‘Demand planning’ for travel refers to the use of advanced methods to estimate or forecast the transportation usage of a specific transport facility at a destination. The main objective of using this model of traffic forecast is to put in place a relevant transportation policy and plan development programs for the infrastructure of the area. The conventional method of forecasting travel and transportation has been a four-step model that— first determines the number of trips in a zone called trip generation; followed by trip distribution so that originating points and destinations can be matched; analysis of the mode choice that pertains to use of a particular mode; and finally, route assignment that connects all the three above.
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Dividing the area into zones
This step is called ‘zoning’, focused on dividing said geographical region into small-sized zones with a unique number assigned to each zone. The number of zones shouldn’t exceed 1000 for the zone analysis.
Drawing up of the transit route
The next step is to draw a network of transit routes on the zone map. The points where the routes intersect are called ‘nodes’ where each node is defined by a unique numerical value. The routes are then defined by the starting node number and the ending node number.
Trip generation estimation
Next, transportation engineers calculate the trip generation. This is based on a two-model system – one, the trip production where trips are calculated to and from the zone for home-based trips; second, attraction trip-based model that calculates the trips to and from the zone for non-home-based trips. Multiple regression analysis techniques are used for the calculation of trips in the attraction model. Trend analysis of the past traffic trends is done to evaluate future travel prospects. Future growth of transportation facilities is also considered while estimating trends.
Distribution of trips
Using Newton’s Law of Gravity, the trip distribution model is developed. Peak period travel times are used as a measure. Travel-related costs like— parking, the operational cost of running vehicles, and toll charges are used for estimating the effects of trip distribution on costs.
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The use of the Logit Model is also done for a better understanding of trips in and out of destination zones. The Logit Model is based on the assumption that a said mode of transportation will be chosen for a particular trip depending on the costs of other modes and the comparative service levels. The cost of travel and the time taken to travel is then aggregated in a way to determine the cost of time that forms the basis of preparing the mode choice travel for different economic sections of the society.
Estimating and assignment of trips
While the trip distribution and the choice of the model are entirely based on mathematical calculations, the trip assignment is done through an algorithm-based model. It is prepared based on time taken for traffic movement along each route. The ‘All-Or-Nothing’ model assigns the trip to routes that require minimal travel time.
Though it is not used to a great extent these days except for determining travel desire corridors, it is the capacity restrained model that is used for assigning trips in the modern-day. This model assigns a part of the trip to a network while there is another complementary method that assigns all trips to all zone pairs Then the travel times are recalculated to determine the maximum speed using speed-volume functions.
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Calibrating and validating the model
Calibration is all about the development of a travel model. This makes use of a model equation by estimating the coefficients and constants of dependent and independent variables. All this is done by using statistical advanced software programs.
Travel demand forecasting is one of the most important tools used for making plans and policies on transportation. The transport departments of cities and states are dependent on these estimates to decide, design and implement transportation policies and programs.
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