Big Data in the Hospitality and Travel Industry
It is vital for all players in the travel industry to effectively manage the millions of records about travel behavior that the industry generates daily.
Travel is ripe for the use of big data; Take the photos being posted on Facebook or Instagram. Would the traveler that shares snaps from a trip to Ireland be interested in information about Scotland?
If shown on a mountain bike, would that individual want to know more about local biking destinations or biking clubs?
If shown standing in front of a car with a bicycle roof rack, wouldn’t a trunk rack be easier to use and avoid back problems down the road?
Big data and data analytics suggest that the future may belong to those firms best able to shape and deliver the consumer travel experience.
In a series of interviews within the travel industry, the authors of the study from the Society of Consumer Affairs are intent to show how Big Data can be used to increase impact and reduce friction across disciplines, both within a company and the industry.
Personalization is a key tenant of Big Data; there is a plethora of information about particular consumers, transactions or destinations, the reality is one of detailed, accurate personalization.
However, in order to most effectively win at true personalization, large travel companies must work across silos to gather the myriad data points created by a consumer at different points, as the study emphasizes:
Information systems can be quite fragmented and even territorial, with records pertaining to a single customer showing up in reservation, post sales complaint, survey, loyalty and other systems, with little or no ability to weave together and form a complete customer profile.
Combining data from different in-house systems can help companies achieve new insights.
Call centers must interface with online consumer reviews; loyalty programs must link with booking histories; on-property preferences need to be combined with social media chatter. It’s a giant firehose that first must be segmented and then packaged in a useful way for employees at each stage of the consumer lifecycle.
The customer should be at the center of all Big Data efforts. If the data gathering is seen as creepy or invasive, the consumer will not be pleased and loyalty will be lost. However, all signs point to consumers willing to accept vast intrusions into their behaviors if the resulting product is more targeted and able to anticipate their needs throughout.
SOCAP names the following distinct areas that companies need to master in order to succeed at a Big Data-fueled consumer experience:
1. Align company offerings and customer needs.
2. Build internal consensus.
3. Collapse data silos.
4. Create unified, logical data views.
5. Elevate the customer care role in customer experiences.
6. Collect and use data responsibly.
Internal buy-in comes not only from active consensus building, but also by ensuring that the company’s offerings are addressing customer needs, and thus making it easier to train employees to be active in solving these needs, and understanding the value they are providing.
Aligning the company with customers also assists in the elimination of silos and fiefdoms. It also allows for the integration of an open sharing of data and information company-wide. This also helps foster a collaborative environment focused externally on the customer and not internally on politics.
Finally, privacy is a paramount concern when it comes to Big Data. Avoiding a privacy snafu is an essential component of successful Big Data implementation, and also ensures trust among customers.
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