What’s the payoff from big data in the travel industry?

Daniel Batchelor

Global Head of Corporate Communications, Amadeus IT Group

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There are several potential benefits of big data – most of which also require business changes in addition to big data technologies. These benefits are consistent with those from previous information technologies, but the specific big data applications, of course, are different from the past.

lady talking on her phone inside the airport


The top benefits include:

Better decision support

Many travel firms are using big data not just to speed up decisions and data processing, but to make better internal or customer focused decisions. In many cases the relevant data is internal. These systems contain a variety of customer data, for example, which can be used to improve marketing and service processes. Check out the case study about British Airways in the report for more on this.

New products and services for customers

One of the most exciting possible benefits from big data is the creation of new products and services for customers. Amadeus, for example, has developed the Featured Results and Extreme Search capabilities for its customers to improve the travel search experience. The travel search website Hipmunk has developed new features like the Agony Index for rating airline flights, and the Ecstasy Index for hotel searches. The travel meta-search site KAYAK has developed a predicted price offering (see the case studies about both of these organizations).

Big data helping players in the travel industry form better customer relationships

Since customer relationships have historically been fragmented across a variety of systems and databases, data aggregation should create better customer relationships, and more revenue from customers from better-targeted products and services. Firms such as Facebook have not only very large user numbers, but also the ability to target ads across social networks thus helping to form better relationships (see the Facebook case study).

Cheaper, faster data processing

New generations of information technology have always been adopted in part because they offer better price/performance ratios. Given the enormous amounts of data that travel companies have to churn through, and the relatively thin profit margins in the industry, the appeal of cheaper, faster big data technologies is obvious.

Seeking multiple benefits

While many organizations seek a single particular benefit from big data, there are, of course, firms that want all of the benefits of this resource - even all at one time. It’s too early in the big data era for most airlines to undertake multi-pronged big data programs, but the most aggressive hotel chains are doing so (see the Marriot case study).

Download ourBig Data report, authored by Professor Tom Davenport, to see all of the case studies mentioned above and more in-depth analysis about this important topic.


Big Data, Research