The travel industry is booming – last year alone the global travel and tourism industry represented nearly 10% of the world GDP, contributing $7.2 trillion according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
As the industry evolves, the amount of big data is also growing at exponential rates. By taking advantage of the expanding breadth of data available, booking sites, airlines, hotels and travel agencies have a huge opportunity to leverage data insights to increase efficiency, improve the customer experience and ultimately gain an edge in an increasingly noisy market.
While many travel companies have begun to recognise the value of big data, often times aggregating and analysing this data in a meaningful way can be a daunting feat, requiring a great deal of time and too many IT resources to extract business value.
Additionally, there is no time to wait weeks or even days to review travel patterns, customer data or sales projections – those insights are needed within a few hours to engage the next customer, book the next trip and fend off competitors.
Being armed with the tools and insights to adjust campaigns and reach consumers in this fast-paced environment can be the difference between missing sales goals, and exceeding them.
Dealing with complex data
For Magellan Vacations, a luxury travel booking service, its unique business model posed an even greater challenge when it came to wrangling data to extract insights – bookings are done exclusively by sales agents over the phone.
So, all typical sales metrics, such as closing rates, commissions and bookings by destination, were manually reported by agents.
While Magellan had explored various technology solutions in the past to help improve efficiency in this process, it found that these solutions often required specialised IT resources and consultants, which wasn’t meeting the needs of the 60-person company.
Magellan was facing a problem that a number of businesses across industries today are dealing with – it had a growing amount of complex data that had to be pulled from disparate sources in order to create a holistic, near real-time view for their agents.
However, it didn’t have the time or money to bring in the significant IT resources typically required to analyse data from multiple sources.
As a growing number of companies in the travel industry and beyond face the complex data conundrum, the need for agile technology that can marry together data from multiple sources quickly and easily is critical.
Businesses want the power of data insights to penetrate throughout their entire organisation, and not be stuck in limbo waiting for IT’s help. They want solutions that can have a powerful, real-time impact, while still being easy enough for the everyday business user to engage.
Recognising this need, Magellan looked to a self-service analytics solution, Sisense, to help support its data analytics initiative. Leveraging Sisense’s business intelligence platform, Magellan was able to provide near-real time dashboards that were simple and intuitive enough for every day travel agents to digest. Additionally, these dashboards allowed agents to compare each other’s metrics to spur on some friendly competition.
There are a number of new opportunities for the non-technical and less-technical business users to perform their own analysis and find their own insights – from visualisation tools for simple, spreadsheet-style data, to new possibilities for mobile and collaboration.
By using a self-service data analytics solution, Magellan Vacations was able to free up IT to perform other tasks, while also arming booking agents with the predictive insights they needed to help meet their sales goals.
The collection of dashboards Magellan designed for their agents serves as the hub for tracking and managing daily sales statistics and reservation activity. In addition to the numerical data points, Magellan’s booking agents utilise a dashboard called Reservation Watch that highlights each booking, cancellation or adjusted length of stay that occurs in a given day.
This provides them with the power to see what is happening with their clients’ reservations and has helped salvage cancellations on a number of occasions – ultimately strengthening Magellan’s mandate to be client oriented and customer focused.
For the travel industry, the amount of messy data continues to grow at exponential rates. To increase productivity and stay ahead of the competition, organisations need to tap in to the power of big data.
As discovered by Magellan, self-service analytics solutions can be an extremely valuable tool for businesses, especially when IT resources are limited. By removing the need for specialised IT involvement, data-driven insights are more accessible to every day business users, and can ultimately help propel an organisation forward.