Eliminating an Inhospitable 'Guest'
Identifying 'Leaky Apps' and Threats to Mobile Security
By Andrew Hoog CEO and Co-founder, viaForensics | October 26, 2014
Few things make as immediate an impression, for good or ill, as a hotelier's mobile app. And, despite all efforts to the contrary, in lieu of every physical example of attentiveness and personalized service, including the decorative, fan-shaped napkins and the obligatory bow and curtsey from every employee who steps aside to greet you – all of this is irrelevant if the first thing a potential guests sees (and uses) is an app that undermines the very image a brand seeks to convey.
If, for example, the Four Seasons (which has multiple apps for its most famed locales throughout Hawaii and Beverly Hills, California) or the Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts, has a so-called "leaky app," then that luxury brand risks alienating its longtime supporters and erasing its acclaim among critics.
For, an app is both an icon – the logo for the Four Season is unmistakable, an elegant black-on-white design of a tree whose branches symbolize winter, spring, summer and fall – and tool for practical use. It is a gateway for information, alerts, promotions and exclusive incentives for longtime patrons.
But a leaky app, one that has various points of vulnerability, can attract hackers and cyber thieves. That same tree can just as easily be barren, a symbol of neglect between what a luxury hotelier – any hotelier – offers, versus what its technological arm unintentionally destroys.
This matter is serious because, more than the look and feel of a company's website or the correspondence (electronic or paper) a hotel sends to its members, that resort's app plays many roles that transcend the static nature of some online photographs or messages about newly opened properties.
In other words, an app is a hotel executive's brand in its entirety. If it ruins a user's smartphone or tablet – if it enables criminals to steal personal data – then everything else is moot: The aroma and distinctive sound of coffee pouring, the opening of a canvas tote bag containing the morning edition of the New York Times, the unfurling of a white tablecloth atop an in-room dining set, the arrangement of yellow hibiscus flowers and the grand presentation of your perfectly prepared breakfast from a team – yes, a team – of well-attired (white coat and black tie) professionals who say, "Enjoy!" . . . none of this will happen if that hotel's app degrades your mobile device.
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