For Travel Brands Inc., (formerly Thomas Cook Canada Inc.) the creation of a real time data warehouse using Taurus’ DataBridger ETL product meant fast, real time results for their customers.
Travel Brands’ business is dynamic. Promotions and travel products continuously change, margins are thin, and an agency needs quick, easy access to their data to respond rapidly to customer’s behavior and tune their products to meet these ever changing needs.
Using Taurus’ DataBridger, Travel Brands has created a reporting environment where business users can ask and answer questions real time – without having to wait for reports to be built for them. This data store, kept updated with real time production data has allowed them to respond to marketplace changes and capitalize on revenue opportunities that they otherwise would have missed by being slow to respond.
Travel Brands is a world renowned provider of travel excursions at the retail and wholesale level. They provide hotel, car, air, and cruise line reservations as well as aggregating offerings to create packages or tours. They have both a call center and online sales channels and strive to respond to both their customer’s and the marketplace’s needs.
Travel Brands knew they needed better reporting for analysis. They wanted to understand how their business is performing and be able to react quickly to promotions that are driving desired results.
- • Is pricing right? Which prices do our segments respond to?
- • When our customers shop online – which prices are the most popular?
- • Is our target audience responding to our promotions?
- • Which are our best target audiences and market segments?
- • Which combinations/aggregations/tours get the best results?
Travel Brands uses the TTS application from Softvoyage to manage travel booking and the creation of their packages. TTS uses the Eloquence database environment to store all of the transactional history about the sales of their offerings. Running reports against production would severely degrade transactional response times. There were many complex analyses that could not be run against the TTS environment, report run times were long and users were limited in when they could run reports. They also had external data that they wanted to merge alongside the TTS data such as budgets, forecasts, and customer demographic data collected by the website.
The TTS Eloquence environment is not open for custom report creation and performance impacts prevented fast response times for reporting and data pulls. Eloquence cannot be accessed with 3rd party tools or SQL commands and there was a steep learning curve to know what data to extract.
As a result, they felt service was being compromised when production performance suffered from reporting loads. They needed a robust product that would meet all of their reporting needs and not impact system performance and customer satisfaction.
Prior Attempts at Analysis
Before building an Operational Data Store with Taurus’ tools, Travel Brands tried several other methods to get the information out of Eloquence and into Oracle real time, however they encountered issues with all of those methods:
- • Hand written ODBC extracts from Eloquence to Oracle negatively impacted production performance. The extracts were not real time and it was a very labor intensive process to maintain with a high failure rate.
- • Extracting data from Eloquence’s forward logs proved to be too large of a development effort. Specialized skill sets were needed to convert data successfully from Eloquence to Oracle and to understand Eloquence’s native tools. It was also difficult to automate the data feeds.
- • Other Third Party tools were tried, but when the data arrived in Oracle it was found that the conversions from the Eloquence data types to Oracle data types were not done correctly. The resulting data was not query ready and required additional conversion and cleansing.
Solution – DataBridger
Upon a recommendation from Michael Marxmeier, the developer of Eloquence, Travel Brands decided to investigate Taurus’ DataBridger solution to see if it could meet their needs.
Taurus Software’s DataBridger is an Extraction, Transformation and Load (ETL) software solution, that provides real-time data movement between disparate environments allowing you to easily access, extract, cleanse, transform, migrate, load, synchronize, replicate and manage your company’s data.
Because nothing had worked so far, Travel Brands asked if Taurus would be willing to conduct a proof of concept before purchase to prove that Taurus’ replication tools could do the job. Travel Brands wanted to make sure that DataBridger could handle their high data volumes as data moved real time from Eloquence to Oracle.
Some of the testing requirements were to be able to:
- 1) Pull data from HP/UX Eloquence and copy to Oracle in real time,
- 2) Handle large data volumes, on initial load and ongoing updates,
- 3) Minimize the performance hit to Eloquence,
- 4) Ensure that no data was lost and that the target and source reconciled,
- 5) Provide the ability to write to multiple relational databases such as Oracle or SQL Server,
- 6) And be an affordable and stable product.
Taurus Support worked with Travel Brands to build a test plan and install software on Travel Brands’ systems.
Travel Brands installed DataBridger to feed data real time from the TTS database to a data store in Oracle. Maps were defined to transform the data from Eloquence to Oracle, much automatically generated by DataBridger’s Studio User Development Interface.
Data now flows real time from TTS to Oracle, where users can access all of their production data without impact to production, and using open systems tools. Travel Brands quickly discovered that DataBridger not only met all of their testing requirements, but also addressed and solved all of the issues they had encountered with past methods.
Leighton Brown, Director of Reporting from Travel Brands said, “This has gone way beyond our expectations. It is a much more useful environment than we envisioned at the start. We have expanded the ODS use far beyond reporting.”
“One example is the efficiency of our pre-validations (i.e. validations done during a product search) on our B2B websites. Prior to Taurus, we cached our inventory state and product prices, and we were able to update the cache maybe once or twice per day, often leading to situations where customers checking product availability were misled on the initial search. With Taurus in place, we make live calls to Taurus to get our availability, thus minimizing the instances where we advertise product for sale which is no longer available, reducing instances where we lose customers because we didn’t have the inventory advertised.”
“Another example, we are capturing booking change history – which is lost in the production environment but retained in the ODS. When customers make a booking change they are now able to track the specific history of the changes made in the data warehouse, this allows us to understand why our customers are making changes and when, so we can create better products and provide better customer service.”
Leighton continues “The real time data store is now a mission critical system that supports the business operations on a daily basis. “
Leighton mentioned that version application changes were easily managed and specifically that Travel Brands received “great advice” as they built and deployed the real time operational data store. “We are able to get help from Taurus Support whenever we need it, they are always responsive to our calls” he continued.
As new production system database changes happen Travel Brands is able to decide whether to make changes to the data feeds to the data warehouse, or not as they see fit. Travel Brands was able to maintain fast data feed performance as they replicated more and more tables. Currently 95% of the TTS database tables are being replicated to Oracle.
It is easier than ever for customers to shop around for the “best deal” when selecting travel packages. Companies like Travel Brands need to be able to mine the information they collect about their customers purchase decisions to continually tune the products they offer.
The real time Operational Data Store powered by Taurus’ DataBridger tools have allowed them to respond to marketplace changes and capitalize on revenue opportunities that they otherwise would have missed by being a day late and a dollar short.
About Taurus Software
At Taurus Software, making data liquid means helping turn data into business intelligence, smart decisions, and competitive advantages – the lifeblood of your company. Taurus products include a variety of applications developed to help clients get more from their data by allowing them to Move, Map, Measure, and Manage data regardless of where it resides within business systems.
To learn more about Taurus Software or products designed for other data platforms and applications, call 650-482-2022 ext. 1, or fill out our contact form.