Big Data is probably the biggest generational shift in technology. It has impacted all segments of industry. It has been instrumental in driving better ROI for all kinds of companies. Benefits of Big Data for a better ROI are no longer left for guestimates. There is a lot of data to prove this. The emergence of various Big Data companies dedicated to specific services for specific industry segments further proves this.
One such industry which has benefited immensely from Big Data is the travel industry. Companies that offer core travel services like airlines and also companies that offer supportive services like hospitality and food are benefiting alike. Biggies like British Airways and Marriott have adopted predictive analytics to improve various functions of their businesses.
Amadeus IT Group, a big player from Europe in the Travel sector sponsored a study on the impact of Big Data on Travel Industry. The study titled, At the Big Data Cross Roads: turning towards a smarter travel experience was conducted by Thomas H. Davenport, a visiting professor at Harvard Business School. This study reveals a key finding – Big Data analytics is driving the business agenda of travel companies.
This particular study covers findings from interactions with 21 prominent names including the Marriott Group, British Airways, Lufthansa Airlines, InterContinental Hotels Group, Thai Airways and Swiss International Airlines. According to this study, Big Data has been used to improve various processes:-
KAYAK, a fare aggregator and travel search company has put Big Data to use in improving customer offerings
British Airways used Big Data to face competition and retain their edge by offering customized services through customer insights
Marriott improved its revenue management with Big Data. It further used analytics to make customized offers to loyal customers.
Hipmunk a new age start up in the travel sector has used Big Data to make creative and innovative listings/rankings of flights (agony index) and hotels (ecstasy index).
Munich Airport has made seamless travel possible with Big Data. It offers a wide variety of support services to its customers while on the move.
These are just a few examples to show the extent and the use of Big Data in all things travel. An estimated 10% growth is predicted in the global travel industry by 2022. Looking at the current trends of Big Data adoption, it feels like Big Data analysis and Big Data companies oriented towards travel have arrived. On the contrary, you would be surprised to know that it is the proverbial tip of the ice berg story when it comes to Big Data in Travel. There is a road is yet to be treaded and a journey that is still very long.
The typical question that comes to mind for anyone remotely interested in Big Data is what next! Which new frontier will this all-encompassing technology revolutionize! The same applies to travel industry too. While it is great to see the current uses of Big Data in Travel, it is important to for travel companies to pay attention to the following key factors:-
Many times, a new technology is adopted for the immediately visible benefits. I mean which company will not like to make a few extra bucks if a technology change helps! It is important to make profits. It is more important to understand the implications of a technology on the various aspects of your business. It is even more important to know where you stand vis a vis your competitors in technology adoption. So, understanding Big Data in a detailed fashion will make your decisions beneficial in the long term.
There is huge data available. Understanding the relevance of this data is important. Travel related firms need to keep an eye open for the latest trends in Big Data w.r.t travel. They need to spend considerable efforts to know which of the data they are sitting on will feed into their business plans. If there a gap identified, then that needs to be addressed.
Adopting a technology mandates certain changes. In the case of Big Data, the changes needed extend to corporate culture, decision making styles, employee skills and operational processes. If you are a travel firm and want to use Big Data as your support for the next big leap, then making these changes will go a long way for you. There is no point exploring a technology like a shopper.
There is a serious paucity of Big Data skilled professionals, especially data science related skills. Do not wait for this skill to become imminent in your organizational planning. Start acquiring these skills either in-house or out sources based on your revenue streams. There are consulting firms that offer such skilled professionals in a team or on a freelance basis too.
No travel firm can succeed by itself in the current times. The current traveler’s needs extend to all kinds of modes and all kinds of stays. As an entity in the travel sector you need to keep your network of travel partners close to you; especially the ones who are also adopting Big Data for operations.
The potential of Big Data in the Travel sector has been realized. There is a lot more that needs to be unveiled. Be at the frontier of this technological revolution by hiring the right talent.