Why The Hospitality Industry Needs To Worry About Data Security

When guests are traveling, they’re exchanging a lot of valuable information every day with hotels, airlines, rental companies, and more throughout the hospitality industry. This requires them to trust each of those companies to keep their data secure and private - from their financial information to the fact that they’re even there (especially higher ranking executives and celebrities).

As data becomes increasingly available, while simultaneously becoming harder to maintain, it’s important that as a hospitality company, you serve as a trusted adviser to your customers, and keep their information safe. How do you do this? By offering guidelines and suggestions, to securing your own data and ensuring that your own site and communications are locked down by using software with modern security systems.

hotel-tech-spendingYou’re in good company - according to Hospitality Today’s report this past spring, over half of hotels will spend more on technology this year than they did last year, a trend that’s expected to continue. Over 60% of that spending will go to payment and data security.

Here are a few steps you can take to create a safe haven for your guests, and be the host that they trust the most with their most precious possessions: their information and identity.

Make Sure Your Wifi Is Secure

This may seem fairly basic, but it’s a step than many neglect to take. If you offer an encrypted network, with a real password (not just a room number - make it harder to guess than that), your guests will know that their information is safe. Further, that care for detail and thoroughness will prove your entire establishment is committed to providing the best experience possible, and will raise their perception of your brand over all.

At the very least, make sure your wifi network does have a password - there’s nothing more unsettling for a tech savvy person with sensitive information on their computer to see that your network is open to everyone.

Most guests are very concerned about ensuring their wifi works - to the point where that same Hospitality Technology report found that 45% of hotels have made increasing bandwidth a priority this year - and part of that is knowing that the network is modern and safe.

Make Sure Mobile And Social Communication Is Secure

It’s past the point where guests can be classed into offline, online and mobile customers - nobody is the first, and everyone is both the second and third. This means that you’ll also have to ensure your website, mobile site and mobile app are all encrypted and secure, as you’ll be receiving data through all three, likely from the same customers.

For social, it’s important to ensure that login passwords are kept hidden and safe, and not passed around. If you’d like every associate that works for you to be able to respond (which is likely), consider keeping them to one platform, such as Twitter, or giving them a third party login, such as to sites like Hootsuite.

Secure Home Base

If you’re a larger chain, this is especially important - make sure you choose a data storage and management system that has a security system that is as robust as possible. There’s more than credit card numbers at stake; often, if an attack on your servers is successful, the infiltrator will have access to more than financial information. To keep hackers away from access to hotel room doors and keycodes, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and any other automated and monitored parts, it’s critical that you prioritize security.

Don’t Skimp On Training Your Staff

Over half of data breaches across industries can be traced down to a human error - make sure that you don’t skip out on teaching every staff member how to properly handle data, and the consequences of being sloppy. Create a culture of security, and instill it into your brand ethics - after all, you literally know where your customers sleep, and are in charge of guarding them, both cyber and physically, while they’re at their most vulnerable.

Drill into how critical it is that employees do not play on the internet on the same computer they’re checking in guests with, or handling any data with. The best way to enforce this? Give them “internet breaks” where they can use their phone. After all, who really takes smoking breaks anymore, anyway? By allowing them to check messages and relieve some of the tedium of the more repetitive hospitality positions, the temptation will be reduced, and your company as a whole will be safer.