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Big Data in the Travel Industry: Driving Revenue vs Building Customer Loyalty

jetblueI recently had the pleasure of attending the Rocky Mountain Business Travel Association’s Education Day. One class, in particular, left the entire room thinking. It was taught by Ron DiLeo, President of Partnership Travel Consulting, who led a discussion on travel technology and applications, with a focus on big data.

It seems everyone is talking about “big data” these days. There are companies, such as Amazon and Target, that are extremely good at increasing their revenue by proactively suggesting items to consumers based on their purchase history. But there are also less intrusive, or perhaps less “in-your-face” companies that are also collecting our data. Most travel industry companies fall into this second category.

You may or may not have noticed that travel vendors use your travel history to know when to advertise to you. For example, if you went to Aruba with your family last fall, you may see advertisements from the airline you flew for fares to Aruba this fall.

Vendors also use purchase history data to predict in advance what fares and rates to sell during certain times. The rule that a better deal can be had by booking in advance is no longer correct, as airlines, hotels, and car companies are all basing rates off history.

With all this data available, it is important to point out that the majority of companies are still using the information to benefit the traveler in some way. The larger hotel chains in particular are great at tracking traveler preferences (king bed, non-smoking room, high floor, etc.) and using these preferences to create loyalty amongst their travelers.

And at the end of the day, isn’t loyalty what this whole thing is all about?

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