- Information Technology – With all the advances in technology that have been made in the last few years, new security concerns have been raised alongside them. Most hotels now offer Wifi, and while most travelers have 1 mobile device, many carry as many as 3.
This can create a rather large security risk due to the fact that most hospitality businesses use a third party provider, and those are not necessarily double-checked to ensure the appropriate online safety protocols are in place. There are plenty of holes within the network – ways in which hackers can gain access to customer’s personal information and credit card information. Guests and their data transmissions are also at risk while using a hotel’s network, and that is why this is the first on the list of security issues.
The best way to protect your customers is to set up VPN’s (virtual private networks) which protects your customers by encrypting the data on one end and decrypting it on the other, keeping the data transmissions of your guests safe. It also prevents hackers from using their computer to imitate the hotel’s main server, protecting your information as well. The Hotel W Dallas – Victory is a prime example of this as they are one of the best models of this method of protection in action.
- Terrorism – While these events are rare, it is in everyone’s best interests to be prepared for acts of terrorism. When it comes to terrorism, the focus should be in its prevention, rather than recovering from it. The Hospitality industry is frequently a prime target for terrorism due to its lack of security measures, and also for the media coverage it provides.
Simple things like having well-lit grounds and thorough background checks on all employees simply goes without saying, but it is also important to have an emergency plan in place, and ensure all staff are trained and familiar with it in the event of an attack or even a natural disaster.
- Liability/Insurance Fraud – With so many travelers and customers going in and out your door, their safety, and your business’s success, often comes down to the small things. While we all wish to believe that our customers are all wonderful and honest people, but the hard truth is, many are not. Many will falsely attempt to claim injury while on your property in the hopes of gaining a room or a meal for free.
Protecting your business against such claims requires insurance, but taking the time to inspect your property for any potential issues that may lead to a liability claim is the best way to nip potential problems in the bud.
- Crime – While most hospitality businesses have access to the police department, many will still have security staff on sight in order to protect their customers and their belongings. Again, things like having well lit outdoor areas and having visible security personal on the premises will help prevent crime in your establishment. Running background checks on potential employees to screen out those that are prone to criminal acts such as theft.
The downturn in the economy may be contributing to this problem as well, meaning there are fewer security measures maintained, and fewer staff. While burglaries seem to make up the majority of crimes (both from hotel rooms and from parked cars), there are also reports of various other crimes such as assault and robbery.
While there must be some responsibility on the customers regarding their own safety, the hospitality businesses must do their part to protect their customers. Video surveillance and visible security staff, paired with caution in giving out information to those who may be targeting travelers.
Hospitality businesses who try to remain on the forefront of the industry by offering the latest and greatest technology have some interesting new possibilities, that are also ways of adding extra security to your establishment.
- Keyless Entry to Hotel Rooms – Starwood has already introduced this form of keyless hotel room entry from a customer’s mobile phone in many of their Aloft and W hotels, and Hilton hotels have announced they will be bringing this form of room key into their hotel chain by the end of 2015.
Gone will be the days of keys, and key cards, as many hotels will be jumping on this new tech, creating a much improved customer experience. Guests will be able to use their smartphones as their hotel room keys and no longer need to fear losing their keycards.
- Cloud Computing – While most large hospitality businesses have already gotten on board with this new method of record keeping, many smaller places have yet to do so. What is cloud computing? Basically, it is an internet-based way of hosting infrastructure and software for companies, eliminating the need to have on-site servers that need to be maintained. It becomes a utility that is paid for by use, much like electricity, and can be scaled up for down according to your needs at that time.
The biggest benefit to this is allowing multiple employees to have access to the software and information without having to purchase a separate license each time. That can be costly, particularly if you have a high turnover of employees.
- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – while this technology has been around for awhile, its emergence within the hospitality industry has been slow, though is finally beginning to pick up speed.
More hotels and resorts are beginning to employ this technology to improve guest services. With the use of RFID, guests are easily identified, allowing them to access to restricted guests services, such as the spa, pool, and gym, not to mention your employees can also make their way in and out of restricted areas with ease. While many already use this type of system for door locks, it could easily be expanded to include payments at your venue’s various POS outlets, such as the bar, or restaurant. It allows you and your staff to provide high quality service with ease, creating a better customer experience.
This technology can also alert you to people who are not your paying guests, allowing you to keep track of what is occurring in your business. The Walt Disney World Hotel has adopted MagicBands which are flexible bracelets embedded with the RFID technology, allowing their guests to make purchases easily and quickly, and not need to worry about carrying cash to the beach.