By Ann Neal

The hotel industry is highly vulnerable to frauds and other forms of felonies, namely burglaries, assaults, and cybercrimes. The consequences of these criminal episodes are unforgiving, causing hotel owners a loss of revenue, reputation, and customer loyalty. As a result, security is a garnering investment that hotel owners are willing to make in order to protect their guests from the above-mentioned criminal offences.

The latest technological advancements are helping hotel owners protect their guests and employees from physical threats and cybercrimes. A hotel owner must prioritize hotel security in order to offer safe accommodations to his/her guests.

Here are four ways in which you can ensure the security of your guests while enhancing their stay experience.

1. Invest in Information Security

Unlike other businesses, hotels tend to store customer card information in a number of places such as central reservation systems, third-party partners, customer files at the front desk, emails, and card-authorization forms. Moreover, the POS (point of sales), the PMS (property management systems), the electronic key card programmers are also connected to the hotel’s network, making it easy for hackers to access confidential data.

In order to protect your system and build a robust cybersecurity plan, consider building an information security team who will be directly responsible for securing the hotel’s data. Hiring a professional for the job will keep you updated on the changes in the cybersecurity domain, enabling you to protect your customers’ information.

Encourage your information security team to conduct a thorough and periodic risk assessment to understand where the data is stored, the hotel staff that has access to it, the credibility of third-party vendors, and the repercussions of the data being compromised.

2. Install Intelligent Access Control Systems

When guests stay in your hotel they expect you to take complete responsibility for their safety. They look forward to staying in a room with access to themselves and the housekeeping staff when needed.

On the other hand, you prefer only guests who have paid for the privileged services, namely the gym, the swimming pool, the kid’s play area, and the library to have access to these hotel amenities. Hotels also have restricted areas such as the reception counter and the rooms with lockers that hold the crucial documents and the payments made by guests.

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Installing access control systems allows only authorized individuals to access the rooms and amenities, controlling who goes where and keeping suspicious entities at bay. High-technology firms, namely Lintech have introduced intelligent RFID-enabled access control system that can track the movement of people and assets, dissuading criminals from gaining unlawful entry into the guests’ rooms.

However, before investing in a robust access control system talk to your service provider about your hotel security needs to ensure that the card access system is not vulnerable to unauthorized access and hacking.

3. Protect Customer Data

Hotels are particularly at a risk of data breaches as they see a massive number of financial transactions each day. In fact, according to the 2017 Verizon data breach investigations report, the hotel industry continues to experience malware-related breaches, namely RAM scrapers and spyware/ keyloggers.

Even the most distinguished hotels have borne the brunt of their security systems and credit cards details being hacked. In October 2017, Hyatt Hotels suffered a major breach of customers’ payment card data when criminals infected their system with malware in 41 properties across the globe.

Without proper control, confidential information can be hacked when your guests are using their credit or debit cards to make a payment, causing immeasurable damage to your reputation and financial losses to your patrons. Consequently, it is wise to install enhanced cybersecurity systems and additional layers of security to identify suspicious software and reduce the risk of security breaches.

Ensure that the payment card data and other information is segregated from the contact center. Thus, a guest calling to make a reservation can discreetly enter his/her card details using the mobile phone, avoiding a spillover of confidential information to unmonitored areas. This approach enables hoteliers to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI), securing their network and confidential documents.

You can also use the process of payment tokenization in which your guests’ sensitive data is replaced by an algorithmically-generated token (a randomly-generated number), adding an extra level of security to prevent credit card frauds.

Data breaches that expose credit card details and social security numbers mandate customer notifications. Moreover, following an attack, hotels are liable to provide ongoing credit monitoring to their affected guests. Therefore, it is also wise to invest in cybersecurity insurance that can help you pay for the customer notifications and credit monitoring.

4. Employ Technology to Improve Surveillance

Though data theft is a headline grabber in the hotel security segment, hotel owners are also responsible for physically protecting their guests and their own property from thefts and other crimes.

Modern technology has a pivotal role to play in keeping hotels secure. Technology has enabled firms to introduce surveillance products that are powered by artificial intelligence, deep learning video analytic algorithms, and biometric technologies.

For instance, the deep learning face-detection-and-recognition system is connected to search engine applications, enabling the hotel management to monitor and track the people visiting the hotel. Similarly, the hotels of future are expected to rely on artificial intelligence to enhance user experience while ensuring the safety of their guests.

Smart digital technology and intelligent cloud-based systems are offering new ways to improve the level of security in hotels. Built-in audio and motion detectors, active tampering alarm systems, and remote video solutions help the security staff identify intruders and alert the intervention team to take the necessary action.

Since time unknown, CCTV cameras have been used as a basic surveillance tool. However, with the advancements in technology, CCTV cameras can now detect an abandoned handbag, offer automatic number plate recognition of vehicles, and detect motion in a restricted area. Video content analytics is an emerging field which is helping hotel owners strike a balance between protection and enhancing their guests’ stay experience.

Consider investing in the latest technology in order to protect your guests, employees, and hotel assets from crimes and physical assaults.

The hospitality sector has always been viewed as a soft target by criminals and hackers to steal the guests’ valuables and confidential information. Use the above-mentioned tips to keep your guests safe and boost your hotel’s brand image.