Commentary

Privacy, Please: Another Challenge For Travel Marketers

CCPA. GDPR.

In case you don’t recognize them, these are acronyms for marketers to be aware of, both revolving around privacy, a tough and complex issue that all businesses will have to confront in the near future. 

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is European Union legislation that offers data protection and privacy. And CCPA is the California Consumer Privacy Act, which took effect on Jan.1 and provides similar safeguards to those of GDPR.

Both initiatives emerged in response to increasing fears by consumers that their personal information was being not only collected but sold, and then used to target them in advertising -- or worse. In a recent survey of 2000 consumers by DataGrail, a privacy monitoring company, four out of five people agreed there should be a national privacy law to protect their personal information, and 83% expected to have control over how their data is used at a business.

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There’s no question consumers are highly tuned in to the potential invasions of their privacy. According to DataGrail, 82% have concerns about businesses monitoring or collecting data from their devices. And this is where it could hurt: 77% would stop shopping at their favorite retailer if they found out they did not keep their personal data safe. Finally, seven in 10 want to deny businesses the ability to sell their data to third parties, and 73% would pay more to online services to ensure they didn’t sell or use their data for marketing.

And California is only the beginning, with multiple other states having developed their own regulations. Even if you are not headquartered in California, you might be affected if you do business there. 

Daniel Barber, CEO and founder of DataGrail,  said that as marketers continue to invest in technology they are collecting personal data across myriad points in their organizations, making it difficult to know where the data is and how any specific consumers might want it used. “We’ve arrived at an age of privacy where the consumer expects privacy and control of personal data,”  he said.

Travel marketers are particularly vulnerable in some ways, according to Barber. He said one clear example is loyalty programs, a major marketing channel. Airlines sell member data to third parties, a solid source of revenue. But a DataGrail survey showed that organizations don’t even know where information sought by consumers is. 

The first step DataGrail takes when hired by a company is to understand the systems they have; second, to get a picture of what kind of data exists in those systems. The data might be in an ad network, a customer support ticket, a shipping order -- or in many other places. The DataGrail platform delivers continuous compliance to mitigate privacy violation risk. 

The good news, said Barber, is that consumers are fairly comfortable with companies using their data -- but “they just want to know how it’s being used.” In fact, he said, there is a potential competitive advantage available for travel marketers. If they provide transparency to consumers about what is being done with their information, that will generate trust and loyalty.

With CCPA kicking it off, 2020 may be the Year of Privacy. It should also be the year marketers take notice — and take action.

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