Data breaches are everywhere – and hotels are particularly vulnerable to such theft! After all, a hotel sees a number of massive transactions each day (and night as well!), and many of these transactions happen between the hotel and high-end clients. Needless to say, there will be plenty of entities out there waiting for an opportunity to breach the existing security systems and hack the credit cards.
Even big hotels have not escaped the scourge of a payment card hack. Hyatt Hotels Corp, for example, experienced a major breach in payment security between March and July this year. 41 properties across 11 countries experienced what can be called as one of the most massive payment security breaches in the history of the hospitality industry. Similar incidents affected Trump hotels and Hilton as well, showing that nobody is safe from such breaches.
Payment card breaches can cause a huge dent in the reputation of a hotel’s brand image, no matter how well they have established themselves in the market and no matter how great their services are. After all, we are talking about the hard-earned money of the guests, and it is no light matter that their credit cards have a chance of getting hacked due to a lack of proper security systems in the hotel!
And yet, despite such huge cases of data theft making rounds on the news, payment card hacks are still on the rise! Whether it is a matter of outdated security systems or simply due to negligence, at a critical time like this, when the hotels across the world are finding it harder to make profits than ever before, it is required that drastic and urgent measures be taken by all hotels to update their systems and increase payment security.
The way forward – the pre-requisites for better security systems
The preliminary steps that hotels need to take before actually investing in sophisticated systems involve creating an environment that makes payments safer. Now this involves a holistic approach to the matter, and should not be something that is simply left to those responsible for the technology employed by the hotel – this is just one aspect of the measures that the hotels must take up. To create a safe environment, the management needs to transform every aspect of the hotel – be it the payment systems, the executives or even the policies of the hotel – towards being involved in some or the other.
- A prepared workforce: Is your workforce (especially the front-office executives) well-trained to understand card payments and potential threats to security? Whether or not your answer is yes, the fact remains that training should be an ongoing process as new kinds of threats emerge every day. Needless to say, you need to have frequent training sessions to develop your team into one that understands threats to credit cards better so that they can deal with such issues more effectively and reduce the chances of such events from happening.
- Having specialists on board: Needless to say, there needs to be someone on board your team who can help educate your executives and who can play a pivotal role in such matters. Having a specialist on your team full-time or even as an honorary member can prove to be of great help.
- Constant anticipation of the worst: There is a popular saying which goes “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”. Hackers attack the moment they find a weak link in the chain. As such, you will risk much by letting your guard down. Always expect the worst to happen, and keep your hotel prepared for such events at all times.
Successful upgrading of security systems are not only about software and equipment but making sure the entire culture and setup of your hotel are driven towards preventing payment security-breaches from occurring again in the future as well. This is also the area that is most hard to work on because change is not always easy. However, upgrading your software without paying equal attention to the prerequisites will give you poor results – if any at all!
At the same time, not investing enough into upgrading your machines and software will not solve the problem of payment card hacks, even if your executives have received the best training possible. Compromising with one will definitely lead to the failure of the other, and it is only when equal attention and importance is given to the two that you can make payments in your hotels safe and secure for your guests.