CarRentals.com Uses Snowflake and AWS to Power Machine Learning and Automation

Snowflake is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner

Executive Summary

CarRentals.com, a brand of Expedia Group, helps customers find value-priced car rentals. The comapny connects customers with independent car rental companies at thousands of locations worldwide, while enabling its partners to optimize inventory. Its data warehouse solution was struggling to keep up with new data formats and increased volume. To resolve its data challenges, CarRentals.com chose Snowflake on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which it also used to implement automation and support machine learning (ML) initiatives. The company has saved costs and improved customer experience, while providing a single source of truth for analytics and insights.

Pain Points Meant Time for a Change

A few years ago, CarRentals.com was using a data warehouse solution that required a database administrator to maintain it. The company struggled with workload management. To scale, CarRental.com had to add nodes or increase compute power, causing downtime. Also, with API messaging mostly in the JSON format, a lack of support for semi-structured data was becoming an issue. It was time for a change. The company chose to migrate to the Snowflake cloud data platform to simplify its data management and build an ML pipeline.

Taking Away the Pain with a Cloud Data Platform

After deploying Snowflake, CarRentals.com no longer has workload management issues. The company’s business analytics software can extract data faster. Snowflake also supports semi-structured data, simplified data sharing, and role-based user control, which helps CarRentals.com keep its data pipeline compliant with GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and other security and privacy standards. “Snowflake scales up and down quickly, easily, and cost-effectively without downtime,” said Gengmei Zhao, Engineering Manager, CarRentals.com.

From High-Maintenance to Low—with Less Effort

CarRentals.com is delighted with its migration. “Snowflake is low maintenance, and storage and compute are separate,” said Zhao. With Snowflake as its backbone, CarRental.com has been able to automate its search engine marketing and email marketing, saving costs and effort. Snowflake also powers the company’s machine learning (ML) efforts around predicting customer pickup and return and metasearch bidding.

“Snowflake’s time travel feature is also exciting. The two or three times we used it, we saved a lot of reprocessing effort.”

- Gengmei Zhao, Engineering Manager, CarRentals.com

PUPPY love with Snowflake

CarRentals.com has an ML model it calls PUPPY to predict pickup rates. If a customer reserves a rental car a month ahead, the company can predict the likelihood that the car will be actually picked up. For this implementation, it uses Snowflake for data integration and preparation and then stores the results in Snowflake so other business units can use the results for analysis.

Revving up Search Engine Marketing with ML

The company’s metasearch bidding model is another ML example. CarRental.com uses Snowflake in the data pipeline to ingest transaction data and partner data and to prepare and segregate data for training, testing, and serving. All the data lives in Snowflake. The ingestion process replicates data from Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) with AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) so that AWS Glue can ETL that data into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

“From the data lake S3 buckets to Snowflake, a standard Spark program handles the ingestion.”

- Gengmei Zhao, Engineering Manager, CarRentals.com

A Pipeline for the Business

For its automated email campaigns, CarRental.com does all its campaign calculations and stores all the campaign results in Snowflake. Data flows between Snowflake and the company’s marketing platform. This pipeline supports business use cases, including sending out booking reminders and price-drop notifications, along with gathering and analyzing data to develop near real-time insights on user behaviors.

CarRentals.com

About CarRentals.com

CarRentals.com, part of Expedia Group, connects customers directly with independent car rental companies at thousands of locations and enables partners to optimize their car inventory.
 
CHALLENGE
Data growth impacted CarRental.com’s data warehouse workload management. There was no support for semi-structured data. Scaling meant adding nodes or increasing compute, causing downtime.
 
SOLUTION
CarRentals.com chose Snowflake on AWS to simplify management of 200+ terabytes of data, automate marketing, and support its machine learning initiatives.

RESULTS
  • Automated email marketing, saving time and costs
  • Eliminated data warehouse administration costs
  • Deployed ML pipeline for rental pickup prediction models
  • Implemented a metasearch bidding model

About Snowflake

Thousands of customers worldwide mobilize their data in ways previously unimaginable with Snowflake's cloud data platform—a solution for data warehousing, data lakes, data engineering, data science, data application development, and data exchange. Snowflake provides near-unlimited scale, concurrency, and performance and delivers a single experience spanning multiple clouds and geographies.

Learn more about Snowflake or find it in the AWS Marketplace.

Published November 2020