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04/23/2021

Hotel Marketers: Embrace the Shift to First-Party Data

As the shift to first-party data evolves, hospitality companies still have time to properly prepare their marketing strategies by adjusting their expectations, setting new KPIs and implementing privacy-first data compliant tactics.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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Privacy is a hot topic among consumers. From finance and healthcare to retail and hotel stays, consumers want to know who has access to their data, what they’re using it for and if their data is safe. Digital marketing, in the hospitality industry, is no exception. So, how can hoteliers respond to data privacy concerns and embrace the shift to first-party data, as a way to build relationships/experiences with travelers? To find out, Hospitality Technology spoke with Luka Cempre, senior data scientist at Adswerve.

How should travel companies respond to data privacy concerns among consumers?

Today’s consumers expect transparency from brands and want to be comfortable knowing how their data is used and shared. Like any other brand, travel companies and their ad partners are impacted by the planned phase-out of third-party cookies and new concerns around data privacy. Many consumers want to be able to opt-in or opt-out of how companies or advertisers can use and share their data, and without providing transparency and privacy protections upfront, consumers will look to other competitors. To overcome this challenge, travel companies must focus on new strategies to create memorable digital experiences for consumers while complying with new data privacy regulations. By aligning digital marketing and advertising efforts with data privacy now, travel companies can prepare for a more organic and transparent relationship with consumers and build key, long-lasting connections moving forward.

Why should hospitality embrace the shift to first-party data?

The hospitality industry not only should embrace the shift to first-party data, but they must embrace it. The inevitable shift away from third-party cookies and toward first-party data online is already in progress, and hospitality companies that don’t make changes to accommodate a first-party data strategy will get left behind. Luckily for the hospitality industry, first-party data already plays a big role for companies, so they now need to apply online what they’ve been doing offline for years. As the shift to first-party data evolves, hospitality companies still have time to properly prepare their marketing strategies by adjusting their expectations, setting new KPIs and implementing privacy-first data compliant tactics. In fact, hospitality leaders shouldn’t be afraid of the first-party data landscape, because performance is not necessarily at odds with privacy. The best way to make changes is to start by taking control of already existing internal data and hiring talented experts that can bring the data together and understand how to best use it.

How will companies need to change the way they market and think about marketing?

While the hospitality industry was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for travel and vacation experiences is already beginning to rebound in the U.S. To keep up with this demand, companies have had to embrace new digital marketing strategies to unlock data insights and learn more about what today’s travelers want. For example, Twiddy & Company, an Outer Banks vacation rental company, was able to take advantage of their first party data in the Google Cloud Platform in order to improve conversion rates and keep up with demand for travel as restrictions were released. By shifting their focus to leverage first-party data using the Google Cloud Platform and working with Adswerve to analyze this data to better understand their customers, Twiddy & Company was able to increase the conversion rates as well as the total number of bookings in the past year. This new marketing strategy and mindset shift at Twiddy can be a lesson to other travel companies about the power of transparent data practices in digital marketing, especially during a time where data privacy is a top concern.