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Data's the new black for travel

Xinyi Liang-Pholsena

Data needs to be combined with the human touch to deliver the best of the man-machine symbiosis...

 

It has been 15 years since Minority Report hit the big screens and while some of the dystopian ideas put forth in the 2002 Tom Cruise movie could possibly exist in the future, the practical use of big data, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are already in play today, albeit in less insidious but equally interesting forms.


Just look at Netflix, a successful example of a data-driven company and how analytics helps it to revolutionise the TV and film industry. By leveraging extensive data to track the habits of its 100 million (and counting) users, the popular streaming site can see what you’re watching and what you like; it also knows what you’ll watch in future; its sophisticated algorithms and big data analysis also enable it to become an original content creator with highly acclaimed shows like House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.  


Netflix is a good illustration that data is a potent ingredient in the quest for competitive differentiation and personalisation – and the application of data in the travel industry can be just as immense and powerful.


But big data also begets a big question: how can travel organisations tap the current data bonanza to power their strategy?


The plethora of data and its effective use still present considerable obstacles for travel companies (see page 4), many of which admit that they lack the expertise or resources to successfully extract this vast, largely untapped resource and turn it into critical insights.


The key lies not in the volume of data but how it is harnessed, industry watchers pointed out.


However, many organisations are still steeped in the descriptive stage in analytics, i.e. using data to reveal the past. But the next stage of analytics evolution promises to change that, as AI and machine learning come together to “learn” how to deliver more nuanced and personalised insights for business through proactive – instead of retroactive – use of data.


With the right technology and skills, aided by constant refinement and context placement of data, travel players will be better equipped to maximise the valuable resource that is data in order to become more insightful, efficient and productive.


We’ve entered an age of analytics. Like how automation and the Internet have not displaced travel agents, data needs to be combined with the human touch to deliver the best of the man-machine symbiosis, unlock new revenue opportunities for travel players, and create compelling travel experiences that connect emotionally with the consumer.


Will the availability of more accurate data see more travel marketeers undergo a creative renaissance and introduce powerful campaigns? Will travel business, like Netflix, use data to guide all its strategies and decisions?


Watch this space.

 

 

This article was first published in TTG Asia July 2017 issue. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.