Many people think that big data is a “technology thing” when it’s really about an intelligence process to better deliver the customer promise. Over the last few years, big data has impacted many industries including tourism. It presents information collected from a wide range of sources in a structured manner, enabling businesses in the travel and tourism industry to take immediate decisions as per the changing customer demand.
In Indonesia, big data analytics is used to boost tourism performance. The Tourism Ministry (Kemenpar) has created a new digital system that allows them to receive and analyze data more efficiently. This “go digital” campaign is not only applied to its promotional activities but also brings it to its office.
The implementation of Mobile Positioning Data
In order to boost up the performance of its tourism sector, Indonesia has implemented a big data technology called Mobile Positioning Data (MPD). As most of you probably know, tourism has been known as one of the nation’s core business sectors. It’s only logical for the government to use the communications and information technology to optimize the potential of our tourism industry.
Basically, MPD works by detecting the cellular phones used by visitors entering Indonesian territory from several gates. The system is applied in big cities’ airports, 19 regencies, and 46 sub-districts which host Indonesia’s border areas to neighbouring countries. Having been operated since October 2016, MPD is scheduled to serve until 2019 with Indonesia’s central statistics agency (BPS) operating it.
Through official data provided by the BPS, the Tourism Ministry is able to break the data down into more specific information about visitors, from their length of stay, the frequency of their visits, to their tour activity preferences during their holiday in Indonesia. According to Indonesian marketing guru from University of Indonesia (UI), Rhenald Kasali, these data will not only be useful in analyzing tour markets and outlining policies in the sector, but it’s also essential for those indulging in tourism business to expand their businesses.
War Room M-17, the intelligence center of Indonesia tourism
MPD is not the only big data products created to boost the Indonesia tourism. There’s also War Room M-17, an intelligence room launched in 2016, located on the 16th floor of Sapta Pesona Building, Jakarta. Based on the information we gather from The Jakarta Post, the area features interactive dashboards showcasing tourism promotions for Indonesia, other countries, tourism destinations, top 10 priority destinations, and human resources institutions.
This is where the Tourism Ministry gathers their big data, a combination of small and corporate data as well as social media. The big data analytics has become an early warning for the Tourism Ministry to know what’s really happening out there.
The Tourism Ministry also uses War Room M-17 to monitor what other countries are doing. For example, let’s say the Tourism Ministry wants to monitor Thailand’s tourism industry. You can click Thailand on the dashboard, the country’s destinations such as Pattaya, Phuket, and Chiang Mai will show up on the screen along with a list of current events there as well as information about access, cuisine, cleanliness, security, accommodation, and other services.
Big data can also help Indonesian hoteliers
The big data utilization in tourism sector does not only help the government to boost Indonesia tourism. Indonesian hoteliers could also benefit from it, too. Head of ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tours & Travel Agencies), Asnawi Bahar, spoke to Xinhuanet that with processed information resulted from data, travel agents and hotels will be able to prepare resources and proper accommodations for the visitors.
These days, most foreign visitors book their travel packages in Indonesia through digital applications in advance through their gadgets. This allows travel agents to digitally learn plans of the visitors’ movements since their departure.
However, Indonesian hoteliers need to take notes on what type of data that is considered quality data for a hotel. This is why they need advanced big data analytics. Without it, they will find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information and complexity of the data. The right big data analytics can help Indonesian hoteliers uncover emerging trends as well as identify opportunities to capture more revenue.
As the hotel industry has changed over the years, so has the relationship between a hotel and its guests. If thirty years ago the guest relationship with a hotel was direct, personal, and on a one-to-one basis, today a brand is what consumers tell each other it is—just like what Scott Cook, the Founder of Intuit, said. This change is critical. With big data analytics, Indonesian hoteliers will be able to capture, measure, and manage the customer sentiment on social media and any other sources. This allows them to take immediate actions.
Look forward to sustainable tourism in 2018
So, with the implementation of MPD and War Room M-17, how far the Indonesia tourism will go?
No one knows the answer, really.
However, in November 2017, a meeting titled Indonesian Tourism Outlook 2018 was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Jakarta. According to The Jakarta Post, some of the attendees were Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, Indonesian economist Faisal Basri, World Travel and Tourism Council senior vice president Helen Marano, and TripAdvisor head of destination marketing APAC Sarah Mathews.
During his speech, Arief said that tourism is one of three digital revolutions that are currently happening besides transportation and telecommunication. Sustainable tourism has become a concern for many people in the world. Unfortunately, Arief explained that Indonesia still ranks low in environmental sustainability acceleration. He thinks deregulation is the right way to work on the sustainable tourism in Indonesia.
By the end of 2019, our government expects to see 20 million foreign visitors with earnings gained from the sector at over US$24 billion. It’s indeed a huge number. But with big data analytics resources available, we’re quite optimistic that Indonesian tourism can meet the target.
Besides, it turns out that the ministry’s decision to go digital has made the tourism industry in Indonesia increase up to 25.68 percent in 2017. Let’s pray there will be more and more foreign tourists in Indonesia in the future!