Navigating new data collection techniques



Post-COVID life is a new world for hoteliers, and in the highly anticipated travel boom, there are many new factors for a hotelier to consider, including the implementation of new privacy policies and laws.

While consumer privacy has been a challenge since the dawn of digital marketing, users have become increasingly aware of data tracking, and as the market continues to change, hoteliers must consider a new approach to data-collection techniques. Here are just a few of the newest privacy policies and laws in place, as well as an examination of how hoteliers can alter their data collection techniques to meet shifting requirements while ensuring digital marketing strategies remain successful.

With the iOS 14.5 update on April 26, Apple is now enforcing a Tracking Transparency Prompt for all apps in its App Store. Users will have the option to block the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), meaning that iOS will hide a user’s personal information while still providing in-app data. While users have always been able to opt-out of data collection manually, Apple’s newest policy has made it much easier to do so, and the opt-in rate has dropped from an estimated 70% to around 5%.

The impacts of Apple’s newest update include reduced tracking capabilities and reduced personalization, which may make it more difficult to measure the success of advertising campaigns.

Even prior to Apple’s Tracking Transparency Prompt, data privacy should have always been built into any marketing solution considered by a hotelier. Trust and transparency are the top priority for consumers, who value safety and the enhancement of their digital experience. By informing users on the type of data being collected, why it’s being collected, and how it’s used, hoteliers will find that consumers will feel more at ease opting into data collection.

Although increasing transparency will prevent users from opting out of data collection, a decline in Apple users opting in is inevitable. Therefore, hoteliers must look for an alternative data collection method. More often, travel brands are working with smart-data providers to create innovative, consent-based methods to identify, profile, and categorize consumers. One such method is the implementation of Smart Wi-Fi, a tool that requires a guest to accept the terms of use before accessing a hotelier’s internet. Once signed up, a profile is created in the smart-data provider’s database, which is often connected to a worldwide system. Because industry-leading smart-data providers have thousands of hotspots available globally, when a hotelier’s guest logs into any of these, further information is compiled to create an increasingly complete data profile. Not only must hoteliers utilize alternative data collection, but they must strategically use the data collected. After creating guest profiles, industry-leading smart-data providers offer features to implement ad content without connecting to a third-party ad publisher.

Browser-based, desktop-focused cookies have played a key role in data-driven marketing techniques, and the implications of its removal are enormous.

Last year, Google introduced plans to go cookieless by 2022. In March, they announced that they won’t introduce alternative identifiers to track individuals. Not only will this policy affect Chrome, but Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari will also begin to block third-party cookies by default.

There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. While third-party live within a user’s device, first-party cookies live on a singular domain. First party-cookies, which are blocked by only 5% of web users, are useful in their own right. Hoteliers can still identify visitors returning to their website and store user preferences. But even after shifting a marketing strategy toward first-party cookies, the elimination of third-party cookies means new methods must be found to connect behavior across several websites during a long period of time.

Contextual marketing may help close the information gap left by third-party cookies. Tying a content strategy with a hotelier’s brand, destination, and competitors have always been vital, but when tracking a campaign’s success is difficult to measure, contextual targeting will always ensure hoteliers are reaching users actively engaging with similar content.

On the heels of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations come a wave of U.S. privacy acts. The passing of the California Consumer Privacy Act was followed by bills introduced in Virginia, New York, and Colorado, with more likely on the way.

Not only must hoteliers ensure compliance in each state, but they must tailor their data collection services and marketing strategies to meet specific regional needs.

In the wake of the newest laws and regulations, content and creativity will return as key factors for future digital marketing strategy. A focus on loyalty marketing, which is opt-in and permission based, may play a key role in navigating the new digital marketing field and can provide hoteliers with valuable customer data information.

Partnering with a smart data provider may help a hotelier build out their loyalty marketing techniques. Leading smart data providers offer built-in loyalty options, including smart Wi-Fi, AI, and facial recognition services. In turn, these further develop guest profiles, allowing hoteliers to continue creating smart, effective, data-driven marketing campaigns.

Policies and legislation surrounding data privacy will continue to evolve and may threaten to unravel a hotelier’s digital marketing strategy if preventive measures aren’t taken. In addition to utilizing the newest technologies, hoteliers hoping to ensure a secure digital marketing strategy should also map out the personal data processing operations in place. Upon clarifying which newly introduced legislation will affect a hotelier, determining the level of compliance necessary is an important factor to consider, and proper plans should be put in place to ensure the swift enaction of a new digital marketing strategy upon the passing of new legislation.

As advertising technology continues to develop, a shift in marketing strategies is inevitable. By utilizing the right data providers, hoteliers can ensure continual compliance with developing legislation, while simultaneously delivering effective marketing campaigns.

David Tyre serves as VP of Business Development – North America for Zoox Smart Data, an international technological solutions provider, and he has more than 15 years of experience in hospitality technology solutions, Wi-Fi managed services, network operations, and management. He can be reached at studio/.


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