It’s no secret that travelers want a personalized experience, but they’re only willing to give up so much privacy to get it. Seventy-one percent of consumers expect personalization, however; 68% are concerned about the amount of data companies collect. To meet customer expectations, hotels must find the balance between personalization and privacy, and the ones that get it right will uncover a massive opportunity to create the kind of customer experience that keeps travelers coming back for years to come.
Now, many hotels are turning to first-party data to interact with travelers and create personalized touch points throughout the user journey. But first-party data alone isn’t a silver bullet. Hotels must paint a full picture of their guests, and piecing together the full traveler persona requires context.
The Challenge of Privacy
A cookieless world is coming, which means hotels must focus on the issue of data privacy.
Safari and Firefox already block third-party cookies, with Chrome, the leading internet browser in the world, set to do the same in late 2024. Approximately 65% of web traffic runs through chrome, so this shift will have a huge effect on the marketing industry. Now hoteliers must shift their strategies away from third-party cookies and collect data in a way that’s compliant with restrictions and regulations.
Currently, GDPR governs European data privacy, 24 US states either have proposed legislation or already have legislation in place, and 57% of countries in Asia Pacific have data privacy and protection legislation in place. However, these rules continually change and, as more countries look to canonize data privacy laws, marketers must stay ahead of the curve. Outside of regulatory requirements, consumers value their privacy, which means hotels must provide a value exchange for the data they collect. To stay compliant while meeting or exceeding customer expectations, hotel marketers must collect data with consent. Consumers must know what data is being collected, how it’s used, and for what purpose. They also need to be able to opt out of data collection and subsequent marketing campaigns. This may become more prevalent as AI comes to the forefront of our industry, it can recognize patterns to make predictions as to whether a user who bought was advertised to with limited or no personally identifiable data.
Collecting and Activating First-Party Data
Customers want a connected, personalized experience–and hotel marketers are using first-party data to get there. Not only can first-party data adhere to privacy regulations and give consumers the experiences they want, a first-party data strategy can increase revenue and loyalty. According to a recent report, 81% of hotels have seen a lift in revenue once a first-party data strategy is implemented; 57% have seen a lift in guest satisfaction.
Collecting first-party data is just a first step. Hotel marketers must then analyze and activate that data to extract value. However, that data can’t be analyzed in a silo. That data needs context. Context from outside datasets will allow hoteliers to understand the entire path to purchase and deliver personalized messaging in the moment to inspire travelers to book.
Get Personalization and Privacy at Scale
In the past, delivering personalized experiences at scale sacrificed data privacy. However, maintaining compliance with strict data privacy standards and reaching travelers in a cookieless world has changed how marketers collect data and remarket to potential travelers. However, with the rise of first-party data and marketing partners who have access to larger datasets, hoteliers can have both privacy and personalization–but only if they share data with data partners and technology providers. When hoteliers enrich their first-party data with other traveler data from data partners, they can paint a complete picture of customer profiles that delivers the experiences they want while ensuring customer privacy is both protected and valued.
First-party data is the path forward in a cookieless world. By leveraging first-party data and the right partner ecosystem, hotel marketers can cultivate long-term, loyal relationships that are built on trust.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Beckwith is Sojern’s Managing Director Global Strategic Accounts and Partnerships, based in London. Josh leads data acquisition and management, global strategic accounts, technology partnerships including booking engines, property management systems, and channel managers and international agency strategy. Josh has spent 15 years in media, marketing and marketing research including over a decade of international experience before returning to the UK.