Seera Group is the leading travel and tourism services company in the Middle East. Founded in 1979 as Al Tayyar Travel Group, its growing portfolio of travel brands has helped families, businesses, holidaymakers, pilgrims and government officials move around the region and the world for the last 40 years. In April 2019, the company rebranded as Seera Group, marking the start of a new chapter in its successful history.
Seera Group began using Tableau in 2017 as part of a major IT restructure, which saw it consolidate over 20 different data sources into a cloud-based data lake and transform itself into a truly data driven organisation. Tableau is now the hub for analytics across the whole of the company’s online business, improving data consistency and reducing customer acquisition costs by 10%, saving $1m in the last 6 months alone. Its automated reporting features also save the online marketing team hundreds of hours a month, while Slack integration enables fast, easy self-service analytics for employees in every department.
A key reason for choosing Tableau over the company’s previous BI solution was its scalability, meaning it can grow alongside us without any issues.LOUISE BLAKE, VP DATA
As Seera Group has grown over the last 40 years, so too has the number of data sources it relies on. The company currently has over 20 data sources in regular use, including Hive tables, SQL databases, Google Analytics and a wide variety of offline sources such as Excel spreadsheets. Prior to Tableau, data consistency was becoming increasingly problematic, with different groups working from a variety of sources or creating multiple versions of the same information.
When Louise Blake joined the company in 2017 with a blank slate and a goal to make data integral to all business operations, she immediately addressed the growing fragmentation caused by so many disparate sources. She began by implementing a cloud-based data lake hosted in AWS, followed by Tableau as the sole analytics and visualisation platform to support the company’s entire online business.
"A key reason for choosing Tableau over the company’s previous BI solution was its scalability, meaning it can grow alongside us without any issues," says Louise. "Tableau’s ease of use and ability to visualise and analyse data sources also meant we didn’t need programmers to use it. We could do pretty much anything we wanted ourselves, right from the off."
With nearly all data sources now feeding into the data lake and connected through Tableau, the new infrastructure has created a consolidated data hub throughout the whole business. Its Tableau Server is now also hosted in AWS, meaning the entire ecosystem is cloud based. As a result, all data can be updated daily, which wasn’t previously possible. In addition, some key areas like customer reviews are updated hourly, allowing the company to respond extremely quickly wherever necessary. The Centre of Excellence team is saving over 3 hours of preparation time ahead of every client-facing meeting, for instance.
"Now all data sets can be visualised together in Tableau, which makes everything much more transparent," says Louise. "Having a cloud-based ecosystem means everyone can be confident they’re looking at the latest figures and there’s no more conflict about which team has the ‘right’ numbers because everyone is looking at the same data, directly in Tableau."
Tableau has democratised data within Seera Group and really helped bring the company together.LOUISE BLAKE, VP DATA
The marketing team used to spend two hours a day, per person, on reporting across 60 Google Sheets. By connecting APIs and automating reports in Tableau, not only are they saving hundreds of hours a month, but everything can now be seen in just one dashboard.LOUISE BLAKE, VP DATA
Over 80% of the online business now uses Tableau regularly, in departments ranging from the product team to the sourcing team, strategy team and finance. One of the teams benefiting most is the online marketing team.
"The marketing team used to spend two hours a day, per person, on reporting across 60 Google Sheets," Louise. "By connecting APIs and automating these reports in Tableau, not only have they saved hundreds of hours a month, but everything can now be seen in just one dashboard."
This new approach to marketing analytics means the team can review ongoing activity daily, rather than reactively at the end of the month. Considerable improvements in spending efficiency enables the team to save over $1m every 6 months thanks to a 10% reduction in customer acquisition cost.
"Since switching to Tableau, the team can easily see which marketing channels are working and which aren’t," says Louise. "Those that aren’t working can be quickly switched off, with resources immediately funneled into more effective activity."
These benefits haven’t gone unnoticed and other teams within Seera Group are starting to use Tableau in a similar fashion.
"The product team is now using Tableau to monitor user activity across our different platforms such as the app, the web and in-store," says Louise. "By viewing everything in one place they can see customer drop-offs more easily and analyse why it’s happening."
While the online business leads the company’s use of Tableau, the rest of the business is quickly catching up, including the expanding retail network of Seera Group’s consumer travel business – As part of the Seera Group transformation, data became a corporate function, and is as critical to the business as IT, Finance or HR.
"Tableau has democratised data within Seera Group and really helped bring the company together," says Louise, now VP Data. "It’s providing solutions to real-world needs and solving issues people didn’t even know data could help with until now."LOUISE BLAKE, VP DATA