Best B2B Practices: Wiring Las Vegas

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The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing conducts an annual case-study competition among cable operators and cable suppliers to find successful business-services marketing campaigns that were carried out in the past year (August 2008 to July 31, 2009). The first- and second-place winners in the cable operator category will be recognized during a breakout session at the CTAM Summit Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 10:45 a.m.
Submissions were reviewed and scored on a scale of 1 to 5 on separate categories: background, objective, strategies and tactics, results and format and learnings. Judges were drawn from supplier and MSO companies, including AMDOCS (the competition sponsor), Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Armstrong Cable, Cablevision Systems, Cisco Systems and New Global Telecom.
The day one show-daily entry was a B2B campaign by Time Warner Cable Business Class, which was the second-place entry among cable companies. Today: First-place entry Cox Communications in Las Vegas and its marketing of a high-speed Internet service in hotels and convention space in that city. The summary is based on the submission by Paul Phillips, director of product marketing at Cox.

Hotels in Las Vegas are under constant pressure to keep the occupancy rate as high as possible. To accomplish this, hotels have worked with the airlines and various travel-industry experts to create packages that fly out of smaller cities as well as adding incentives to the hotel guests that are visiting Las Vegas.
One of the hotels' targeted segments is meetings and conventions. With more than 10 million square feet of meeting and convention space, Las Vegas is the undisputed leader in the meeting and events industry. There are more than 20,000 conventions held in Las Vegas each year with over 6 million attendees.
This created a huge opportunity for Cox to provide Internet and video services to show management, exhibitors, and attendees at these events.
High-speed Internet purchases within the hotel guest rooms have began to level off as more visitors bring iPhones, BlackBerrys, EVDO cards and other alternative solutions. With revenue not growing as fast as in past years, Cox Business Las Vegas, along with its hotel partners, needed a new service to drive revenue growth.
With Cox already providing a 100-Megabits-per-second fiber-optic connection into these local hotels for their business needs, as well as Internet connectivity for guests, extending this service to the meeting and convention areas presented a significant opportunity if the right solution could be created and packaged.
Cox Business is a leading provider of data, voice and video services to businesses in the Las Vegas Valley; as well as the leader in providing data and video services to hotel guest rooms. Cox already had fiber rings connecting the majority of the large hotels in the Las Vegas area. Despite this edge, convention areas were previously supported by several third-party niche providers. As the trusted provider of Internet connectivity into the hotels' guest room, CB-Las Vegas' leadership knew that they could provide a more reliable, faster Internet service into the convention facilities, easily and in a cost-effective manner.

FIRST GOAL: 10% PENETRATION
Advanced Convention Services (ACS) was built upon the 100 Mbps fiber-optic network that was previously established within the hotels, as well as the competitive drive of the local Cox team. Cox Business goals were to launch our Advanced Convention Services in 2007 and to exceed 10% penetration within two years. Although this was an aggressive target this was an opportunity that was relatively untapped.
CB-Las Vegas' leadership worked with boundary partners in engineering, creative services, field services, sales and product marketing to develop a product model that would benefit the convention industry and Cox equally.
Cox's Advanced Convention Services product offering has evolved over the past 12 months. Initially, it offered access to the Internet via access codes. This product offering has since expanded, offering Internet pipes from 512 Kilobits per second up to Gigabit Ethernet service, and offering video and voice services as well.
Cox works with each convention or hotel facility to implement services and pricing best suited for that particular property.
The resulting design provided Internet connectivity into the convention area that was separated from the normal guest room.
This Private VLAN 10/100 Base-T Ethernet solution proved to be very beneficial not only to the hotel, but also as an initial revenue stream for Cox Business.
In addition to the 100-Mb private VLAN connection for larger events, DB-LV could also deliver up to 1Gbps service if there is a need to deliver this type of bandwidth.
Advanced Convention Services include a shared wired connection, Wi-Fi via access codes, and a low bandwidth (limited to 1 Mbps) two-hour wireless meeting room connection. The low-speed access allows attendees to connect to the Internet for basic Web browsing (without use of multimedia applications), Google searches, reading online news and downloading e-mail messages (without large file attachments).
Cox has developed a tiered convention pricing model.
• Business Preferred is Cox's premier product offering. The dedicated wired VLAN is a solution, which includes three public IP addresses in three locations and can accommodate up to 30 devices. Those devices may be a combination of computers, as well as printers or other IP devices. Local-area network speeds are 100 Mbps and connections to the Internet can be upwards to GigE based upon the customers needs.
• Business Support is the middle-tier product. It can be either wired or wireless. This solution is for a single exhibit location and supports two devices. The LAN speed is up to (100 Mbps) and the Wi-Fi access is based upon 80211.B/G standards.
• Business Basic is the entry-level product that offers a simple wired connection to the Internet, a single 512-Kbps connection to a single exhibit location and only for one device.
Additional service offerings allow organizations to add additional devices and locations onto Business Preferred and Business Support. Hub and switch rentals, along with custom-made cables, are part of the additional services.
If a customer needs more than the three public IP addresses, Cox can also accommodate this request as well. At times, there may be a need for additional Internet bandwidth, Cox can provide Internet pipes, for an additional fee, up to Gig-E.

COX SURVEYED CUSTOMERS
The ACS team did a tremendous amount of research on the convention industry prior to embarking into this business.
Cox employees met with various catering and convention staff to identify what they felt was working, or was not working in their meeting and convention facility. Cox wanted to make sure it had a bought-in marketing partner in selling these services.
Cox also interviewed conventioneers, asking them what was important to them as convention attendees.
Another tactic was to take a proactive approach by obtaining the upcoming booking report from the property well in advance of the actual event.
ACS has several edges over the competition. It provides private VLAN using a 100 Mb connection, while most competitors provide T1's (1.5 Mbps). It has on-site support from local technicians who help customize-network setups. It's a single provider for data, voice and video solutions into the convention area and is the exclusive provider of HDTV services into the Las Vegas Convention Center and other Las Vegas venues.
ACS on-site technicians also act as customer-service representatives, as well as an extended sales force. Their convention sales team proactively calls event planners prior to shows to inquire on or about their communications and entertainment needs. This high level of customer service added an additional layer of trust from Cox Business' hotel partners.

RESULTS: BIG GROWTH
Advanced Convention Services by Cox Communications has seen a tremendous amount of growth and success since conception. To date Cox provides contracted Internet connectivity to more than 1.5 million square feet of meeting and convention space, a 15% penetration of the market - well exceeding the initial goal of 10% penetration over two years.
Cox also provides additional services including VLANs and video services to another 1.5 million square feet.
Revenue at ACS grew more than 100% in 2008 compared to 2007, and at the current run rate, ACS is expected to grow revenue by nearly 75% in 2009.
In addition to beating out the competition, Advanced Convention Services has reinforced Cox Business' position as the trusted provider of data and video services with the Las Vegas hospitality industry and paves the way for new revenue opportunities for all of Cox systems.

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