cisco] UCS, we only had to move two racks instead of seven. And with the help of NextNet Partners, we did it overnight and were never offline during business hours.”
Most importantly, he adds, everything is now faster. Bi-weekly payroll processing takes two hours instead of 14. And backing up mission-critical systems takes one hour instead of 12.
Red Door Spa recently upgraded its SAP and Cisco Unified Communications systems. In the past, such efforts would have necessitated new hardware and storage resources and taken weeks to order, implement, and configure. Now the company can just spin up new virtual machines in a matter of hours.
Exploring new services
With a virtualized, highly flexible technology foundation, Red Door Spa is now in the process of exploring new services and applications for its retail locations. The company is already using tablets to improve the check-in and check-out experience.
“If our associates can check a customer in using a tablet while walking them to a room, we can remove the frustration of waiting in line,” Kaczmarek explains. “We can also use that as an opportunity to ask questions, learn more about each customer, and enter the information into our CRM system in real time.”
Customer insights lead to better, more personalized experiences and promotions, he adds. It’s why Red Door Spa is also exploring ways to link islands of information—including skin analysis and makeup stations—with its CRM system.
“In the past, adding a new application or interface would require new servers and more storage, and came with questions about how we would connect it to our existing environment,” Kaczmarek says. “We don’t have those concerns or questions anymore.”
What started as a pure consolidation and virtualization project has opened up a host of ideas and opportunities. And it’s led to a more relaxed atmosphere, for Red Door Spa guests and its IT staff.
“My team was afraid of the transition at first because they were so used to our old systems. But they absolutely love our new infrastructure,” says Kaczmarek. “Moving to [Cisco] UCS was one of the best decisions we’ve made in the past nine years.”