When most people think of data-intensive industries, financial services and retail come to mind. Often forgotten is the travel industry. Not only do the multiple segments of the industry (e.g., airlines, car rental, hotels, ground transportation, and more) need to provide ubiquitous access to rapidly changing data within their domain, but quite often, the applications running in these segments use data from all the other segments. Simply put, the travel industry is ripe for data pipeline automation.
Why? Different components of the travel ecosystem, such as airlines, hotels, car rentals, and online travel agencies, need data pipelines to enable data movement, processing, and analytics. Reserve a flight on an airline’s website, and you’ll be offered an opportunity to book a room or rental car. Use the travel services of your credit card, and it will let you book a flight, reserve a room, rent a car, and more.
The systems of all the players in the industry must be tightly integrated, or customers will go to a competitor. That makes data access and data sharing essential.
A plethora of data pipelines
A look at some of the most common operations highlights where data pipelines are used and needed and puts the issue of data pipeline automation into perspective. Some of the most common operations and functions carried out in the travel industry require data pipelines to support activities in the following areas:
Booking and reservations: Airlines and travel agencies must collect data from multiple sources, such as online travel agencies, direct website bookings, and third-party booking platforms. That raw data then must be processed, shared, and made available to airline reservation systems.
Dynamic pricing: All entities in the travel industry use advanced analytics to optimize pricing for flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars. The analytics routines need easy access to historical booking data, competitor pricing, and more to make demand-based pricing predictions in real time.
Marketing and personalization: Like all online businesses, travel industry organizations need to collect and analyze customer preferences and behaviors from their web activities, mobile app usage, chat streams, social media actions, and more. That data must be aggregated from these various sources and analyzed to personalize every interaction with a customer and recommend offers (e.g., a higher aisle seat for more comfort, a larger car, a bigger hotel room) based on past preferences and activities.
Operations: Spend ten minutes at any major airport during peak travel periods and it looks like total chaos. But behind the scenes, the airlines and airport operators use and analyze real-time data about flight arrivals and departures to coordinate everything from gate availability to luggage handling. Similarly, rental car companies and hotels need data about vehicle fleet status and room availability to accommodate customers and plan services.
These examples are just scratching the surface when it comes to the need for data pipelines in the travel industry. In addition, travel industry players each must support day-to-day logistics and operate supply chains. Each of these areas is dependent on making the right data available in the right format at the right time.
How automated data pipelines can help
As is the case in other industries, businesses do not have the time or resources (i.e., data engineers and IT staff) to manually cobble together data pipelines for every use case and every application as they emerge.
In all cases, manual techniques for providing data to the applications and people who needed it in the past will not work. The pure volume of data pipelines needed throughout the industry makes it impossible for data engineers and IT staff to keep up. Additionally, the complexity of modern data pipelines makes the manual tasks all that much harder.
Hence, the need for automation. Automated data pipelines remove the burden of creating pipelines from the data engineers. The right type of automation will dynamically adapt to changes and provide data scientists and travel businesses with instant access to the data they need to carry out their work.
Salvatore Salamone is a physicist by training who has been writing about science and information technology for more than 30 years. During that time, he has been a senior or executive editor at many industry-leading publications including High Technology, Network World, Byte Magazine, Data Communications, LAN Times, InternetWeek, Bio-IT World, and Lightwave, The Journal of Fiber Optics. He also is the author of three business technology books.