Ensemble aims to sharpen business intelligence with data center: Travel Weekly

Ensemble Travel Group believes its forthcoming Data Monetization Center will offer travel agencies real-time booking trends that they can use to improve everything from sales to customer service.

According to Kim Mendes, Ensemble’s IT director of information services, the center is essentially designed to close the gap from when consortia receive supplier data, which can take at least a few weeks, and instead provide the information to agency owners daily.

In the words of CEO David Harris, the Data Monetization Center “is a big, fancy name, but it is a game-changer for both Ensemble and the industry.”

Mendes said it typically takes suppliers 30 days to process reports and another few weeks to send them to Ensemble.

“The data that we were working with was good for reconciliation, and it was a good look behind us — our rearview mirror, where we came from,” she said.

But Ensemble wanted daily transactional data to understand what members are selling in the moment.

“It’s part of us being predictive and using 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 to achieve a goal of increasing member sales, commissions and, ultimately, making our member businesses more profitable.” 

Mendes said Ensemble has worked with several large customer relationship management (CRM) systems to create its proof-of-concept for the Data Monetization Center. Sales data is received electronically. Ensemble analyzes existing data and normalizes it, so it can be used to form meaningful, actionable reports.

Data can be filtered by things like preferred and nonpreferred suppliers and type of travel and compared to goals and targets. It can highlight areas of opportunity for higher commissions. Agency owners can see their own agency’s data as well as an anonymized set of larger data from all the agencies participating.

Ensemble will begin rolling out the Data Monetization Center in the first quarter with agencies that use the CRMs involved in the project, followed by top performers in the U.S. 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 secure and partitioned so agency owners will only see their own detailed data. Reports can be viewed within Ensemble’s member portal, which is hosted on secure servers.

Ensemble also hopes the center will prove helpful to the industry at large. It has approached ASTA about working with other groups to collect even more data that could be shared, anonymously, with all participants.

“The more data that you have to add to this, the more accurate your predictions and forecasts can be,” Mendes said.
The data center represents a new level of service Ensemble offers members.

“Once you include transactional data and we can look at your specific agency, we can help you at a different level,” Mendes said. “Your customers will have patterns, and they’ll do certain things. We will be able to ascertain that by making reports out of this data to see these things, and we can identify marketing potential to both a supplier or specific season or type [of travel] based off of your customer’s history.”

There are plans, too, she said, to add in other third-party data that could be helpful, such as census data, consumer data and more. 

“So as we build this, they’re going to get a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in real time,” Mendes said.