Understanding Zero, First, Second, and Third-Party Data: A Comprehensive Guide for Hoteliers

Andrew McCartney
March 26, 2024

Data reigns supreme as the compass guiding hospitality brands to their desired destinations. Yet, not all data is created equal. From the familiar shores of first-party data to the quickly diminishing territory of third-party data, understanding the nuances of each type is essential for hotels seeking to chart a course towards success.

In this post, we’ll explore the distinctions between zero, first, second, and third-party data, providing relevant examples for hospitality brands and actionable tips for leveraging these insights.

Zero-Party Data: The Voice of the Guest

Prior to checking in, guests receive welcome messages inviting them to complete a brief survey about their stay preferences. The guest provides detailed information about their room preferences, dietary restrictions, and desired amenities, allowing you to anticipate their needs and deliver a truly bespoke experience.

Zero-party data represents the purest form of guest interaction. While first-party data often steals the spotlight, zero-party data is when individuals willingly and proactively share information directly with hotels. Unlike first-party data, guests actively provide zero-party data through surveys and preference centers.


  • Surveys: Gain knowledge of a guest’s preferences, interests, and travel aspirations by asking them to tell you. By understanding what truly resonates with a guest, you can deliver tailored recommendations, personalized offers, and customized experiences at every touchpoint.
  • Preference Centers: When guests willingly share their information with you, they entrust you with their preferences and expectations. 

Zero-party data empowers you to reclaim control over channel intermediators such as OTAs. When you engage guests directly and tailor offers based on their preferences, you can make booking direct the clear-cut choice and reduce dependency on third-party booking platforms.

First-Party Data: The Foundation of Guest Relationships

Consider a guest who books a room through your hotel's website, providing their contact information, booking dates, and room preferences. You utilize this first-party data to segment your audience, send targeted email offers, and tailor promotional campaigns based on past interactions and preferences, ultimately increasing conversion rates and driving direct bookings.

First-party data represents the lifeblood of hotel marketing, comprising the information you collect directly from guests during interactions with your website or other owned channels. From booking histories to website interactions, every data point paints a vivid picture of guest behavior, preferences, and booking patterns, serving as the cornerstone of personalized marketing strategies and guest engagement efforts.


  • Booking History: Analyzing guests' past booking history allows you to tailor promotional offers, loyalty programs, and special packages to individual preferences.
  • Guest Profiles: Building comprehensive guest profiles with information such as demographics, travel preferences, and communication preferences enables targeted marketing campaigns and personalized guest experiences.
  • Email Subscriptions: After guests subscribe to your hotel’s email newsletter, they’re looped into upcoming content, events, and special offers.

Curacity enhances hotels' ability to collect and leverage first-party data through our guest acquisition platform. Our tailored, targeted content placements always include a link to your hotel website, encouraging guests to book directly and enabling you to gather first-party data from the incremental bookings generated.

Second-Party Data: Strategic Alliances for Enhanced Insights

Second-party data refers to information shared between trusted partners or affiliates, providing access to a broader pool of audience insights. Hotels can leverage second-party data through strategic partnerships with complementary brands and businesses, enhancing their understanding of potential guest behavior and preferences.


  • Co-Branded Partnerships: Collaborating with airlines, rental car companies, or local attractions allows you to exchange guest data and insights, enabling more targeted marketing efforts and cross-promotional campaigns.
  • Influencer Marketing: Partnering with travel bloggers and social media influencers provides access to their audience data, allowing you to reach new segments and drive bookings through targeted promotions.

By working with Curacity, your hotel gets exposure to the email subscriber lists (second-party data) of 40 of the world’s best media outlets, dramatically expanding your reach and driving new audiences to your website where they can book directly.

Third-Party Data: Broad Insights from External Sources

Consider running social media ads using a lookalike audience based on your website visitors and guest profiles. While useful for broad audience targeting, third-party data lacks the specificity and personalization you can get with the other data types mentioned here.

Third-party data encompasses information collected by external sources, such as data brokers, social media platforms, and advertising networks. While valuable for enriching audience insights and targeting capabilities, third-party data presents challenges in terms of accuracy, privacy, and compliance.

Examples for Hotels:

  • Demographic Data: Utilizing demographic information from third-party sources allows hotels to target specific audience segments based on factors such as age, income, and interests.
  • Behavioral Data: Analyzing online behavior data from third-party sources provides insights into consumer preferences, interests, and purchase intent, enabling targeted advertising campaigns and personalized marketing strategies.

With the demise of third-party cookies, technology platforms like Curacity can help you mirror the retargeting abilities lost by cookies, such as getting you access to targeted content distribution and engagement tracking.

The bottom line

In conclusion, zero, first, second, and third-party data each play a unique role in the marketing arsenal of hoteliers. By leveraging a combination of these data types, hotels can gain valuable insights into guest behavior, personalize marketing campaigns, and deliver exceptional guest experiences. However, prioritizing collecting and utilizing first-party and zero-party data allows hotels to build trust, respect guest privacy, and drive long-term loyalty in an increasingly data-driven industry. 

By understanding the nuances of each data type and embracing a data-driven marketing approach, hoteliers can unlock new opportunities for growth, differentiation, and success in the dynamic and competitive hospitality landscape.

Ready to build first-party data? Download our free ebook, Navigating the Cookieless Future, for actionable insights and strategies for hoteliers.

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