Words by Nick Williams from Sapphire Systems, an ABTA Partner
A fine forecast?
For many companies operating in the travel industry, the holy grail of doing business is successful forecasting, predicting with greater levels of accuracy where, when and how people want to holiday and travel. The more accurate the demand forecast, the more profits for travel companies, ensuring cost and efficiency savings across the business, as well as optimum customer service leading to customer loyalty. Savvy travel businesses are using advanced Business Intelligence (BI) tools, more effectively - analysing patterns in customer behaviour, market trends and socio-political-economic factors. This supports accurate forecasting and helps better predict wider market conditions, standing the business in good stead to weather future storms.
Where the travel industry has a head start on many other industries is in the sheer amount of data it has at its disposal. The combination of data sources such as name records, transaction histories, pricing lists, customer feedback surveys and call centre logs, creates a great deal of data for businesses to wade through. However, putting this data to good use is where the travel industry often lags behind. But what is needed is the power to turn this data into valuable business and market insight.
Sector specific data
The right BI solution provides the ability to explore and analyse data from a variety of different sources, data that is then amalgamated and comprehensively analysed. The extensive reporting capabilities that come as standard, enable you to slice and dice the information in a variety of different ways. You might choose to focus on sales or gross profit, destination or customer reviews, or analyse the customer satisfaction index, or any combination of these. Businesses can report by product, tour code, departure date, region, PAX, customer, converting raw data into meaningful information, presented in accessible, easy-to-understand formats.
This 360° view of the organisation, its customers, its prospects and the wider market, gives the depth of insight needed to build accurate forecasts for the coming months. For example, when it comes to customers, you can begin to understand what drives repeat business and how demand varies according to a whole host of different variables. The ability to focus on capacity and pricing optimisation is made much simpler also, without having to rely on complex spreadsheets and time consuming analysis. The fact that you can analyse more data, faster, incorporating real time information on the state of the market, leads to more dynamic pricing actions and optimal capacity planning too, meaning the business can readily identify and rectify gaps in planned capacity and actual demand.
BI functionality that will prove exceptionally useful to travel businesses, certainly over the next 12 – 24 months and beyond, is the ability to use predictive, ‘what if’ capabilities. With Brexit uncertainty looming large, predictive modelling can be put to good use to forecast not only future market conditions, but potential customer behaviours based on a whole host of different scenarios.
With pressure on the industry only set to increase over the coming months, tools that can uncover valuable business insight to underpin robust, proactive decision-making are no longer just a “nice-to-have.” This unprecedented access to real-time, accurate and meaningful data, cannot be underestimated, giving you the potential to optimise business agility and foresight, enabling you and your business to thrive in the face of the change.
The importance of technology and its impact on the travel industry will be discussed further at Travel Technology Europe on the 21-22 February.