• As in any technology company, Dingus customers are very aware of the names and capabilities of the personnel with whom they have a more direct relationship, either personally or virtually. Well, in these times, especially online… But during all these months we have been able to continue not only maintaining the service, but also adapting it to the changing needs of the hotels, partners and market, thanks to the dedication and professionalism of the less ‘visible’ team of Hitt Group. They do not claim specific recognition. But from Dingus we want to take the initiative and make them protagonists of this tour through the ‘machine room’ of our company. Each and every one of the professionals at Etoolinnovation has a responsibility that translates into innovation, development and continuous improvement. We invite you to meet them through this interview with their CIO and co-founder of Hitt, Emilio Torrens.
    • “Customers have to be 100% sure that their data is private and safe”.
    • “We needed to do a ‘plug and play’ Big Data project with a scalable cost model that would suit a single hotel as well as a chain of one thousand hotels.
    • “If a company is not processing its data to aid decision making it will end up buying the data from others, even buying predictive models from others to make its decisions. Whoever does not rely on their data and the data in their context will be making decisions at a clear disadvantage”.

Throughout the pandemic Hitt Group has been committed to providing critical information to Dingus customers, bringing a small part of Etoolinnovation’s first Big Data project to the hotels. The premise is that with DataHotel’s analyses they will be able to design their own strategies to face the stability of their business. Said this way, it seems very simple, but… what is behind this new technology for the group?

Firstly, the enormous information that is generated in Hitt every day, historically we had problems just storing it and we didn’t even dream of processing it. To understand what we are talking about, a few reference numbers are enough in a day in high (normal) season:

  • We receive over 30 million requests for pricing and availability.
  • We have 15,000 active hotel/channel connections, for price and availability updates and send out over 2 million updates in one day.
  • We process more than 20,000 reservation requests which are converted into about 14,000 unique reservations per day.
  • We move more than 1,500 gigs of data between inputs and outputs.
  • We store more than 80 million json or XML documents in the log databases.

In Innovation we have been behind this project for a long time. We knew that we had gold in the data and that we were not getting any benefits from it, so in the last few years we have not missed any talks or conventions dealing with Big Data. Our main stumbling block was not technology or cost, but the project had to fit into Dingus’ business model: we needed to do a “plug and play” BigData project, with a scalable cost model and that could be adapted equally to an individual hotel or to a chain of 1,000 hotels. With these specifications, many platforms and tools on the market were discarded, either because of their licensing system or because of their high acquisition costs.

Thus, we presented a project to the CDTI (Center for the Development of Industrial Technology) with this premise Big Data for hotels, plug and play and the same access/power if you have 1 hotel or if you have 1000 . We won the project and obtained funding for “Hotel Analitics”, which was the embryo of DataHotel. Currently we have published the final candidate version (CR) and about it we have generated the reports that every week we have shared with our clients and that have been echoed by many media, in moments as complicated as the last months. In addition, there are several hotel chains that have access and are helping us to define some indicators and dashboards.

On that version we are working hard on two lines:

  1. The context, because DataHotel is not just hotel sales data. Its power is also in the context data and we want it to include air connectivity, payment systems information, guest behavior at destination, hotel reputation, reservation intention, etc.
  1. Machine learning, ML is also important in DataHotel and we are already working on some models, predicting reservation cancellations, stopping cc fraud… In any case, we hope to put the platform into production in a short time.

In your opinion, what is the value of the data and what importance are the hotels giving it?

The data will become the most valuable thing a company has. The new cloud environments mean that almost any company can tackle its data projects. What used to be almost exclusive to large companies with dedicated data teams has now been standardized.

Hotels are taking notice. In fact, they are already using many data-driven tools in many of their processes: “Rate shoppers”, “Parity monitoring tool”, “Price recommender” or “Website analytics”.

Do you think the combination of data and confidentiality/security is viable?

Not viable, mandatory: without data security it is not possible to mount a data project, much less in a multi-chain hotel environment like ours. Customers have to be 100% sure that their data is private and safe, for that we have ISO 27001 certifications (a tremendously demanding standard for information security) and a PCI-DSS certification that, although it does not apply directly, it does oblige you to audit the systems and train the teams in security.

How have these months been in EtoolInnovation , what have been the service priorities?

We have been teleworking and in fact, we are still doing it. The truth is that it has not been a painful transition, I do not know if to call it transition. EtoolInnovation is “Cloud Native” and we have no “dependency” with the office.

During these months we have had 3 clear objectives:

  1. Cost control: above all controlling the infrastructure to find the balance between cost and service.
  2. Service maintenance: although human resources were limited and the situation was as it was, we worked to make it as transparent as possible for the client.
  3. DataHotel: we accelerated this project to the maximum because we understood that we had very valuable information to share to help our clients.

What are the company’s next challenges?

We can summarize it in “prioritize and get it right”. Long-term plans are no longer valid, and medium-term plans have to be revised because the needs of customers will be different. We have to focus on delivering to customers what they will really need after this period and it has to be fast. So we have to review the short/medium term plans and re-prioritize.

Is the future Big Data?

The future is data, the fact that there is a lot of data or that it is not structured is not going to be an excuse for anything anymore, the Big Data is data. In this way, all the data generated by the company must be processed, enriched with context data, converted into valuable data and made accessible to everyone. If a company is not processing its data to help make decisions, it will end up buying the data from others, even buying predictive models from others to make its decisions.  If it does not rely on its data and the data in its context, it will be making decisions at a clear disadvantage.

About Etoolinnovation and your operational responsibility at Hitt Group

EtoolInnovation is basically in charge of covering all the technological needs of the Hitt group, either the infrastructure or the maintenance, development, documentation, testing and deployment of the products, as well as the administration of the internal tools. To make it possible, we divide the work in the departments of Innovation, Cloud Office, Quality, Development and Connectivities.

Distribution by areas:

Innovation: this is where the technology comes from and then becomes a product. It is also the department responsible for all innovation on development processes, deploy, infrastructure, databases, programming languages, etc. For this we have 2 senior profiles “full stack developer”, which are supported by any profile of another department when necessary. They also design and prepare the documentation for the technical projects that we present to the CDTI for possible financing.

Cloud Office: manages all the infrastructure and services (Amazon Web Services, Google Gloud), and all the tools that are used in the group (JIRA, Bitbucket, Office365, Zendesk, etc .). In addition, they have responsibilities related to the certifications of the group (ISO 9001 / 2701 and PCI-DSS). The team is composed of a senior and a junior, which are new profiles. They are not developers or system technicians, but a mix of programming and systems with high knowledge of cloud environments, which is supported by innovation and / or development when necessary.

Connectivities: this department is in charge of all inbound and outbound integrations, currently all those that have to do with hotel sales and purchases, downloading of reservations, price synchronization and banking APIs… they also certify third party integrations with our APIs. This team is composed of 3 people (2 analysts, a senior and a junior), and a senior developer. It uses other developers back or in Innovation, if necessary.

Quality and Development are two departments that work organized in Scrum teams, each team works on a product and has quality resources, back development and front development. These teams can be created or changed, according to the needs. Right now we have several Scrum teams in place: for Bookincenter, Book&Payment, CTM, RoomOnLine and DataHotel.

Quality is in charge of requirements taking, application testing, documentation and deliveries, and the developers of the development of the back and front corresponding in each equipment. The total resources of Back Developers are 2 senior and 2 semi-senior programmers; Design/Designers 2 semi-senior designers, Quality has 3 product owners, 1 senior and 2 junior analysts.