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Reading Your Data with Intelligence (Part 1) — Why Data Matters in Travel

We often talk about the power of business intelligence, especially for the travel industry where look to book ratios are soaring, mobile transactions are exploding and the data deluge is overwhelming. It is clear why this data matters in travel. It is the foundation for online travel companies to structure their customer offerings and distribution channels.

Now, intelligent insights from raw data is something we know a thing or two about, since our innovative analytics platform delivers this to our customers. But what exactly is business intelligence (BI) and what do we at Triometric mean by it? Essentially BI tools are a way for companies to monitor data and generate business insights to optimise operations and drive business decisions. Indeed BI grew out of decision support systems (popular in the ‘80s) – which is exactly what BI does, it helps businesses make better decisions.

Today “Big Data” is driving the next wave of BI popularity, as consumer interactions on the Internet can be tracked like never before. By 2018, it’s predicted that big data will be worth $48.3bn dollars dollars up from $6.8 in 2012 and $17.bn in 2015.
Reading through the Charts and Lines

Although the market researchers will have tried and tested methodologies, no one really knows the size of this exploding market or even what definition covers it. In fact IBM reckon they will be making $16bn from analytics in 2015 alone! But for this article, I am focusing on a niche BI solution, capable of processing very big volumes of data to deliver rich granular insights – but using very defined data and for clearly defined purposes. The intelligence I’m talking about lies within the millions of XML message streams that transmit search and request data for the ‘lookers’ and ‘bookers’ as they surface the myriad of travel sites looking for the perfect travel deal. Deciphering these messages can unravel for the BI user a rich data tapestry that reveals insights into availability and inventory levels, channel and supplier performance, customer buying behaviour as well as the health of the web services handling this data. Indeed our analytics platform uniquely folds back the layers of intelligence that can be derived from the contents of the XML message flow that is the lifeblood of the online travel industry.

Analysing the millions of messages in real-time can provide managers in key revenue driving areas with meaningful insights. For example:

Some concrete examples of enticing ancillaries could be:

Sales and marketing departments like to be able to segment their customers and study buying patterns as this can help them determine preferences and respond with more targeted offers. Having the tools to analyse customer buying patterns in real-time helps in creating differentiation, targeted products or promotional offers according to certain criteria.

Inventory and Distribution managers want to understand the dynamics of the competitive distribution landscape and be able to recognise quickly which channel/product mixes deliver the best returns.

Revenue Managers need all the insights they can get to manage inventory, market segmentation and pricing to succeed in the formidable objective of selling “the right inventory to the right customer at the right time for the right price.

It is fair to say selling travel products and inventory is challenging and the lines between sales, distribution and revenue have blurred to the extent that they can no longer function as separate silos. Integration and definitely using the same data sources needs to be the new norm. OTAs and metasearch engines, aggregators and wholesalers, the GDSs serving travel management companies and own brand web sites all add to the competitiveness of distribution. With so many travel sites offering similar services and products, consumers have access to far more information about product, prices and availability than ever before – at a click of a mouse.

Price and value consciousness drive many purchasing decisions. So if you are a travel product supplier, the importance of measuring your competitiveness is critical to your success. Knowing what people are searching for, what they are buying, how they are buying, who they are buying from and what they are paying – are all relevant and burning questions to online travel companies.

A million hits and a mountain of data as people browse the web for hotel rooms, flights, holidays and more. Exploring this treasure trove of data for the insights that drive profitable business decision is no mean task. Enter data analytics and in particular XML search and booking analysis to dig deep and create order out of chaos. Search and booking data is the vital ingredient travel companies should be harnessing for success.

With analysis comes data visualisation. This really means helping people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be revealed with clarity. All you need to get started is to get a web services monitoring platform that can analyse your XML traffic in real-time (unobtrusively) and enable you to generate dashboards, alerts and reports that give you the answers to all those burning questions and more.

The next article discusses how to visualise this rich data, what dimensions and measurements matter most to online travel companies and gives some examples of the type of reports and insights that can be obtained.

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