Friday 12 October 2012

The Ten Biggest “Data” Questions Travel Organisations Are Dealing With Right Now

I've spent the last six months talking to business travel executives from across the spectrum- marketing, pricing, performance strategy, analytics, IT, CRM and more. Despite the breadth of job roles, they all have one thing in common. Every single one of the professionals I spoke to is dealing with copious amounts of internal DATA. Data management and analytics tracking is a growing part of every travel business- from loyalty to marketing, from pricing to CRM, from performance strategy to business intelligence and forecasting. In celebration of the rise and rise of data into our working lives, I have clustered together the ten biggest issues reported from major airlines, hotels, car hire firms, OTAs, destinations and tour operators working in this space:
  1.   It’s Mine, Hands Off: Data sharing. Oh the woes. Who owns the right to the data within your organisation? This has been an issue since the cows left and never came home. Should everyone have access to pricing, loyalty and CRM data? Who is managing this and ensuring data is preserved and used correctly?  
  2. System of A Down: System consolidation. We've been discussing this in revenue management and pricing for years. What happens when you try to integrate CRM with pricing, and is the technology even really there yet? Similarly, what happens in a coalition or partnership situation like for example with United and Continental last year?
  3. Big (very, very, terrifying, huge, scary, why is everyone shouting about it) Data: Big data is splashed all over the news in every sector of business. Why so? Because in the last two years, the ability to capture specific types of data has moved along leaps and bounds. What’s the result? A huge tidal wave of data that only a fair few know how to fully use.
  4. The Tech Check:   With a huge surge in data and analytics technologies now on the market, who can you trust and where should you put your dollars?
  5.  If You Plan It, They Will Come: This issue looks at identifying key contributors and factors to help you plan better for the future. Where are the growth markets, who are the key customers and how can you maximize profit?
  6. One Size Doesn’t Fit Them All: Our peers found that segmentation is back on the hit list. With the breadth of our data capabilities widening, our segmentation and targeting strategies should be more personalized than ever before, yet many travel businesses still don’t segment marketing data as efficiently as they could do.
  7. The Tick-Tock- Real Time Data: The casinos have been at it for years, so why isn’t everyone else? The opportunities with real-time data are truly unreal- so how do you action it and reap the benefits? What is the technology and cost involved?
  8.  The Social Commotion:  Learning how to effectively measure, react and respond to social customers. Plus, how do you legally pull data from Facebook, Twitter and more and use that information intelligently to make sales?
  9. Ain’t No Data Up In Here: One of the points which many of our interviewees brought up is the internal struggle to ensure that data is at the core of the business. Getting the board level to wholly back forecasting, planning and performance strategy is an on-going problem, despite it being based on analytical fact.
  10. Recruit if they know the word Hadoop? Recruitment of data and analytics professionals is one of the trickiest things we have to deal with in the travel industry. Finding someone who is a “power user,” or a “data scientist,” (when the interviewer is not) can be hard. What should you be looking for? Where can you find them?

So to conclude, it is safe to say there are a number of challenges and opportunities in the data and analytics space. One thing that is for certain is that the role of data and analytics is present in all the stages of travel: dreaming, booking, experiencing and reporting. I’m looking forward to hosting a group of travel analytics professionals in NYC next January to discuss some of these prevalent issues.  If you want more information, you can see