Big data makes for happy tourists, Israeli start-up says

Manage Your Trip pools data about trips that succeeded, and that didn’t, to help tour operators avoid mistakes

Tourists cover themselves in scarves as they wait for their group at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, as tempratures begin to drop and winter sets in, October 28, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Tourists cover themselves in scarves as they wait for their group at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, as tempratures begin to drop and winter sets in, October 28, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Calm skies, delicious food, interesting tours, unforgettable experiences. A lot goes into making a successful vacation trip, and a lot can go wrong.

Travel agents, tour guides, and others in the industry are subject to vagaries of weather that can turn nasty on a dime, unions that can shut down or delay air travel on a whim, or politicians and revolutionaries who decide that now is the time to have a war. And then there are the ordinary things that can ruin a vacation – from loud tour group participants who monopolize the guide’s time and attention to boring presentations by boring tour guides, guaranteeing that tour members will discourage their friends from participating.

But with big data, according Raphael Amzallag, CEO of Israeli start-up Manage Your Trip, tour operators can avoid many of these problems. “If it’s going to rain at a certain place on the day you were planning to visit, you would obviously consider something else, a Plan B,” said Amzallag. “That’s a very simple example of how data can be used to change plans and salvage a trip. The same holds true for more sophisticated pieces of data.”

For example, the system can determine whether or not a tour guide is going to be a hit with a specific group. While some travelers prefer, for example, a gentle guide who will calmly explain in an academic manner the history of a site, others prefer a more proactive, and perhaps emotionally involved, approach.

“By examining the characteristics of a group and comparing them with other, similar groups who have provided feedback about a guide, we can determine who will be a bigger hit with a particular group,” said Amzallag.

Manage Your Trip collects and collates data from all subscribers, analyzing it to determine with ever-greater precision the pluses and minuses of a tour, a guide, a venue, a restaurant, a bus company, and many other factors.

The system is geared not only to provide tourists with a better experience – but tour organizers with bigger profits, said Amzallag.

“Our cloud-based dashboard provides instant access to current and past activities, allowing operators to compare statistics and profit analysis. All the information they need – including information on each client, profitability rates, individual client feedback and a record of all previous trips is right there, so they can determine whether or not an activity is worthwhile, or perhaps should be replaced with something else.”

Big data not only prevents problems – it also helps tour operators design successful packages for specific groups.

“Based on the experience and feedback from other tours and groups, our system provides information to operators that allow them to organize the right tours for the right parties – so that from the start the possibility that a tour will be bust is lessened significantly,” said Amzallag.

Manage Your Trip has dozens of customers in Israel, among them some of the largest travel agencies, as well as several clients abroad, including several in France, among the Paris tourism office.

“As far as I know, this is the only solution of its kind in use,” said Amzallag. “Big data has provided a lot of benefit for the business world. Why not for tourism?”

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