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How Travel Companies are Leveraging WDI and Big Data

— June 19, 2020

For big data to be effective, a travel agency needs to pull actionable insights from that data in order to market to their customers effectively. 

The ubiquity and availability of the Internet have changed how consumers are booking and enjoying their travel. With the overall travel industry expected to continue growing through to 2022, and online bookings to outpace the overall growth in the industry, those organizations set up to leverage WDI (web data integration), and big data will be well placed to take maximum advantage of this accelerating trend towards digital services in the travel industry.

WDI refers to technology that aggregates and normalizes public data from sources such as travel sites, hotel reviews, ratings, and so on. It’s simple to set up and start collecting data, but it’s in the way that the data is used that it becomes truly powerful.

Using WDI for price monitoring

One of the most compelling benefits of WDI is that it ensures that a travel organization will never be caught out on price fluctuations. This is particularly relevant to the US, because it is so dominant in terms of the exchange rate, and people do rapidly change their travel plans based on favorable exchange rates. This, in turn, affects demand, and in the volatile, rapidly changing market conditions, travel companies stand to gain a great deal by being more responsive to exchange rate fluctuations.

Unlike web scraping, which simply collects data, WDI seeks to build actionable insights from the data gathered, providing organizations with a comprehensive analysis of the movements of their competitors, the impact of deals, and the evolving preferences and tastes of consumers. Because the travel industry is so dynamic, the ability for WDI to crunch eight times as much data, 60 percent faster, and with 20 times greater accuracy, allows an organization to shift focus from following trends to leading them.

Using WDI to monitor reputation

Natural Language Processing is a key component of big data analysis and refers to the ability for a system, such as WDI, to extract meaningful and actionable results from the text. With hard numbers, building graphs and charts is a simple process, but that only accounts for a fraction of the data that’s generated. Manually collecting customer social media posts can be a laborious process, without the assistance of a system that can extract the sentiment from the content.

In execution what this means is that you’ll know if there’s a problem almost before your customers will. Only around 30 percent of the words in the English language is considered “positive,” and thanks to the depth of data that WDI collects, it will be immediately apparent if they’re being used when customers talk about your business. Even more importantly, it will be possible to observe the changes in sentiment over time, and this will help to understand how the perception of the overall brand is shifting.

Using WDI to find hot trends

Without WDI, understanding where the hot destinations are for the season relies on some very unscientific processes – journals, newspapers, and manually trawling through social media. There’s a lot of factors to consider, too, because where a tourist will want to travel will depend on everything from the social and political climate, through to key events taking place around the world, environmental factors, and cultural trends. 

Having a finger on the pulse regarding the hot destinations (and the reasons why) allows a travel agent to offer the kind of personalized service to customers, and make accurate recommendations, that help them to find and retain customers.

Just as WDI can help to measure how people feel about a business, it can be used to track a traveler’s overall habits. Using that data can be enormously useful in setting sales or finding new products to offer.

Market intelligence

The kind of market intelligence that WDI can enhance includes (but is by no means limited to) lead generation, the creation of data-driven promotional content, search engine ranking monitoring, and competitive analysis, showing what deals and packages competitors are offering.

A traveler with a backpack using a smartphone.
A traveler using a smartphone. Public domain photo courtesy of CC0

Another key benefit is that WDI can help automate the process of keeping listing information up to date with both descriptions and images. Manually copying this data and sourcing imagery is an arduous and time-consuming process, which could be far better spent on forward-facing, revenue-generating activities to customers.

The final benefit of WDI is that all of this is done in real-time. Daily extractions of data mean that it’s possible to respond to new opportunities quickly and efficiently, and address any problems before they can become widespread.

Summing up

“Big data” is one of those over-hyped, jargon terms that IT companies like to throw around. Often a “big data” solution will simply collect the data, storing it data lakes, but with no analytics or action plan, simply collecting the data is meaningless. For big data to be effective, a travel agency needs to pull actionable insights from that data in order to market to their customers effectively. 

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