As travel only gets faster and better, and more information is added, it is only reasonable that it would be just a matter of time before big data would make a big splash when it comes to the travel industry. But what is big data and how is it used in the travel industry? The big data in the travel industry has exploded in recent years. One might be misled to believe that big data would take away from the personalization of a travel agency but this would be totally wrong as travel technology has improved and big data is being used to add a more personalized and human touch to every travel encounter.
What is Big Data?
Big Data refers to large and complex data sets with great statistical power that is gathered and stored through online searches or analysis of consumer behavior (amongst many other sources) that is then used to improve businesses and provide a better experience to customers. From something like an online purchase to used GPS coordinates or itineraries stored in digital calendars, everything a travel does prior, during and after their trips, leaves a trail of data that brings endless possibilities to the travel industry.
Big data personalization
One of the ways that big data is being used to add a personalized human touch to travel tech is to simply see where other similar travelers have been going. By using metadata to analyze the travel patterns of individuals from certain areas, study demographics, and possibly even review different backgrounds depending on the amount of data available, the travel agency is able to get a picture of the kinds of places, and more importantly experiences, that modern travelers crave.
Most of the big travel companies, even the automated internet ones, use previous sales, current trends for different ages and demographics, as well as a whole host of other public information about individuals and where they’re traveling to enhance the travel experience. For instance, individuals from colder climates typically like to visit warmer climates when they go on vacation. This is a kind of common knowledge big data analytics based on the fact that we either know or have heard of many individuals who have done this particular style of travel.
Big data analytics takes it to the next level to create more personalized and customized experience-based vacations based on the previous places you have gone, the things you have expressed interest in such as when you price scout for tickets to a certain area, or places where others in the same region or demographic location are traveling. Using this travel tech, the big data travel industry is able to better meet and serve your needs.
Improving business operations
One thing that a traveler may not be aware of, although it is an important aspect of the travel industry, is the idea of improved business operations through the utilization of big data analytics. For instance, perhaps an airline determines that there are enough passengers going between Portland International Airport and Beijing to warrant a direct flight. This decision could be made out of a myriad of data – one of which would simply be the fact that many individuals fly from Portland to an intermediate airport before continuing on to Beijing. By looking at the data analytics of these travelers, companies can determine what routes are becoming popular, as well as which destinations are becoming more traveled, and make changes to their routes and schedules to help ensure the customers are able to get the highest level of satisfaction from their travel.
The travel industry knows that creating these new direct destinations not only saves customers time, as it reduces the number of layovers, but also saves their customers a significant amount of money as direct flights can be cheaper than flights with multiple stops.
It is also due directly to the growth of big data analytics that we have things like good times to go or good times to purchase tickets. Airlines know through the use of travel tech when tickets are most likely to be bought for a given destination and when tickets are most likely to not be bought. Because selling tickets is always more profitable than not selling tickets, airlines will typically offer reduced rates and fares to those destinations during the non-prime times to help encourage a traveler to go even during the off-season.
This big data has not only made the travel industry billions of dollars through its successful use, but it has also saved travelers billions of dollars as they are now able to go on their dream vacation during the offseason and so enjoy the lower prices and benefits which that entails. And this is true not only with the airline travel industry as there are side beneficiaries like hotels, resorts, famous landmarks, or other destinations that will also typically lower prices during the offseason. Offseasons and on seasons can change depending on publicity, marketing, natural disasters or events, and a whole host of other factors and so big data is constantly being analyzed and scrutinized to improve business operations to the benefit of their clients.
The human touch
Big data can only do so much though, and it is only when the magic of the human touch is added that travel experiences for clients truly become revolutionary. Travel agencies are able to use big data to help make very human decisions about places where individuals may enjoy traveling, places where they may like to go and be able to help them do it in a way that is budget and eco-friendly. This personalization from the big data travel industry is what really sets it apart from a mere computer algorithm attempting to create your dream vacation. People understand that vacations are not just about places and pricing, they are about experiences and having human travel agents who understand the importance of big data use on saving travelers money, enhance their experiences, and improve every subsequent trip they take.
As we have seen, big data in the travel agency is not something that need be feared because the travel industry is using that big data to score big deals, better flights, better accommodations, and most importantly better traveling experiences for travelers all over the world. Those in the travel industry know that travelers are not a commodity; they are a person and their experience in travel matters. Through the harnessing of big data, travel agents can help make traveling a personally crafted experience that travelers will always treasure.
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