From the moment a guest steps through the door, your hotel becomes more than a building of rooms. It is an experience. Hotels have been striving for centuries to provide the highest quality possible given their resources and any technology available. Hotels are well-known, in fact, for finding new, innovative, and often beautiful ways to use the latest inventions. When the cutting-edge technology of the time was gas lights and telegrams, you can bet that the high-end hotels of the time were glittering through the night and offering high-speed communication services. Today, not much has changed. Hotels have electronic door locks, mobile-app booking, sleep number beds, and many continuously update their services to include things like virtual reality tours and smart-home room controls for the highest level of guest protection and satisfaction.

Hospitality and Cutting-Edge Technology

Hotels that pride themselves on cutting edge technology are now catering to a new generation of guests. The high-tech digital natives you watched grow up with Gameboys, Palm Pilots, and flip-phones are now rising professionals with thriving careers and growing families of their own. They have graduated to laptops and high-speed tablets. Their children are equipped with tablets of their own wrapped in safe rubberized cases. They could be planning vacations, business trips, or the new hybrid working vacation. When guests book a room in your hotel, they expect the best. Touch-screen check-in in the lobby, high-speed wifi connection, and USB charge ports in the rooms are a must and no doubt, your hotel has stepped up to the challenge. After all, there’s no greater mark of prestige even for a young hotel than being able to display the latest in hospitality technology.

Many of today’s guests will unashamedly choose one luxury hotel over another in the same neighborhood on tech perks alone. If your hotel has better reviews on your high-speed wifi or smart lights that can be turned off with voice controls from the comfort of the bed or tub, this is a major selling point. Some hotels go so far as to make use of high-end tablets for their guests, others actively encourage guests to bring their own devices (BYOD). They also use draw-pads as part of the room amenities. In today’s fast-paced tech craze, it would seem that any way you can add more technology to your guest experience, the better. Just as guests choose hotels that offer spa treatments, gorgeous views, and vacation experiences they couldn’t get at home, offering the first taste of a new technology is a powerful draw.

But one thing that few guests feel they need to concern themselves with is security and protection. After all, hotels have been protecting guests from unwanted intrusion and from invasions of their privacy for centuries. Why should that have changed now?

The Challenges of Modern Guest Protection

The problem is that protecting guests has gotten infinitely more complex in the last 20 years. In the past, guest protection was a matter of protecting the elevators or refusing to answer questions about your guests. A hotel’s guest protection tasks included keeping strangers without room keys from wandering the hallways. It wasn’t giving out identities or locations of those staying with you. Even if someone knows a guest’s name and could identify them by sight, every good hotelier knows that this doesn’t mean the guest wants to see them or wants their whereabouts known. However, today information about your guests doesn’t exist solely in a paper book and the minds of your staff. It’s in your computers, and those computers connect to the internet 24/7.

In many cases, very private guest information isn’t even confined just to your local hotel servers. Names, booking dates, and payment card information is transmitted over the internet in the form of online booking through your website and third-party travel sites. Your hotel may even transmit some of this information to central databases for your hotel brand. And, let there be no doubt, hackers dearly want this information.

Friendly professional hotel staff with managers, clerks, and administrators
Friendly professional hotel staff with managers, clerks, and administrators

Information Leaks are More Dangerous Than Ever

The other half of today’s guest protection challenge is the fact that what people can do with the guest information is more harmful than it has ever been. In the classic days of hotel management, there was a short if a dramatic list of things that could go wrong if hotel staff accidentally revealed guest information or if the guest information was stolen from the book. Romantic stalkers could find their targets, paparazzi would hunt down celebrities, or solicitors would be able to target wealthy business people. There could be drama at hotel room doors or drama in the lobby. It might even be possible to chase down a guest when they’re out seeing the sights.

Today, however, the risks are far higher. A hacker or even a sly fellow guest can get a look at your check-in screen. From this, they could acquire someone’s name, email, home address, and phone number. This is how they can begin the process of identity theft. If they manage to steal payment card information, the financial repercussions on your guest could be massive. No hotel wants to be the source for years of guest strife caused by identity theft or payment card fraud.

This means that the more technology you and your guests use to communicate, book, and arrange services, the more cybersecurity is necessary. And PCI Compliance is the cutting-edge of data security for hospitality and business venues across the globe. If you are offering online booking, tracking your guests through the point of sale computers, and providing guest wifi, PCI compliance isn’t just a good precaution, it is a necessity.

Customer Protection through PCI Compliance Cybersecurity

PCI Compliance was designed and introduced by the Payment Card Industry. It’s obvious why they might be interested in helping hotels and vendors all over the world protect customer data. Less fraud equals fewer insurance payouts, which lowers the premiums they pay. Higher customer-satisfaction increases word-of-mouth referrals and decreases churn for the credit card companies themselves. Customer data includes payment card numbers, expiration dates, and magnetic strip data. The entire payment processing industry is invested in reducing the number of stolen cards and fraudulent charges. There are businesses whose reputations and liability security are at stake. They are equally interested in securing business computers, websites, apps, point-of-sale devices, and card scanning devices.

In this case, PCI is actually short for PCI-DSS or Payment Card Industry – Data Security Standard. It sets the cybersecurity standard for every aspect of doing digital business with customers. It defines the protocol your business software should reach and certain software selections that have proven to reach these standards. PCI defines the measures your business should be taking to secure your private local and cloud servers. It is also the standards any secured endpoint devices are assured to be un-hackable by all intrusion methods. Your local IT teams may be able to provide a certain amount of protection and best practices. But, the PCI-DSS guidelines can help any IT team reach the current peak of possible business cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is a Must for High-Tech Hotels

The amount of PCI-Compliance your hotel needs can be determined by how much customer data you process or allow to flow through your booking, local servers, and guest wifi. A cozy little Bed & Breakfast that only books by a phone call and keeps all guest records in a big paper guestbook doesn’t need cybersecurity because there is little to no ‘cyber’ in their services. However, add even a simple local database program to hold guest information and it becomes necessary to secure at least that one device against intrusions through email phishing and the internet connection. Process payments through number punching or a card scanning device? Suddenly your need for cybersecurity goes through the roof. Hackers want those card numbers and are willing to jump through hoops to sneak in and get them.

For a hotel like yours with cutting-edge technology, cybersecurity needs to be woven deeply into every feature and connection. Online booking and card payment through multiple platforms means securing every single transmission of that information in a secure and preferably encrypted channel. Managing guest information on a computer with internet access means not only firewalls and virus scanning, but training every staff member how to avoid phishing and whaling.

And offering guest wifi? Hackers can book rooms in your hotel just to hack into the wifi network and steal data from your computers. Or worse, hack directly into your guests’ laptops and phones that have connected to the wifi. By striving for the high cybersecurity standards of PCI-Compliance, you can ensure that these known threats and security disasters will never happen under your roof.

The Prestige of Being Certified PCI-Compliance

PCI-Compliance is the only universal standard that assures the security of guest payment, personal, and device security. It is gaining a reputation among high-tech travellers and customers across the globe. Hotels and businesses that have successfully achieved PCI Compliance can win the business of prestigious guests. These are people who now only stay and shop in PCI Compliant venues. When a big business books one of their executives or a highly valued client on a trip, they want them to stay in the most secure possible lodgings. When an independent contractor who makes their millions on a laptop chooses a hotel, they need one who can boast PCI compliance to ensure their payment cards and their work data are both secured at every moment.

Your hotel may not be PCI compliant today. But all it takes is a dedication to superb service, expert IT staff, and investment in the best available technology. Three things that a modern cutting-edge hotel is already an expert at. For more information about PCI compliance for your hotel contact us today.

VP Marketing & PR at protel hotelsoftware GmbH, Germany.

Jeremy heads protel hotelsoftware’s marketing department.
He regularly demands cool beers and internet access, as well as great ideas for shaping positive user experiences.

He firmly believes in the power of change!

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