The Travel Industry Hungers for Traveler’s Personal Information

Nov 9, 2020 | General Information

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a digital arms race in the travel industry. It’s the inevitable result of the ongoing digital and mobile revolution. Competition among online travel agencies, Google and Facebook is so fierce that every possible strategy is at work to identify and attract you the traveler and retain your loyalty.

The top travel industry strategy is acquiring and using data to enhance destination experiences for travelers. This strategy involves “targeting” travelers: acquiring and using personal information to create the profiles of potential customers and then smart machines use algorithms to match these profiles with destination travel options. You have no control over how these travel companies handle or monetize your personal information or who they distribute it to.

Without your permission, this process earns a great deal of revenue for online travel companies. How? By attracting advertisers who want to reach the people whose profiles match their target customers. In other words, online travel companies and businesses selling every kind of product and service (including travel) are partners in business deals focused on your personal data. The only benefit for travelers is getting free online search for activities, tours, accommodations and other travel services.

Tom Barefoot’s Tours is an exception to this unfortunate travel industry story. We don’t collect, analyze, sell or trade your personal data or use it to design advertising. In fact, 45 years in business and we don’t even advertise. As you know, travelers can find us through search engines like Google, but we don’t pay for that service and there is no quid pro quo. Even “Activity Match™” — the technology in our website that enables you to personalize your travel experiences in Hawaii – doesn’t save your personal preferences or any other personal information.

Every stage of a traveler’s journey is generating valuable data that travel companies are collecting, connecting the dots and using data analytics to turn these connected-dots into profitable insights. The use of personal data for the purpose of travel and activities marketing is a very big global business getting bigger and more sophisticated every day. For a simple example, when snow is forecast, information systems automatically notify skiers about which resorts have it. When flights are cancelled, passengers are notified about locations near airports to spend time while grounded. is an exception to these trends. Let’s say you want to select several activities on Oahu, for example, a biking tour in the morning, kayaking in the afternoon, and a dinner show with hula dancing. Based on your selections, the filters in our website’s Activity Match™ will present all of your choices for booking, including when and where to start the day, pickup at a hotel and meals if desired, and more. Selecting and booking these activities is simple. Making choices in Activity Match™ defines the kind of experience you want on a day in paradise but, guaranteed, we share none of it with any other business. You own the information, not Tom Barefoot’s Tours( or anyone else.