Hotel Online  Special Report

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IT Security:  Pebble Beach Company
Powers Toward a Perfect 10
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Parent Company Of Three-Time Conde Naste Winner Uses
Advanced Security Tools For High-Speed Internet Access
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April 12, 2004 - For sun, fun and sport, there are plenty of reasons for travelers to put California’s Monterey Peninsula at the top of their list. Known internationally for its breathtaking views and premier golf courses, the region is home to the AT&T ProAm Golf Tournament, the Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance for automobile collectors, and the Pebble Beach Equestrian Championships. Clearly, the area is a prime destination for the most elite world travelers – and since 1919, Pebble Beach Company has been there to welcome them. 
 
Lying along the Peninsula’s world-renowned 17-Mile Drive, the Company’s three properties host guests that include high-profile government leaders as well as executives from nearby Silicon Valley. The largest of these properties – The Inn at Spanish Bay – has received numerous world-class awards for its excellent service, luxurious rooms and thoughtful amenities. The resort was given a Mobil Five Star 
The Inn at Spanish Bay
2700 17-Mile Drive
Pebble Beach, California
ranking in 1999; Conde Nast Travelers has voted the property the No. 1 Mainland Resort three times; and Travel & Leisure Magazine ranked it No. 4 in the Top 100 Hotels in the World. 

With such a reputation to uphold, Pebble Beach Company takes its
responsibility for network security very seriously. “When you consider the demographics of the guests staying here, a security breach could be catastrophic to them, the property and our company,” explained Dominic Van Nes, the Company’s Vice President of Information Technology. “Security was important in the past, but today – with so many of our guests using laptops on the Internet – it’s critical.”

Corporate Network Spans Properties, Platforms

With a 5,400-acre complex having more in common with a small town than a hotel group, Pebble Beach Company represents a unique network environment. A high-volume fiber-optic network links all of the Company’s properties and facilities to support video feeds, a telecom system with 3,200 handsets and voice-over IP, and a variety of computers – all connected across two central offices. “We operate on a much larger scale than a standard 455-room resort,” said Van Nes. “The property is spread out like a municipality, and its information system architecture has to be industrial strength. Because of its high volume, our data network is connected to the Internet with a high-speed DS3 digital fiber link, and security on all levels is closely monitored,” he continued. “When it comes to our data and telecom infrastructure, we are one of the most secure resorts anywhere.” 

New Guest Room Internet Solution Balances Security, Usability

This emphasis on security came to the fore when Pebble Beach Company sought to upgrade the guest room high-speed Internet access (HSIA) at The Inn at Spanish Bay. “When we were with our previous HSIA vendor, our network was brought down by an individual with an infected laptop,” Van Nes recalled. “Things happened real fast when his machine got loose. We isolated the connection fairly quickly, and began trying to fix the difficulty. The problem finally vanished and we thought we resolved the issue, but the guest had simply turned off his laptop. Now we take our network security much more seriously.”

Van Nes said his security concerns are especially focused on viruses and hackers. “Our goal is to use technology to prevent someone external from coming into our network and hurting our guests, while also protecting the property from viruses our guests may introduce, whether on purpose or by accident.” He said Pebble Beach Company’s new HSIA provider – LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation – has delivered that security while retaining a necessary level of user-friendliness. “There is a fine line with HSIA security because the more a property locks down its system, the more restrictive it is to users. LodgeNet provides us with flexible security tools to protect our properties and guests,” he said. “One exceptional feature of our HSIA solution is that every room is its own network and guests cannot see the rest of the property’s network. That architecture prevents hackers from probing our network for weaknesses and ensures guest privacy.”

Pebble Beach Company benefits from LodgeNet’s new Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) designed to prevent and resist abuse of its HSIA network from outside or inside the property. “If a guest-introduced intruder like SQL Slammer or Blaster got on the system, it could stress our network with outbound e-mail surges,” said Van Nes. “With NIDS we can automatically terminate a person’s connection if a virus is detected.” He explained that if NIDS sees certain e-mail behavior that indicates a virus, it gives the user a warning and reduces the connection speed to 56K. If the behavior persists, the guest’s connection is shut down. Van Nes added that the detection system also e-mails LodgeNet technicians about the incident so they can resolve the situation with the property. 

Wireless HSIA Adds Guest Value

LodgeNet also enabled Pebble Beach Company to enhance its guestroom HSIA offering with wireless service in the public areas of its hotels. “Everyone wants wireless, but you can’t lock down a wireless network and keep it open at the same time; there are security issues that still need resolution,” said Van Nes. “The laptop and the wireless access point both have to be configured to secure a wireless system. We have wireless access points in our lobbies, but only individuals who have used our wired guestroom connection first can access them.  We are working on a solution for day guests.”

System Reliability Minimizes Hotel Intervention

Van Nes added that he is pleased with how LodgeNet’s HSIA solution has reduced the workload for him and other Company employees. “We have an excellent working relationship with LodgeNet – and their system works. I spend less than one percent of my time on HSIA support issues. Our A/V department handles high-speed connectivity for the groups we host, and since LodgeNet’s HSIA system has gone in, it has truly been ‘plug and play’ for them, too.” 

HSIA, TV Solutions From A Single Source 

The Company’s relationship with LodgeNet extends beyond HSIA. “LodgeNet is our single partner for in-room entertainment and information; they provide not only our HSIA, but interactive guest room TV as well,” noted Van Nes, adding that Pebble Beach Company plans to install LodgeNet’s SigNETure TVSM marketing and entertainment system including their high-definition television solution. “Many of our guests have secure HSIA and/or HDTV at home; keeping up with their high expectations is a major factor in our technology choices, and it is top-of-mind with LodgeNet, too.” 

About Pebble Beach Company
Pebble Beach Company, in Pebble Beach, California, is the parent company of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay, Casa Palmero, The Spa at Pebble Beach, Pebble Beach Golf Links, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Del Monte Golf Course. Its resorts and golf courses are known worldwide for their stunning oceanfront location, peerless quality and outstanding service; the Company’s 1,600 employees display a level of professionalism and proficiency unmatched in the industry.

About LodgeNet
LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation (www.lodgenet.com) is the leading provider in the delivery of broadband, interactive services to the lodging industry. These services include on-demand movies, music and music videos, Nintendo® video games, Internet on television, and other interactive television services, as well as high-speed Internet access, all designed to serve the needs of the lodging industry and the traveling public. As the largest company in the industry, LodgeNet provides service to one million rooms including more than 957,000 interactive guest pay rooms in more than 5,800 hotel properties worldwide. More than 260 million travelers have access to LodgeNet systems on an annual basis. LodgeNet is listed on NASDAQ and trades under the symbol LNET. 

LodgeNet is a registered trademark of LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation. All rights reserved. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

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Contact:

Pebble Beach Company
Dominic Van Nes 
Vice President, Information Technology
Pebble Beach Company
Phone - (831) 622-8661
vannesd@pebblebeach.com
http://www.pebblebeach.com/2b.html

LodgeNet
Ann Parker
Director of Corporate Communications
LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation
605-988-1000
communications@lodgenet.com
www.lodgenet.com


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