Ensemble Travel Group believes its next data monetization center will provide travel agencies with real-time booking trends that they can use to improve everything from sales to customer service.
According to Kim Mendes, IT director of Ensemble’s information services, the center is essentially designed to bridge the gap between when consortia receive data from vendors, which can take at least a few weeks, and provide the places information to agency owners daily.
In the words of CEO David Harris, the Data Monetization Center “is a big, fancy name, but it’s a game-changer for both Ensemble and the industry.”
Mendes said it typically takes vendors 30 days to process reports and a few extra weeks to send them to Ensemble.
“The data we were working with was good for reconciliation, and it was a good look behind us – our rearview mirror, where we’re from,” she said.
But Ensemble wanted daily transactional data to understand what members are selling at the moment.
“It’s part of us to be predictive and use data to improve everything from sales to customer service to optimizing how we can make more informed decisions,” Harris said. The project “also helps us achieve a goal of increasing member sales, commissions and ultimately making our member businesses more profitable.”
Mendes said Ensemble worked with several major customer relationship management (CRM) systems to create their proof of concept for the data monetization center. Sales data is received electronically. Ensemble analyzes existing data and normalizes it, so that it can be used to form meaningful and actionable reports.
Data can be filtered by such things as preferred and non-preferred providers and type of trip and compared to goals and targets. It can highlight areas of opportunity for higher commissions. Agency owners can see their own agency data as well as an anonymized set of larger data from all participating agencies.
Ensemble will begin to deploy the Data Monetization Center in the first quarter with the agencies that use the CRMs involved in the project, followed by the top performers in the United States and Canada. The center will then be rolled out to other members in groups based on the back-end systems they use.
Data privacy was a top priority with this project, Mendes said. The data is secured and partitioned so that agency owners only see their own detailed data. Reports can be viewed on the Ensemble Member Portal, which is hosted on secure servers.
Ensemble also hopes that the center will prove useful to the industry as a whole. He approached ASTA to work with other groups to collect even more data that could be shared, anonymously, with all participants.
“The more data you have to add to that, the more accurate your predictions and forecasts can be,” Mendes said.
The data center represents a new level of service that Ensemble offers to members.
“Once you’ve included the transactional data and we can look at your specific agency, we can help you on a different level,” Mendes said. “Your customers will have models, and they’ll do certain things. We’ll be able to verify that by reporting from that data to see those things, and we can identify the marketing potential for both a vendor or a season. or a specific type [of travel] based on your customer’s history. “
There are also plans, she said, to add other third-party data that might be useful, such as census data, consumer data, etc.
“As we build this, they’re going to take the pulse of what’s going on in real time,” Mendes said.