In God We Trust — All Others Must Bring Data

The noted engineer, statistician, and management consultant W. Edwards Deming offered a compelling mantra for the digital age: “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” The global travel industry would be wise to heed Deming’s call as it searches for its next big act.

As I have written, travel data is entering an experience age. In other words, better integration between disparate travel service providers is needed to improve the overall consumer travel experience. The glue between these providers is data that enables valuable new products, services and incremental offerings that bind the traveler’s journey into a more satisfying whole.

The value of travel data is significant, yet woefully underleveraged. For example, last week when I flew overnight to the east coast, my favorite hotel in New York would have found great value in knowing I was arriving early and might want to check in early, or need the concierge for activities to fill my day. Then at the end of the week, after my scheduled meeting concluded early, my airline could have made use of the knowledge that I was already in the car on the way to the airport 4 hours before my flight. A lounge pass, or an opportunity to take an earlier flight that better fit my schedule, would have led to a smoother, better travel experience.

Increasingly, travel data like this will become a type of currency whose value is derived from its quality and quantity in a secure marketplace. At Journera, we are developing the first platform for travel companies to leverage the full value of their data, while creating data standards and a permissions architecture that ensure quality, control, security and consumer privacy.

As entities look to maximize the value of this new currency — their data — there are a few important steps they need to take:

  • Clean and organize it — Adopting strong data cleaning, normalization and structuring practices is essential for making data useful
  • Connect disparate sources — Siloed data leads to incomplete views and fragmented experiences. Connecting data sources, both internally and externally, makes data more valuable and meaningful
  • Make it easy to access — Even the largest, most robust dataset is useless if your applications, systems, employees and partners can’t access it. And the simpler it is to access, ideally via standardized APIs, the more you can amplify its value
  • Establish a value for your data — Today there is a lot of talk about the value of data, but there are few companies that effectively establish what their data is really worth in the marketplace
  • Create rules for it — To make the most of your data, you must have a strategy for who has permission to access it and for which uses, and of course, establish the proper security and privacy controls

Those who take smart steps to leverage data — both their own and that of other industry participants — will have a more complete view of their customer’s journey. With it will come myriad opportunities to create valuable products, services and improved customer satisfaction.

Welcome to the new experience age for travel. Make sure you bring data!