(Before & After Augmented Analytics - Blog 3 of 4)
The travel industry was one of the first to welcome the digital shift from brick-and-mortar (the in-office travel agency) to the online store (DIY booking travel websites like Cheaptickets, Expedia, and Travelocity). But in the last two years, travel companies have started exploring more advanced big data analytics applications that are unique to their needs. While they’ve been using analytics technology for longer than that (what are the chances a flight won’t be full?), Augmented Analytics is enabling stakeholders in the travel business to do more with less. Tools like AI and machine learning have shown so much promise in the travel and hospitality industry that educational institutions like UCF Orlando are offering degrees in travel and tourism data analytics!
Driving cost-efficiency. When we search for flights on travel sites like Orbitz or Priceline, basic big data analysis can tell us the price difference for different days and times for Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, and others. But for the airlines and other travel merchants, Augmented Analytics can go further than that. In one example, a family is vacationing in Hawaii, and the airline realizes--via predictive analytics--that the value of their return date tickets is three times what that family paid for it. To optimize financials, the airline can offer to pay for the hotel, an AAA-discounted car rental, and travel insurance if the family changes their flight ticket to stay two extra days--freeing up those valuable tickets to sell at a higher price. Everybody wins! Even Airbnb hosts are benefitting from smart analytics with tools like Beyond Pricing, which uses smart automation to boost pricing at the right times. The platform claims it can increase revenue by 40% for property owners.
Marketing more holistically. In the high-touch competitive travel industry, customer experience is a product in itself. The growing availability of data has led many companies to assign entire jobs to experience management. Augmented Analytics’ expanded data science capabilities make it possible to analyze a 360 experience, in real-time, both online and offline. More contextual data--such as the ability to draw information from sources like social media feeds and support chatbot conversations, make hyper-personalization possible at scale. For example, AI and Machine Learning most likely knows when a trip is a honeymoon, and resorts and cruise ships can cater to loyal customers on which they have more data (like putting their favorite brand of champagne in their room or sending an internet coupon relevant to their next trip).
Solving Logistical Problems. Believe it or not, page load times cost travel businesses more revenue loss than, say, weather delays (McKinsey). Beyond service quality, there are many points in a journey where logistics can cause problems, and it takes much more efficient data analysis capabilities to manage than what the industry has typically used. There’s a lot of data out there, but Augmented Analytics can help travel companies see the data points that matter most to ensure a smooth process. For example, was the ticket booked on mobile? And if a business needs to send an urgent travel update or alert, through which medium is the customer most likely to receive it at any given time of day? Let’s say a passenger is traveling to Europe, but there’s been a major incident at the border city in which he was set to land. Not only will he have to go to a different airport, he’ll have a layover in a different country. The travel company can use Augmented Analytics to coordinate stays and re-routes for hundreds of passengers at once, resolving issues with more speed than ever before. Augmented Analytics have also made air travel safer; jet manufacturers have outfitted planes with data-gather sensors that can predict issues before they happen. They can even help pilots determine a course of action when time is of the essence, like what to do when a bird hits an engine (these sensors can determine how big the bird was and what damage was sustained, then it generates a suggestion)--a key distinction between data analytics and Augmented Analytics. Finally, Augmented Analytics is helping the hospitality industry detect fraud and cybersecurity incidents much sooner than they could a few years ago.
Travel is still in the earlier stages of Augmented Analytics and other advanced data science applications, but in the next few years, these technologies will be the market’s passport to success---and beating out the competition.