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XML Errors | Cause of 20% of Lost Searches and almost nobody is noticing

money lost XML errors searches blogTriometric, a leader in XML analytics, has accumulated customer data that shows that, on average, almost 20% of all XML search requests made by hotel channel partners (e.g. price and availability requests from online travel agencies, B2B hotel intermediaries, etc.) fail due to easily-addressable or preventable errors, such as XML errors, network, sever or response time issues, or unrecognised elements in the request itself (ranging from 6% by the best, and in excess of 30% for the worst, performers). For a medium-size chain this implies anywhere between 20-100m+ Euros in potential annual net revenues are simply slipping through the cracks in their internal operations and systems. Searches lost due to XML errors and others are a sign of poor monitoring.

An optimist would say this is great news: incremental revenues without getting into any of the complexities of revenue management, pricing, sales, content and branding. Simply by monitoring the performance of web services handling this online traffic, identifying errors and addressing their causes. On the other hand, when considering the incredible investment in time and money spent on generating this traffic in the first place, this is clearly an extremely frustrating source of “leakage” or waste (when discovered!)

But surely people are noticing and taking action? Unfortunately not. The irony is that, at a time when it seems that no conversation is complete without excitedly mentioning “Big Data”, very few companies are fully capturing their search data, alongside the usual booking information. Even where search data is being captured, often little is actually being done with it in terms of interpretation and action.

The notable exception is of course the own website or “.com”. Here you will usually find high quality analytics. While critical to hotel strategy, profitability and loyalty, however, it is important to remember that for most hotel chains the brand website only accounts for around 20-25% of total room revenues. Most hotel chains are a long way from matching the sophisticated and real time, full shopping analytics (i.e. search and booking) of their own website when it comes to their other channels: OTA, GDS, wholesalers etc.

In other words, 80% of the business is not being adequately monitored to prevent this hidden, but very real, revenue leakage. And we are not even speaking about the benefits of this improved information to optimising their business through these channels. Instead, for 80% of the business, most chains continue to depend on a disjointed combination of data-sets derived from overnight-processing log files, data from accounting systems and information provided by these same channel partners. This data usually lacks the comparability, business-relevance and frequency required for more focused, decisive and timely actions.

The result: millions of Euros lost from:

  • Failed search requests from errors such as XML errors in the message stream not spotted in time
  • Ineffective sales and marketing campaigns (how can you measure ROI without real-time monitoring across all channels?)
  • Unsuccessful distribution negotiations (how can you get optimal results when you cannot accurately compare and benchmark different “channel partners” who often have more data on your own business than you do)

At a time when XML technology and cheap and powerful computing (which is essentially what “Big Data” refers to) have eliminated many of the technical barriers to collecting and analysing vast amounts of data, there are really no excuses for such inefficiencies.

But surely the problem is data overload

Nothing could be further from the truth. While technology indeed allows us to now have access to enormous amounts of data (if we care to take advantage of it), it does not mean that technology will do our job for us. In fact, the problem is not “data overload”, but “data paralysis” due to a lack of focus.

Faced by the sheer size and infinite possibilities of “Big Data” and the many overly-complex systems on the market, most people rapidly feel overwhelmed.

Forget Big Data. Start with Small Data.

The key to actionable business intelligence is focus. Make sure you are clear on what are the “top of the pyramid” essential drivers of value in your business or activity. Start with those basics and build out from there based on concrete actions and results achieved. And as good a place as any to start is by eliminating waste, plugging the search request gaps through which revenue opportunities are leaking (remember the 20%?). This is indeed how some of Triometric´s most successful customers in the travel business began: by discovering how many search requests where failing due to XML errors or issues with networks or servers, and identifying and addressing the causes and rapidly generating extra millions of revenue. Not a bad result for “small data”.

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