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The term 'big data' is being used more and more frequently in the tourism industry, and appears to be something that tourism organisations need to take a closer look at. The academic community has certainly been looking into the topic, researching its impacts on tourism.

What is big data?

Travellers leave different digital traces behind on the web and when using mobile technologies. Through every traveller, big amounts of data are available about anything that is relevant within the holiday stages: prior, during and after. Most of this data is of an external nature, for example, in the form of Twitter or other social networking feeds. Due to the large amounts of data available being stored in the cloud, analytics are needed in order to make sense of the information within the data.

Through the use of big data, industries can become more efficient, and there are more and more companies specialising in storing and evaluating the big amounts of data on travellers’ hotels, transaction and customer information to facilitate this  (Big Data Startups).

How does it impact tourism?

Big data is so important because it can deliver much needed business insights, and can be the source of innovation for tourism organisations and the industry in general. The potential for big data in tourism is huge and tourism organisations should not underestimate its importance.

With the right approach, the tourism industry can learn a lot about consumer preferences and use this information and insight to build connections with individual travellers. Being able to offer travellers the right service or product at the right time is crucial. Without the right information and a very good targeting approach, advertising will not result in any conversions and there will be no ROI. Travel is such a fast-paced industry, which really drives the need for speedy data analytics and quick decisions. In tourism, any demands need to be addressed instantly in order to still be relevant for travellers, which makes big data so important.

The future of big data

Providing speedy information which can allow tourism organisations to react instantly is absolutely crucial. At the moment, while it is difficult to predict the future of big data, the potential of what tourism organisations can do with all the information generated seems very exciting, and it can only bring an improvement in the customer experience.

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