Experts at the Travolution Summit say travel firms will get better at looking after people’s data with the dawn of GDPR laws in the European Union.
The laws, which come into effect in May 2018, mean all firms operating in the EU will have to keep records of all personal data, prove consent was given, show what it is being used for, how it is being protected, and how long it is kept for.
It has fast become a key issue for the travel industry with firms worried they may face fines for breaching complex laws unintentionally.
Nick Peart, chief marketing officer at conversion rate optimisers Cloud IQ, said: “When GDPR laws come in, fines will get bigger.
“From the day it starts, the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) will be swamped with breach notifications. They are going to drown in a sea of breach notifications.
“The simple message is: if you collect people’s data you are going to have to look after it.”
He went on to say that consumers are getting wise to companies’ use of data for marketing purposes, adding: “People are starting to realise that their data is worth something. People want to be remembered and feel like they’re being listened to.”
But he believes most companies will play by the rules and be fine. “Brands will get better at looking after data,” he added.
Raoul Lumb, technology, intellectual property and data protection lawyer for Simons Muirhead & Burton, added: “It’s a huge administrative burden; a boring thing that everyone who has a technology business will need to go through.”
Lumb said travel companies must be careful to adhere to the rules regardless of here they are headquartered as they affect companies based in the EU and those based elsewhere with customers in the bloc. But he reassured smaller companies that the rules were focussed on firms with 250 or more employees.
He compared the “travel wardens” to traffic wardens, suggesting both enforce fines on victims that feel that their treatment is overzealous and unwarranted.
Dmitrijus Konovalovas, co-founder of holiday planning site IQPlanner, said the onset of GDPR will create a risk for firms who rely on data-driven marketing.
He said IQPlanner generated 100 leads by emailing 18,000 people whose data it had, and that the GDPR rules throw into question that style of marketing.
“It’s probably an opportunity to drive brand loyalty,” he said. “But an expensive one. Inevitably a brand is risking losing customers because there is very little loyalty in travel.
“We will be using more communications to try and be more relevant and transparent.”