PRIvacy-aware personal data management and Value Enhancement for Leisure Travellers (PriVELT)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Kent
Department Name: Sch of Computing


The consumption of a seamless travel experience requires travellers to share their personal data with numerous individual travel and tourism service providers. There is a general lack of guidelines on how travellers should manage their data sharing activities while travelling, which lead to two unwanted situations: 1) travellers simply share their data without understanding the privacy and security risks and consequences; 2) travellers become over-worried about such risks so that they stop sharing data, which reduce their overall travel experience and prevent organisations to provide better (more personalised) services. The wide spectrum of data sharing with many entities including on social media, instant messaging and other online social platforms makes the situations worse as travellers often cannot see a big picture of how they have shared their data in the past to adapt their data sharing behaviour.

PriVELT will address the two-sided challenges associated with offering a seamless and highly personalised end-to-end travel experience while balancing the privacy and security needs of leisure travellers. On the one hand, travel service providers need to identify effective ways to incentivise travellers to share personal data in exchange of tangible benefits such as higher quality service, personalised offers, discounts, or add-on services. On the other hand, travellers need to better manage the sharing of their personal data to minimise privacy-related risks while optimising value from a seamless travel experience. Therefore, PriVELT aims to develop an innovative user-centric and privacy-aware digital platform that will empower leisure travellers to better manage the sharing of their personal data with travel service providers and other entities and foster new business opportunities for the travel and tourism industry through encouraging better (more transparent and effective) usage of travellers' data.

PriVELT will develop the user-centric platform based on a holistic socio-technical framework of privacy-related traveller behaviour. The framework will provide intervention points to effectively nudge travellers to share their personal data more responsibly. PriVELT draws from theories in social sciences, including consumer psychology and behavioural economics, to better explain how consumers make decisions to disclose personal information in exchange for values. PriVELT also considers travellers' psychological limitation, such as limited understanding of privacy risks, which may induce irrational behaviour in privacy-related decision-making process while traveling.

In order to achieve its aim, PriVELT's research will be interdisciplinary, co-created, theory-informed, evidence-based, user-centric, and real world-facing. PriVELT will combine both social and technical methods to collect and analyse data, integrating focus groups and interviews with relevant stakeholders, a panel survey, lab-based user studies, and field studies with real domestic and international travellers (end users) to identify and apply an array of effective nudging strategies to inform travellers with risks and consequences of sharing personal data while traveling.

One of the key outcomes will be a digital platform that will be used for: 1) monitoring travellers' data sharing activities; 2) enhancing situational awareness of privacy risks related to data shared; 3) providing an innovative way of achieving dynamic consent management for participants, allowing dynamic updating of the consent while travelling; ; 4) providing better recommendations for travellers to adapt their data sharing behaviours. The digital platform will be composed of three main components: 1) tools at the traveller (user/client) side in the form of a mobile app, 2) an infrastructure and tools at the server side for anonymised data aggregation and analytics purposes, and 3) the API and user interfaces for consumers of data shared by travellers.

Planned Impact

The Je-S form's "Academic Beneficiaries" field explains the expected academic impact in detail, so here we focus on economic and societal impact.

PriVELT will benefit leisure travellers by 1) empowering them with better management of personal data through enhanced knowledge and control of the sharing of personal data with trusted stakeholders while traveling; 2) informing them about the risks and consequences of oversharing personal data; 3) providing them opportunities to obtain tangible benefits, such as personalised offers, discounts, add-on services, etc., in exchange of sharing personal data; 4) providing them with a seamless end-to-end travel experience through better service integration. In a longer term, with a continuous use of our platform, controlled personal data sharing can be habit forming. Therefore, PriVELT can help foster a more responsible personal data management behaviour and culture amongst citizens for a safer cyber-physical environment.

PriVELT will benefit various stakeholders, including travel service providers (airlines, hotels, tour operators, cruise, tourism marketers, travel agents, etc.), government bodies, and other related industries (insurance, banking, retail). Travel service providers will be able to take advantage of the innovative and efficient ways of improving their services from a better (more transparent and effective) use of travellers' data through intelligent personalisation solutions. Further, PriVELT will facilitate the coordination among various stakeholders to deliver a seamless end-to-end travel experience. This will create opportunities for travel service providers to enhance their service or create new service offerings for travellers. As a result, PriVELT will play a role in stimulating the growth of the travel and tourism industry in the UK and worldwide.

Additionally, travel and tourism stakeholders will benefit from serving more responsible customers, hence reducing risks of misuse of personal data, which may have future consequences on their infrastructure and other customers. This benefit can extend to relevant industries who may serve leisure travellers along their journey.

Our findings regarding user responses to incentives and dynamic consent management will inform government authorities (e.g., border control) and other stakeholders in the travel and tourism industry such as Expedia (member of our SG) to design better interfaces when obtaining travellers' personal data to enhance trust and encourage compliance. This benefit can be generalised for other designers of user interfaces involving the capturing and storage of user personal data.

Vendors and service providers offering predictive analytics and business/marketing intelligence solutions such as (member of our SG) will benefit from PriVELT's knowledge base (based on theory and empirical research) and the automated approach (based on artificial intelligence) to contextualisation and personalisation applied in the development of our software tool. These vendors will have opportunities to improve their solutions and/or create new platforms.

International and local travel and tourism organisations such as World Travel & Tourism Council (member of our SG) will benefit from PriVELT as the developed socio-technical framework will provide a more effective way to foster coordination among tourism businesses and collaboration with government to raise awareness of privacy risks and to induce responsible data management behaviour.

Economically speaking, the project can help 1) prevent or reduce costs of misuse of personal data by empowering leisure travellers to make informed decisions; 2) improve efficiency in travel service personalisation through intelligent personalisation solutions; 3) create new business opportunities that contribute directly to the economy; 4) government and communities ensure safety of citizens while traveling overseas, thus reduce costs of risk alleviation.


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