With Cyberattacks on the Rise, Is Your Hotel Protected?

By Christopher Bolger Senior Risk Manager, Venture Insurance Programs | June 29, 2014

When Target Corp. was hacked last holiday season, the size and scope of this incident brought national attention to the growing threat of large-scale, financially motivated cybercrimes. In this case, hackers stole credit and debit card records and other personal information from an estimated 70 million people.

It is believed thieves gained entry to the systems by infiltrating computers owned by one of its third-party vendors and then used "memory-parsing" malware that captures information at the point of sale before it is encrypted.

While the attack on the retail giant was one of the largest cybercrimes ever, it is only one of many ways computer systems can be breached. And retail stores are only one type of business that can be targeted.

Consider the hotel industry. With the volume of credit card swipes at check-in, as well as at their bars, restaurants and shops, hotels offer ample opportunities for cyberattacks. In fact, a credit card breach was detected earlier this year at food and beverage outlets at more than two dozens hotels belonging to some of the country's largest hotel chains.

Every hotel executive should take seriously the threat of computer security breaches, implementing the most up-to-date prevention and risk management practices, creating an emergency response plan and securing sufficient insurance coverage.

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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.