Can Big Data Help Us Travel Better?

Can Big Data Help Us Travel Better?

There are hundreds of hotel booking sites online. They all have their own method of matching customers with options. There are basic options, like how many bedrooms for less than $200, and users will still end up searching through several pages before finding the right offer. Generic offers and bad results may be a thing of the past with big data. Travelers only care about having a good trip, and companies leveraging big data are going to make customers very happy.

Customers, however, won’t always recognize a big data play when they see it. Hotels and airlines are busy trying not to lose money, and the result is often smart campaigns and incredible deals. No matter the weather or time of year, hotels want to be full. Red Roof Inn has admitted to using available weather and flight cancellation data to build an algorithm to keep their hotels full. Factoring in weather severity, time of day and cancellations, they knew just how many stranded passengers they could market to. With these insights, they used geo-based marketing to reach those stranded passengers’ smart phones. These campaigns boosted Red Roof Inn’s business 10% from 2013 to 2014.

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Emmanuel Marchal, former director at LikeCube, which leveraged big data for consumer travel sites, spoke to tnooz about the move towards data-based travel.

“Big data applications are moving from profiling to true personalization. For example, true personalization would enable a site to recommend a specific hotel to a specific traveler based on their specific wants, needs, and previous purchase patterns, rather than a generic set of recommendations based on the type of traveler.”

Options like one bedroom or non-smoking do not encapsulate all the minute details a traveler considers when booking. Travelers are looking for something that fits their style, taste, and needs. By analyzing past bookings, social media, and even hashtags, companies are able to extract far more specific information. Data can also be harnessed by booking companies to create clusters of booking styles, like under twenty world traveler, or over forty with two children. Websites can even use data to extract meaning about their offers. If a hotel knows that 50% of their customers take advantage of a particular offer, they can push that to the forefront when speaking to certain kinds of customers. Data can also be used to build better review systems, as it could weigh reviews in favor of those written by accredited accounts, ensuring better reliability. By extracting sensible meaning from thousands of questionable reviews, a data-based system may be able to recognize that a hotel isn’t just a “4 out of 5” among customers, but that it has a fabulous pool, terrible bathrooms, and friendly staff.

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Geo-fencing goes one step further, hooking users up with valuable real-time information. One example is GateGuru. This app uses weather forecasts, security wait times and real-time flight status information to find customers in an airport. It is highly time- and geographically-sensitive, and works very well within smart-phone-centric cultures. The moment a plane lands, phones light up with relevant offers.;


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