Do you know that every day tourists throw coins worth some 3,000 euro into Rome’s iconic Trevi fountain? All the change collected from the fountain – that’s more than one million euro annually – has been going to charity since 2006. A million euro in change in a fountain is just a drop in the ocean for the hospitality, tourism and travel industry which generates trillions of dollars in revenues each year. It also generates huge amounts of data of all types with the growing use of maps and booking apps, card transactions, user reviews and social media posts.
Many of these large and unstructured data sets are vastly untapped because they are sitting in data silos, and finding links between them is highly resource-consuming. Fortunately, we have Linked Data to create semantically-rich links between data from various heterogeneous sources so that both the tourism industry and travelers benefit from the business insights of big data analytics.
Cities across the world are now actively interacting with tourists by opening datasets and encouraging developers and businesses to create travel and tourism apps. Then we have the travelers taking advantage of Linked Open Data (LOD)-based apps to search for the top destinations and landmarks in a country or city. And then there are the hotels, travel operators and airlines using advanced analytics to improve customer experience, streamline investments, and combine travel statistics with economic data to predict future travel trends.
Cities across the globe are now engaging tourists and residents in exploring landmarks and sites worth seeing via open data-based apps.
New York, which has 1,500-plus datasets available, has the BigApps which includes foursquare APIs, traffic data, apps to easily find bars and search for hotels, or the SeatGeek API of data on all live sports, concert and theater events in both New York City and worldwide.
Across the Atlantic, Dublin has its Dubl:nked datastore featuring arts, culture & heritage as well as recreation & amenities data sets. Dublin’s 250 freely available open data sets help the city share data, ideas and connections with developers, citizens and tourists.
Travelers, of course, are increasingly using apps to find landmarks, book trips or review hotels. And millions of them are rating and voting for their favorite hotels, destinations, beaches, landmarks and attractions at TripAdvisor, for example.
Naturally, the travel and tourism industry is swiftly adapting to travelers’ preference and choices in its pursuit of better customer experience, wiser investments and ultimately, higher profits.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry contributed USD 7.2 trillion to the world GDP in 2015, that’s 9.8 percent of the global GDP. The sector provides jobs to 284 million people in the world, that’s one in every 11 jobs.
Therefore, we have one huge business with many players where competition to acquire customers and offer additional amenities is fierce. So, keeping up with trends and predicting new ones are vital for the industry today. Luckily, data is everywhere and is continuously increasing, thanks to the rising use of IoT, social media, wearables and all gadgets digital.
All that data, however, comes in most varied formats and from disparate sources and often sits isolated with its vast potential untapped because extracting insights from it would be enormously labor-intensive. Semantic technology and graph databases help in this task by discovering relationships between names, concepts and entities.
In addition, Linked Data turns heterogeneous data from multiple sources into semantically-rich interlinked information and knowledge. Semantic technology and machine learning help machines understand if a tourist is in Paris, France, or Paris, Texas, or if they are staying at a Hilton hotel or at the same hotel as Paris Hilton.
Linked Data also makes data integration smoother for an enhanced management of both internal and external data. Structured and coherent data help companies not only know their customers but also better manage revenues.
In its report Global hospitality insights: top 10 thoughts for 2016, EY said:
“Hotel companies seeking to optimize revenue management in today’s competitive environment should consider the following: Data integration across enterprise systems, breaking down data silos and opening up RMS to access and process more complex data feeds in a more flexible fashion.”
EY has a vision of a good revenue management system as a single platform integrating customer data, forecasts, information about local events, economy and market news and advanced analytics.
Big data analytics help the travel and hospitality business meet whimsical customer demands in order to retain travelers and acquire new ones.
According to a Killarney Hotels study on the global hotel trends for 2016, more than 50 percent of consumers globally have made a purchase based on an online recommendation, and more than 50 percent of hotel bookings take place online. This gives hoteliers the opportunity to get to know their customers better with social media analytics using Linked Data and combining it with statistical data.
Millennials, who are expected to become the dominant consumer group worldwide in 2017, are especially favoring ultra-personalized offers and hotels are eagerly trying to endear them with customized offers and additional amenities. Marriott, for example, is doing this, with phone as room key, in-room virtual reality and text chat with hotel personnel.
Marriott’s acquisition target Starwood Hotels and Resorts has been focusing on revenue optimization and is using big data and advanced analytics for dynamic pricing. Starwood combines data about weather, economic factors and local events to extract insights to decide when to launch promotions or how to price offerings. For example, if weather is especially bad is the US Northeast or Midwest in the winter, many people would be willing to go on a vacation on a Caribbean island at that time of the year.
The ability to predict when to increase or lower rates, or when to hold rates, or when investments will pay off the most, leads to better revenue management and subsequently, to higher profit margins. Analyzing big data for marketing and promotions has the potential to reach out to specific groups of customers, and to improve overall customer satisfaction. The better the customer experience, the more engaged travelers will be. And they will happily throw coins in the Trevi fountain and continue pouring in trillions of dollars into the tourism, travel and hospitality industry.