The deadline for compliance with the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is just around the corner, and even if you’re a U.S.-based DMO, the privacy law WILL apply to you. Since you’re most likely collecting personal data in your CRM and CMS from customers or contacts in the EU, it is important to educate yourself and your team on GDPR requirements, and to review and adjust your policies and processes as needed to make sure you’re lawfully handling the data.
Don’t Get Scared, Get Prepared
It can be easy to feel intimidated or overwhelmed by the requirements of this new regulation, so we’d like to help you ease into what you need to know with this blog: build your awareness of the regulation, give you some key points to keep in mind, and some questions to start you off on reviewing your policies and processes for compliance. At the end of this blog, we’ll provide some further resources for you.
What GDPR Means to Destination Organizations
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the European Council, and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union (EU).
This means if you have any customers or contacts in the EU—and as a destination marketing organization, you probably do—how you gather information for marketing communications and how you use that information will need to be addressed and adjusted to be in compliance with GDPR. You need to ensure you’re in compliance by the stated deadline of May 25, 2018. If you’re not, you could face some hefty fines. But don’t get scared, get prepared.
Key Points for Destination Organizations to Keep in Mind
- Consent for data collection and storage: For any data you collect on an individual residing in the EU, you must have consent to collect that data and store it, and you must be able to prove that consent. Consent must be active—affirmative action by the data subject, i.e “opting in”—not passive, i.e. acceptance through pre-ticked boxes or opt-outs. You must clearly state your purpose for collecting the information, meaning how it will specifically be used. Ask yourself: Can we describe data-collection practices as transparent?
- Individual rights to data review, portability, and erasure: An EU resident can request to review and even have you delete/erase their data. You need to be able to show the data you’ve collected on an individual to that individual upon request (free of charge), within thirty days of the request, and if he or she wants their data deleted, you must be able to do this within a reasonable amount of time. A data controller must communicate to other organizations the need to delete copies of this data and links to those copies. Ask yourself: Are there clear, documented procedures in place for dealing with such requests?
- Data controllers AND processors are held responsible: A controller is defined as the person, public authority, or agency who determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data. In our world, DMOs or marketing agencies can be considered controllers. A processor is a person, public authority, or agency which processes personal data on behalf of the controller. Simpleview, for example, can be a data processor. Unlike under the previous directive, both controllers of data AND processors of data are held accountable by GDPR, and there are fines for non-compliance, starting May 25, 2018. Be sure you’re in compliance, and review that your partners are compliant as well.
- No data is grandfathered in: You must be able to show consent for any data you currently have on EU individuals, even date collected prior to the GDPR deadline. If you can’t, you need to request consent before the deadline, or delete the information. DO NOT send communication out to previously unsubscribed emails. Ask yourself: For current customers, can we demonstrate an existing customer relationship? For email subscribers, do we have records that demonstrate consent?
- Timely breach notifications: GDPR makes it compulsory to notify both users and data protection authorities within 72 hours of discovering a security breach. In some cases, affected individuals need to be notified, as well. Ask yourself: Are my current systems set up to identify a breach? Do we have a data security and data breach policy?
- Non-compliance fines: Companies can be fined up to €20MM, 23MM (USD) or 4% of their global annual turnover of the preceding financial year (whichever is higher). Other consequences could include personal damage claims, a damaged reputation, and loss of business to compliant competitors. So, there is pretty much no question that GDPR compliance is not only to the benefit of your EU customers and contacts, but also to your organization. Your customers, no matter where they reside, want to know they can trust you with their business and their personal information. Show them that they can.
More reasons the Work is Worth it
While putting in the work to ensure compliance with this new regulation may seem taxing right now, keep in mind that the steps you take to be in compliance, and to maintain compliance for your EU customers, are beneficial to your DMO as a whole, as well. At Simpleview, we stress the importance of clean data to a highly efficient CRM and CMS. We promote marketing to your visitors with content relevant to them, to increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion. We encourage working with and trusting your partners and members through the use of integrated technology and services. All of these best practices can only be strengthened by cleaning up your data by ensuring the individuals you are marketing to consented to receive information from you, and that both parties, you and the customer, are clear on what you’ll be marketing—that it will be relevant. Additionally, having policies and processes in place will document and illustrate trust and minimize misunderstandings, as will being aware that your partners are putting in the work to show they know trust is important, too.
Visit Simpleview’s GDPR landing page for more resources on compliance, including a GDPR Readiness Assessment, FAQs, and more.
Please note this blog and its content, as well as the additional guidance/resource documents, are not exhaustive resources on GDPR policy and they should not be relied on as legal advice. Because legal information is not the same as legal advice – the application of law to one’s specific circumstances, we recommend consulting a lawyer if you need legal advice on how to interpret the legislation. This content is information for awareness purposes and to inspire you to review your current policies and practices.
A look at international tourism trends on the back of a possible ‘Trump slump’
While the U.S. still makes up a sizable chunk of world travel, new data measuring 2017’s first seven months of international travel to the U.S. from the U.S. Commerce Department indicates a dip of 4 percent year-over-year.
The gut reaction, of course, is to point to a “Trump slump.” But what are the major influencers on international travel from an academic point of view?
Curious, we reached out to Robert Li, Director of the U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism & Hospitality Research and professor in the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Temple University, for some insight.
The data, coming out of Davos, shows a decrease in international travel to the U.S. in 2017–after already losing travelers in 2016. And, mostly, [the common narrative attributes this] to a “Trump slump.” But does politics have this kind of effect on other countries’ tourism industries, or is this a uniquely American problem?
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As a general observation, tourism is a fairly fragile industry, vulnerable to all different kinds of external impacts, including political issues. We have seen numerous examples where a negative political climate or controversial message caused a decrease in tourist arrivals.
Why do you think it is that the United States’ viability as a destination [might be] reliant on, say, who is president rather than what national parks or cultural amenities we have? This isn’t a new problem–George W. Bush infamously had a horrible international reputation.
I don’t necessarily agree with that assumption. I believe all of these [factors]–from visitor-friendly policies to natural and cultural resources–are important. Or, at least, I have not seen any studies showing which is more important. And they are all part of a country’s destination image, which ultimately determines our appeal to international tourists.
With that said, presidents’ and politicians’ support are crucial to the prosperity of tourism. The Obama administration was quite supportive of tourism–e.g., the Travel Promotion Act was signed into law in 2010, which created Brand USA, the country’s national destination marketing organization. And more countries joined the visa waiver program, etc. The number of international travelers entering the U.S. each year between 2009 and 2016 grew by more than 40 percent, which I believe was not a coincidence.
Are there other moments in history when politics or current affairs might’ve influenced travel?
The U.S. travel industry is no stranger to downturns, most notably the remarkable impacts of 9/11 on U.S. tourism.
The ‘IAQ’ Fast Facts
• The link between politics and travel is, from a data standpoint, tenuous. But there is some indication of a connection between current affairs and travel–see: 9/11.
• Between 2009 and 2016, international travel to the U.S. increased by 40 percent.
• U.S. cities, specifically New York and Los Angeles, are working overtime to remind international travelers that the U.S. is open to everyone.
• China has emerged as the U.S.’ No. 1 source market for tourism spending.
Does the hospitality industry, at-large, have any kind of cohesive messaging for persuading international travelers to come here? Is there any tangible advertising or messaging happening in other countries, and how is it decided what countries to advertise to if so?
I believe the American travel industry is putting great efforts to tell the world that this country continues welcoming international tourists from all over the world. After all, diversity and hospitality are part of this country’s identity.
Last October, in the Market Outlook Forum, an annual industry get-together discussing the latest trends and issues in tourism, we heard a great deal of discussion on this.
Several destinations have taken actions on this. After all, diversity and hospitality are part of the defining characteristics of this country. For instance, New York recently launched a campaign designed to “counter negative rhetoric and remind the world that New York City is open for business.” The campaign slogan is “New York City — Welcoming the World.” Los Angeles’ new ad campaign has a tagline for tourism: “Everyone is welcome.” They target people who are looking for a very authentic experience.
What are some usual deterrents for folks traveling to a country? Security? Ease of transportation?
- MORE INFREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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There are many potential travel constraints, such as financial issues, e.g., unfavorable exchange rates; lack of accessibility, including visa policy, international direct flight, language barriers, in-country transportation, etc.; distance that’s geographic or cultural; natural disasters, etc.
Safety and security are almost always the No. 1 priority for tourists. This could range from conflicts and corruption, terrorism, hostility, to war.
What country has the largest number of visitors to the U.S.? Has that changed much through the years? What are people typically traveling here for, in terms of attractions?
Canada is the U.S.’ No. 1 source market in terms of visitation or number of visitors.
The most notable change in recent years is China’s rapid rise as a key source market. China is now the country’s No. 1 source market in terms of tourism spending.
The National Travel and Tourism Office releases statistics on this. It appears, as of July 2017, most countries in the U.S.’ Top 20 source markets have seen a decline.
Destinations and attractions tourists visit vary substantially among countries. But international tourists, particularly first-timers, usually like the iconic attractions, from the Statue of Liberty to Yellowstone, from Independence Hall to Disney.
Anything you would like to add?
Tourism is not just important for the tourism industry. Considering the ripple effect of international tourist spending, tourism has profound impacts on our society’s economic and socio-cultural well-being.
Globally, international tourism is growing fast, and many countries are stepping up their game in tourism competition–see: Australia’s Super Bowl ads for one example. It is indeed disquieting that the U.S. is now facing a very sharp drop in foreign travelers.
In this video, Bronwyn White chats about her experience at the 2016 TTRA International Conference in Vail, CO USA.
What’s Old is New Again…with a Twist!
Marketing Outlook Forum, or MOF as it has come to be known, is one of two conferences produced by the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA). While the summer conference is focused on research, measurement and best practices, the MOF is focused on the “outlook” for travel in the coming years.
Although travel almost never shows a decline, it’s growth does slow from time to time, thus while travel is still expected to grow, the growth in travelers, and their associated spending, will be slower in the next couple of years than in the past few. There are several factors leading to this forecast including safety fears, and the uncertainty of the global economy. In fact, we may see fewer international travelers in the U.S. largely due to exchange rate depreciation, which is making travel to the U.S. much more expensive than in the past several years.
While the economic outlook may not be as exciting, the horizon looks bright for many other facets of the industry, particularly how we market to travelers. Last year VR (virtual reality) was barely muttered, but this year we are beyond that to AR (augmented reality) with many destinations and attractions incorporating games such as Pokemon Go into their marketing mix. Pokemon, really? Remember when Pokemon just gobbled up dots on a screen and the big innovation was Mrs. Pokemeon (not even Ms.)?
Ah, and the focus on Millennials, that group that doesn’t want to be pigeonholed and certainly does not think of themselves as homogeneous. But we persist in talking about them as this entity that have all mind melded and become a single force in travel. A Boomer reference you say – correct. If you look at Millennial behavior over time, what you’ll see are travel differences that are much more related to life stage than to generation. DK Shifflet saw the exact same thing with Boomers. Thus, as the coveted Millennials age, their travel habits are much more likely to resemble Boomers. The difference with this group, however, is that they were raised by Boomers, one of the most traveled generations ever. Thus, Millennials are early adopters of travel and are therefore more experienced travelers than generations before them. The result is that they are looking for new adventures, which many find by traveling outside the U.S. This trend is likely to continue.
Accommodations also have a new face in the “Sharing Economy”, but the concept and practice of renting a vacation home is decades old. Some very smart people have just taken the concept, combined it with technology and viola Airbnb and VRBO/HomeAway were born. The ongoing question is how will the availability of accommodations on these home sharing sites impact the hotel industry. Will they cut into existing hotel room-nights? Will they generate additional room-nights that would not have existed otherwise? This was the topic on which I presented and the answers to these questions are still a bit fuzzy. While the complete answers are complicated and nuanced, what we know is that the percentage of people booking on Airbnb and VRBO has increased over the past year and those who have stayed in these accommodations enjoy their experiences and plan to book again. We also know that overall GenX is the most likely generation to book these types of accommodations, followed by Millennials and Boomers.
This was an incredibly thought-provoking conference one that left me wondering what travel will look like twenty years from now. Will we sit in the safety of a pod and take virtual vacations anywhere we dream, or will we surround ourselves with holograms providing all the luxuries travel has to offer, or pile into our driverless transport and enjoy the ride to……infinity and beyond?