It’s time to stop calling it ‘big data’ in tourism

Insight from the World Routes Tourism Summit in Chengdu, China.

At the World Routes Tourism Summit, the panel of experts looked at big data, and have tried to debunk this myth. Rather than seeing data as a barrier, it needs to be used to facilitate in aviation.

With data trying to be understood in a broad capacity, it needs to be seen as an ally as opposed to an enemy when it comes to travel. The panel at the Tourism Summit was moderated by Routes News editor Edward Robertson, and featured Steve King, CEO of Black Swan; Olivier Jager, CEO and co-found of Forward Keys; Azim Barodawala, co-founder and CEO of Volatino and Hugh Aitken, director of business development and commercial operations at Skyscanner. 

Data in a broad sense is important across the board. But the most important thing with using data is being able to get your head around and finding a use for it, as panellist Olivier Jager explained. “There is nothing more intimidating than looking at a screen with a bunch of figures and not being able to understand what they mean.”

Hugh Aiken of Skyscanner had said how his business looks at more than 120 million price searches every day, which is a massive quantity of data. With the Great Firewall of China being well discussed throughout the event – referring to restrictions in what can be used in China in terms of social media, and what can be searched – it is not only something to consider, but something to factor in to future strategic plans. “It’s about trying to demystify the unknown.”

Aiken believes that you cannot have enough data – it is not about the size it is about what you do with it. The importance of data being utilised correctly is something that has echoed throughout the Summit.

Azim Barodawala clarified that how he works with airlines isn’t to collect data for them, but the angle is more to get airlines to collect better data from their customers themselves for their own benefit. Data should be supplemented by outside resources – it should not be restricted – in order to look forward and make better decisions.

Barodawala believes that the idea of ‘big data’ has become somewhat of a cliché, and it is seen as a talking point but it is not necessarily understood in terms of what is truly means. He also explained that one of the things being monitored is how much people want to pay on certain routes, as those who travel with low-cost carrier airlines in particular are cost focussed.

He gave insight into this by stating around 80 percent of customers globally typically spend more than 25 percent of what they set their budget as when they want to travel. It’s more about getting the right fare at the right time that meets their needs rather than searching for the cheapest or best value option.

Share this article

Download the Routes 360 Brochure

Communicate with the global route development community on one platform, 365 days a year.

Download Brochure