Big Data to predict travellers’ behaviour

Interview with Santi Camps, CEO at Mabrian.

It is fundamental to be able to analyse in what way the digital transformation influences our organisations, to see exactly in which areas and how it affects them, so we can adapt to this new situation and more particularly focus on the business opportunities. In this case, we are going to deepen the decision-making based on data which has been treated and interpreted in an intelligent manner.

We were able to talk with Santi Camps, CEO at Mabrian, a start up that develops the most complete analytical tool for the tourism industry that should allow those organisation managers to know not only what’s happening in their destination (and in their competitors’), but also to “anticipate” and make advantageously competitive decisions.

Santi, could you give us an overview of Mabrian? Its “core” as well as what it offers to the tourism sector? Tell us which elements from Mabrian you would highlight in this area.

The Mabrian project arises in response to the tourism sector’s current reality, in which major decisions that entail huge investments are often made based on the study of partial, not very updated, historical data with a very high intuition component. Mabrian’s core is to achieve a paradigm shift in the tourism sector: to move from intuition to the era of knowledge.

From our tool I would highlight the ability to carry out an enriched analysis of multiple and diverse data sources. An overlap of different information layers that allow us to obtain a global vision and draw connections between them to generate knowledge both current, and predictive.

Developing this has not been easy, we’ve been developing our own algorithms based on Artificial Intelligence for over 5 years, and we keep improving them day to day.

More and more companies dedicated to the analysis of Big Data are popping up but are tourist companies prepared to “digest” so much information?

It’s true that Big Data is somewhat fashionable, but often what the term actually means as well as the practical utilities of the analytics of large volumes of information isn’t understood.

Tourism companies are increasingly prepared and are more aware of the need to work with data to make their decisions. But in the current phase, it’s essential to offer a tool, as user-friendly as possible, that offers only the necessary information at the right time, and an extensive support of these solutions.

What differentiates Mabrian’s platform to other existing analytical tools on the market?

Our great contribution to the sector is the ability to work with very diverse data sources. We are not restricted to an active listening on Social Networks, but instead we overlap data from transactional sources, like flight searches and bookings, flight and hotel prices, tourist spend in destination, as well as online behaviour derived from the activity on social media and opinion portals.

By doing so, we provide a very enriched analysis that offers a global strategic vision of the context and the market. It has also allowed us to develop a predictive model that allow us to anticipate trends up to one year in advance.

Can you really “predict” the future with Mabrian?

There is a direct relation between what users spontaneously say on their social networks and how the long-term demand will evolve. We can also reinforce these predictions with global search and flight booking patterns and trends, as well as other indicators.

You mean, for example, that you “could” already anticipate which destinations will be successful for the 2019 season?

We have already detected and analysed trends in the long-term. And yes. Clear dynamics have been identified. We already predicted Iceland and Thailand’s boom in 2015, or the recovery of North African destinations in 2017. Through data, not intuition.

Any scoop?

Globally, for example, we can anticipate that Greece will be a clearly rising destination for the Spanish market, and that it will grow during 2019 if circumstances don’t change.

Have the latest controversies regarding Facebook and the treatment of users’ data affected you?

Not directly, since our platform isn’t fed with Facebook data, precisely because of the type of filtering they make of them. But undoubtedly it has indirectly affected us, since all companies that trade with data have begun to take more stringent measures to control the use that is made of this same data. And we think it’s something very important. Our providers’ reliability and legality is key in our business.

Then, will you be in line with the new GDPR law?

We don’t store users’ personal data, since our suppliers already serve them to us in an “anonymised and aggregated” way. Still, we monitor closely that these respect the regulations, because we understand that it’s vital for the correct development of our industry.

Every day more data is generated. Is it really the petrol of the XXI century?

Data is an inexhaustible resource, and with an exponential growth. But the most important is not to have data, but to be able to correctly select, analyse and interpret that data to turn it into knowledge. Data itself is worthless, and can even be counterproductive if misinterpreted. The “petrol” is only valuable if there’s an engine able to exploit it and generate movement.

Enric López C., EU CETT-UB

SMART TRAVEL NEWS

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