There is a new ‘as a Service’ on the scene to help online travel companies simplify technology and get the most out of their mountain of search and booking data. Analytics as a Service (AaaS), at its simplest refers to the practise of using Web-based technologies to carry out analysis of large-scale data, opposed to the traditional method of developing an onsite hardware warehouse to collect, store, and analyse the data. AaaS is fast emerging as a viable option for any organisation that needs big data management and analysis without the capital expenditure necessary to keep those tasks on-premise.
Data in terms of search requests, responses and bookings feeds the travel industry. APIs exchange huge amounts of data between travel distributors and suppliers, but unlocking the value embedded in that data can be challenging. This is where analytic software delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model via the cloud comes in. The benefits for smaller travel companies are clear:
– Minimised hardware and infrastructure costs,
– Reduced implementation costs and resources
– Affordable scalability as the business grows
– Self-service easy access to centrally held data
– Powerful reporting with fast insights that can help drive daily operations
– With pre-configured reporting, users don’t need to be data experts
Indeed, cloud adoption is transforming the software industry and the modern data centre, with on-premise, cloud-based and hybrid solutions available to accommodate different scales of operation. SaaS versions of enterprise applications for smaller businesses that don’t have the scale to host applications on premises are taking off. This means that smaller market players can take advantage of the core functionality of established enterprise solutions in a pre-configured, out of the box way. Some of the richer analytic features are inevitably not included and there is less scope for customisation, but for smaller companies with less resources this ‘decluttering’ of the bigger platform is considered desirable rather than a drawback.
One leading provider in this space is Triometric, who have recently released a cloud based SaaS version intended to make analytics a totally turnkey solution. It is aimed at small to mid-sized hospitality agents, distributors, and suppliers and allows them to glean mission critical business insights from their XML and API performance monitoring information – all without the usual cost, IT and resource challenges and commitments.
So what are these powerful insights that the new SaaS users working in hotel distribution can now tap into? In travel distribution, analysing all search and booking traffic running through the booking engine reveals a huge amount about customers as well as the performance of the supply chain, the distribution channels and the operational environment. Without proper data insights it is difficult to manage many critical activities, but with the right insight the picture becomes clearer. For example:
– Tracking client activity is an extremely important part of maintaining connectivity to vital channels. A drop in searches or worse, being suspended by key agencies can be extremely damaging to the business.
– Ensuring that the platform is operating correctly is equally essential. If response times are poor or exceed thresholds opportunities to sell inventory can be missed with a negative impact on revenues.
– Ensuring that inbound price and availability searches, especially those to key destinations are being responded to with available product. Mapping, loading and technical issues can very quickly lower the percentage of requests showing availability.
– Maintaining and growing conversion rates. Whilst it may be possible to keep adding new client channels with more traffic, poor look-to-book ratios will drive business costs up and deliver little if any additional revenue to the bottom line. Understanding which clients, destinations and products are converting is a major part of managing this part of the business. Resolving those that aren’t is arguably even more important, especially when it comes to growing the business.
– Tracking booking patterns and volumes is essential to understanding which agents are best representing the products on offer. It isn’t just about volumes but also the type of market and value per transaction. Late bookings at discounted rates and low margins can be less lucrative and therefore less attractive business.
– Being on top of the seasonal and event driven trends is important. Having supporting data avoids the need to rely on industry myths and other inconclusive information. Having and planning the right inventory is half the battle to achieving higher conversions.
– Understanding more about the traveller’s behaviour. A traveller’s initial searches enter a decision making phase which hopefully progresses to a booking. Which types of travellers dwell in which part of the booking journey?
These are areas that all benefit from the kind of insights that can be derived from analysing all transaction message streams, not just those that get registered as a successful booking. Search and booking data by its very nature is ‘big data’ and needs an analysis tool to extract the usable insights. Any business these days already has a ton of data, most of which they don’t know what to do with. What matters is the type and quality of data and getting it into a format that can be easily accessed and put to use. This is where tools, such as the new Trio Express comes in, offering a combination of data analysis, visualisation and reporting tools for API traffic, the lifeblood of travel. Such tools also enable those with limited data analysis skills to delve deeper into the data.
The key advantage for smaller hotel distributors and suppliers in adopting the AaaS model for their search and booking data is that it allows their users to focus on accessing and applying the data in the best way.in their daily operations, a high-value activity, rather than managing the environment that the data and the analytics engine need in the first place. Simply put, business managers get the insights they need to make sure inventory is getting sold and operational staff get the insights they need to make sure their booking systems and networks keep functioning as responsively as possible. Both data needs satisfied by the same cloud-based platform with just a few clicks of the keyboard.