Kinnari Ladha, group head of business intelligence and data – group marketing at TUI Group has some words of advice for fellow data professionals seeking to gather, draw insight and benefit from customer data. She points out the questions they should ask themselves, the data infrastructure used at TUI, and the surprising sources of data used by the travel company.
TUI is in the process of becoming a more data-driven organisation. This is somewhat of a challenge considering the size and scale of the company. Tourism Union International has 380 hotels, 70,000 employees and 20 million customers.
Ladha has an overview of what tools and infrastructure the company has to set out on a data and insights journey and advises other companies wanting to do the same to ask themselves a series of questions before starting.
They are the following. Are you ready? What IT and budget constraints do you have? Is your data ready? Do you know what data you have and where? Are your analysts ready? What skill set should you have?
Ladha explained that TUI wanted to use data to be able to send more personalised messages to its customers. The three pre-holiday emails each customer currently gets is basic and rules-based, with everybody getting the same message, but TUI wants to move away from that approach.
She gave an example of how sending the right message to the right customer at the right time can improve customer service.
“If you are a young customer and you get an email telling you about an over-50s holiday, you will be dissatisfied. Everyone wants a level of personalisation. This is about using our email platform to make sure we send you the right content,” Ladha said.
She went on to say that the right personalised message can help improve the customer journey and thus the customer experience. “It helps customers to make holiday booking a lot easier, shorter, and if you get the right email with the right holiday offer it’s going to make your decision-making process a lot faster. We have a lot of power with our data, but we need to be more clever and faster about it.”
So what data sources, tools and infrastructure can TUI tap and make use of to draw insights in a more clever and faster way?
Ladha is a fan of using “global tools” as it means that they can scale easily. “If one market has created an analytical capability, whether it is a model or a segmentation, another market can take that off the shelf, repurpose it and get value from it.” TUI uses Google Big Query and Adobe Analytics.
She also said that data lakes are far more valuable when the data team has ownership of it and recommends taking an agile approach and hiring strategically. She said: “You want to employ the right people who have data engineering resources to be able to connect your analysts, data scientists to the data sources.”
The data comes from many sources including previous bookings, CRM interaction, information from their account, social media, interactions in retail stores, web interactions, in-hotel purchases, activities booked with a representative and customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, it is then stored in many different places: five reservation systems, different finance systems, different legal entities, 12 source markets, three pricing systems and six booking channels.
But TUI is bringing it all together.“ We are connecting all of the different touch points to get that plethora of data so we can start doing some real analytics on that,” said Ladha.
From analysing all the data, one of the learnings that TUI was able to make was about the customers who were interacting with the company by logging into their account. They realised that for them seven was the maximum number of emails they could send before the customer would become disengaged.
Ladha said that throughout this journey it is important that knowledge and best practice is shared among the analytics teams in different locations. For this reason, she is a big advocate of having a centre of excellence, supporting the markets that need support.
Kinnari Ladha was speaking at the Chief Disruptor Live event.