Third-party cookies are removed. Unless traders prepare, this move will disrupt the entire tourism industry. While Apple stopped keeping cookies in its Safari browser back in 2017; Google will no longer support third-party cookies from 2023.

Given the fact that 64% of global network users use Chrome, canceling Google from third-party cookies will have a deeper impact on targeting travel ads. Now 62% (according to a Phocuswright report) of their top priorities are to have tailored advertising strategies ready for a cookie-free world.

For hotels, removing cookies from third parties may seem scary, but it’s actually an amazing opportunity to build a more authentic relationship with guests using less intrusive methods. If hotels can redesign advertising strategies accordingly, they can not only capture direct bookings – they can also build brand loyalty.

The cookie breaks down, allowing hotels to go beyond outdated techniques to create a personalized experience that inspires travelers to book.

What is a cookie?

Cookies have been around for a long time – about 30 years – and are a staple in digital advertising. Used by many internet browsers, cookies are targeted and track customers on a one-to-one basis. This includes tracking website visitors, collecting data, displaying ads, redirecting, and tracking between sites. Most importantly, they help you direct direct bookings to your website. Unlike first-party cookies, which track customers on your website, third-party cookies track customers on websites and work well in an anonymous environment.

While retailers have long relied on third-party cookies, consumers have other plans. Due to requests for privacy, control and user preferences, Google has decided to stop maintaining third-party cookies. Hotel retailers need to take action before they are completely eliminated to prevent problems with campaign effectiveness and redirection. Yes, cookies have been standard for years. Yes, everything may sound like bad news. But no, you don’t really need third-party cookies after all.

Finding success first

When third-party cookies disappear, marketers need to rely more on first-party cookies than ever before – and that’s a good thing. Unlike third-party cookies, first-party cookies are the ones you use on your site. They collect data without having to log in every time you visit the site.

First-hand data comes directly from your audience, so you can be sure it’s relevant to your hotel. You can use this information to learn about the interests, preferences and behavior of your guests when booking. For example, hotels fill rooms with tourists who make up for lost time while business travel has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Armed with this data, you can predict future behavior and use this information to make informed decisions about advertising strategies.

First-hand data works well when used in conjunction with hashed emails. Hashed emails turn a passenger’s email address into a unique mix of characters to identify and direct passengers online while maintaining privacy. The third source of data you can use is historical booking data, which allows you to add offline booking data to the mix to create more in-depth customer profiles. Together, these three data sources paint a solid picture of passengers and allow retailers to direct them accordingly.

Switching to people-based marketing

While preparing for a cookie-free world requires marketers to rethink data strategies, it also requires new thinking. Instead of advertising the cookie, travel brands can use the opportunity to use people-based marketing on various devices. For example, if a passenger books a flight to Paris on a desktop computer, he or she may be shown a mobile ad for a hotel, meal, or city activity later that day. This not only makes ads more effective, but also creates an overall better user experience.

Implementing successful marketing campaigns based on people in a cookie-free world makes partnerships more important than ever. Affiliates can fill in data gaps to mix historical booking data with your first-party data and hashed email IDs to create successful re-targeting campaigns. By adding details of partners, hotel retailers can ensure that a traveler to Paris will not be shown an advertisement for a hotel room they have already booked.

A world without cookies is coming and hotel retailers need to prepare now or risk falling behind. With new data and thinking strategies, marketers can take advantage of the opportunity to build better relationships with travelers and increase brand loyalty.

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