From data to insight

The digital night register offers current and continuous insight in overnight stay in your municipality or region for policy making, planning and city marketing

Tourism is ‘big business’

The number of tourists visiting the Netherlands is growing steadily. The community and government are receiving the economic benefits. But there is also a downside. Popular cities are dealing with increasing pressure on the inner city due to large numbers of visiting tourists. Also, more and more municipalities want to get a grip on renting out private homes to tourists via platforms such as Airbnb. For effective monitoring and policy making, municipalities need more than the periodical reports based on sample measurements can offer.

It starts with insight

VisitorData collects data digitally from accommodation providers. The collected data consists of information that accommodation providers are already required to register by Dutch Law. The collected data is transformed into insights, and presented in an easily accessible format via an online portal. From insight one can work on policies concerning city marketing, new ways of providing overnight accommodation and new areas for the geographical distribution of tourists within a municipality or region. Insight is also necessary for control and law enforcement. Registration of visitors and monitoring trends can help uncover misuse.

Dutch law as legal basis

The digital night register follows the legal obligation that requires accommodation providers to keep a night register and to share (on request) the recorded data with the city council. The data that is used for the digital night register is a subset of the data that is already collected, so there is no additional administrative burden for the accommodation provider. In many cases, the administrative burden is lessened because data is gathered and processed automatically. No personal details are used for the digital night register, so privacy is not an issue. Thus a legal framework is already in place and the digital night register is an innovative and efficient means of collecting the required (anonymous) data.

Types of accommodation

The digital night register can be used for insight in professional accommodation providers, such as hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, short stay and campings. Also, the digital night register can be used for easy registration of the renting out of a private home. This works best in combination with a specific legal basis in the municipality, dealing with renting out private homes. The national and local legal frameworks offer many ways to gather data on any type of accommodation.

VisitorData, your knowledge partner

VisitorData is your knowledge partner with regard to the legal frameworks, data collection and generating insight in overnight stay in your municipality. We are well connected in the sector with the interest organizations KHN and RECRON. We collect and process data from hundreds of accommodation providers in the municipalities where the digital night register is already operational.

  • Municipality/region
  • Accommodation provider


To formulate policy on accommodations and overnight stay as well as for effective city marketing, individual municipalities as well as regions and provinces are in search of actual data and insights: how many people are staying within the municipality or region, how long and where do they stay, for what period and when? Are they here for leisure or business purposes? What are their countries of residence? The answers to these questions can also be used for related questions on infrastructural developments to provide the required mobility for tourists in the municipality or region.

Current situation

Currently, the most common way to gain insight is to hire external consultants to answer the questions asked above. A lot of time is put into data gathering: visits to companies, surveys, analysis of the source material, et cetera. The lack of current data leads to:

  • A ‘snapshot picture’: a research assignment is given once or twice per year, covering the situation at that moment.
  • The appearance of accuracy: methods vary between consultancies and are often based on (limited) samples and surveys. That is why results may already be disputed at publication. Also, for larger cities and/or regions, it is not unusual to find gaps of hundreds of thousands to millions of tourists between different research reports because results are dependent on the chosen methodology and assumptions.
  • Outdated insights: most research is based on source material often one or two years old. With a rapidly growing economy and quickly increasing number of tourists, new developments are easily overlooked.

Often the municipality that gave the assignment doesn’t get access to the source material, so additional research can’t be done. Many cities and local governments recognize and acknowledge that currently available data is insufficient or entirely lacking, which makes policy making in changing environments challenging.

Situation with the digital night register

By using the digital night register a municipality or region can rely on current data, leading to better insights.

  • Data gathering is more efficient and complete and deeper insight is possible, because the data is collected automatically which also leads to a higher quality of the data.
  • The municipality has access to the source material, which is gathered continuously. A city council or regional board can be more precise when conducting a research assignment and is no longer dependent on consultancies for gathering data.
  • Ongoing trend analysis is possible:
    • What are the effects of new accommodations on the numbers of tourists, numbers of overnights stays, et cetera?
    • Can a rise in numbers be explained by new policies in a municipality or region?
    • What are the effects of city marketing, attracting visitors to certain events or the promotion of the city or region in other ways?
    • The number of new accommodations can be better regulated.
  • The data is impartial and can be used as input for the dialogue between city council and/or regional board, the market (accommodation providers) and associations such as Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN) and RECRON (for recreational companies). Because these organizations have access to the same data, disputes over the ‘right numbers’ are a thing of the past.

How to start?

The process of gathering data for the digital night register adheres to the current law and legislation regarding the keeping of a night register. The relevant articles can be found on this website under Law and legislation

The anonymous data that is processed in the digital night register already has to be registered by the accommodation provider by law and has to be shared with the city under current law. VisitorData closes the circle by collecting the data efficiently and automatically and by converting the data into useful insights.

Accommodation provider

Several municipalities and regions already use the digital night register. The goal of each city and/or region is to be able to make policies based on the right and current data, to be able to monitor these policies and if necessary amend them. A city and/or region asks for the anonymous data out of the set of data that you, as accommodation provider, are obligated to register in a night register by the Penal Code.

Per check-in is asked for:

  • Number of guests
  • City of residence of the main booker
  • County of residence of the main booker
  • Day of arrival
  • Day of departure
  • In some municipalities, by request of the tourism sector, also purpose of stay (business of leisure) is asked for.

In addition to the Penal Code, some municipalities have a city by-law in which the city council states which data to register and how. The city council can request to see that data recorded in the night register and can stipulate which (digital) registration model or method to use. For the right article in the Penal Code go to Law and legislation.

If the digital night register is implemented in your city and you supply data to VisitorData, you will get access to the online portal that provides the insights of the digital night register to your city and/or region. You can use these insights for your own marketing and management information goals.

How to supply data

Accommodation providers can share the anonymous data with the digital night register by one of the following options:

  • By use of your Property Management System (PMS) or similar system. The digital night register can receive automated reports from the most commonly used systems. This is the simplest option: the data is supplied without you having to do anything. The connection is ‘one-way’ and thus PCI compliant. Already several hundred accommodation providers supply data this way.
  • By filling out and sending an Excel-form by email every first week of the new month. VisitorData can provide you with this form.
  • By filling out a web form on a secured webpage. VisitorData will make one just for your accommodation. You decide yourself when you fill it out, but you have to supply the data at least once per month in the first week of the new month covering the month before.

All data will be saved in a secured database and converted into interactive charts and tables for current insights. All professional accommodation providers who supply data directly to the digital night register, will receive a login to gain access to the online portal. The portal is only accessible by a secured connection and none of the data will be traceable to an individual accommodation.

Agreement for use of the data

No matter which way you have chosen to supply data, we will send you an agreement to show the city that you participate and in which you agree that the data you supply to the digital night register can be used for statistics, analysis and research. The data that you share is and will remain your property. VisitorData will adequately safeguard all data against data hacking and loss of data. The data will not be sold to commercial parties. Publication of reports and articles based on the supplied data is allowed, as long as it concerns accumulated data.

Privacy and data protection


We do NOT collect and/or process any personal information of your guests in the digital night register. This means privacy is NOT an issue. Only anonymous data is collected and converted into aggregated insights. Thus we comply fully with European privacy regulation: the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) known in the Netherlands as the ‘Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (AVG)’. See also our Privacy Statement.

PCI compliant

The accommodation provider supplies data by an (automated) export or by filling out a web form. This means we don’t have access to the system of the accommodation provider. This is a so-called ‘one-way’ connection to make sure the process is PCI compliant.

Data protection

All anonymous data will be saved in a secured database of which a daily backup will be made. The online portal that you can use to gain insight is only accessible for a closed group of users by means of confidential passwords and only through a secured online connection.

Level of access to data

Commercial accommodation providers will get access to the insights for the municipality where they are located. However, none of the data is traceable to individual accommodations. Any representation of data will always at least contain aggregated data from 5 accommodation providers, or more. Unlike the accommodation providers, the municipality will get access to the data from individual accommodation providers, as this is already permitted by law.

What does VisitorData do?

VisitorData collects and processes the anonymous data and provides relevant and current insights via the online portal on behalf of the municipality or region. It will also ensure that data is provided in an accurate manner and will act as spokesman if there are any questions. If you have questions, please contact us at

VisitorData gives commercial accommodation providers access to the online portal on which all accumulated data is converted into interactive charts and tables. The insights can be used by yourself as well as the municipality or region for hotel policy, (city) marketing, benchmarking and management information.

System suppliers

Connections have been developed for the most common registration systems used by accommodation providers. A connection is always ‘one-way’ from your system to the digital night register so PCI compliancy is ensured. In most cases your system supplier can activate the connection with the digital night register remotely.

If you would like to know if there is a connection available for your registration system, or if you have any questions regarding the connection with the digital night register: please contact us at

Municipalities and regions with a digital night register

Law and regulation

Statutory regulations

The working method and requested data for the digital night register concur with the national law concerning tourist registration. Article 438 of the Penal Code stipulates the following:

  • Providers of overnight accommodation are required to keep a continuous night register and record specific data of their guests.
  • In that night register one has to at least record the name and city of residence of the guest, day of arrival and day of departure, and the type of travel document.
  • The City monitors the keeping of the night registers.
  • The City can request information from the night registers at any given time.
  • An accommodation provider can be penalized if he is not able to fulfill the request and show a night register.

In order to gain an up-to-date insight into the number of tourists, how long they stayed and where, the requested anonymous data for the digital night register consists of the following per check-in:

  • Number of guests
  • Day of arrival and day of departure (= number of nights)
  • City and country of residence
  • Main purpose of stay (business or leisure)

The main purpose of stay (business or leisure) is not a requirement by law, but can be added. In certain municipalities this is done by request of KHN and the accommodation providers.

Article 438, first section of the Dutch Penal Code

He who has made it his profession to give persons overnight accommodation will be penalized with detention with a maximum of a month or a fine of the second category if he: doesn’t ask upon arrival if the person that will stay overnight in his accommodation can show a valid travel document or ID as referred to in article 1 of the Law on the obligation to carry identification; doesn’t keep a continuous register or fails to record or to ask to record upon arrival the person’s name, city of residence and day of arrival as well as record himself or by that person the sort of ID, and, when departing, record the date of departure; doesn’t show that register when asked to by the Mayor or civil servant appointed.

Local regulation

The Penal Code obliges accommodation providers to keep a night register and to share data from that register when requested by the City Council. In addition to the Penal Code a City Council can make by-laws (APV) or policies with additional obligations, for example more data from tourists or a model or system with which the City wants to obtain the information. Thus cities have a legal framework to implement a digital night register, including the obligation for accommodation providers to supply certain data to that register.

Questions & answers

  • Which data has to be registered in a night register? The Penal Code states that everyone who provides accommodation at a charge has to record the following data from the main booker: name, city of residence, day of arrival and day of departure, and the sort of travel document. Because a place-name can exist in more than one country, you’re also asked to register the country of residence. In addition, city by-laws can ask for more information, like nationality, date of birth, full address.
  • Is a night register on paper mandatory or can it be kept digital? A night register can be kept either digital or on paper. It can be useful to ask your guest(s) to fill out a form on paper to gain information you’re missing (and let the receptionist add the missing data later in your digital system) and get a signature of the guest for noting the house rules or for customer loyalty programs.
  • Is it mandatory to register and share the requested data? Yes, based on the law and local regulation all overnight accommodation providers are obligated to keep a night register, and register specified data. And, if requested, share that data with the Mayor or civil servant (in short: the City). The City can ask at any moment to see the night register. Also, if stipulated in a City by-law or policy, the City can provide a ‘model’ or ‘method’ for registration.
  • How about privacy? Only anonymous data is collected and saved in a secured database. Because only anonymous data is processed, privacy is guaranteed at all times. Thus the stipulations of the General Data Protection Regulation, implemented on 25th of May 2018, are being adhered to. For more information go to Privacy.
  • Who has ownership of the data shared with the digital night register? Data provided by an individual accommodation provider remain the property of the accommodation provider. The data may only be used for statistics, research and analysis purposes and may not be sold to commercial third parties. Access may be given for external research and publication of reports and articles based on the supplied data is allowed, as long as it concerns accumulated data.
  • Who will manage and maintain the system and develop new interfaces? The City and/or region have asked VisitorData to manage and maintain the system and to develop new interfaces if needed. VisitorData carries out the management of the digital night register by collecting and processing the data on behalf of the City and/or region. VisitorData will also ensure that data is provided in an accurate manner and will act as spokesman if there are any questions.
  • Is competitively sensitive information shared in the online portal? When using the filters a control mechanism will ensure that the information shown is always based on 5 or more accommodations. This way none of the insights can be traced back to an individual accommodation (unless an accommodation has given consent). Besides this control mechanism, appropriate technical and organizational measures are being taken to protect against data hacking.
  • Which insights can be gained based on the accumulated data? The online portal provides relevant and current insights based on the different scopes, periods and other filters you choose to use. The statistical information can be used as source material for marketing, management information and benchmarking.



In order to be able to advise accommodation providers and to answer questions VisitorData works together with associations like Koninklijke Horeca Nederland (KHN), RECRON (for recreational companies), and knowledge institutions like the Hotel School The Hague.

More information about VisitorData

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