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Hotel data security: What you need to know

Last Updated: April 24, 2024|Categories: Blog|Tags: , |6.3 min read|

Guest data: Your greatest asset … and potentially your greatest liability.

From luxury resorts to quaint B&Bs, no corner of the hospitality sector is safe from the relentless onslaught of cybersecurity threats, with nearly 31% of the industry reporting a data breach in their company history.

A global report from CoStar highlights how sophisticated hackers have executed more than a dozen data breaches on hospitality companies ranging from large multinational chains to individual properties since 2010. And those breaches have affected the protected information of millions of guests.

Data breaches in the hospitality industry are also costly affairs, with the average breach in the hospitality industry costing $2.94 million between 2021 to 2022, not to mention the impact they have on property reputation and customer trust.

Here we delve into the specific aspects of unhealthy and healthy data security practices, as well as the optimal solution for your security challenges.

What you will see here

What is hotel data security?

Imagine a pirate trying to crack open a treasure chest filled with gold — that’s the allure your property’s customer data holds for cybercriminals. The wealth of your data allows you to provide guests with the exceptional personalized experiences they expect when staying at your hotel, but it also makes your business a prime target for cybercrime.

A hotel data security system acts as a powerful digital lock on that treasure chest. It keeps your customers’ valuable personal information — from credit card details to travel preferences — safe from prying eyes.

In addition, with regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) getting stricter, a strong hotel data security platform helps ensure your hotel or resort stays in compliance. With all the growing complexity around keeping data secure, more than half of US organizations understand that investing in improved security measures now could save them millions down the road.

At its core, hotel data security isn’t just about protecting guest privacy; it’s about upholding trust, safeguarding your business, and staying on top of the rules in an ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape.

The ugly truth behind poor hotel data security

Imagine waking up to a nightmare scenario where your hotel’s systems have been infiltrated, and sensitive guest data has been exposed to cybercriminals, including names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, passwords, and credit card numbers. This chilling tale is the grim reality of poor hotel data security, and it’s one that no property manager wants to experience.

Data breaches and malware attacks typically occur through vulnerabilities in your property software or networks. Savvy hackers exploit these weaknesses to steal guest data, wreaking havoc on your operations and guest trust.

Data mismanagement by hotel employees adds another layer of risk. The hospitality industry involves lots of seasonal workers. Whether it’s mishandling guest data or falling victim to social engineering tactics that trick team members into divulging sensitive information, the human element can often be one of the weakest links in your security chain, with 84% of IT leaders stating that human error is the top cause of serious cybersecurity incidents.

Then there’s the issue of siloed data. When individual departments or properties within a portfolio each use their own data systems, it hampers your ability to maintain a unified defense. It increases the likelihood that data security protocols are inconsistent across your business, leaving gaps in your defenses that cybercriminals are all too eager to exploit.

The ripple effect of poor hotel data security

Poor hotel data security isn’t just a short-term obstacle — it’s more like a ticking time bomb with far-reaching consequences that can cripple your business in the long term.

In addition to the high costs of the breaches themselves, you also need to consider the hefty fines for noncompliance with government regulations. Violations of CCPA can result in civil penalties of up to $7,500 per violation, and non-compliance with GDPR can lead to administrative fines of €20 million or 4% of total global annual turnover for the previous financial year, whichever is larger. The financial fallout from these violations may not only drain your resources, but could destroy your business.

Hotel data security breaches can also deal a severe blow to your customer satisfaction, trust, and loyalty. While your guests may be open to sharing their personal information in exchange for perks, their trust hinges on stringent security measures. And negligence in this area jeopardizes guest trust and loyalty. Studies reveal that 65% of consumers lose faith in a brand following a data breach, and a staggering 80% refuse to patronize the brand any further.

Another long-term impact of poor hotel data security is a decrease in your hotel reputation. Dissatisfied customers may post negative online reviews mentioning your poor data security. And since 8 out of 10 travelers consult consumer reviews before booking a stay at a property, those negative reviews will erode your credibility. A property known for lax data security measures shows a lack of commitment toward safeguarding guest privacy. And it may find itself at a significant disadvantage compared to competitors who prioritize data security. As a result, the property may struggle to attract and retain guests, ultimately affecting its bottom line and market position.

Practical steps toward healthy hotel data security

With today’s growing emphasis on hotel data security, a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is the perfect weapon for battling the dangers of data-related security risks and privacy breaches.

Revinate’s CDP helps you maintain a healthy database by providing a granular perspective on what data is collected, how it’s managed, how it moves, and where it’s stored. It puts control back into the hands of hoteliers. And it eliminates the problems created by data silos by consolidating customer information all in one place.

Furthermore, with the demise of third-party cookies, Revinate’s focus on helping you maintain a thriving database of zero- and first-party data makes it easier to maintain compliance with data privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA.

In addition, by relying on data partners such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Revinate ensures that your customer information remains secure, shielded from the prying eyes of cybercriminals. A key enhancement to our platform is centralized user management to help secure sensitive account data across the platform. This update makes it easier for properties that experience high turnover rates via seasonal team members. It allows correct access only to authorized users and lets you quickly audit past user access to ensure systems are secure.

In today’s digital age where speed is king, legacy data management systems simply can’t keep up. It’s imperative for hotels to adapt and evolve in order to stay one step ahead of cyber threats and maintain healthy hotel data security. With a robust CDP, you can harness the power of accurate guest information, allowing you to connect with the right guests at the right times to build long-lasting relationships that garner greater loyalty.

Safe, secure, and primed for success

With cyber threats looming larger than ever, healthy hotel data security is crucial for protecting guest information and preserving your industry reputation. Advanced tools like Revinate’s CDP not only allow you to mitigate risks but help you foster the strong customer relationships that drive business growth. By prioritizing hotel data security, you can unlock opportunities for personalized guest experiences and enhance loyalty with confidence, knowing your data is safe, secure, and primed for success.

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