Big Data is a big deal for the travel industry, argues Stephen Taylor, international managing director for data analytics firm Sojern. He explains why

The travel industry has certainly been one of the sectors most influenced by the move to the online world.

The drive towards digital has been fast and furious. There has been a 47% increase in internet bookings in the UK market over 2008 and Google predicts the rise in mobile devices will have a major impact on online travel and booking on the go.

If companies don’t adapt to their increasingly connected audience, they will not be part of the modern world.

One effect of this digital drive is that many companies have amassed huge stores of data.

Advertisers are hungry for information about what their audiences do online, and companies must seek to know and understand their customers as well online as they do in face-to-face meetings.

To achieve this, companies must seek to understand the thing that reveals most about their travellers: big data.

When brands understand this data it will give them a substantial information-related advantage.

The advent of big data solutions means travel advertisers can capture and use this data.

They can move beyond just hoping the right customers engage with ads and instead create a more responsive and intelligent travel experience.

Information can be gathered about past and present behaviour, but the most valuable data is often what can be gleaned about intent.

For example, we could have ‘intent data’ showing that a family of four is travelling to New York City with the dates of the visit and the fact that they’re traveling in economy.

A New York car rental company would know which vehicles are booked for those dates and could match an available car that is suitable for a family of four at a price attractive to an economy traveller.

It’s all about placing the right message in front of the right customer at the right time.

With a dynamic creative you can, in real-time, build a comprehensive picture of the consumer you are targeting and put forward a tailored proposition.

Big data and analytics can present a comprehensive view of your audience and help improve customer interaction.

By segmenting an audience based on online behavior and intent, you can target customised ads to customers’ needs and desires.

This can lead you to discover new ways to interact with individual customers, as well as improving creative delivery and marketing strategies.

It is important not only to target the right person with the right message, but also to pinpoint the exact time to target a particular traveller.

By 2020, 75% of travel transactions could be online. If you don’t seek to know and understand your customers you will lose market relevance.

The combination of historical data, ‘intent’ and other profile data, available in real time, can lead to positive targeting, drive customer loyalty and deliver a powerful return on investment.

By harnessing big data, companies can maximise their assets, increase their revenue and improve their relevancy to customers.

The accumulation of data will enable the industry to improve decision making and build lasting relationships with clients.