Toni PortmannCalling all geeks, hackers and data nerds! DHISCO, the world’s leading hospitality distribution company, is teaming up with the University of North Texas to sponsor the second Big Data Challenge. DHISCO and UNT launched the first such contest at the end of 2015, when more than 100 students on 28 teams used 14 terabytes of raw hospitality data provided by DHISCO to create next-generation tools for analyzing international travel and hotel booking trends.

This year’s challenge promises to be even bigger and better as UNT opens the competition to all of its students, with Sabre Hospitality Solutions joining DHISCO in providing data to the students. 

“One of the biggest challenges of business is to determine effective, efficient ways to tap into the massive amounts of data we collect every day, then turn it into intelligent next-generation business applications,” said DHISCO CEO Toni Portmann.

“The goal of the challenge is to provide students hands-on experience that they can use to develop their own ideas for solving real business problems,” she said. “And besides being a whole lot of fun for all of us, it gives them a chance to get experience outside the classroom and present their ideas in person to executives of established technology companies.”

More than 200 students from across the university’s varied disciplines are expected to participate. The teams will choose which company’s data to mine and analyze over the course of eight weeks. The data has been scrubbed of personal and competitive information.

Ms Portmann, officials from Sabre Hospitality Solutions, other industry experts and UNT faculty members will judge the contest, which will feature a variety of great prizes from the sponsors.

A team of computer science students won the 2015 contest, taking home $1,500 and Best in Show award for creating dashboards that showed hotel-specific rate and booking information as broader industry trends. Other teams developed an analysis of reservations cancellations and modifications, a dashboard to determine when and where to advertise to reach specific audiences and a parsing of data that showed how group sizes impact lengths of stay.

“I was absolutely blown away by the level of response and quality of entries in the first Big Data Challenge,” said Ms Portmann. “I can’t wait to see what an even broader field of students working on data different industries can come up with.”

About DHISCO Inc.

DHISCO Inc. is the world’s original and leading hospitality distribution company, providing the most reliable and advanced technology to connect hotels around the world, with online travel agencies, global distribution systems, metasearch engines and other travel partners. Since 1989, DHISCO has built its reputation on providing the most efficient and affordable means to market, capture and book hotel reservations. Today, it moves more than 10 billion transactions a month for more than 110,000 hotels.