Tableau: What happens to the data you get from hotels?
Peter: We take data from hotels, we re-engineer that data, and then we push it into other vendors' applications that are then using it back with their hotel clients.
Tableau: How do you use Tableau to improve on old industry processes?
Peter: The industry has become very dependent on Excel spreadsheets. And that's one of the first things that we say to our clients when we walk through the door: Show us your spreadsheets. And we'll convert them into more usable, meaningful type data.
Tableau: How easy is it for your customers to enjoy the benefits of Tableau?
Peter: We give them the ability to basically flick a switch and they can see exactly what they want, how they want. And the beauty of Tableau is that anybody can have the same data in a different shape or format depending on their needs.
Tableau: Does Tableau foster a more creative environment at InTouch Data?
Peter: With Tableau, I fell in love with data all over again. I just think it's a very powerful tool. I wonder where I'd be in the industry if something like that had come past my desk 20 years ago when I was slaving over a stove full of hot data and wondering what was going to come out at the end of the day.
Tableau: Do you think that Tableau is making an impact on the hotel industry?
Peter: I think Tableau is one of those pieces of software or pieces of technology that comes along and really has transformational effects on certain industries and businesses. And I believe that Tableau is going to revolutionize data for hotels.
Tableau: Why did you choose Tableau?
Peter: I think the reason that we sort of wandered, for want of a better word, into Tableau is because it's exactly what we were looking for. Data, historically, in hotels has been driven by accountants and financial controllers. [It has historically been]very boring, Excel-based spreadsheets.
Tableau: Where is this transaction data stored?
Peter: Essentially, the client data that we take is basically anything that's held in a property management system from a hotel's guest perspective; it's everything from their personal details right through to each and every transaction they have during the stay—how much they paid for their room, what sort of room type, how they've been segmented within the hotel, whether they're a hotel member, whether they've got an e-mail address, what they had from the mini bar, how much they spent on laundry.
Tableau: How do you bring that data into Tableau?
Peter: A hotel's software is called a property management system. So every hotel runs a property management system of some sort. What we do is we have an extraction agent which we call PMS Extract. And that enables us to pull data from different property management systems.
Tableau: How does Tableau help you analyze all of that data?
Peter: Tableau allows you to slice and dice the data into such tiny segments that if hotels are smart enough, they can use those individual segments to provide individual information or communicate to individual groups of guests.