DataArt Hosts Second Annual Question Time Event in London

Building on the success of its inaugural event, DataArt’s Travel & Hospitality Practice hosted the second Question Time event, Personalisation of Big Data – Get Your Heads Round the Next Frontier, at the glamorous London Soho Hotel. The event, based on the popular BBC question time format, brought together a panel of distinguished speakers from the industry, including Filip Filipov, Head of B2B at SkyScanner, Matthew Goulden, CEO and MD of Triometric, Nathan Clapton, VP of Mobile Partnerships at TripAdvisor, Duncan Freke, Development Director of the Thetrainline.com, and Greg Abbott, SVP of Travel and Hospitality at DataArt.

Expertly moderated by Kevin May, founder and editor of Tnooz, the panel and audience discussed how Big Data in travel is affecting businesses, and specifically how data analytics can be used to provide a more personalised offerings to customers. Kevin May started the evening by taking a selfie with a packed auditorium behind him, and quoted the now famous, “Big Data is like teenage sex. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it. Everyone thinks they know how to do it. Everyone brags they’re doing it all the time. But the reality is that hardly anyone is doing it well or that much.”

Greg Abbott added spice by stating, “Anyone who has attended travel conferences for a while knows that 2008 was the Year of Mobile — and so was 2009, 2010, and 2011. But now the travel industry has something new to talk about: analytics and personalization.”

The panel agreed that the travel industry lags behind others in integrating and leveraging the enormous amounts of data that’s being accumulated at an incredible speed. Duncan Freke mentioned that besides gathering and making sense of this data, firms need to be able to properly access it. Nathan Clapton demonstrated how TripAdvisor has been able to do so, in part, thanks to its partnership with a Facebook app. In response, Filip Filipov of Skyscanner said that every analysis comes down to tracking specific customer behaviors, and Skyscanner has proved it by introducing log-ins in order to identify its users and follow their activities.

The panel was followed by a wine reception. Over 70 senior travel professionals attended the event, representing Booking.com, Sabre, Siteminder, Hotel.com, Vestibule Solutions, Marriott Hotels, IHG, Hitchhiker, ControlF1, Travelzoo, Nexmo, Oracle and other firms.

“We were thrilled with the fantastic turnout for the evening,” said Charlotte Lamp Davies, VP of Sales & Hospitality, Europe at DataArt. “It is clear that the sector has a desire to engage in a discussion of topics impacting the business decision-making process. We look forward to making our Question Time event a good tradition in the travel industry.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Analytics and personalization are the new key topic in the travel industry
  • The industry is generally behind other verticals in data processing and integration
  • Meta search companies may profit from leveraging the data they collect (i.e. analysing consumer trends in flight and hotel queries to make predictions about future consumer behaviour)
  • The question remains whether big data gives a chance for suppliers (airlines and hotels) to level the playing field and regain close relationships with their customers
  • Data privacy remains a concern, and access to it might provoke a pushback from consumers