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Big Data: A Boon to the Travel Industry

April 4, 2014 No Comments

Over the years, technology has transformed entire industries and the travel industry is no exception. Once tethered to a brick and mortar model, Travel took off with the advent of the Internet. And now, Big Data analytics is set to transform the industry once more. Armed with the ability to analyze massive volumes of data to gain actionable insights, travel enterprises are now able to deliver an enhanced experience to today’s discerning traveler like never before. Here’s a look at some of the ways Big Data has been a boon to the travel industry.

More targeted marketing – With competition just a click away, travel companies need more targeted marketing to attract, engage and convert today’s savvy customers. Big Data analytics delivers by enabling companies to mine mountains of unstructured data to gain valuable marketing insights. From personal information about travelers—their favored travel routes and hotels, and the technologies they use, such as computers or mobile devices to select and book travel—Big Data analytics provides agencies with the insights they can use to deliver targeted offers to travelers at the right time, the right price and through the right device. In addition, by combining GPS technology with data analytics, agencies can track customers and make location-relevant offers in real time.

Personalized travel experiences – Travel isn’t just about getting from point “A” to point “B”. Today’s empowered and informed travelers expect more out of travel and have the ability to shop around to make sure that their demands and expectations are met. Using Big Data analytics, travel companies can gain a clearer picture of a specific customer’s tastes, preferences and habits to ensure a more relevant and personalized travel experience. Such experiences lead to customer loyalty and repeat business.

Predictive pricing – When it comes to booking a trip, price is often a deciding factor for travel customers. Big Data analytics allows travel sites to forecast changes in pricing over time to better serve their customers needs. One example, KAYAK, which used Big Data to pioneer the practice of aggregating flight prices, now uses a flight price-forecasting model to allow customers to see how flight prices are likely to fluctuate over a seven-day period.

A recent report by Amadeus, a worldwide supplier of IT solutions to the travel and tourism industry, discusses how Big Data is transforming the way companies are designing services for travelers. The report, “Big Data in the Travel Industry,” accompanied with analysis by analytics expert Tom Davenport, explains how Big Data analytics is making it possible for enterprises to amass vast amounts of information to enhance decision-making, inform innovative products and most importantly, build relationships with customers.

According to the report, one travel company currently capitalizing on Big Data to improve customer relations is British Airways. While other airlines offer cookie cutter loyalty programs to passengers, British Airways’ “Know Me Program” provides relevant mileage rewards that are individually tailored to the specific personal preferences of their customers. And in the area of predictive analytics, Sojern is developing a Big Data platform to predict such things as when people will travel, their travel destinations, how many will go and on what airlines.

Clearly, Big Data is a game-changer for the travel industry. In fact, the report cautions that in order to stay competitive, companies will need to adopt Big Data in order to provide the responsive and intelligent travel experience that their customers will continue to expect and demand.

Fortunately for the travel industry, the Big Data revolution has made the needed technology readily available. Open source software and onsite or cloud and big data based analytics platforms such as Hadoop, are ready and able to do the heavy lifting. Although successfully adopting Big Data analytics can pose significant challenges to travel companies, as the report points out, the rewards to the travel industry stand to make it well worth the effort.



Gil Allouche is the Vice President of Marketing at Qubole. Gil began his marketing career as a product strategist at SAP while earning his MBA at Babson College and is a former software engineer.

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