How Big Data Will Impact the Travel Industry Moving Forward

There isn’t an industry that big data hasn’t touched. In the modern digital age, big data is impacting everything – including travel. And while the role of big data may be more obvious and transparent in other industries, it’s clear that the future of travel and big data will be permanently intertwined for the better.

Companies Building Foundation on Data

Over the past few years, a number of companies have built ideas for new businesses based on access to data.  One such startup is Findmycarrots – an Indian travel website that allows users to search for destinations by entering semantic text. For example, users can search for queries like “rental houses 10 miles north of Miami” or “hotel within walking distance of the Staples Center.”

“Last year, during the kids summer vacation we decided to go to a hill station in north east India. After searching multiple travel sites and even Googling, it was a nightmare to get the relevant information,” said Kanwar Sangha, the website’s co-founder. “There was no option where I could just type in – ‘show me all hill stations in north east India’. Findmycarrots was founded due to this frustration on searching for destinations during vacation planning.”

But the use of big data isn’t always so obvious. Take Military Flight Travel, a company that partners with airlines and financial institutions to provide affordable travel to military families, as an example. The business doesn’t tout itself as a data-backed travel agency, but it still relies heavily on access to information.

“The sheer volume of data, and the tools and technologies that make accessing this data effortless, has fundamentally transformed the travel industry for the better,” says a brand representative. “We’re now able to pinpoint itineraries, identify the cheapest options, and streamline the entire process.”

In other words, data is such an intrinsic part of the travel industry now that the end consumer doesn’t even really understand how closely the two are interconnected. And we’ve only reached the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Big Data Means Big Opportunity

In the coming months and years, industry experts expect the travel and transportation sector to undergo significant transformation. This will be due in large part to the adoption of more predicting modeling, next-best action decision making, and simulations that will allow businesses to increase efficiency and better target customers with relevant deals and service offerings.

But it’s not just travel planners and websites that are leveraging big data. The very modes of transportation we use – think airplanes and trains – are using robust information to anticipate maintenance issues before they happen.

“In the asset-intensive travel and transportation industry, success depends on the safe and reliable performance of those assets,” writes Shannon Adelman, marketing manager for IBM’s Travel and Transportation industry. “By capturing and analyzing more complete operational data, big data and analytics can help organizations manage and maintain their assets to improve safety, performance and equipment life.”

One such company using big data to refine its maintenance processes and increase efficiency is Dubai Airports Co. With the assistance of predictive analytics, company officials believe they’ll save $100 million by 2020. These savings will come in the form of improved uptime, fewer resource requirements, and less costs associated with surprise maintenance.

The Future is Bright

While the travel industry and big data are already closely interconnected, most experts will tell you that the best is yet to come. There is so much more potential for how data-backed technologies and resources can enhance this industry. The future is bright for those businesses willing and able to adapt with the progression of technology. From now through 2020, an explosion of growth is expected. Keep an eye on this industry.