This post comes from our partner .Amadeus

Follow @amadeusnews

The travel industry is no stranger to data. Every airline reservation, every hotel stay, every rental car reservation creates data. This has added up to hundreds of terabytes of structured transaction data. But now travelers are making trip arrangements online, posting ratings, reviews, blogs and the like on social networks resulting in more but highly fragmented data.

According to an IDC study, the world used over 2.8 trillion gigabytes of data in 2012. However, only half of one percent of that data is being analyzed in any meaningful way. Even so, we can’t ignore the opportunities of what’s possible.

So how far has the travel industry come and how far do we still need to go when it comes to big data? Amadeus has looked closely at this topic in a recent report. Although pockets of innovation are present today, the answer seems we’ve gone fairly far but not far enough.

Big data has a vital role to play in delivering a more efficient and tailored travel experience with benefits to both travel companies and travelers alike. So travel companies should be focusing their data efforts in two key areas: improving the customer experience and internal operations.

Here are 5 things the travel industry should be doing now when it comes to big data:

1. FORGET THE HYPE, FOCUS ON STRATEGY
You recognize its time to play in the big data sandbox, but where should you put your focus first? At minimum start by having a big picture understanding of big data. Are customers beginning to use it? Are competitors adopting it? What is the risk if you are a follower versus a leader? Look at the priority areas and strategic goals for your organization and start small. You can make a difference using data without becoming overwhelmed by it.

2. GETTING PERSONAL RIGHT
A big opportunity in big data is in delivering greater customer personalization and thereby improving the travel experience. Big data opens up the possibilities of increasing traveler personalization and therefore value.

Big data-based personalization might be based on factors such as: customer behaviors; social media relationships; ancillary sales; geo location; service or schedule disruptions; or even the entire journey itself. But beware the big data epic fail: reaching the wrong customer at the wrong time and/or with the wrong offer. First understand consumer needs, desires, motivations, and requirements. And always assure transparency, privacy and permission are priorities.

3. PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
Don’t just look outside your organization when it comes to big data value. Look inside as well to see how you can apply it for internal advancements. Big data can make an organization more knowledgeable, effective and profitable in areas such as operations, risk management, revenue management and marketing. The ultimate goal is to aggregate and analyze relevant data in near real-time fashion for proactive decision-making.

And to most effectively use it, be prepared to change business and operational processes, decision styles, employee skills, and corporate cultures. The level of change may have to be significant, but so is the potential benefit.

4. DATA SCIENTIST: YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
Data science skills are a key in achieving successful big data outcomes so organizations need to begin assembling them now. From data scientists to Chief Data Officers, make sure they are adept at data management, analytics, and solving and communicating about business problems. Hire them internally or explore vendors or consulting firms to provide the expertise you need.

5. PARTNER TOWARD THE PURPOSE
The travel needs of today’s customers are intermodal, international, and interactive. No single travel provider is likely to meet any customer’s needs for a seamless experience. So consider partnering with other firms or experts for the support to help you achieve your customer and company objectives.

Our focus on innovation includes delivering solutions underpinned by big data analytics and travel intelligence. Amadeus is working with travel industry players and customers from airlines to online travel companies to assure they are making the most of the big data opportunities that are out there for the taking.

This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor, Amadeus.