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Travel management startup updates data infrastructure to improve engagement analytics

Business travel management startup TravelPerk has updated its data infrastructure to an effort to improve customer engagement analytics and gain better insights

Travel management software startup TravelPerk has enlisted the help of data infrastructure provider Segment to unlock its siloed company data stores to boost visibility of its customer engagements.

Founded in 2015, TravelPerk provides travel management software to enterprises, helping them book and manage their employees’ business trips.

With 700% year-on-year growth, the company claims to be on track to complete one million bookings for travelers and to expand from 250 to 400 employees, both by the end of 2019.

As the company expanded, its growing but siloed data sets meant it could no longer effectively monitor customer engagement on its propriety platform any more, slowing the improvement of its services as it made it harder for the firm to process and acquire insights from its data.

“We needed to pull data into one place so we could get better visibility across what was happening on our platform and how the users were engaging with it,” said Huw Slater, chief financial officer at TravelPerk. “Having siloed data wasn’t enabling us to do that, so then we looked at working with Segment.”

Segment’s customer data infrastructure software helps companies collect, unify and connect their first-party data to over 200 marketing, analytics and data warehousing tools.

These tools are not provided by Segment directly, but by the 250-plus partners that make up its infrastructural ecosystem.

Acting as a digital switchboard, Segment’s software only needs to be integrated once and essentially allows TravelPerk to re-route its siloed customer data to any application or tool it needs, with Segment’s software effectively acting as a communication layer between the two.

This in turn meant TravelPerk’s engineers did not have to significantly change the way they operated or undergo any further training to use the new system.

According to Slater, the infrastructural changes have reduced labour and time-intensive data integration tasks that would have taken a week to just a few hours. “That’s enabled us to free up our engineer’s time so we can focus properly on our core value, which is integrating with suppliers and getting the best inventory,” he said.

“We’re also not having to build this architecture ourselves, which is a huge cost in time and money, and we also save on the ‘opportunity cost’, meaning we have the ability to execute much more quickly on our own products,” he added.

The importance of a strong ‘data foundation’

Segment co-founder Ilya Volodarsky said the data-processing bind TravelPerk found itself in is common among startups, and – in his experience – can cause them to run into difficulties when trying to use their data to hone their products and offerings later down the line.

“If they don’t instrument proper analytics when they first launch a product, they start making gut feels about how to edit the product and can go off in the wrong direction,” he said.

This is something Segment has firsthand experience of, he recalled, as pivoting between different business ideas during the early stages of the company’s development meant it wasted months writing their own analytics tools to gauge the customer response to its products.

From there, they moved on to creating an open source library of analytics tools to help small companies instrument first-party data to understand whether there is actually a need for their products.

Off the back of this experience, Segment has recently launched its own startup programme, which is designed to help early-stage startups effectively implement marketing and analytics tools.

The programme only accepts startups that are under two years old because this key stage of development is where Segment believes it can be most helpful.

“We want to catch the product team right before they launch to make sure they have the right data foundation set up,” said Volodarsky. “If they have analytics instrumented right before they launch, it means they can see a problem quickly and investigate why the customer is having trouble.”

He added that having a strong analytical foundation is most crucial at the early stages because problems only get worse as a company’s customer base grows – something that can severely hinder growth later on.

Slater shared the same sentiment, saying the foundation provided through the Segment integration has set TravelPerk up for future development, as well as helping it solve its initial problem of siloed data.

“Segment is constantly improving the product and adding more integrations, which has enabled us to then analyse more data and get a more holistic view of user engagement so we can continually optimise,” he said.

As part of the programme, Segment has announced over 15 new startup deals, representing roughly $1m in value for an early-stage startup. Participating companies will gain access to exclusive referral deals with Segment’s affiliated technology partners, including Amplitude, Intercom, Customer.io, Google Cloud and Mode Anlaytics.

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