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FEATURE12 May 2017

‘Don't try and boil the ocean’

Big Data Features Leisure & Arts Travel Trends

Yesterday, the Market Research Society hosted the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Conference in London. Here’s some of what we learned, including the importance of not trying to do too much with big data. 

1. Don't try and boil the ocean

Toby Shaw, director of marketing and PR at Celebrity Cruises and Kurt Stuhllemmer, partner at Hall & Partners, presented a session on how they had worked together to ‘turn big data into smart data to drive growth'.

Celebrity Cruises had found that, in a competitive marketplace, it had a ‘sea’ of disconnected business, customer and prospect data that it needed to connect in order to answer three key questions around brand awareness, marketing spend, revenue and brand, and how they interconnect. 

In uncovering its three ‘smart’ insights around these questions, Shaw and Stuhllemmer explained that the work had also produced lessons in how to go about conducting research: be incisive about the business questions, which involves focusing on the most important answers that the business needs now; have a clear hypothesis to test, which means asking stakeholders to collaborate to build the best possible hypothesis; and don't try to do too much – "don't try and boil the ocean," said Shaw– which involves continually testing and learning, delivering bite sized chunks of insight.

2. The journey to the airport is often more stressful than flying

The journey to and from the airport is a vital component of how the total experience is judged, explained Tim Wheen, head of research and commercial insights at Heathrow Airport, and Robert Kettrick, associate director at Ipsos. It’s also an important emotional stage in the journey, but is largely out of the airport’s control. 

By carrying out ‘high definition journey’ research, using a combination of Skype interviews before and after travel; mobile diaries, and face-to-face interviews at the airport, Heathrow was able to get a window into the experience of customers and understand how to make changes to the elements of the journeys that were in its control. This included improving its Central Bus Station, installing dedicated Uber pick-up lanes, reviewing its car park propositions and launching a Heathrow journey planning app. 

3. Thinking about paying for things gives us the same emotional experience as pain

Dr Jane Leighton, Nielsen’s director of consumer neuroscience, and Alistair Daly, chief marketing officer of On the Beach, described how they had used a combination of EEG, facial coding, eye tracking and self-reporting to understand the emotional engagement of consumers with On the Beach’s TV ads.

They identified that On the Beach’s latest TV ad lost consumers at a key moment – that is, when delivering key information about the site. This was because of an attempt to deliver a message about payment plans, which led a combination of high levels of attention processing and low levels of emotional motivation, which resulted in confusion.

This was partially to do with the fact that, as Leighton explained, thinking about paying for things gives people the same emotional experience as pain. 

4. When it comes to tube travel, we now fill time rather than kill time

In the world of transport planning, travel time is seen as a ‘disutility', explained Ian Pring, marketing and communications research manager at Transport for London and Kat Jennings, research director at 2CV. Travel time used to be seen as a burden, and as far as customers were concerned, the quicker the journey, the better. 

But now, in a fast-paced world, people are increasingly placing value on ‘me time'. Using a combination of desk research, ethnographies, in-situ observations and online surveys, TfL and 2CV found that travel time is seen to have unique properties: it’s not the same as other pockets of dead time.

In fact, 80% of London Underground passengers agreed that ‘no-one expects you to do anything when you're travelling on the Underground, so you can make your own choice over how you spend your time'.

This means that most customers see their time on the underground as worthwhile, productive and enjoyable. However, there are factors that impinge on this: an inability to estimate travel time; lack of familiarity; lack of in-the-moment information; encroached personal space; uncomfortable environment and excessive external pressures. 

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