Data is at the Heart of Travel’s Next Big Technology Leap

The travel industry was once at the forefront of technology innovation. Anyone old enough to remember driving to a downtown ticket office to pick up a multi-part, handwritten paper airline ticket would appreciate the gigantic leap the industry took when it joined the mainframe computing age, or more recently, the Internet age. Today, we take for granted that we can book, select a seat, choose a meal and Wi-Fi options, then pay securely through an app from the comfort of our living room sofa.

On one hand, there is a history of robust innovation in travel. But over the last 20 years, the industry has lagged in adopting the technologies that will drive the next generation of customer experience. This “ice age” of technology in travel has resulted in many core functions being dependent on dated, legacy technologies. These technologies are incapable of delivering the functionality today’s consumers have come to expect from their apps, devices, retailers, and service providers.

At Journera, we believe one of the largest technology gaps in the travel industry is the ability to deploy and derive value from data, and that unlocking this value can create significant benefits for both consumers and the industry. The last 10 years have seen an explosion in the technologies that can be used to store, analyze and leverage data in new and more efficient ways. Travel is a data-intensive business, and the companies that are best able to close this gap will have a significant competitive advantage.

So, if you are a technology leader in the travel industry, or hope to become one, what do you need to do?

An Expansive Menu of Choices

While the data technology imperative is increasingly clear, the technology choices demanded by it are not. In fact, evaluating and selecting data technologies has gotten far more complicated in recent years. It used to be that a travel provider could choose a database vendor, and then along with a few other choices, be set for many years to come.

Today, there are announcements for new data storage and processing technologies coming out every month. For technology executives, just keeping up with the state-of-the-art technologies is a full-time job, let alone figuring out how to implement and integrate them with legacy systems. The alternative to sitting back and moving slowly is that companies can find themselves constantly chasing the next big thing, and never realizing the full benefits of any incremental technology solution.

Since technological change in the data space is so rapid, the ability to swap out parts without disrupting the whole is critical. Having modular designs and clear boundaries between data systems is a good way to get started. That approach also makes it easier to introduce software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers who can be a key component of quickly and securely leveraging new technologies.

Reorganizing Around Data

At the end of the day, even if you make great technology choices, you’ll only get so far unless your organization and your architecture is organized to treat your data as a critical asset.

That means enabling your employees and your infrastructure to ingest, clean, combine, transform, distribute, and act upon your data. And all of this must be done as close to real time as possible, because that is what today’s customers expect.

As travel companies look to catch up on the technology front, they need to be designing with data at the center of their ecosystems — not as a “bolt on” item at the periphery. That means doing things like creating distinct teams specifically devoted to managing data and having data scientists and engineers tightly integrated with the traditional IT and technical teams. It may even mean more significant changes for some, like revamping all governance and reporting structures in the organization.

In travel’s experience age, where data is a key differentiator and source of value, the technology investments and management attention to leveraging data will separate the winners from the also-rans.

At Journera, we are developing our platform to help travel companies organize around their data and leverage it without having to re-tool all of their existing systems. Our goal is to do that heavy lifting for the industry so that they can do what they do best: creating great travel experiences for their customers. We’re looking forward to what we can do with you.