Once, data was something that was merely collected and recorded – now, data should influence the entire business approach. In travel, we are leaving the data entry era and moving towards the age of data governance.
Big data presents significant opportunities for the industry. Customers generate data at every point in the purchasing process, from research to booking, through to loyalty programs. Most big players in the industry are aware of the value of data. In 2017, EyeforTravel reported that 65% of travel enterprises have a dedicated data team, with three-quarters of those organizations projecting that they will increase their investment in analytics over the next year.
Despite these significant investments, many businesses are not engaging deeply enough with the potential of advanced analytics. Currently, much of the data collected is in its raw, unstructured state. Before data experts can extract intelligence, data needs to be captured, crunched and visualized. Although a dedicated analysis team is a start, exploiting data to its fullest potential requires internal and external collaboration. Subsequently, companies can begin to foster a data-driven company culture. Below, we discuss the three most significant data challenges companies need to address to remain relevant in the shift from data entry to data governance era.
1. Dirty data entry
Perhaps the principal obstacle in the travel sector is ‘dirty’ data entry – unreliable, incomplete or unstructured data sets. Although this is true for many industries, it presents a particular issue for travel as it is such a data-intensive industry. Furthermore, the dirty data issue is becoming increasingly pressing as new apps, IoT devices, and AI generates yet more data in an already saturated landscape.
There are several factors that can produce inaccurate or incomplete data. However, in order to undergo an efficient, effective data cleaning project, companies need to pool existing data into a single storage system. Once any new data entry is diverted to this single confined, consistent data lake, the analysis team can extract useful information. Furthermore, unified, integrated systems are more navigable for every member of staff, promoting more streamlined workflows.
2. Data discipline
As companies move from the data entry to the data governance era, working practices need to augment. This means fostering a nuanced, disciplined attitude to data. For instance, travel professionals need to be aware of the pitfalls of confounding variables. These data sets can introduce unnecessary variance and even bias, without having any real relationship to the dependent variable. As a result, the team may draw misleading conclusions from seemingly correlative data. To avoid situations like this, companies to need to apply rigorous, disciplined data analysis methodologies.
To gain a complete insight into the customer journey, the industry needs to develop more advanced psychological assessment technology. Numerous factors affect a customer’s purchase decisions – however, one thing the sector can be certain about is that customers what their digital booking experience to be fast. Therefore, companies should invest in more streamlined, customer-centric platforms and processing frameworks. From here, companies can begin to harvest more relevant, actionable data, faster.
Customer-centric data cultures
Data is driving the evolution of the travel industry. As such, companies need to adapt institutional practices in response to these developments. Data presents challenges – but with investment in data entry systems, data interpretation training, cross-department collaboration, and technological innovation, the travel industry can begin to leverage the intelligence needed to better serve the customer.