Traveler A steps off the plane into a connecting terminal. He immediately receives restaurant recommendations based on his location and time before his next flight.

Traveler B has just added additional miles to her loyalty plan with the airline. She receives an email that her room is ready at a preferred hotel at which she earns additional points as part of the hotel rewards program.

Both of these travelers have opted to share information about their travel preferences and purchasing behavior. They do it to receive relevant communications and earn points with preferred suppliers.

But Traveler C has chosen to opt out of his travel loyalty programs because he no longer wants his inbox to be inundated with emails about irrelevant offers. He wanted to put a stop to the unwelcome text messages bombarding his mobile phone. He was overwhelmed by noise and underwhelmed by relevancy.

According to a recent study on The Digitial Business Traveler from Sabre in partnership with the GBTA Foundation, 7 out of 10 business travelers in North America responded that receiving travel options catered to their personal preferences and travel history is “important” or “very important.”

How can you ensure that your customers continue to find value in your program and maintain their trust?

7 of 10 biz travelers say options based on preferences & history is “important” or “very important” 

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Protecting data privacy alongside personalization

A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that consumers have complex attitudes about data sharing and privacy, accepting data collection in some circumstances and rejecting it in others. For example, 47 percent of the survey’s respondents said that they’d be willing to share purchasing data via a grocery store loyalty card in exchange for discounts, but just 37 percent would place a tracking device in their cars in order to get a discount on car insurance.

The Pew Research Center found that people worry about giving up location data and will turn off GPS

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Still, there are seven steps companies can take to increase acceptance of data sharing. Here are seven of the most critical:

  1. Protect your customers from spammers and hackers: Even if your customers trust you, they don’t want to inadvertently give their data to criminals. Make sure your cybersecurity program is robust enough to protect consumer data — and that your customers know how hard you’re working to keep them safe.
  2. Be transparent about how you’ll use the data: Tell your customers how their data will enable a better experience for them. Provide specific details about the services and benefits that will come from enabling data sharing. If you plan to sell customer data to third parties, let them know. Give them the tools to make an informed decision about whether they want to accept data collection.
  3. Make it easy to opt out: Pew’s survey found that many customers thought they wouldn’t mind sharing data but became dissatisfied when they started receiving too many communications. Give them an easy way to reverse their decisions. Better to lose the data than the customer.
  4. Provide clear benefits: Customers share data when they see a benefit to them, whether it’s improved service, discounts or valuable information. Make sure your website or app communicates these benefits in plain, simple language with real-life examples if possible.
  5. Limit frequency of contact: No one wants to be bombarded with ads. Make sure your contact with clients comes in a limited, timely and relevant fashion. For instance, if you want to point out ground transportation options, do it when your customer picks up his bags, not when he’s already arrived at the hotel.
  6. Don’t turn into Big Brother: Target marketing can be powerful, but it can also turn people off if they feel that you know too much about them. People are particularly sensitive about certain kinds of data — like location, Social Security numbers and mobile phone numbers. Collect this information sparingly and only when it provides an obvious benefit.
  7. Seek customer feedback and make adjustments: Want to know how customers feel about data collection? Ask them. Make it easy for them to leave feedback on your website or through your app. If parts of your program bother customers, make the adjustments you need to keep them comfortable. For example, allow them to opt out of particular communications.

The more customer data you have, the better you’ll be able to fine-tune your products and services and deliver a better, more profitable experience. But if you turn customers off, they’ll turn you off too.

Use these 7 steps to encourage data sharing opt-in for a more personal travel experience.

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