Big data has been big news (or at least poised to be) across many industries over the past couple of years, but it is in the travel sector that we are set to see the greatest transformation.

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Just consider the connected technology that has infiltrated our lives in the modern day, gradually gathering all manner of data - data that can be priceless to the digitally-savvy travel business looking to make its mark in the coming years. With technology sophisticated enough to not only gather relevant data on your customers, from which websites they visit to how they behave once they get there, but to analyse it thoroughly too, travel businesses can utilise this detailed information to better target their customer service and marketing efforts.

In fact, a recent article by Tnooz takes the Big Data trend one step further, suggesting that a 'potentially new and lucrative' area for travel professionals might lie in predictive analytics - the professional and informed guess-work of 'where, when and how a customer is likely to travel' in order to target them at just the right point in their purchasing journey.

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In reality, the opportunities that come hand-in-hand with Big Data are vast and varied. Bringing apparently disparate sets of data together can paint richly detailed pictures that can serve as the framework for all manner of business strategy, yet it's surprising how many travel businesses keep the data from different departments separate in a fragmented storage system.

Tnooz suggests that 2017 will be the year of the 'data lake' - a central reserve where data can be held that effectively breaks down the barriers between different departments and ensures a business can more easily keep track of where potentially sensitive information is stored.

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This breaking down of barriers can help Big Data be used to address specific business-related issues. Analysing travel trends, a customer's previous trips and the current season can be brought together to offer customised and relevant holiday recommendations whilst reviews and chat transcripts can be combined to measure the performance of a brand's customer service. A data lake can offer all the information needed for these purposes and more, allowing it to be accessed whenever necessary.

We expect to see more travel brands experimenting with Big Data over the coming 12 months - particularly when it comes to predicting sales, determining ROI and streamlining logistics. The big challenge, however, is likely to be sorting through and securely storing where their data is currently stored.

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