Understanding business trends is at the center of any successful company. For a travel management firm, which handles millions of transactions a year, actionable data is critical.
This capability “ensures that we are able to provide the best possible service for our customers,” explains Nadim Hajje, vice president of information technology and data analytics at Omega World Travel.
The 44-year-old company is a major player in the travel management industry. It delivers about $1.3 billion in services to corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, government contractors, educational institutions and other organizations.
Omega World Travel also operates several subsidiaries, such as Cruise.com, which aggregates and consolidates travel packages, and TravTech, which produces branded technology and software to cruise companies and others in the travel industry.
A couple of years ago, the company found itself sinking under the weight of systems that couldn’t keep up with today’s real-time digital environment. In many cases, managers and internal business analysts found themselves sorting through clunky spreadsheets and static PDF files, which provided a limited view of the overall business.
“We had basic reporting capabilities in place, and they simply weren’t adequate,” Hajje recalls. “We couldn’t do visualizations or drill down into data to gain any real insights.”
Deploying a Business Analysis Tool
That’s no longer the case. In June 2015, Omega World Travel switched on an advanced data and analytics platform from MicroStrategy. The cloud-based approach delivers dashboards that provide views of critical metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), and also pushes out the data to smartphones and apps.
Managers can now pivot data and drill down into it to view trends in areas such as year-to-year sales for air, rail, cars and hotels, as well as more advanced areas, including average ticket prices, top spending areas and how ticket prices variations impact sales.
The company can also use industrywide data and external feeds to further boost insights. “In the past, clients would come to us seeking information about how much they were spending or how they are spending, and we didn’t have answers,” Hajje says. “Today, we have built a system that delivers accurate information for very specific situations. This includes things such as city pairs, advanced purchases and even carbon footprints.”
Consequently, travel managers can view different travel scenarios and make adjustments to maximize cost savings or address other factors, such as better adhering to company travel policies.
Omega representatives can also view general or granular data for its Duty of Care service, which aids travelers facing problems or disruptions. The system geolocates them on a map and displays the information visually.
“A travel manager at a company can see anyone within the organization who is impacted by a disruption or incident,” Hajje says. “They know exactly who the person is and can take action. We can work with them to get the individual out of the situation or get them into another hotel.”
The initiative met some resistance early on, according to Hajje, who adds that “the system is extremely intuitive and very user friendly. People adjusted to it very quickly.”
The data analytics capabilities provide a solid foundation for the future. “They allow us to connect to our clients and travelers in new and innovative ways,” he explains.