ARC embeds Tableau to unlock BI value and increase revenue


Embedded dashboards into six BI products
Processed over $94 billion of transaction data in 2018
Reduced prototyping and report build time by months

Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC) provides flexible distribution solutions to help airlines and travel agencies connect, grow and thrive. By developing innovative business intelligence (BI) products and services for the global travel community, ARC provides the critical link that enables airlines like British Airways, United Airlines, Air China, and more than 200 others selling tickets through travel agents in the US. ARC helps its customers operate more effectively and grow their businesses by building the world’s most comprehensive data on global air transactions. In 2018 alone, ARC settled more than $94.7 billion in transactions between airlines and travel agencies, representing more than 295 million passenger trips.

ARC previously provided customers raw or aggregated air transaction data through tabular reports which was time and resource intensive. Some of the company’s customers lacked internal capabilities to adequately analyze the data. Others requested custom reports from ARC—which, depending on the complexity of the requirements and the ARC team’s workload, could have long development cycles. Providing more accessible analytics and scaling it to different customer groups meant changing ARC’s go-to-market BI product strategy.

ARC contacted Tableau to simplify how it presents data to customers and accelerate its speed to market. Now, the company has six Tableau-powered BI solutions, including Airline BI and Agency BI. These products are comprised of numerous dashboards that analyze extremely large amounts of data and contribute to significant revenue streams. Interactive dashboards are available through Tableau Online and Tableau workbooks to airline, travel agency, airport and corporate customers. With clear insights, these dashboards afford a comprehensive view of performance, including sales and daily operations, and inform flight schedules and airline network planning. With Tableau’s help, ARC achieves its goals of strengthening customer relationships and enabling customers to make better business decisions.

Tableau provided ARC’s customers the deep insights, advanced analytics, detailed performance intelligence and competitive benchmarking needed to enhance industry partnerships and operational success. Being able to easily track patterns and trends in sales and analytics embedded into their daily processes delivered a unique solution for our customers.

Enhancing customer engagement with Tableau-driven products and solutions

Tableau provided ARC a ready solution to help realize its product vision, which included:

  • Consolidating airline data by multiple home office or branch locations.
  • Consolidating data from various sources, such as back-office systems.
  • Better communicating the data that airlines and agencies can trust and agree upon in reviews.
  • Allowing customers to benchmark performance—including market share, by airline, and by specific origins and destinations.

Leveraging Tableau, ARC’s Product Design and Data Solutions Team develops new products for airlines and travel agencies to solve business problems and improve operations in less time than before. The ARC dataset used across its Tableau-enabled products represents transactions between more than 235 airlines and more than 12,000 travel agency locations. These transactions comprise more than 295 million passenger trips and 2.4 billion segments annually. ARC previously provided customers with raw data or aggregated, tabular reports using outdated and static tools. Product development cycles took longer than the company liked, so ARC sought a better way to deliver more information to its customers faster.

Airline BI offers a nice mix of data visualization and raw numbers … It’s the best of both worlds. Airline BI helps us stay on top of trends with a weekly analysis of agency performance and better understanding of how our O&Ds are performing, as well as monthly cost-of-sale metrics including market share and booking class.

ARC customers rely on accurate air travel transaction data, which can be filtered and analyzed on demand. Using Tableau features such as data blending, drill-down capability, actions and row-level data, and performing those activities quickly, ARC and its customers stay on top of transaction data that can change by the hour. As Shital Sabne, Manager, Product Design/Data Solutions at ARC explained, “The bullet charts are all over our customers’ daily reports. We save them money and time because they don’t need to direct valuable resources to distilling data. Tableau reports are based on ARC data, so the data can be trusted. It all comes together and results in stronger operations for our customers.”

Small travel agencies who may not have the extensive resources of larger competitors, gain critical intelligence and support from products supported by Tableau. Large travel agencies that grow through acquisition often have to blend back office systems and deal with niche analytics tools. In both instances, Tableau delivers tremendous flexibility and time savings. The business will not slow down while IT works on the infrastructure needed to support it.

We’re using Tableau to allow our customers to build business cases and tell stories with data—unlocking the business intelligence that was always there, but not visible.

The cost pales in comparison to the opportunities we have found. It has opened doors left and right for us and helped to solidify relationships. It has helped immensely to accelerate both internal and external business objectives.

Diverse BI products create opportunities

Implementation of ARC’s new, Tableau-driven BI reports started with finance departments and revenue accounting teams. As ARC saw the value customers gained from the data, adoption spread to other functional areas. ARC also saw more meaningful conversations between its account managers and customers, leading to more business. “Many travel agencies didn’t want to take on the creation of in-house analytics teams, so they looked to ARC as a business partner who could provide valuable analytics in an easy-to-use format. Furthermore, they don’t have to compete for internal IT resources,” noted Shital.

By infusing their BI products with visual analytics from Tableau, ARC maximized the value of transaction data, created favorable customer responses with global airlines and travel agencies and enhanced valuable, multi-million dollar revenue streams. Now, hundreds of users engage with Tableau through ARC solutions—spanning sales, supplier, account management teams, directors and executives.

As an added benefit, it wasn’t necessary for ARC to change their data model, saving both time and costs. “Tableau helped us discover some patterns that traditional BI tools—and even some sophisticated statistical tools—would have taken a long time to realize,” said Shital. For instance, the ARC product team incubated ARC Memo Analyzer. The tool helps airlines track and instantly benchmark and analyze costly debit memos, which amounted to $138.7 million in 2018 alone across the 236 airlines that ARC serves.

Our enhanced BI product set was very well received. We now deliver highly valuable information that customers need, give them time to act on it, and cut down on a lot of the noise that interferes with the value inherent in the data.

In the coming years, ARC expects its already large data sets to double or triple in size, triggering a migration to cloud-based data storage and analytics. Fast handling of large data sets will be beneficial to other groups within ARC such as the fraud analysis department that needs rapid and accurate monitoring of fraudulent transactions to prevent financial loss and reduce risk.

With Tableau-embedded dashboards in its BI products, ARC is demonstrating and improving its value. Customers appreciate and rely on the insights that help them make critical route planning and scheduling decisions as well as relying on the information gleaned from these solutions to negotiate better relationships between travel agencies and their airline business partners. “We’re using Tableau to allow our customers to build business cases and tell stories with the data—unlocking the business intelligence that was always there, but not visible,” Arun added.