In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I showed how I use Tableau to help me understand Experian and Dunn and Bradstreet (D&B) data that can be strategically accessed via Alteryx. This extracted data can then be used in quantitative business studies or for personal usage. This post provides an example of personal usage to show the practical applications that are possible using Alteryx and Tableau.
The techniques to accomplish these data extractions involve creating Alteryx work flows. The work flows are designed to accomplish a series of data transformations and/or connections between locations and data in those locations, which allows you to move from your initial idea to the final answer. In Part 3 of this series, I’m going to start with an idea and follow it through to a logical conclusion to demonstrate how this is done in Alteryx with the help of Tableau.
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Imagine you are one of the lucky ones that are going to travel to Seattle in Sept 2014 to attend the Tableau 2014 customer conference. You feel excited about this opportunity but you also realize that you never have been to this area. You want to do some research to understand the conference area so that you can pick a good hotel and find some attractions you want to visit during your stay in the city. To get started with your research, you decide that you are willing to drive about 15 minutes from your hotel to the conference site so that you can see things other than the location of the conference. This means that you want your hotel to be within a 15 minute drive time of the conference site.
Using Alteryx and Tableau To Research Your Idea
To start your research using Alteryx and Tableau, you identify the address of the conference site, which is the Washington State Convention Center at 800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101. You use Alteryx to do a geocode lookup on that address to get the latitude and longitude of the convention center. This a common and very easy task in Alteryx. You simply put the address into an Excel sheet, send this to Alteryx, and Alteryx will send back to the Excel sheet the latitude and longitude of the conference location.
Once you have the lat/long of the site, you can use Alteryx to calculate a 15 minute drive time polygon around that conference site so that you know where to begin searching for a hotel and local attractions. This 15 minute drive time polygon will serve as a “cookie-cutter” that you will use to extract data from the D&B database. This 15-minute drive time polygon can easily be visualized in Tableau, as will be discussed in Part 4 of this series. For a preview, you can perform a few swift keystrokes (as shown in this blog post) to visualize your 15-minute drive time polygon as shown as the yellow shaded area of Figure 1.
Finding a Hotel
Now that you have your target area designated, you can use Tableau and Alteryx to find a suitable hotel. As discussed in Part 2 of this series and shown in Figure 2, you can find the hotel SIC codes that might interest you by using the Tableau file I previously presented. For this example, I chose to use SIC code 70110000 for my research, which is the category of hotels and motels.
By using the 15-minute drive time polygon coupled with the 70110000 hotel SIC code and the Dunn and Bradstreet database, Alteryx returned to me a list of 99 hotels and motels to consider. This list is returned as a csv file which can be loaded into Tableau to visualize the spatial distribution of the hotels relative to the conference center as shown in Figure 3. This map is zoomed into the area of the conference center and does not show all 99 hotels in the drive time area. What you realize from this list is that it is not always easy to tell from the Dunn and Bradstreet data two things: (1) Are these sites just business management sites or corporate offices rather than real hotels?, and (2) Is the Dunn and Bradstreet database up to date?
The blue star shown on the map is the location of the convention center as mapped by Alteryx. A couple of nice features of the Dunn and Bradstreet data that you receive is displayed in Figure 4. First, there are actionable URL fields that can quickly launch you the hotel’s website to make reservations. If you know how to set-up actions in Tableau, then you can quickly launch the websites. Additionally, the hotel dots can be sized based on hotel sales volume, with the larger dots representing the bigger hotels.
By looking a few blocks to the northwest of the convention center, I saw a big hotel called the “Hst Lessee West Seattle LLC”, which is a bit of a confusing name. Looking at the URL, I can see that this is the Seattle Westin hotel as shown in Figure 4. If Dunn and Bradstreet added a field name that accurately describes the business, it would make the information more user-friendly. They do have a field called “Business Vanity Name”, but this is not always populated with something that makes sense. To check the accuracy of the information from D&B, you can use the Google hotel finder that is on the Tableau conference website, as shown in Figure 5. If you want to explore the hotels, you can click here to get a Tableau Public workbook of this data.
Figure 5 – The Google hotel finder.
Now that the hotels have been visualized, you can search the D&B database to look for attractions to visit while in Seattle.
Finding a Few Fun Things to Do While at the Conference
By searching the D&B database for various terms like entertainment, sports, recreation, etc, you can develop a list of businesses the provide those services and enter their SIC codes into Alteryx to extract the information that interests you. Figure 6 shows some example SIC codes for these types of businesses. You can use your 15-minute drive time polygon or you can expand it outward to find more opportunities while you are in Seattle. By running the same workflow that extracted the hotel information, Alteryx will send recreational data back that can placed on a map in Tableau to make it easy for you to find. Since I have already demonstrated this for the hotels, I’m not going to show this for these businesses. This is just for demonstration on how you can used Alteryx to quickly compile specific business data for your usage.
Upcoming in Part 4 of This Series
I’m going to get into a little more detail about using Tableau to visualizing data with respect to the drive time polygons created by Alteryx (as shown in Figure 1 of this post).
Part 4 has now been published, so click here to read it.
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