Guest Post: How marketers can do more with travel’s key datasets to navigate a cookieless world

Guest Post: How marketers can do more with travel’s key datasets to navigate a cookieless world

Sojern’s Dave Goulden says now more than ever it is vital to be focussing on the key datasets for navigating an unpredictable world post-pandemic

Data is the lifeblood of travel marketing. It informs and enables travel marketers to develop effective campaigns that generate bookings. 

However, the data landscape is changing. 

In late 2023, Google Chrome will disable third-party cookies, eliminating one of the longest-standing marketing techniques available for the 64.92% of all web traffic that runs on Chrome.

No longer will marketers be able to use third-party cookies for cross-site data collection, retargeting, and ad serving. 

In addition to cookie-related data changes, the travel industry has also changed. 

Travel brands are still working to recover from the pandemic, making direct bookings more important than ever. 

However, traveller preferences continue to evolve, making it more difficult to predict booking habits. 

To capture these bookings, marketers must understand market trends, campaign performance, and the buyer’s journey. 

It’s a challenging environment, and marketers must find new ways to work so they don’t get left behind.  

So what’s a travel marketer to do? 

Now more than ever, focusing on data-driven approaches –and the correct datasets– will give marketers the tools they need to drive direct bookings in a cookieless world.

Here are the three datasets marketers should use and how they can maximise that data.

Market trend data

Forward-looking market trend data helps travel brands benchmark consumer behaviour. 

Too often hotels rely on historical data to look forward, which is even more unreliable in a post-covid world. 

Cumulative flight and hotel searches, upcoming hotel bookings, and financial information can reveal broader industry trends to help marketers tailor campaigns to overarching wants and needs. 

Marketing partners are a great source for this type of data, especially as the world goes cookieless. 

Partners can provide real-time traveller insights to understand intent or even help marketers develop hashed email strategies. 

An email hash is a 32-character code that de-identifies an email address and allows marketers to follow that code and communicate across channels. 

Essentially, it’s a replacement for and more accurate than third-party cookies. 

For example, if real-time traveller insights indicate that travellers are searching for domestic travel to Germany during the upcoming peak summer season, brands can shift marketing budgets to domestic campaigns rather than targeting European or international travellers. 

This will ensure that potential travellers are seeing information that matches intent.

Marketing performance data

Measuring marketing and campaign performance offers unique insight into what’s working and what isn’t. 

Website performance, search, look to book, Google Analytics (and now GA4), and campaign performance data all allow marketers to test and fine-tune their funnel to entice travellers to book. This data should also be matched with current inventory. 

Just like every other industry, travel pricing is driven by supply and demand. Inventory data will help marketers understand the current market and serve up relevant and enticing offers. 

If a hotel has midweek availability, it’s important to sync up marketing efforts to fill those nights. 

For example, by using marketing performance combined with current inventory data, marketers can target past guests who have stayed at the property or those who have stayed in recent months and show intent to stay again. 

By serving up relevant and enticing offers, they can incentivise travellers to book during the week.

First-party data

First-party data that’s located in CRM, PMR, CRS, or other systems is rich information for marketers.  

Customer information, such as length of stay, revenue, app or website purchases, or other guest loyalty information enables efficient customer reactivation and provides a foundation for look-a-like prospecting. 

By leveraging historical booking data, including online and offline purchases, marketers can see who is a repeat traveller and create a tailored experience to build brand loyalty. 

Historical booking data is also a key part of data collection strategies in a cookieless world.

For example, if a traveller previously stayed at a hotel and dined at an onsite restaurant, marketers can serve a targeted SMS or WhatsApp message letting the person know about a new seasonal menu or guest chef. 

Or, they can tee up a personalised spa and dine offer to capture additional revenue from amenities. Using past stay information is a great way to surprise and delight guests–and build brand loyalty.

Marketers must find ways to navigate a cookieless world along with an ever-changing industry. 

Together, market trend, marketing performance, and first-party data create the three pillars marketers will need to be successful without the use of third-party cookies. 

When combined, marketers can identify trends, paint a full picture of the customer journey, and capture more direct bookings.