How to Manage the Growing Threat to Confidential Information Security

By Peter Goldmann President, FraudAware Hospitality | March 31, 2010

The news headlines are chock full of accounts of massive volumes of confidential corporate information being stolen, including customer credit card data, medical records, Social Security numbers, corporate trade secrets, trademarked and copyrighted intellectual property and more.

The results of these attacks, though hard to accurately measure in dollars and cents, are nonetheless devastating for both the victimized company and the customers, employees and contractors whose personal identifying data is stolen.

In the largest theft of confidential information ever, the apparel retailer, TJX Inc., had its databases attacked by outside hackers to the tune of over 45 million retail transaction records, involving countless numbers of credit and debit card files. The company may be counting its losses for years to come, as...

And then, of course, there is the innocent consumers whose stolen credit card information is used to commit identity fraud and are forced to endure the painstaking and often frustrating process of restoring the integrity of their credit histories.

What Can Be Done?

The TJX incident is just one of untold thousands of similar cyber-attacks hitting companies in all industries, including hospitality. While there is no silver bullet to unfailingly safeguard data sought by hackers-both outside and within the organization-there are some essential steps all companies should take to at least minimize their vulnerability to information theft.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.