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“Why do we need third-party data if we already know who our customers are and what they are booking?” This is a question often posed in the travel industry, where companies generally have robust first-party data due to the information that customers must provide in the booking process. Robust second-party data is also prevalent from loyalty programs and co-branded credit cards.

But there are some good cases for using third-party data in the travel industry. and there are key data types that are best supplied by third-party data providers.

Ideal customer data model

The ideal customer data model contains data from first-party sources such as customer history, brand, customer value, and behaviors. It also includes second-party data from travel loyalty-branded credit card programs, and possibly media partners. However, to fully understand a customer, third-party data is integral. While customers may provide high-level demographic data directly to a company, detailed data regarding demographics, geographics, psychographics, and category attitudes is more readily available by working with third-party data providers.

Use Case 1: Customer persona development



For travel companies to truly understand how and what to communicate to its customers, they must first move beyond broad targeting based on general demographics such as 35- to 45-year-old married females with kids under 10 to targeting based on fully developed and understood personas. To do this, travel companies need to understand the different types of customers that exist within its data base.

A multi-dimensional approach is needed to truly understand the customer base. Third- party, first-party, and second-party data are all integral to this approach. Companies that have implemented this approach have been able to not just only create targeted and personalized messaging, but also to use the customer segmentation to drive marketing plans based on customer value and product/location affinity. Third-party data can also be used to find look-a-likes for each of the existing customer segments within a prospect data pool. This allows for acquisition and retention campaigns to align with messaging and targeting.

Use Case 2: Identifying travel intent

Third-party data can provide the travel industry with timely information regarding customer behavior. As customers began to travel as COVID lockdowns started to lift, many companies struggled to determine which customers were ready to receive vacation offers and which customers would think the company was being irresponsible. There was no historical data that could answer this question. This is where third-party providers stepped in (especially those with online search and purchase data).

They were able to provide lists of customers who had searched for travel bookings within a recent time period. When matched to a companies’ customer database or used to create a prospect list, this data helped assure that the right customers and prospects were being targeted with travel offers.

Use Case 3: Determining which destination to offer

One key question is which destination to offer to which customers and when. To help develop lists for which customers to target for which destination, two approaches can help to do create these audiences:

1)  Use geo-location data to determine which customers have spent time in these destinations in the past. The idea behind this approach is that customers often visit places within their comfort zones rather than trying new locations all the time. This is a great approach within an industry when new destination for which there is no customer history are being added to a companies’ portfolio.

2) Use historic customer data. Third-party demographic, lifestyle, and psychographic data is appended to lists of customers who have visited a specific destination. A clone model to help find more customers or prospects who look like customers who visited the destination is then built. Multiple destination models can be combined to help create a decision tree to identify the best offer for each customer or prospect. This has been used within the industry to help prioritize marketing by destination.

Examples of successful applications of third-party data within the travel industry are numerous. Want to talk with our strategy experts about how third-party data can help you? Contact us here.