How big data is revolutionising the way people travel

Big data is no longer a niche side-line pursuit; it has become a buzzword in many industries, and its real-world implications are clear to see. This article, and an accompanying video interview with Kishore Krishnan – senior vice president, UK and Ireland at NIIT Technologies – delves into this rapidly expanding topic within the travel sector.

Airports and airlines especially are starting to embrace technological innovation. Modern travellers are demanding more, and meandering check-in queues and exasperating wait-times are increasingly irksome for busy flyers. As such, it is vital for any forward-thinking airline to use the wealth of data at their disposal to create more innovative, more streamlined processes for their customers.

Satisfying the tech savvy traveller

Travel is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity – especially among millennials. People are jetting off more than ever before, and whether it’s to an important business meeting across the continent or an exotic vacation on the other side of the globe, frequent flyers expect more bang for their buck. Yet with so many people flocking to airports every day, delays are becoming harder to avoid, and when they do occur they can have a drastic impact.

>See also: The information age: unlocking the power of big data

Airports are therefore under immense pressure to deliver a faultless customer experience, and it is essential to ensure passengers reach their destinations as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Technological innovation is already starting to transform our airports, but the answer to a seamless customer experience doesn’t just lie with facial recognition at passport control or robot check-in assistants. There is another powerful tool every airport and airline provider has in abundance in their inventory: big data.

Dipping into the data pool

Society is data-driven. Every day these people generate over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data: and this is set to increase exponentially in years to come. It’s predicted that by 2020, around 1.7 megabytes of data will be created every second of someone’s live.

Leveraging this data to read the minds of their customers is allowing businesses to tailor their services to deliver a more personalised experience, giving them a unique competitive edge. There is no telepathy or magic involved here; simply collecting valuable insights from the vast quantities of data available.

Pack-up and jump on the bandwagon

The travel industry is one of the most data-laden sectors, yet there’s still many opportunities it has to grasp. The busiest airport in the UK has a footfall of over 75 million passengers a year, equating to a vast pool of untapped customer data. With the increasing demands of travellers, in an increasingly nomadic society, it is time for airlines and airports to jump on the big data bandwagon.

With such immense quantities of data available, airports need to become adept at sifting through and using data intelligently, by identifying key problems and utilising data to rethink processes. Big data may not build bigger airports, or create more flights, but it can slim down wait-times and reduce delays.

>See also: How technology will change your travel experience

Long check-in queues are often caused by top airlines monopolising check-in desks. Oftentimes, bigger airlines will have the lions-share of desks, regardless of whether they need them.

By thinking innovatively with big data analytics, NIIT Technologies helped remedy this issue by rolling-out smarter desk allocation. By looking at how many people are expected to check-in for each airline, desks could be allocated based on actual need.

Big data also has remarkable predictive powers, a particularly useful asset for an industry that depends on precisely micromanaging timetables to avoid bottle-necks and hefty delays.

Imagine being able to predict when a storm is blowing in or mechanical malfunctions are going to hit, and being able to adapt so that such disruptions cause minimal disruption.

Big data can’t control the weather, or mend a technical fault, but it can replace on-the-spot analysis with correlative pattern analysis, and better equip airports for such disruptive set-backs. With better foresight, airlines can warn passengers of delays earlier – saving irritated travellers stuck aimlessly waiting in an airport lounge.

The journey ahead

Airports present the optimal base for technological innovation, however there is still a long road ahead. In order to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment and, more importantly, provide customers with the best possible service, every airport should capitalise on the insights offered by big data analytics.

>See also: Big data predictions: what does 2017 have in store?

Overcrowded check-in desks and winding queues will be diminished by smarter, streamlined processes and travellers will receive the seamless service they have come to expect.

Technology is set to become the invisible travel guide, and every step of the passenger’s journey will be impacted by it: from the moment they step into the airport to when they have settled into their seats and taken-off.

But it won’t just be robots sat behind check-in desks or manning passport control that will shape the customer experience, for the most part travellers won’t even see the technology that is quietly making their lives easier.


Sourced by Kishore Krishnan, senior vice president, UK and Ireland at NIIT Technologies

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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