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How Hotel Marketers Can Prepare for a Cookie-less World

To market in the future, marketers must find new ways to collect and activate data.
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In 2020, Google rocked the marketing world by announcing that it was phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome. While that deadline has since been pushed to the second half of 2024, hotel marketers must still prepare for the inevitable cookie-less world and are seeing real-time value in doing it today vs. tomorrow.

To market in the future, marketers must find new ways to collect and activate data. The three pillars of data–hashed emails, first-party data, and historical booking data–together enable contextual and addressable targeting to build connected, multichannel, and cookie-less campaigns. We decided to explore the impact of one of those three pillars: 1st party data, so we conducted a survey to zero in on the largest hoteliers’ first-party strategies from around the world.

The results spoke for themselves: Namely, 81% of hoteliers said they have seen a lift in revenue as a result of implementing a first-party data strategy.

What’s so great about first-party data?

First, let’s define first-party data and what a first-party data strategy looks like. First-party data comes directly from consenting guests. It can include contact information, booking history, and demographics that come from a hotel website, social media channels, in-person interactions, and more. First-party data combines online and offline experiences and is used to understand guest behavior to increase targeting accuracy, predict behaviors, and deliver personalized experiences. A first-party data collection strategy is a hotel’s process for integrating, using, and deleting data. Most importantly every first-party data strategy must adhere to any privacy regulations in the country where the hotel guest resides.   

Many hoteliers have started on the 1st Party Data Path

Of the hoteliers we surveyed, 59% have implemented a first-party data strategy, indicating many are well on their way to cookie-less success. Of the 41% who have yet to deploy a first-party strategy, 75% want to. And for good reason. Hotel marketers believe that they can use first-party data to maximize campaign performance (73%), build stronger customer relationships (67%), maximize overall revenue growth (67%), and even increase brand value (64%). Think about it this way, when a hotel makes an effort to better know its travelers, they can create a personalized experience from the very first interaction. This not only makes guests feel more welcome from the get go, it allows the customer experience to be seamless from booking to check out. This can increase brand status, which can drive pricing power and make franchising more appealing to hotel owners.

First-party data by the numbers

More and more hoteliers are finding success with first-party data. Knowing that 81% of hoteliers surveyed said they have seen a lift in revenue as a result of implementing a first-party data strategy. Fifty-seven percent have seen a lift in guest satisfaction. The best part? As the amount of collected data grows, hoteliers can use that information to increase campaign accuracy and enable people-based marketing across devices. That’s why more than two-thirds feel confident that they’ll get more out of their data strategies in 2023.

Getting started with first-party data

Hoteliers can get started with a first-party data strategy by using the three pillars of data: Hashed emails, first-party cookies, and historical booking data.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Hashed emails come from email addresses collected by the hotelier when the person logs into the website. Those emails are hashed, meaning they are encrypted and semi-anonymized for privacy, into an unrecognizable string of characters. The hashed email ID  can be used to identify and target travelers online without using third-party cookies, allowing hoteliers to target travelers when they visit other websites.
  • Historical booking data is just that: Data is collected and stored in CRM or other systems, allowing hotel marketers to look at past stays, amenities booked, and offline interactions.
  • First-party cookies collect data about guests from the hotel website, such as language settings and other information, to give them a personalized website experience. It’s not anonymous and can help hoteliers understand traveler behavior on their site so they can create campaigns that drive bookings. Every first-party cookie is a unique traveler ID, and that ID can be shared with partners to match with hashed emails to enable retargeting.

First-party data is critical in a soon-to-be cookie-less world, and the best time to get started with a strategy is now. Hoteliers that are collecting and using first-party data are reaping the benefits of more bookings and increased traveler loyalty. When hoteliers gather the right data from across the customer journey, they can create effective multichannel campaigns that entice travelers to book time and time again. 

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