Data collection, data mining and big data, in general, have the ability to transform how industries, such as the hospitality industry, provide their services. The ability to access information about an individual, from basic contact information, to payment information, to behavioral information, means that benefits that consumers have come to expect – such as ease and personalization – can be easily employed.
The data captured by the hospitality industry, particularly hotels and restaurants, is often very comprehensive and sensitive, meaning it has serious ramifications if that data is lost. A person staying in a hotel will be handing over contact and payment details, using hotel wi-fi for business and personal use, and ordering services for their own personal comfort. Research indicates that the hospitality industry accounts for nearly 14 percent of all breaches, second only to the retail industry. Here are some of the unique data loss risks the hospitality industry is facing:
- Large numbers of SMEs and SMBs
From the huge boutique hotel industry that’s booming, to owner-operated restaurants and bars, a great deal of the hospitality industry is made up of SMEs. Often, even when these businesses are part of a wider syndicate, there won’t necessarily be standardized rules for data security.
So, what’s the big deal with SMEs? Due to their size, SMEs and SMBs often don’t have any thorough data loss protection strategy in place. Cost, time and lack of knowledge are the general contributing factors here. However, DLP plans are now much more affordable and easy to implement, so it really comes down to the industry getting itself up to speed by educating that DLP implementation is essential and possible to do.
- Paper still rules the roost
Hotels, especially, still rely heavily on paper to conduct their day-to-day business. It’s common-place for services rendered and paid for to be carried out on paper throughout the whole transaction. Physical loss is one of the easiest ways for data to escape internally, either on purpose or by accident. Either way, due to the lack of digital footprint, it’s incredibly difficult to track where the leak came from.
Add to this, that according to Shred-it’s 2017 Security Tracker, less than half (49 percent) of small businesses shred all documents, including non-confidential ones, it’s clear that the hospitality industry needs to address this as part of their DLP strategy.
- Employee training is outward focused
Hospitality is a wholly customer-focused service industry. Huge amounts of resource are poured into staff training to ensure that customer’s needs and desires are being met and align with the kind of service the company is trying to provide.
The reality of this is that very little attention is focused towards internal processes. There are many statistics that suggest that roughly half of all data losses occur because of internal threats – people maliciously or unintentionally leaking sensitive data. This means that hospitality companies need to distribute their resource more efficiently and start focusing on creating internal DLP processes that work and that prevent the leakage of data.
While the potential for data to improve the services of the hospitality industry is huge, it brings with it large amounts of sensitive data that are not currently being properly protected with adequate data loss protection strategies. The high numbers of small to medium businesses, combined with the fact that the largely paper-based hospitality industry has an outward focus, means that there is plenty of work to do to ensure that the data of customer’s is protected from potential internal data loss threats.