10 ways data science impacts travel

Igor Arambasic

Data Scientist, Travel Intelligence, Amadeus IT Group

I began my career as a research scientist, where I was challenged to extract signals from noise. Years went by and I never thought there was anything special about this. Then, I was tasked with extracting positioning information from antenna measurements.


This is when I discovered the potential of BIG data, and found out that there were other people called “data scientist” fighting the same fight as me. This title sounded refreshing, attractive, and even a bitsexy !

It didn’t take me long to trade positioning data for travel data as I started working at the Amadeus Travel Intelligence unit.

The list

So, just how are data scientists in different sectors using data to shape travel? Below, I’ve gathered the top 10 areas where you might recognize a data scientist’s fingerprints on your journey.

1. Recommending destinations
Most travelers know more-or-less what they are expecting from their next trip, but are flexible regarding the exact destination. Whether it is skiing, sightseeing, history, music festivals etc., we have the ability to adapt searches to your desires and meet your constraints. Our recommendations are based on the experience of many different user profiles, so it’s actually data science that’s helping you find good deals and taking you to cool places.

2. Figuring out the best timing
Sometimes you have the destination figured out, but not the exact dates. Data science can also step in here and offer a solution based on climate, seasonal activities, crowdedness, high/low season prices. You name it, and we’ll figure it out.

3. Booking trips faster and easier
No, this is not just due to technology and internet speed! Travel agencies are using data science to analyze your purchases (and patterns) to put the best recommendations at the top of your list. As a result, you no longer have to scroll several pages to get to your desired product.

4. Escaping traffic jams
I am quite sure that everyone reading this post has already experienced this impact. Route recommendations are based on your actual position, destination, road maps, traffic analysis, and predictions. Here data science is not only improving the journey but is in fact impacting everyday quality of life.

5. Optimizing airline schedule disruptions
Flights often need to be canceled for reasons beyond an airline’s control. When this happens, airlines have to decide how to get back to normal operations ASAP. With so many factors at play, it’s like playing Tetris because there are so many possible ways to put the pieces together, but there’s always a best way for the given constraints. Luckily, data science can help find it and thus lessen the impact of flight cancellations.

6. Minimizing flight  delays and disruptions
There’s a correlation between customer profiles on specific flights and flight delay potential. For example, children take longer than adults to settle down, so a flight with a lot of children might be at a higher risk of a delay. Taking this into account, advanced scoring technology and machine-learning feedback loops can help determine what characteristics cause delays. Disruption management staff can then detect a potentially risky flight and prioritize it with an earlier boarding time thus providing an extra cushion for delays.

7. Providing relevant offers at the right time
By combining social media interactions, demographics, and spending habits with location information, data scientists can get to know each consumer on a personal level and can tailor relevant recommendations to them at the right time. Don’t be surprised if next time you enter an airport you receive a special offer for your favorite dish at a restaurant nearby.

8. Cheaper travel and better financial performance for the travel industry
If you understand the preferences of a traveler, you can optimize cost (by not offering undesired products) while boosting financial results by offering the right products at the right time. Data scientists have discovered that depending on the type of product, 25% to 50% of selling potential is lost after the initial reservation is made.

9. Avoiding travel accidents
Today’s planes, trains, and cars are all equipped with a wide array of sensors. They are used to provide control centers with a continuous stream of real-time data on every aspect of the journey. With this information in hand, data scientists can develop algorithms to predict problems and, even better, prevent malfunctioning, thus increasing reliability and avoiding accidents.

10. Increasing security
And finally, travelers can’t relax if security issues are present. The travel industry is investing huge efforts to minimize these risks, and data science is present in many solutions. Facial recognition at airports, along with credit card and personal document fraud detection are just the tip of this data science iceberg.

Editor’s note: It’s been labelled the sexiest profession of the 21st Century, one where demand has raced ahead of supply, a hybrid of data hacker, analyst, communicator, and trusted advisor. Data Scientist sare people with the skill set (and the mind-set) to tame Big Data technologies and put them to good use. But what kind of person does this? Who has that powerful –and rare- combination of skills?  In this series, Amadeus’ team of Data Scientists  seek to unlock the answers to those questions and their impact on travel.


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