A journey to the centre of the data: New indicators for tourism management
Big Data is here to stay. It’s taken up residence in our guild and managed to achieve what very few other “new concepts” have been able to do: harness vast amounts of information from data on the internet and produce useful insights on goods or services.
The way we work, communicate and in essence, live, has changed completely in just 20 years. Email, social networks, mobile searches, day-to-day transactions and an endless amount of other everyday activities are all connected to each other thanks to the network, and it’s creating this new constantly evolving world that we inhabit, and also shaping our new “virtual self”, the “digital fingerprint” of who we are and what we expect.
What’s Big Data? What benefits does it bring to the tourism sector?
Big Data technology allows us to analyse huge amounts of data and highlight important info, opening a range of possibilities for companies to improve their services and internal management. This information can be reproduced in all social and economic sectors of the population, and of course in the tourism industry.
If we speak about the tourism sector, one of Big Data´s most relevant characteristics is the real-time information it provides about supply and demand. And by providing this valuable data, it helps professionals define the best internal strategy. The ability to automatically cross-match data provides key information when establishing a suitable hotel offer with the right leisure activities and for me, the real key lies in being able to anticipate changes in tourists’ consumption habits.
Big Data and the social traveller
Today’s customer wants a personalised and integrated experience backed by specific motivating factors and recommendations that are expressed online. They look for their personal preferences on official and unofficial websites, they search for opinions about their next destination from other travellers and acquaintances on social networks and plan everything from their computer, comparing prices, booking and paying for transport and accommodation. And then, in parallel, with their mobiles, they create and share a unique and unrepeatable experience with photos and comments about their experience. And in turn, their experience becomes a reaffirmation of a unique identity and a vehicle for social recognition.
If we can understand and learn how to manage this onslaught of information we’ll have a better understanding of what we do and what we are; almost pinpointing the likes and preferences of consumers and even more importantly, moving closer virtually to their decisions so we can personalise our services and adapt in real-time. Big Data has the power to put us one step ahead of the facts and transform our actions into predictions.
To survive, or even possibly lead, the digital tsunami, we need to invest in Big Data strategies within the tourism sector. I believe, tourism companies that refuse to accept these market intelligence techniques are doomed to fail in the not too distant future. This is a “must” for any company’s internal financial strategy.
Spanish tourism companies have lead the social and economic transformation of our country for many years, now have the commitment and the need to redefine their value proposition from this new setting and make use of the digital tools available to continue being an international quality and innovation benchmark.