COVID-19 led to radical changes across the travel sector, with lower passenger flows and volatile travel restrictions causing widespread international disruption. Snowflake caught up with Nick Dearden, CTO at OAG, the global leader in aviation data and analytics, to hear how the company is capturing customer data insights to support the travel industry.
Many of the world’s largest and most respected airlines, financial institutions, travel providers, governments, airports, and tech companies—including American Airlines, American Express, Expedia, and Ctrip—rely on OAG’s travel data and solutions. In response to industry turmoil and to aid smart recovery, OAG has transformed its data infrastructure to ensure its information services can offer near real-time data to inform analytics on passenger flows. For example, clients can improve booking activity, trends, experiences, retail choices, and forecast industry revenue.
Navigating Pandemic Recovery
OAG’s core offerings have been the backbone of the travel industry for over 90 years. Dearden is responsible for the data and analytics platform the company provides to its customers. His role involves driving innovation and selecting the appropriate technology to enable the business to modernize the industry.
Dearden describes data as critical to the travel sector’s anticipated recovery, and fulfill future unmet needs post COVID-19. OAG’s goal is to equip its customers to act quicker and make better decisions by increasing the freshness, accessibility, scalability, value, and elasticity of its data. OAG needed a cloud platform that would be highly configurable, providing flexibility to offer customers the data they want, when they want it, and in their preferred delivery mechanism.
“We went through a rigorous selection process, and Snowflake offered us more of a platform-as-a-service approach than any other provider. This enabled us to speed up our ability to deliver near real-time insights to our customers through data sharing, which was a key driver for us.”
—Nick Dearden, CTO, OAG
By deploying Snowflake’s Data Cloud, OAG was able to bolster its direct connections to the cloud. Instead of receiving, downloading, ingesting, and manipulating files manually, customers can now plug directly into the OAG database to access, query, and analyze data, and automatically integrate OAG data feeds directly into existing systems and APIs.
Immediate Access to 150,000 schedules changes a day
There are approximately 150,000 flight schedule changes a day, the market is volatile, and many airlines are still living in uncertain times as they operate different strategies around ticket availability. COVID-19 has understandably brought new ‘trust’ challenges for passengers. To rebuild that trust, online travel agencies, metasearch engines, travel management providers, and more rely on OAG to make sure customer schedules are visible and accurate.
As a result of this comprehensive approach, OAG customers can now query its global schedules dataset for latest changes in near real time. Pre-pandemic, their database contained a market-leading 110,000 daily flights.
“We’ve been able to provide our customers with access to insights and analytics at a speed and at a scale that simply would not have been possible previously. And this has enabled us to provide higher levels of value to our customers by enabling them to directly access the data, and eliminating the need for data transfer and integration efforts.”
—Nick Dearden, CTO, OAG
OAG is also attracting new customers from other sectors, such as financial services companies, who can base hedge fund and equity trend decisions on OAG’s data insights. Understanding the flow of passengers through airports and countries provides great value, and this data helps organizations quantify business opportunities and create more efficient operations.
This insight is also widely available via Snowflake Data Marketplace, where nearly 50 organizations are trying the OAG platform. “We have a lot of trials in Snowflake Data Marketplace, and there’s strong elements of cross-pollination. We have converted some to paying customers who are reaping the benefits of data sharing at scale,” Dearden said.
Removing Siloes Produces Innovation
Snowflake has enabled OAG to build a single source of truth that’s scalable, accessible via the cloud, configurable, and elastic. This positions OAG to move from selling multiple and segmented data feeds to selling a single, cloud-based air travel intelligence and analytics solution. This shift accomplishes three major goals for OAG:
- Accelerating product innovation for OAG’s engineers, data scientists, and third-party developers
- Improving context and intelligence for customers while radically transforming what’s possible from a forecasting and analytics perspective
- Democratizing access to OAG’s data, giving non-technical users direct access to data that was previously unavailable to them
OAG is planning future enhancements to its platform to create a proprietary data model that will give its customers access to a richer range of OAG derived data, proprietary models with emissions data, delay predictions, missed connections, OTP, and forward looking schedules. OAG will do the data integration work so its customers don’t have to and all of this will be available across OAG’s APIs and direct solutions.
In addition, OAG will offer unique content from its data science capabilities, enabled by Snowflake, that is not available from anywhere else. As the travel sector continues to rebuild trust with their customers, OAG’s ability to offer near real-time rich data will be a vital tool in making the recovery a reality.