The time when one was asked for his hometown when entering a Cathedral to keep a visit log has ended. The emergence of Big Data has provided such a powerful tool to tourism, that controlling 100% of the tourist traffic is almost an actual possibility.
Even now, in many touristic destinations, especially in provincial locations, the entry to museums, churches or sites of interest has a person carefully gathering data of the travelers. More specifically, their place of origin. That was the way in which the tourism and hotel industry worked until recently.
In fact, in Spain, for example, all control in data analysis has been performed on surveys and studies. Many managed by public departments that in some cases can ignore certain commercial interests that might concern companies of the industry in particular. But this might have ended with the impact of web analytics focused on tourism, and specifically the explosion of Big Data as an analysis tool.
What are you interested in?
Knowing the city of origin of the customers of your hotel and restaurant can be convenient. But learning where they come from, where have they been and where will they go next is obviously better. This can be achieved by implementing Big Data and gathering information via banking data cross-referencing, communication with tourism offices and direct gathering of data that could be provided by customers with their mobile devices.
Additionally, everything related to money should be another fundamental need for information for the companies in the hotel industry. How much can their customers spend and how will they do it will determine many of the services they can provide.
Lastly, associated with all this, we have the activity of the customers. It is important to know the steps they follow and not to forget anything related to how they perform their tourist activities.
Why can Big Data help?
In the first place, and after having gathered all the data in the aforementioned ways, there would be an almost absolute certainty of what a person does in a city or accommodation. In other words, after a 10-day stay at a hotel we would be able to know if they have gone on trips, if they liked it, if they plan on doing it again... Everything with the accuracy of their digital fingerprint and the data they transfer with their bank expenses, etc.
On the other hand, thanks to the technological guarantee provided by Big Data and the data centers of the actors involved in the process, there would never be any loss of information or non-recoverable files. Therefore, a practical application of Big Data leads us to an efficient computerization process to have everything available when required.
Thanks to the technological guarantee provided by Big Data and the data centers of the actors involved in the process, there would never be any loss of information or non-recoverable files
Lastly, a direct advantage of the detailed knowledge of the people has to do with segmentation. No more advertising our Hotel in areas where no one has the right customer profile, no more dishes on the menu that no one would order because they never ate them.
How does it help?
Learning why Big Data can help. We will know see some practical examples. A better service will be provided and it will add value to the customer's time. It seems nonsensical to offer certain services that the users don't like, especially if we can know beforehand that they will not like them.
Additionally, the hotel companies themselves can see important cost savings, as they will be able to always offer the right services. But not just that: customer service could also improve noticeably, being part of the gathering of conceptual data itself, which will later be incorporated into the Big Data concept.
However, not all aspects are positive. It is clear that data gathering, especially personal data, must always be in compliance with data protection laws. Therefore, customer consent in certain aspects must be made explicit. We are talking about bank details, information on the social media, etc. Everything must be very clear so there is no legal conflict with the customers.
On the other hand, when we talk about Big Data we enter a field that at the moment is very developed in the segment of data centers and IT areas. In order to achieve a proper universalization there must be professionals of any sector who are able to work adapting their knowledge to these areas.
Event on Big Data in the tourism sector
The rise of data in the tourism sector has not been overlooked at the BBVA Innovation Center. In the near future, with the title "Web analytics in the tourism sector", Clubrural will hold a meeting focused on good data use in order to build customer loyalty and optimize marketing campaigns in this sector.
In previous sessions also held at the center, there were interesting meetings regarding the tools used by the tourism sector to better exploit the data, and BBVA Data & Analytics has published interesting works regarding tourism and data, like the one for the Madrid City Council in 2012.