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Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Challenge

The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic hotel companies. It has a fantastic portfolio of 1,300+ hotels in operation and under development, a global footprint covering 80 countries and a powerful set of global brands: Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson and Hotel Missoni. Operating in 80 countries, it’s essential that Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group staff around the world can access company policies, hotel procedures and corporate documentation any day of the week, any time of day with minimal assistance.

The company initially developed its own home-grown Microsoft .NET system for managing documentation digitally. Over time, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group outgrew the system as it became slow and was difficult for inexperienced users to find content. Users could only search by matching several key words that were entered upon initial publication of a document. They lost out on the ability to search across any of the content in a document. In addition, the system’s security model was not robust enough to keep up with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Groups evolving business model. Finally, there were several disjointed and manual processes for managing content through its lifecycle.

It was clear that Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group needed to implement an enterprise-class document management (DM) system. Key requirements for the system included improved document search, robust security, ability to add metadata to documents, easy publishing capabilities and the ability to manage a document through its lifecycle.

Results

  • Built a robust, scalable DM system for 1,300+ hotels and 15,000 users
  • Simplified the process for publishing content
  • All Content is kept current and easily searched
  • Developed custom metadata model for improved search results
  • Integrated into Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s existing security model
  • Automated Workflows help manage content through its lifecycle
  • Users can subscribe to be alerted when documents are updated or added

Solution

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group began evaluating and testing Google Docs. However, after developing a proof of concept, the IT team realized it did not offer enough customization and did not feel it was a fit for the requirements. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group then began looking into Apache Jackrabbit and DM products that supported the JCR specification. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group currently supports Alfresco running on Linux/ Weblogic11/Oracle because it offers complete document management functionality, supports open standards and can be easily customized to meet their specific needs (now and as they evolve in the future).

Using webscripts and a custom java frontend, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group can now easily publish and manage its documents within the Alfresco repository, ensuring that content is both current and valid. Corporate Documents are published by a group of assigned publishers, and each document is automatically assigned an expiration date when published. The system is set up to regularly scan for documents that are about to expire and notify the document owner. The publisher then has the option to update the content and/or approve it “as-is”, which bumps the expiration date a year into the future. If nothing is done, the document is allowed to “expire” and is no longer visible in searches or in the system. This allows administrators to retrieve a document if a user inadvertently let it expire. After six months, all expired documents are purged from the system.

Individual hotel documents are published in a batch by combining them into a zip file and publishing them to the server as a group, with a manifest inside that contains the metadata for each document. Custom java code publishes each of the documents in the zip file into Alfresco, using the manifest data to set the specific properties for each document. Hotel Documents are automatically purged after two years — in effect keeping a rolling time period of valid documents.

Users of the document management system wanted a “Google-like” search experience where they could search the entire document - including the use of wildcards in the phases entered. To do this, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group created a custom Alfresco content model that extended the metadata properties of each document and implemented Lucene for improved search. The custom metadata model allowed Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group to customize the search function, bringing back results based upon matching qualities of the specific user with qualities of documents they are searching for. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group set up the system to match documents based on security permissions for both the user and document. For example, if a document is for a specific region of the world or hotel, only users who have been granted access to that region or hotel can view it.

Today, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group users can subscribe to documents and folders. They receive an email when new documents are published or when a specific document has been updated. The same would be true for folders. If they subscribe to a folder, any new or updated content within that folder would trigger an email notification.

Users can also tag documents as “Favorites” which places a link on a My Favorites list and the user can quickly return to their Favorites.

Conclusion

  • Developed a robust, scalable document management system that provides valuable company documentation to over 1,300+ hotels and 15,000 users.
  • Simplified several disjointed processes including document pruning, expiration and subscription notifications into a streamlined solution that makes it easier for users to publish, manage and bulk upload documents.
  • Documents can now be easily published and managed or removed from the site to ensure that content is always current and valid.
  • Users were able to quickly learn the new document management system and the IT department rarely gets support calls regarding it.
  • The Alfresco repository holds over 150,000 documents with 6,000 new documents added (and expired documents removed) from the system monthly.
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