Big Data to Transform the Travel and Hospitality Industry By Bhanu Chopra, Founder & CEO, RateGain

Big Data to Transform the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Bhanu Chopra, Founder & CEO, RateGain | Thursday, 19 May 2016, 10:19 IST

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Today, every industry is pursuing new ways to leverage different data and bring all the constituents together around the customer value chain. And when the right information is utilized at the right time, a positive customer experience is bound to happen. This is what Big Data can do! 

Big data is offering a powerhouse for a vast shift for many businesses, empowering them to be more responsive and find out more about consumers’ behaviour, needs and preferences. All these insights are gained by bringing together information from multiple sources and identify the patterns and details hidden within it. The technology enables industries to not only capture or store this information but analyzes it, converting leads into revenue and thereby ACCELERATING PROFITS and innovation. 

Is there anything else required to grow by leaps and bounds?
Big data adoption is accelerating, with hotels and online travel agencies catching up with the pace. When you think of a travel or hospitality business, you think about holidays, breathtaking destinations and glorious buildings or perhaps about the booking engines and other technology they employ. The industry is now focussed on understanding every terabyte of data to know where its customers are, what type of services they are looking for, and what turns them on or off. 

Many hotels and travel companies are already making the most of the big data to enhance their financial performance and pave ways for a more distinctive and holistic experience for guests or customers. Unleashing new data driven insights enables organizations to build and maintain strong customer relationships which undoubtedly sits at the heart of any agile strategy aiming to drive great ROI. 

For example: Business travellers remain a key demand generator for the travel and hospitality industry, except during the holidays when they like to be with their families and take fewer trips. During these periods, there is an upward shift in the demand curve from leisure travellers. Leisure travellers might not be loyal to any specific brand or interested in any hotel’s loyalty program, whereas an attractive package, discount or promotions presented at the right time may convert a shopper into a booker. 

The 2014 Google Traveller Study showcases the comparison of data insights between business and leisure travellers. Interestingly, it notes that 63 percent of business travellers find it important to recognize any brand they consider booking travel with; as compared to 51 percent of leisure travellers surveyed who don’t mind checking out offers run by multiple brands before booking. Further, 65 percent of business travellers avail a hotel loyalty program as opposed to only 42 percent of leisure travellers.

The study also talks about the role of price and convenience influencing traveller choices; both business and leisure. Business travellers emphasize more on free in-room Wi-Fi; leisure travellers, on the other hand, attach importance to cost efficient travel. These insights, brought about by big data’s advanced analytics, help the travel and hospitality industry to understand the factors influencing the prospective customers’ behaviour. They also drive decisions on the investments required in strategies to attract and retain customers. 

This new stream of data and analytics is opening a plethora of opportunities for the most targeted segment of travellers i.e. Millennials, who already make up over one third of the world’s hotel guests, with predictions that this will reach 50 percent by 2020. Digging deeper into their travelling and staying preferences helps the industry to dramatically enhance current processes and become more responsive. 

Big names in the industry have gone a step further and are using big data for predictive analytics to drive price optimisation. The key elements are booking trends, market dynamics and customer behaviour. With big data at their side, they are even targeting to gather detailed mouse movements of website visitors in real time as they move around the web pages. This enables these companies to keep tabs on conversion funnels, detailed demographic statistics and other pertinent information. Aggregating and analysing the patterns in the data provides input for designing relevant marketing campaigns to promote to the right audience and improve customer service. Getting the focus right is important, not only to ensure maximum profitability across the enterprise but also to keep brand status and positioning on track. 

The emergence of big data technology is continuously encouraging travel and hospitality companies to actively utilise various platforms like social media, email marketing and others, to tap potential prospects. With the industry being on the cusp of leveraging big data, it is certainly well positioned to achieve more than has ever been possible before.

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