Travix: Cruising to new data-driven heights with Looker and Google

About Travix

Travix is a leading online travel agency operating in 39 countries with offices in the Netherlands, Germany, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Industries: Travel & Hospitality
Location: The Netherlands

About Looker

Founded in 2012, California-based Looker offers a complete platform that offers data analytics and business insights to almost 1,400 companies.

With Looker and Google BigQuery, Travix built a powerful, scalable business intelligence platform, empowering business users to analyze data and make better business decisions.

Google Cloud Results

  • Creates a dashboard and data science platform capable of accessing over 50 TB of data
  • Increases the power of its streaming data services with a throughput of 10,000 messages per second with Cloud Pub/Sub
  • Redeploys IT staff and resources to help the business grow with managed services from Google supporting infrastructure maintenance

Increased data usage from 12 to 150 dashboard users

Formed in 2011, Travix is a leading online travel agency, providing flights, hotels, car rentals, insurance, and other travel-related services around the world. Travix prides itself on providing the right solution to customers at the right time, which has helped drive sales higher and higher. The company’s five main brands generate over 20 million unique searches, which in turn creates enough business intelligence (BI) data to help Travix tailor its services to suit its customers.

“We were looking for things like performance, scalability, and reliability. If you’re a global operator and want to serve different parts of the world, you have to aspire to a certain level of performance. Google helped us do that.”

Koen Mevissen, Principal BI Developer, Travix

In 2015, it was clear that Travix’s existing IT infrastructure was struggling with so much BI data. The company needed to find a new scalable, cloud-based, high-speed solution. For that, it turned to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Looker.

“We were looking for things like performance, scalability and reliability,” says Koen Mevissen, Principal BI Developer at Travix. “If you’re a global operator and want to serve different parts of the world, you have to aspire to a certain level of performance. Google helped us do that.”

Online travel is a high-volume, low-margin business. To stay competitive, Travix wanted to build on its data-driven environment and improve agility. “If we can incorporate data into our decision-making process, it helps us to move and respond quickly,” says Koen. The existing BI solution consisted of several dashboard tools and databases, hosted on servers maintained by several IT staff. By 2015, the infrastructure was straining under the pressure of so much traffic. “It became costly to have an ops team going into data centers, plugging in hard drives, and doing all of the other maintenance,” says Koen. It was time to look for a cloud-based solution.

“What’s not to love about Google BigQuery? It’s easy to use, and there’s a lot of optimization you can do. You can also separate data for security, which is important for GDPR.”

Koen Mevissen, Principal BI Developer, Travix

Travix tested the biggest and best cloud providers over the summer of 2015. In the end, Google Cloud Platform won out because of its ease of use, high performance, and flexible pricing. Travix had two tasks in particular it wanted the new infrastructure to handle: batch processing and streaming data jobs.

Google BigQuery became the main tool for taking in and storing the data along with services in Kubernetes to schedule and run the jobs that needed executing. “What’s not to love about Google BigQuery?” says Koen. “It’s easy to use, and there’s a lot of optimization you can do. You can also separate data for security, which is important for GDPR.”

For the streaming data jobs, Travix used Cloud Pub/Sub and Cloud Dataflow to help ensure smooth performance with consistent results whatever the load. Meanwhile, Cloud Storage proved ideal for holding static files in a safe, easy-to-access space online.

Once the infrastructure was in place, Travix began hunting for a new tool its BI team could use for analytical dashboarding and data exploration. A generous trial period allowed Looker to stand out from other solutions on the market, letting the team at Travix explore the platform fully and adapt it to their needs.

From an IT point of view, Looker integrated quickly and easily with Google BigQuery which was an important selling point for Koen and the IT staff. For the users, the combination of power and ease of use meant that Looker catered to all levels of analysis, from exploration via dashboards to one page summaries.

“Almost all of our business users work with Looker,” says Koen. “There’s a lot of great analysis and exploration you can do through the dashboard and the standardized data reports. When we need to do more complex data science, that’s when we turn to Google BigQuery.”

“Now everyone’s on the same page, instead of the scattered spreadsheets and different databases we used to have. We give the business users access to the data and give them the tools to make their own decisions. It’s empowerment and self-service.”

Koen Mevissen, Principal BI Developer, Travix

With Looker and GCP, Travix built a platform that streamlines business intelligence within the company, allowing for higher level analyses without compromising on performance or scalability. “We’ve ramped up the data usage in Travix since we went to Looker,” says Koen, citing approximately 150 concurrent users on Looker compared with just a dozen on the previous dashboards.

Since moving to GCP, Travix has been able to store more than 50 terabytes of data in the cloud, up from just a few hundred gigabytes. With Cloud Pub/Sub supporting its streaming data service, Travix has gone from streaming a few hundred messages per second to over 10,000.

By using Looker and GCP as managed services, Travix has drastically cut the resources it spends on DevOps. Prior to the migration, Travix regularly had to assign 10 to15 staff to maintain and operate the various databases and dashboards. Now, the company only has to assign 3, says Koen, allowing the IT team to deploy its resources in more valuable ways, saving hundreds of hours a week since the migration. Meanwhile, the business users benefit from having a single, integrated platform.

“Now everyone’s on the same page, instead of the scattered spreadsheets and different databases we used to have,” says Koen. “We give the business users access to the data and give them the tools to make their own decisions. It’s empowerment and self-service.”

Since establishing the new platform, Travix has not been idle. The company is currently exploring machine learning as a way of optimizing the way it uses its data, helping to make decisions even faster, reducing costs, and providing better personalization to its customers.

“We want to apply smarter algorithms to all the data that we collect,” says Koen. “Google BigQuery and Dataflow will be at the heart of that.”

About Travix

Travix is a leading online travel agency operating in 39 countries with offices in the Netherlands, Germany, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Industries: Travel & Hospitality
Location: The Netherlands

About Looker

Founded in 2012, California-based Looker offers a complete platform that offers data analytics and business insights to almost 1,400 companies.

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