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Why identity is the passport to success for the travel industry

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The big picture 

As the travel industry looks to rebuild after what has been one of its most difficult times, marketers in the sector are bracing themselves for their next challenge – ensuring they can continue to market effectively when third-party identifiers finally die. So Epsilon surveyed them to understand if they are ready.     

Why it matters 

Targeted, relevant communications are the bedrock of successful marketing for customer acquisition and retention – and this is all built on data. But as the building blocks of digital advertising – third party cookies and device identifiers – are dismantled, travel marketers are faced with the prospect of losing access to critical data. With nearly 90% of the travel market saying they are reliant on them for targeting, personalising, and measuring their digital activity, this could significantly impact their ability to deliver effective marketing – unless they take action now. 

And marketers are concerned. The majority (58%) believe that these developments will compromise advertising effectiveness. And while 52% of travel marketers reported their organisations are "very prepared" for these changes because they can access first-party data, they need to assess how relevant, fresh, and usable it is. With so little travel taking place in the last 20 months, many companies lack good, accurate data, with much of their existing information being outdated.  

Deeper dive: What travel marketers must do to address these issues   

To safeguard future success, travel marketers must focus on developing their identity strategy around three priority areas:  

1. Build out their first-party data 

Data is king – and first-party data reigns supreme. Legislation, the demise of cookies, and browser and device changes are placing more emphasis on first-party data for digital advertising. And given its importance, 67% of travel companies are focusing on developing a first-party data strategy. After all, this data is more accurate, insightful, converts better and is essential for fostering client relationships. With travel being such a personal decision, it's critical marketers understand their customers and prospects as individuals. And fresh data brings fresh insights, with research from McKinsey & Company and Skift Research advising travel companies "to toss out many of their pre-COVID-19 customer lenses and invest in understanding customers' new perspectives and behaviours."   

2. Invest in a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Having the data is critical but achieving a true customer view is only possible when it is unified. But aligning, curating, managing, and making the data available at scale when needed is complex, with only half of travel brands capable of building a single unified traveller profile. Investing in a CDP is essential today for identity management and data activation – and 56% of travel marketers stated they are pursuing this. But not all solutions are equal. Marketers must address their identity data infrastructure weaknesses by ensuring their platform is built to manage person-level identity, and the data can be augmented with additional, relevant insights to activate personalisation at scale for precise, personalised, and timely communications.  

3. Ensure they have a stable digital identifier 

Delivering people-based advertising across the web so marketing activity realises its full potential requires travel brands to connect their first-party data to a digital identifier. Only then can they recognise and reach people in real-time at scale – be they new prospects or existing customers – and deliver authentic one-to-one communications. 44% of travel brands are investing in their ID graph. In doing so, they must ensure their identity graph offers an accurate, constantly optimised, and persistent unique identifier that is anchored in robust reference data and tied to a real person – and not reliant on third-party identifiers. 

In summary 

Travel marketers must act now to prepare for the new advertising landscape and ensure they can still deliver precision, personalised, data-driven communications going forward. But this is complex. Future-proofing their marketing requires the right combination of data, technology, and expertise, so they must ensure they choose the right vendor to support them. By doing so, they can then take advantage of the acquisition and retention opportunities that the re-emerging travel market offers.   

Explore further 

Find out how Epsilon is empowering travel brands to deliver effective data-driven marketing in a post-third-party identifier world through Epsilon PeopleCloud.