Keeping Your Corporate Hotel Payments Secure

The greatest threat may also be the greatest protection

By Heather Stone Global Executive Vice President, CSI Enterprises | June 25, 2017

Understanding and addressing the reasons behind and risks associated with payments processing is a critical issue in the hospitality industry. This introduction to payments fraud provides critical knowledge for anyone dealing with accounting, payments, or vendor relationships.

As the internet continues to usher in a new era of productivity new technologies consistently and dramatically improve the way we work. But along with that evolution has come a new era of cyber security threats. I have been traveling coast-to-coast speaking to business-to-business (B2B) financial executives on this very subject, and from my conversations with CFOs and treasury managers alike the single most pressing issue across all industries is the security of payments. If you think about it, transactions are happening continuously and around the globe so even though you may not be present when these transactions physically occur, your financial likeness is.

The 2017 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey examined the trends in payments fraud on business-to-business (B2B) activities. The survey found that 74 percent of participants reported their organizations were exposed to either attempted or actual payment-related fraud in 2016. Business email compromise scams, with reports of wire fraud, increased from just five percent in 2009 to a staggering 48 percent in 2015.

For hotel executives this payments-related fraud is especially troubling with security breaches at global hotel chains making headlines in recent years. Whether the fraudulent activity happens as an insider threat or through the use of a hotel room, it is happening on a daily basis. Executives in the hospitality industry are unified in their beliefs that these concerns could have been alleviated with a better understanding of technology options available today which were designed to mitigate these fraudulent activities and protect the hotel, its employees, and guests.

These innovations actually turn the tide on those security threats by streamlining and transforming the payment process into a touchless workflow - from invoicing all the way through payment processing - without manual error or intervention from hackers. This affords everyone a significantly larger level of protection while enabling businesses to "carry on" as should be done.

This may seem counter-intuitive to those who think of the internet as the root of all security threats, but the process of electronically escorting an invoice through its journey from approval to payment is a bit like protecting that invoice within a virtual steel vault every step of the way.

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Coming up in February 2019...

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.