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November 2018, Amsterdam

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How TUI is cruising into the future with data

The UK-based package holiday provider has always been data driven and continues to invest in new technologies for competitive edge

Dr Abhiram Gandhe, TUI’s principal solutions architect who has a research doctorate in data, is a busy man. TUI has, after all, as the company’s website puts it, ‘always been a data driven business’ and is ‘investing significantly in the area of data science both from a technology and people perspective’.The group also ‘sees the application of data and artificial intelligence as a core source of competitive advantage’ that is ‘crucial to the company’s future growth’.

In this Gandhe, who will be speaking in Amsterdam in November, is playing a crucial role. As a data scientist with a focus on systems, he is responsible for designing roadmaps at TUI. In essence, that means understanding from a systems perspective what capabilities the business has today, identifying where it wants to be and defining how to get there.

A key focus for TUI is optimising packaging for customers

As a packaged holiday provider and an owner of ships, resorts, flights, which has a range of contracts with different providers, a key focus for TUI is optimising packaging for customers. According to Gandhe, there are numerous things that need to be done from a systems perspective to keep this happening. “That is not limited to system maintenance but capturing the right data and identifying benefits from the insights for our customers,” he says. 

To achieve this, Gandhe must work across a range of business departments to understand the different thought processes; finance, marketing, commercial and analytics teams, for example, all have different drivers and he works closely with them to understand their needs.

Deep understanding

With a research doctorate in data, Gandhe has a deep understanding of data, how it can be acquired and what information can be derived from it. As a result, numerous projects have been spawned and successfully funded. For example, he has been responsible for streamlining and speeding up search capabilities on the website, and ensuring that results are fed into back-end systems, helping to better manage demand. At the same time, customer related analytics projects are being designed to deliver consistent and valuable sets of information, which can be used to improve the customer experience.

Dr Gandhe gives this example: “On cruises everything from sales at the bar and restaurant to movement of customers are recorded. With the Internet of Things assisting customers and facial recognition helping to identify them and the activities they are involved in, helps us to deliver true personalisation and service.”

Taking it seriously

TUI takes its customer’s data and privacy seriously and sees GDPR as a positive move. “Confidentiality is important and this is the right move,” Ghandhe says, adding that the new regulation “is not a hindrance but an enabler”.

Once a customer has agreed that his or her information can be kept and used to their benefit, strengthens TUI’s effort in delivering a personalised service, he says.

We are living and breathing new technologies

On how TUI is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make the business more profitable, Abhiram says he would need at least a day to explain! But what he can say is that group’s commercial teams take technologies like AI and IoT, and the insights they deliver, very seriously.

“We are living and breathing new technologies and our customers are happy,” Gandhe says. Through AI driven personalisation, TUI plans to do everything from booking a table in the right spot to recommending a drink or suggesting an excursion. “We are learning about our customer as he moves around which means we can manage expectations and make accurate predictions all though using the data we collect,” he says.

Want to hear more from Dr Abhiram Gandhe, Principal Solutions Architect, TUI, about how the group is using AI and data to deliver a more personalised experience, join us in Amsterdam November 28-29

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