Data to power travel industry’s future development

As the rapid advancement in digital technology transforms the travel landscape, the immense amount of data generated will play an increasingly important role in unlocking realms of possibilities for the travel industry to power its growth, said speakers at Hotelbeds’ first MarketHub Asia event in Bangkok earlier this week.

Addressing the audience of travel operator and OTA clients from around Asia-Pacific, Hotelbeds’ sales director Sam Turner spotlighted the accelerating pace of change in the digital world today. “By 2020 the world will produce 40 zettabytes, up from 0.1 zettabytes in 2001, a 400 times difference.

Turner speaking at the event

“It’s not the size (of data) but what you do with it,” he said, adding that the effective analysis of data can enable companies to improve their profitability. “The analytics journey in the new world is going to be the prescriptive way, instead of descriptive.”

Echoing Turner’s view, Hotelbeds’ marketing & communications director Gareth Matthews added that predictive analytics has many potential applications in the travel industry, such as making airport delay predictions through various sources such as weather, flight data and traveller data.

Ming Foong, managing director Greater China & online business group, Asia-Pacific at Travelport, pointed out that “data is the foundation to power different experiences”, but the current biggest hurdle for companies to personalise services is the lack of resources connecting different data sets, say, between a user’s frequent flyer programme and social media profile.

At the event, Hotelbeds’ managing director Carlos Muñoz also identified the significant gaps in data analysis as an area the company wishes to plug in the future. “Our clients have given us a huge amount of data… We are using only five per cent of this data so there is a lot of improvement,” he shared.

But Steve Saxon, partner, McKinsey & Company, reminded the industry not to lose sight of people – the critical factor that determines the success of data utilisation. “We need to think not just about data but how to embed data within the company culture,” he said.

“The power of the people is more important than the power of data,” Saxon concluded.

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