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Use of Big Data in the travel industry

March 12, 2014
Author: Katrin Heintschel

Big Data was definitely the buzz-word at ITB Berlin 2014. It was present everywhere – in panel discussions, workshops, presentations and informal chats. ITB was the perfect place to listen, engage and find out more about it.

use of bid data in travel industry. How can railways use Big Data as a tool? 

For me, as someone who has been working with big amounts of data through market research and CRM data for years, the benefit which comes from analysing data is nothing new. Even more so - when using this data, it has always been the main objective to increase revenue by meeting the needs of the customer. Just like it has always been a challenge to use the data the right way and to ask the right questions in order to get the most out of it.

So, how is Big Data really different to what we know so far?  

  • Because of social media and e-commerce, the amount of data that exists is exploding. This increasingly makes data sets too large to store and analyse using traditional database technology. The challenge is to use this data which is stored in different locations and bring it together through software.
  • The immense speed in which new data is being generated every second. Most of this data is available for analysis in real-time, while it is being generated.
  • A majority of new data is unstructured data and cannot be fit into tables or traditional databases (such as tweets, photos, videos, social media updates etc.).

Big Data technology helps us to meet the above-mentioned challenges. But one thing remains the same: focus on your objectives and ask the right questions. If you don’t do this, it is easy to get lost in the huge amount of data and you need to avoid spending lots of time and money without having valuable outcomes.

Big data: personalise the rail customer experience

There are some perfect examples out there, like the often-mentioned example of Amazon Web Services, Helping you to better customise and personalise your offer to the individual customers: 



But still, railways and travel agents have to keep in mind that the travel industry is much more fragmented and we see less customer loyalty.

For the travel industry, Big Data is an opportunity to turn around the old value chain. Instead of starting with a standardised product offer, we now have the possibility to get to know the customer and his needs first and then create a customised offer: turning rail passengers into customers.

This could be a reason why today the “research online, buy offline” principle still, often applies in the travel industry. Travel agents understand the customer, they build a relationship with them and know their needs. Big Data can help any player in the travel industry obtain the same level of expertise. Just remember to aim for more than immediate ROI - aim for relationship building and long-term customer loyalty.

Download now At the Big Data Crossroads: turning towards a smarter travel experience. Our white paper reveals how rail travel could be transformed by Big Data: 


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