UPDATED 14:24 EDT / JULY 20 2017

fryer BIG DATA

Hotels.com embraces data-driven culture

Whether you are looking for a luxury hotel on a secluded beach or a place to stay in midtown Manhattan that won’t break the bank, the process of sorting through options and booking online can seem pretty straightforward. But behind most travel websites today is a complex data engine that pays close attention to what you may have booked before, and it strives to filter every possible detail in order to make recommendations that you’ll like.

“We always have to delight you in every experience you have with us. It’s why we are a very data-driven culture,” said Matt Fryer (pictured), vice president and chief data science officer for Hotels.com L.P.

Fryer shared his insights during a visit to theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile livestreaming studio, and answered questions from hosts David Goad (@davidgoad) and George Gilbert (@ggilbert41) during this year’s Spark Summit in San Francisco, California. They discussed how customer expectations in the travel industry are affecting technology solutions and the role that the cloud-based, open-source data management platform Apache Spark could play in meeting the challenges ahead. (* Disclosure below.)

It’s all about speed and relevance

Half of the traffic on Hotels.com now comes from smartphones, according to Fryer, who talked about how speed and relevance have become essential.

“People expect things to be right there when they need it,” he said. “People also expect you to know what they did seconds ago and respond to that.”

Boosts in streaming speeds will help. Latency streaming improvements in the three-millisecond range recently announced by Databricks Inc. were a step in the right direction as Hotels.com works to meet customer expectations, Fry stated.

Fryer and his team also rely on data science and algorithms to evaluate search details and a customer’s prior travel patterns. For example, if a user stayed at a certain hotel and liked it, the next time they intend to visit the area again that same property will appear at the top of search.

“We look for all of those signals to help inspire you,” Fryer said.

Fryer noted that the biggest obstacle he and the travel industry faces is what he terms “The Alps Challenge,” or how to turn the data mountain into platforms using Spark. “It’s a hard problem right now,” he concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Spark Summit 2017(* Disclosure: DataBricks Inc. sponsored this Spark Summit 2017 segment on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither DataBricks nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

Since you’re here …

Show your support for our mission with our one-click subscription to our YouTube channel (below). The more subscribers we have, the more YouTube will suggest relevant enterprise and emerging technology content to you. Thanks!

Support our mission:    >>>>>>  SUBSCRIBE NOW >>>>>>  to our YouTube channel.

… We’d also like to tell you about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it. SiliconANGLE Media Inc.’s business model is based on the intrinsic value of the content, not advertising. Unlike many online publications, we don’t have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary on SiliconANGLE — along with live, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams at theCUBE — take a lot of hard work, time and money. Keeping the quality high requires the support of sponsors who are aligned with our vision of ad-free journalism content.

If you like the reporting, video interviews and other ad-free content here, please take a moment to check out a sample of the video content supported by our sponsors, tweet your support, and keep coming back to SiliconANGLE.