Sun Country Airplane

Sun Country Airlines Engages Business Analytics Students to Decode Data

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

As part of the Carlson Analytics Lab, a group of business analytics students used state-of-the-art visualization tools to derive crucial insights about Sun Country Airlines customers from a treasure trove of data that was not being utilized to its full potential.

Last year, MS in Business Analytics students Hamza Farooq, Jared Sieben, Shraddha Sonawane, Mia Wang, and Bharadhwaj Anand analyzed data from travelers across nearly 2 million Sun Country customers. They analyzed origin and destination trends, customer demographic and lifestyle information, frequency of travel, and more.

“These days the amount of data produced on a daily basis is growing exponentially. We need to be able to process millions of rows at a time to gain insights on what the customer is thinking and what business decisions should be made,” says Farooq, ’15 MSBA, who now works as a senior statistician at Walmart.  

From the outset, the students remained focused on the specific challenge set forth by Sun Country.

“I was surprised to see how easy it is to get lost in data and spend time analyzing areas which might not be important for business,” says Sonawane, ’15 MSBA, the project team lead who went on to join McKinsey & Company as a digital analyst after graduating this spring. “It was very important to ask the right questions and align the project in the direction that would help the business the most.”

Deriving value from data

In a final presentation to their client, the students illuminated business insights hidden in the data. One important opportunity they surfaced was that Sun Country was well-positioned to convert a particular customer segment to the Ufly Rewards program and build long-term brand loyalty.

“Through this project, we gained interesting insights into our customers that we had suspected, but not had the time, tools, or resources to validate,” says Sun Country Airlines Senior Director of E-Commerce Michael Warnken. “The analytical skills these students brought to our project were tremendous.”

The five key customer segments the student team developed will help Sun Country develop a marketing strategy that resonates with customers and drives business growth. Additionally, the organization will make frequent use of the analytics dashboard the students created to track real-time data about how their customers are traveling.

Real-world data, real-world experience

MS Business Analytics Students

The Carlson Analytics Lab challenges MS in Business Analytics students to grapple with real data to extract business intelligence for a client organization. The 14-week program gives students invaluable exposure to leading organizations and opportunities to develop new strategies informed by data analytics. 

“You can learn a lot of things in the classroom, but until you try it yourself you have no idea what you are getting yourself into,” says Sieben, ’15 MSBA, who is now working as a marketing analyst at The Lacek Group. “The program provided us with a great opportunity—we went in well prepared from our studies and I think we provided valuable insights.”

The Carlson School MS in Business Analytics Program is now offered on a part-time and full-time basis. Learn more

Pictured from left to right: Bharadhwaj Anand, Hamza Farooq,  Jared Sieben, Mia Wang, and Shraddha Sonawane