ASATA Column – Personalised Business Travel


Big Brother may be watching you, but if travel companies wake up to the massive potential of using Big Data to personalise your business travel experiences it may just be worth it.

Big Data means using information about the behaviour of travellers through travel companies’ own CRM and other technologies, or that of a third party, to predict future behaviour and in turn use those predictions to guide the experience they deliver to travellers.

Travellers want to experience travel on their own terms; they are increasingly expecting a personalised travel experience and Big Data can help travel suppliers and the 21st century travel agency deliver this personalised, unique journey.

An example of how Big Data works in business travel:

You search for ‘hotels in London’ online, which in turn delivers a full list of hotels across star categories, price levels and areas, among various other filters. In a Big Data world, the results delivered will be intuitively filtered to include a list of hotels that match the user’s search behaviour, eliminating wasted time trolling through information that has no relevance to the end traveller’s requirements or wishes.

Travel companies in South Africa are only now starting to use the information they have gathered about travellers’ behaviours to create individual ‘DNAs’ – unique search and booking patterns that help them to deliver personalised information and services. Big Data allows the 21st century travel agent listen to their customers’ opinions, needs and desires, engage better with customers and deliver service efficiently and intelligently.

According to a recent Amadeus study, as travel becomes more complex, customers need help increasingly in navigating through all the options so delivering information that is already personalised and targeted will help secure business.

The road is long and travel companies are only now at a crucial Big Data crossroads. They have for many years had access to information about their customers – every airline reservation, every hotel stay, every car rented, leaves a data trail. But using this information to the advantage of travellers is very much in its infancy despite the obvious advantages for business travellers in future. But there’s no question, Big Brother is already watching you!

Otto de Vries