Fiber Networks Are the Foundation to Securing Digital Data in Hospitality

By Eric Presworsky Chief Technology Officer, Zhone Technologies | July 26, 2015

IT professionals in the hospitality industry have one major concern in common: security breaches. Over the past few years, hackers have proven that no one is exempt from cybercrime. Security breaches affect millions of people and cost companies millions of dollars each year. It is vital in today's digital world to have reliable and secure networks that keep personal and institutional data secure and confidential.

The hospitality industry is a primary target for cyber attacks because digital data is collected beyond the rooms people stay in. Spas, business services, restaurants, bars and parking garages are also commonplaces for data collection. Because of the amount and different types of data collected, it is important that data is stored and transmitted in the most secure way possible.

Industry experts agree – networks built with a Passive Optical LAN (POL) are much more secure than those built with traditional copper switching networks. That is because fiber transmits light, not electrical signals like copper, which means hackers cannot listen to signal emissions.

Passive Optical LAN technology addresses the hotel industry's primary concerns; security, cost, space savings, low power utilization and equipment. With old and new infrastructures, the technology can be powered through wireless or over existing Ethernet ports. Imagine adding one more room on each floor because you can eliminate a wiring closet by using fiber-optic technology versus copper.

This new evolution of LANs has led hotels worldwide to adopt Passive Optical LAN as their infrastructure of choice for new builds and rehabilitation efforts. While security may have prompted some of these decisions, additional benefits such as cost and space savings abound. The typical Optical LAN implementation provides a lower total cost of ownership, saves space and future-proofs the network while simultaneously offering a level of security that meets the Department of Defense JITIC standards.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.