Big Data

Doing Data Science wrong – the booking.com way


I use booking.com a lot for my bookings, but one thing which constantly bugs me are the e-mails after a booking – stating “The prices for [CITY YOU JUST BOOKED] just dropped again!”. Really, booking.com?!? It happend to me several times already that I booked a Hotel and after some hours I received a message that the prices in this city just dropped.

So, I am wondering if this happens on purpose or rather on incident. If we would expect it to happen on purpose, I would like to question the purpose of it. Basically, you buy something and then get told – haha, it just got cheaper, we got you? No, I don‘t think so. I believe it rather the opposite: incident.

I do expect that booking.com is having some issues with either data silos or simply with the speed of the data. Either there is no connection between the ordering system and the campaigning system and thus the data doesn‘t flow between those two systems. After some time, I receive getting messages, so I think that the booking.com systems aren‘t built to handle this topic in real-time. You order something on booking.com – the system is probably optimized on bringing this order process through, send and receive information from their (hotel) partners, … – but they don‘t update the data on the CRM or Marketing systems, that create adds. Now, my suggestion is that once you book a hotel, booking.com tracks that you looked at a specific city. This is then added to their user database and the marketing automation tool is updated. However, the order process seems to be totally de-coupled from this process and doesn‘t receive the data about this fast enough – and most likely, their marketing automation system is set to „aggressive“ marketing once you have looked up a city – and sends recommendations often. This then leads to some discrepancy (or consistency) in their systems. For me, this is also a great example of eventual consistency in database design. At some point, booking.com‘s systems will all be up-to date, so they stop re-targeting you. However, their eventual in the consistency is very, very late 🙂

Let me know what experiences you had.

I lead a team of Senior Experts in Data & Data Science as Head of Data & Analytics and AI at A1 Telekom Austria Group. I also teach this topic at various universities and frequently speak at various Conferences. In 2010 I wrote a book about Cloud Computing, which is often used at German & Austrian Universities. In my home country (Austria) I am part of several organisations on Big Data & Data Science.

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