It’s no secret that travel and tour planning has experienced a seismic shift in the marketplace. Operations that were once very hands-on have moved online. As a result, tour businesses have accumulated massive amounts of online data, including customer information, supplier information, loyalty programs, and so on. And it’s constantly changing! Keeping clean data is a game-changer for your travel business.
Research has shown that 40% of the anticipated value of all business initiatives is never achieved. Why? Because the data a business relies on to succeed is a mess.
What is Data Cleaning?
Data cleaning is fixing or removing incorrect, corrupted, improperly formatted, duplicate, out-of-date, or incomplete data.
Why is Clean Data Important?
When data is incorrect, then the decisions a company makes based on that data are going to be incorrect. Low-quality data can cause a chain reaction of unreliable action steps.
For example, you count on accurate supplier information when you plan your trips. If your information is out-of-date, your pricing is inaccurate, or if you accidentally used a product that no longer exists, your bottom line on that trip takes a big hit.
Data collected and hosted online is the lifeblood of a travel business. Cleaning data is critical to maintaining a high level of data integrity.
RELATED READING: 3 REASONS MANAGING SUPPLIER DATA STINKS
What Are the Indicators of Clean Data?
Clean data in your system should be:
- Accurate and Current (all information can be cross-referenced and verified as current)
- Consistent (no duplicates with different information)
- Complete (everything you might need to pull is already in the system)
- Valid (supplier or customer information is still available – i.e., hasn’t gone out of business)
- Uniform (captured information uses the same format – i.e., Awesome High School Student Group vs. Fantastic H.S. Student Group)
When data is accurate, up-to-date, consistent, complete, valid, and uniform, you can easily pull the information you need and trust that it is reliable.
How Do You Clean Data?
There are many reputable companies that handle data cleansing. However, this service typically comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
If you can devote a little bit of staff time to the cleaning process, it will save you time and money in the long run.
Try following these 7 simple steps:
Step 1. Use A Separate Spreadsheet
Before you start, consider copying your information to a separate spreadsheet. Then, you can make any changes to the copy rather than the original, eliminating the possibility of doing any major damage if you make a mistake.
If you use Excel for your data, below is a helpful video resource to walk you through the cleaning process
Step 2. Remove Duplicates
Duplicates are one of the biggest challenges to clean data. One person on the team adds a supplier with information that they need. Then, another team member comes along and adds the same supplier but with different information. Which is correct?
Clean up the duplicates and streamline all the information.
Step 3. Remove Outdated Partner Information
Another challenge travel planners face when cleaning data is outdated information. Attractions, restaurants, transportation companies, and hotels that were great partners last summer, may not be in business this year!
Verify that your partners are still ready and willing to work with you.
Step 4. Fix Structural Errors (Uniformity Issues)
Problems with uniformity generally arise when data is transferred. You may notice strange naming conventions, mislabeled categories, incorrect capitalization, etc. Again, consider the example with Awesome High School and Fantastic H.S.
Correcting these issues with uniformity will allow your data to be more functional and efficient.
Step 5. Fill in the Blanks
Once you have identified the consistent format you want to use, fill in all the blanks. Make sure every field has the information you need to ensure calculations and algorithms work properly.
Fill in the blanks!
Step 6. Consider Security
As you wade through your data, consider the security of personal information you may have accumulated in your system. Our digital world allows us to collect details like addresses, credit cards, routing numbers, logins, and more.
Travel and tour planning businesses are built on this information- but they are also responsible for keeping it safe.
Take time to purge old information that you no longer need to reduce the risk of hacking.
Step 7. Check Your Work
Once you’ve made the necessary adjustments to your data, be sure to check your work. Verify that
- the data makes sense
- every field is complete
- all information is uniform
- all information is secure
Validate that your data is in the system in a way that benefits your business.
How Often Should You Clean Your Data?
If you’ve been getting a little antsy as you read and aren’t sure if your data is up to par, it’s probably time. Once you get the initial “big clean” out of the way, maintenance is more manageable.
How often you clean your data depends on the size and scope of your business. Larger travel planners should consider every 3-6 months as a reasonable target (think of it as spring or fall cleaning!) Smaller companies or planners may only need to clean on an annual basis.
When you suspect that dirty data is holding you back or affecting your efficiency, it might be time to clean.
How Does Clean Data Help My Travel and Tour Business?
As an industry that probably couldn’t exist without an online presence, the data that we capture must be accurate and relevant. Supplier information, customer reviews, and personal information, loyalty programs, and more are the touchpoints we use to grow.
When these touchpoints are compromised, it’s more difficult to respond to customer needs or create quality travel experiences.
Clean Data is A Game-Changer for Your Travel Business
Clean data is a game-changer for your travel business. When the dirty data is gone, only high-quality information remains.
- Your team is more productive
- Operations are more efficient
- Customer response improves
- Products and itineraries are more accurate
- Personal information is more secure
Fall is just a few days away… and the perfect time to start cleaning!
RELATED READING: WHY HOSTED SUPPLIER DATA IS THE SMARTEST MOVE FOR YOUR TRAVEL BUSINESS