BookerZzz breaks down internal data silos across operations


The BookerZzz team.

BookerZzz is an online travel company offering consumers some of the best short stays available in Europe. Founded in 2002, it currently helps more than one million travelers a year find their perfect European getaway through three core brands; HotelSpecials, HotelWeek and BungalowSpecials.

BookerZzz implemented Tableau in 2016. Within the course of a year, the company rolled out Tableau across all 150 employees. Today, the whole company analyzes and shares data—working off of a single source of truth. With interactive dashboards built in Tableau, employees make key decisions based on factors like hotel availability, marketing spend, and seasonal customer trends. Tableau helped break down internal data silos and saved as much as two hours each day for every member of the analyst team.


Internal data silos obscure the full picture

As a successful online travel company serving over one million customers a year, BookerZzz processes large quantities of valuable customer and supplier data every day. As the company grew, employees found it increasingly difficult to manage growing data volumes or share meaningful business insights.

When Manuel de Francisco Vera joined the company in March 2016 as Head of Big Data & Analytics, the root of the company’s data problems started to emerge. Despite increased growth, BookerZzz remained heavily reliant on Excel spreadsheets as the sole means of storing and analyzing business data. As a result, the in-house analytics and management teams spent many hours each day manually mining the spreadsheets for useful insights—a slow and laborious process.

Furthermore, Manuel discovered that large amounts of valuable customer data failed to reach the analytics team at all. With the company workforce split over three main offices in The Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany, several local teams maintained their own spreadsheets, impeding the company’s ability to see the complete business picture across Europe.

This issue of segregated data, combined with the growing volumes of information coming into the business was making the situation increasingly unmanageable. When the Excel spreadsheets start to break, that’s the point where the system needs to change.

The various search engine advertising (SEA) and search engine optimization (SEO) teams within BookerZzz exemplified this issue. With a total of 18 websites operating under the BookerZzz brand—each with their own SEA team—it was difficult to conduct comprehensive website analyses. Many of the SEO teams were operating independently at a local level, using their own analytics tools, which was counterproductive to overall business efforts.

“Unearthing insights and sharing information across the whole company was becoming extremely problematic,” explains Manuel. “Silos were appearing across the business, with important data locked inside. This issue of segregated data, combined with the growing volumes of information coming into the business was making the situation increasingly unmanageable. When the Excel spreadsheets start to break, that’s the point where the system needs to change.”

Key internal stakeholders also had trouble making sense of the data. Senior management had to sift through spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, resulting in delayed decisions.

Similarly, employees did not want to engage with the data. The bulk of BookerZzz employees are non-technical, meaning any new data solution needed to be both easy to use and accessible to individuals of all technical abilities—while allowing them to perform deep analytics.

Changing the game: A new approach to business intelligence

In the face of mounting data issues, BookerZzz began looking for suitable business intelligence (BI) solutions. Following extensive research and a partner consultation, BookerZzz identified Tableau Desktop as the ideal solution for the company’s visual analytics needs.

A major factor in the initial decision was Tableau’s ease of use alongside powerful analytics capabilities. Employees could perform advanced analytics without deep coding knowledge. Following a successful 14-day trial, BookerZzz purchased Tableau Desktop. When Manuel came on board shortly after that, internal engagement really took off.

“Having worked extensively with Tableau in a number of previous analytics roles, I was already familiar with the software and the significant benefits it would bring to the way data was presented and used internally at BookerZzz,” explains Manuel.

Additional training, combined with the tutorials available on the Tableau website soon led to significantly increased user engagement.

Many teams received introductory training but weren’t using Tableau to its full potential. Manuel stepped in to supplement their knowledge with advanced training courses.

“This additional training, combined with the tutorials available on the Tableau website soon led to significantly increased user engagement.”

At the same time, Manuel started to promote collaborative analytics. The aim was to consolidate all BookerZzz analytics content—like Google Analytics and Webmaster tools—within a select number of Tableau dashboards for greater consistency across the company. Manuel also helped place Tableau champions within each department. These individuals work closely with the analytics team to test new dashboards and ensure they meet departmental needs before making them publicly available.

Powerful analytics at every level of the company

Today, there are more than 80 active Tableau users within BookerZzz, representing over half of the total workforce. Users come from every department, including sales, marketing, content, and senior management. Each department has tailored dashboards containing pertinent data.

Over time, Manuel and his team have distilled all of the company’s data into 20 active Tableau dashboards that employees can access as needed. The team updates 10 of these dashboards on a daily basis. They use the remainder to track longer term trends and seasonal insights. The entire management team now uses a single Tableau dashboard to stay on top of key business information, saving Manuel and his team hours each day.

Switching to Tableau has saved every single member of my analytics team an average of two hours a day in manual data mining and bespoke search requests.

All SEA and SEO data from all 18 websites feeds into the same Tableau dashboard. As a result, every team can compare metrics across all BookerZzz websites and senior management sees a comprehensive view of activity rather than just a piece of the data.

“Switching to Tableau has saved every single member of my analytics team an average of two hours a day in manual data mining and bespoke search requests,” says Manuel. “With Tableau, everyone can be an analyst. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that has fundamentally changed the way we visualize and share business intelligence within BookerZzz.”

HotelSpecials is one of three core brands under BookerZzz, in addition to HotelWeek and BungalowSpecials.

[Tableau is] an incredibly powerful tool that has fundamentally changed the way we visualize and share business intelligence within BookerZzz.

Discovering the ‘unknown unknowns’

In addition to solving known business problems, Manuel and his team have also uncovered several undiscovered insights. Discovering these ‘unknown unknowns’ has given BookerZzz a distinct competitive advantage in a number of important areas.

“Using Tableau we’ve gained invaluable insights into core business operations,” says Manuel. “One of the most important was a much better understanding of the way our hotel partners allocate their rooms throughout the year and particularly at weekends. Knowing this has given us a stronger negotiating position for the future.”

Tableau has also helped Manuel’s team find anomalies in traveler booking behavior. The team discovered that new music festivals or events caused unusual booking patterns. This knowledge gave BookerZzz a competitive advantage.

“Knowledge of these events means that in future we can tailor travel packages specifically for holidaymakers who wish to attend them, which is a win-win for everyone,” explains Manuel.

Finally, the team identified distinct differences between travelers from individual countries. For instance, Germans tend to holiday less than their Dutch counterparts, but when they do go away, they book further in advance and spend more during their trip. In contrast, Dutch holidaymakers book later and don’t spend as much. This allows the BookerZzz team to change the way they market holidays to individual countries, ensuring that offered deals are the right fit for travelers.

“These insights would undoubtedly have passed us by before we started using Tableau,” concludes Manuel. “In the holiday industry where competition amongst providers is so high, Tableau helps us elevate ourselves above the crowd. This is what makes it such a powerful business tool.”

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