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TUI heads to the clouds with a one-stop shop for enterprise data

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels June 12, 2024
Summary:
How the holiday firm uses Snowflake technology on its journey to a new digital world.

tui

Holiday firm TUI has multiple lines of business and regional divisions. In the past, each organization held individual source data in localised data centers. This arrangement created some significant business challenges, according to Bastian Handke, Technology Team Lead for the Enterprise DWH platform at the firm:

When you don’t host data in the cloud and host it yourself on your data centers, you have many challenges. The ownership of the data was unclear, finding the right data was impossible and data sharing took so much effort.

TUI decided to deal with these data challenges around the time of the pandemic. The company switched its strategy and moved towards “the possibility of a new world”, kicking off its digitalization strategy in 2021.

The new strategy deals with TUI’s data sources. Handke says the company is implementing a new consolidated booking platform that will be used across all markets. Handke says data consolidation creates big benefits:

Data is being pushed into one place, a single point of truth where all the magic can happen. There are so many use cases because TUI has 75,000 employees. We have multiple IT and analytics teams all over the globe. This single point of truth means people can collaborate.

Reaping the benefits

After exploring the potential of the Snowflake platform, TUI started its implementation process with the analytics team. New use cases are found each week. Anastasiia Stefanska, data analyst for analytics and AI at TUI, explains how the implementation is used in her part of the business:

Snowflake provides us with a full-stack solution. It's a pipeline that starts with data ingestion and transformation. We have different scenarios out there depending on the needs of our customers.

Stefanska says the analytics team’s main customers are people in TUI’s technology team who want to know more about products and utilization. The team uses analytical information to visualize and collaborate around key issues, such as proactive incidence response or classical reactive reporting. She says Snowflake supports this collaborative way of working:

In the technology analytics team, the full stack of the pipeline is based on Snowflake, starting from the data lake to the final data products. These products can take different shapes, such as a dynamic table or a view of the data.

Handke gives an example of how data helps to define traveller segmentation at TUI. Before using Snowflake, each TUI region segmented its travellers into groups, such as single holidaymakers or adults with young families. However, it was impossible to run comparisons across regions. Today, due to the integrated Snowflake platform, data can be compared:

Now we have traveller segmentation across all markets. We have a view of full customer journeys; we can promote our campaigns and deliver better products.

Handke says one of the key benefits of this joined-up way of working is increased speed to market. While it used to take weeks for teams to share data effectively, with Snowflake, teams issue a ticket through Atlassian’s Jira Service Management technology and work begins:

This issue is then solved in half an hour. Then you have the data available. So, you can do ad-hoc analysis and push information out.

Stefanska says another benefit of the new approach is that it provides a one-stop shop for data. That capability is important because it means people across the business can take advantage of the digitalization that a shift to the cloud affords:

With Snowflake, we keep our data in one place and develop MVPs and POCs quickly. We stay within one environment. We can test things and decide whether to make the concept a production-ready solution. That approach helps us and reduces the engineering workload.

Enabling business change

Stefanska says it was important for the organisation to understand the platform’s benefits. Alongside Handke, she created a Snowflake study group within TUI:

It's a team of volunteers. We needed to have a low barrier of entry. I encourage a tiered approach, where people commit just one hour a month. Snowflake champions with experience of the platform bring important topics to the discussion and explain in detail the things that matter.

Key people within TUI continue to spend time honing the company’s approach to Snowflake. Members of the study group were recently invited to the technology firm’s customer excellence centre in London for a full-day training session. More than 200 people have joined TUI’s study group during the past six months:

The main opportunity was to break the barriers and ensure we have a holistic view of the platform. It’s about challenging our enabler team to let us try many things.

Building an effective study group is far from straightforward. While some users will champion new technology, others will take a light touch. Stefanska says the successful implementation of technology relies on a balancing act:

You don't want a one-size-fits-all solution. You want to make sure that the experts are recognised within their work environment and that they can share their knowledge. But you also want to enable novice business users who are just starting their data journey to make the steps in the right direction.

Handke says TUI will refine its booking platform during the next two years. The company is also eager to explore some of Snowflake’s new features, including Artificial Intelligence. He advises other business and digital leaders considering Snowflake to make a strong decision. The leadership team has to recognise your vision and understand the benefits:

Don't be scared to start and play around with new technologies. Don’t underestimate how much time you will need to prepare your data. But if your data is well managed and prepared, Snowflake is worth the effort.

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