The Karavel Promovacances Group propelled to Big Data thanks to Talend

The number one tourism and travel group in France integrates information flows to its catalog coming from 30 partners, all while handling their ever-increasing volumes thanks to the high-performing and scalable Talend solution
Where we used to spend weeks developing a flow, movement or transformation processing, with Talend we now only need two or three clicks to accomplish the same goal.
Maroin Merzouk, Project Manager, IT department

The number one travel and tourism group in France, the Karavel Promovacances Group includes the Promovacances, Partir pas cher.com, Tati-vacances, Karavel, ABcroisiere, Un Monde à deux and the Club Privé Vacances websites, offering tens of thousands of travel and tourism options updated on a daily basis: including vacations, tours, weekends, cruises, spa visit, scuba diving excursions, golf, flight only, car rentals, etc. The group has the distinction of embodying the dual role of being a tour operator (producer) and a distributor: it produces and sells its own vacations – for example in Tunisia, Egypt and the Dominican Republic – by directly negotiating with airlines and receptive hotel companies, and also developing close partnerships with select external tour operators to ensure the widest possible choice of destinations and packages. The only independent French group, Karavel Promovacances has 700 employees and in 2013 earned an annual turnover of about €430 million.

Integrating partner data into the Group catalog

In its 15 years of existence, the Karavel Promovacances Group has sold its travel services to more than 4 million customers worldwide. With 4.5 million unique visitors per month (source: Omniture 2012) it hosts the most visited e-commerce sites in France and holds the place of the number one online tourism and travel agency.

Its original business model, combining the role of both tour operator and distributor, allows it to perfectly design the trips in its catalog, in terms of quality, price and availability. Quality is a primordial concern for the Group: every year, 100,000 customer questionnaires are analyzed by a dedicated division. The responses collected complete the assessment of the offerings and enable to continuously improve the quality of the range.

This attention to quality also applies to the IT processes implemented by the group, especially in terms of data integration. “As a retailer of our own offers and the packages of other tour operators, we manage a catalog that exhaustively contains tens of thousands of offers. For each partner, we must integrate data in different formats and the data volumes continue to increase,” reflects Maroin Merzouk, Project Manager in the IT Department at Karavel Promovacances Group. “To ensure this integration, we initially developed Java scripts, the maintenance of which has proven to be increasingly complex and performance was not satisfactory. That is why we were interested in the data integration solutions available on the market, not only to integrate partner data, but also to provide back-office processing.”

Talend to preserve the Group’s competitive advantage

The Group tested several different levels of market solutions and ultimately selected Talend Enterprise Data Integration. “While proprietary solutions were both expensive and complex, Talend offered a single, complete solution with many components to use and deploy, and on top of all this it was far more affordable. Java-based, it is easy to use and simplifies collaborative development. What’s more, its main advantage lies in parallel processing which accelerates the integration of large volumes of data. Lastly, the ease of maintenance enables us to shorten development times and significantly reduce costs,” explains Maroin Merzouk.

Today, the Karavel Promovacances Group includes data from thirty partners in its catalog. Usually at least two flows from the same partner are integrated: the first includes a description of the products in accordance with the regulations in effect in the sector, and the second includes travel dates, rates and duration, basically, the trip characteristics. These data exchanges are mainly based on XML files and flat files. “These files sometimes exceed 300 MB. The larger the file size, the more the Java code needs to be optimized. Talend makes our work easier, because its solutions natively include optimized components for this type of processing,” adds Maroin Merzouk.

Meanwhile, Talend Enterprise Data Integration allows the integration of other information flows, such as data concerning flights and bed bank information that references all the hotels in the same region. These flows are particularly large, usually several gigabytes. “Talend’s ability to integrate very large volumes of data is strategic: there are thousands of tourist destinations in the world offering thousands of hotels and vacation options. In all, there are millions of hotel rooms that we integrate into our catalog, with increasingly tight deadlines: the travel industry is highly competitive and the performance of our integration solution helps us maintain our competitive advantage,” specifies Maroin Merzouk.

Finally, Talend also provides back-office processing. “Where we used to spend weeks developing a flow, movement or transformation processing, with Talend we now only need two or three clicks to accomplish the same goal!” enthuses Maroin Merzouk.

Performance, volumes and ease of development

With its parallel processing feature, Talend helps the group improve its processing time for high volumes. “Loading a large file that is several gigabytes is virtually impossible in a single operation and requires complex developments (joints) that can jeopardize the stability of the server. This is why parallel processing is essential for our productivity. With Talend, we are able to integrate a lot more data in equivalent time,” confirms Maroin Merzouk. “This is all the more crucial since the volume of data that we process will not decrease, on the contrary, we are entering the era of Big Data. Aside from product and pricing data, other information is important. For example, in the near future we can foresee integrating customer feedback on the offers and packages. We can rest assured not only because Talend has left us prepared for the increase in volumes, but it also enables us to more quickly modify our processing or create new processing just as quickly. This scalability is insurance for the smooth course of our growth.”

For Maroin Merzouk, Talend has become a strategic brick for the Karavel Promovacances Group information system. “Talend has helped us save time in addition to giving us development capabilities and resources that now allow us to fulfill our integration and reliability goals while reducing development costs and maintenance. Meanwhile, in a competitive industry, the speed of implementation is a definite plus: we are able to instantly respond to the demands of our marketing department and therefore integrate any new emergency data flows,” concludes Maroin Merzouk. “While we did not precisely calculate the return on investment for our Talend solution, we know, for all the reasons detailed here, that it is positive. We are perfectly equipped to plan the design of new tourism packages and even new lines of business.”