Big data means big challenges for the travel industry
Many of the specific challenges that the travel industry faces in big data result from its long-term usage of information systems for key processes. One consequence of this is that key data is often fragmented across multiple functions and units. For example, airline data on the passenger experience is spread across flight operations, baggage, loyalty programmes, complaint databases, and external sources like social media.
In order to make effective decisions about how to promote offers to customers and deal with unexpected scenarios, airlines need to combine all of this information into one data warehouse and one set of algorithms, which would require considerable investment. Creating an integrated source of customer information is not only expensive, but difficult no matter how large the available budget.
Another result of the long-term use of information systems in large, established travel companies is that big data technology architectures will have to coexist with existing hardware, software, and databases. Those “legacy” tools and the data they contain are still necessary, and will still be useful in analyzing and improving travel operations and passenger relationships.
Big data technologies may be the only technologies for startup and purely online travel firms, but large companies will have a hybrid environment for the foreseeable future. This will lead to challenges of IT architectural cohesion and efficient functioning of all these new and old systems.