With the recent events at both Monarch Airlines and RyanAir fresh in the memory, it could be said by some that there may be a bit of a crisis in the travel and aviation industry. To try and further understand how the leaders in this field are ensuring they continue to thrive, Andy Driver (RedCat’s Big Data & Analytics Consultant) sat down with Dan Truman (Head of Analytics at TUI Group) to discuss the role of analytics within the business and where the future may lie for the travel industry as a whole.
Tell me about your role and the role of analytics within TUI.
I am Head of Digital and Mobility Analytics for TUI Group. Analytics is a diverse function at TUI, across multiple platforms, markets and business functions. We have a central Analytics Hub within the Group, and local analytics resource based in each of our operating markets.
What applications of analytics are traditionally used within the travel industry?
There are a number of different elements involved within travel which makes it fairly unique. From plane seating capacity and yield, to display marketing impressions, there are almost endless analytical perspectives to adopt and integrate into faster, more accurate and better decision making.
Why is it important for TUI to further invest in their analytical capabilities?
TUI is the world’s leading tour operator. We are at the forefront of our industry and collect significant amounts of data; investing further in our analytical capabilities means we can leverage further advantages ahead of our competitors. Strategically, therefore, analytics is an investment into retaining our premium status.
What new innovative things can we expect from TUI’s investment in the analytics space?
Without getting too granular, we have invested heavily in creating common platforms across various analytics functions and markets in order to allow scalable analysis. These platforms allow us to harness the capable minds we recruit to excel at invaluable analysis across each element of our business lifecycle. Innovation is integrated into our processes, analyses, viewpoints and decisions taken – the ways we can leverage our data are highly regarded and used to engineer market advantage by offering our customers journeys that cannot be replicated.
What would you say your favourite tool would be?
My favourite tool would be difficult to pick but my favourite discipline would be tag management. The development of this space has been crucial to the mainstreaming of digital analytics as a whole and easing the path between traditional technical development resource and web analytics – reducing the burden on silos and encouraging technical development in marketeers.
If you could invent a tool that would change the way you work, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, what would it be and how would it work?
Interestingly I think that would be a tool with more of a view to removal of unnecessary/time-consuming tasks. I enjoy task lists and completing them, so something geared to evaluate effort/value and prioritise from analytical data would be of great value.
What effect do you see Artificial Intelligence and Big Data having on the travel industry as a whole?
The proliferation of these terms is beginning to show its power. I’d suggest that it’s likely that the “effect” will be as big as the effort put in – if companies are willing to invest the time and infrastructure required, it’s likely the returns will be great. However, as with all new technologies, early adopters will find themselves hitting multiple barriers first; and guiding others later on how best to avoid certain pitfalls along the way to include and embed into existing processes.
With TUI being a long-standing recognised brand within the travel sector, how do you stay on top of start-ups who are looking to disrupt the industry?
Start-ups are great for all industries, not necessarily travel. Having worked for a relative start-up previously myself, at Secret Escapes, I know there are certain processes and opportunities that come from working in that environment that can really benefit long-standing and recognised brands. We have to view start-ups not as disruptions or threats, but as agile and educators that can add significant value; in a larger brand, we hold scale that cannot be achieved easily when new to the market.
Why is the travel industry a great place to be for analytics professionals?
Without, too much, bias; the travel industry is great for analytics professionals simply due to the number of variables in place at any time. Monitoring marketing efficiencies, website performance, destination requirements, hotel availability, airline seating plans and many other areas in between, allows every piece of analysis to hold significant value in helping every one of our customers to find their perfect trip.
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