NB: This is a guest article by Larry Smith, a partner at US-based Thematix.
Data is always plural, and it can be big in many ways. Huge, enormous, gigantic, epic – you get the idea.
It can be raw data, it can be interpreted into information, and it can be elevated through the association with other data into knowledge.
As semantics enables machine learning, a new level â€“ wisdom â€“ is possible, as IBM Watson has demonstrated.
Using a hotel as an example, raw data might be the latitude and longitude of the property and facilities, the information might be interpreted via a street and mailing address, while the knowledge is that youâ€™re walking distance to a tourist site or office building.
Wisdom comes from adding police reports about area crime or location of the nearest hospital for food allergy treatment to keep the family safe.
Every minute of everyday, there are billions of data points being created about travel and tourism.
These data come from people offering social commentary, blogs, and surveys; from participants including GDSs, government, banks and credit card feeds; from automated things like remote weather sensors and traffic cameras; the list goes on.
The data may be captured, stored, and shared in structured or unstructured ways, then crunched to expose similarities and differences, illuminate trends, and predict future outcomes.
But Big Data is not only about volume and magnitude, itâ€™s about quality and richness — and thatâ€™s where immediate opportunities and ROI can be found.
Examination of travel data
Think about your data: you can create it, add value, and expose it as enriched information, knowledge, and wisdom within your domain. The more you add and share, the more value is created, and the bigger it gets.
For example, your hotel is hosting a trade conference of musical instrument manufacturers.
A link from the association to the hotel booking page with a discount code is standard, so youâ€™ll know the names of people booking, why theyâ€™re staying with you, and that their interests involve a love of music and its performance.
Depending upon the transaction process you might know about the train, plane or automobile they took, their party size suggesting business or family intentions, and any upgrades they might have purchased.
The data package is hugely valuable to you and many others in your trading partner ecosystem.
So as a practical business matter, the issue is how to transform this data into customer loyalty, competitive advantage, and revenue.
There is no want of ideas: is it time to test out Karaoke in the bar one night of the conference, suggest some special movies on demand, work with local tour operators and music performers to expose events, and give away a few free iTunes download cards in exchange for e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers.
Also, consider what data you create and how to expose it to more people in interesting and usable ways. All the data that is generate by operations, food & beverage, housekeeping, billing and accounting, etc. are sources for knowledge when combined with other data and a specific business requirement and use case.
Use caution when considering the need to generate new data (especially if new or incremental work is required) unless there is a very specific need or well thought out usage.
For initial pilots the data you already have is most likely enough to achieve some immediate and satisfying results.
Also, donâ€™t work alone with data â€“ itâ€™s plural, and it works best in partnership. Look to your employees and every vendor, business partner and supplier for assistance and input; good data insights benefit everyone involved.
One of the best and easiest ways to begin is with a pilot that exposes events and activities in and around the hotel. In testing schema.org mark-up, we discovered immediate and lasting return on investment; read more here.
The results have been so impressive that weâ€™ve published an extended set of open (and free) mark-up tags, available as an OWL file upon request.
These tags permit one to go beyond the basics to referencing hotel specifics such as a room, features, services, amenity, and room rates, thereby further informing the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) in greater and more precise details.
While hotels have been an example, there are similar benefits for everyone in the travel industry. Trains, planes and automobiles can consider integrating themselves into an entire journey, not just the points of transportation they supply.
Tours and attractions can use and supply data from others by discovering what consumers value.
So when you think about Big Data, remember that while you can add to its volume, you can also make it Big in its value.
NB:Â This is a guest article by Larry Smith, a partner at US-basedÂ Thematix.