Big data is a trendy term that has been frequently splashed around in the news, conferences and Silicon Valley during the past few years. But what does it mean? Big data is defined as information that is so large and complex that the normal means of collecting, sorting and understanding it does not work. While big data may sound intimidating and expensive, the good news is that today you don’t need super computers to crunch the necessary numbers for tracking the behavior of your customers.

We’ve made it a focus in previous blogs to highlight the importance of following the data to better understand the behaviors and preferences of your customers. In this blog we dive a little deeper into the data to explore different trends and how companies can provide the best service for customers on and offline.

Analyzing the behavior of your customers through data (big and small) will enable you to make tailored customer service experiences and suggest personalized ancillary products that further drive your sales. Big data will allow travel bookers to make strategic predictions of what their customers need. Knowing where your customers want to fly in October, what types of hotels they expect to stay in and the types of activities they plan, offer you a world of opportunities on which to capitalize.

Using big data to analyze how customers accessed their site, Expedia has created a brand new tablet interface. The company expects more of their customers to access their services through tablets and wanted to be ahead of the curve in providing an exceptional experience. “Travel is a sensual product, and yet travel shopping is about as industrial as you can get. So we want to create an experience that suits travel,” said Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

By analyzing customer behavior, British Airways offers exclusive specials to their most frequent customers and members of their Executive Club Loyalty program. The company is also using online data to make the booking experience for their clients as seamless as possible.

Travel companies can also use consumer data to help lower the stress of booking and executing travel. In 2013, Travel management company CWT developed the Travel Stress Index, a tool that measures stress that various travel activities may cause. Using the data collected, the company created profiles of consumers and assigned potential activities based on a customer’s individual tolerance of stress.

While big data has flaws, it does provide a glimpse into the world of consumer behavior. Harnessed correctly, and mixed with innovative ideas, data can help transform your business by offering the best customer experience and allow your company to stand out from the crowd.