by WEX Travel
Big data is a lot more than big hype, especially in the travel industry, where organizations are well-poised to gain competitive ground through the large-scale analysis of operational and marketplace data. According to the Forbes Insights report, Data Driven and Digitally Savvy: The Rise of the New Marketing Organization, travel organizations lead the pack when it comes to achieving competitive advantage via data-driven marketing. Travel industry executives reported the most positive results in the categories of customer loyalty (67%), new customers (56%), and customer satisfaction (59%).
The Big Idea: Information Begets Insights
The goal of a big data initiative is to make sense of large volumes of structured and unstructured data—and essentially turn it into actionable insights that can be used to inform business strategy. Companies need to integrate data from the inside and the outside of their organization to arrive at the point at which knowledge is power.
Here’s a simple example: an online travel agency discovers that special last-minute flight deal promotions tend to generate a significant volume of mobile app click-throughs. External market data points to a trend impacting the entire industry—that more travelers are using their mobile devices to purchase same-day airfare. Together, these trends suggest that the travel agency should put a bigger priority on their real-time mobile push messaging strategy.
The Big Focus: Customer Experience
In the travel industry in particular, big data is being leveraged to provide customers with exceptional personalized experiences. Designing travel products and services that deliver—and even anticipate—exactly what a traveler needs requires a deep understanding customers’ preferences and behaviors. Today, much of this understanding is found within a company’s operational data—and big data management brings it to light.
As expressed in the Skift.com article, Top 5 Future Travel Trends in Big Data, the challenge is reaching the right person at the right time with the right offer—and the big data “epic fail” is reaching the wrong person at the wrong time and/or with the wrong offer. For a hotelier, this could mean sending timely and relevant communications that pull in business. For a travel agency, this could mean identifying a customer’s geographic location and sending targeted recommendations for local restaurants or attractions in real-time.
The Big Payoff: Data-Driven Dollars
At the end of the day, the business intelligence derived from big data enables travel organizations to maximize their marketing efforts—and sell more. Customer profile data, sales data, demographic data, social and mobile data, and more, are collected and synthesized to paint a picture of the way customers interact with a brand. With the ability to trace the steps customers take before and after they make a purchase, decision makers can optimize conversions. This makes customers happy while boosting the bottom line.
Stay tuned for more about big data in the travel industry. An upcoming article delves into the technology and strategic considerations leaders face while developing a big data initiative.