How to improve hotel privacy and data protection for guests
by YURIY MOSHES
Hotels need to invest more time in building privacy trust. In addition to the legislation with which properties already must comply, hotels need to go beyond this to build trust and drastically improve how their clients perceive their business.
Clients entrust hotels with a trove of important, private information every day. This consumer data can help hotels thrive as a business, and it can include names, addresses, and credit card numbers and other payment information. A hotel guest’s rights to privacy should be taken seriously because how a hotel chooses to manage client information can directly impact the hotel’s reputation. And there are other legal and financial impacts that may arise if guest privacy data is not appropriately managed and protected as well. Here are five key tips for building data privacy trust in your hotel business.
1. PROTECTING CLIENT INFORMATION
Hotel privacy necessarily includes protection of client information. Hotels shouldn’t take their clients’ trust lightly and should make sure they have appropriate safeguards to ensure protection of their guest’s information.
Storage and security are two main components to consider when developing methods of protecting client information. Installing security systems that aim to protect this information from external hackers is one of the best ways to protect guest information. When a hacker steals personal information, the integrity of the hotel’s efforts to protect their guests is called into question. Avoid making your business vulnerable to these threats by investing time into your data-protection system. These systems can securely store data more easily than monitoring it individually.
Additionally, try to minimize the access employees have to sensitive information. Monitor which staff members have access to certain types of guest data. Designate one – or a select few – people in your business to be accountable for your data security and storage system.
Figuring out which systems to use and what kind of data you need to manage for your clients can be confusing and time consuming, so consider seeking the advice of a data-privacy lawyer.
2. CREATING A CULTURE OF PRIVACY
Creating and maintaining a culture of privacy trust is essential. It starts with understanding what kind of data the hotel collects, how it is stored, and how it is used. There are several ways hotels can go about creating this privacy in their business, including:
- Minimizing employee access to client data
- Assigning certain employees to be tasked with maintaining privacy
- Emphasizing data privacy in staff trainings
- Allowing guests to pay securely
3. BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT DATA COLLECTION, USE, AND SHARING
As the classic saying suggests, honesty really can be the best policy. When your clients feel a business is being transparent about how their personal client information is being collected, used, and shared, your brand only gets stronger. Here are some steps to improve transparency:
- Create clear privacy policies
- Educate staff members on the hotel’s policies
- Make these privacy policies clear to guests
- Build a defined reputation around these policies so staff members take them seriously
- Create a system where guests can opt into data collection
- Create a system for guests to request their own information
- Allow for guests to request deleting their information
Open data is attractive in terms of transparency. However, open data privacy implications should be considered. While still protecting privacy, open data ensures your guests are being protected. Contact a data privacy lawyer for more guidance on how you can balance open data and privacy.
4. BUILD TRUST BY BEING ACCOUNTABLE
Accountability is crucial when it comes to something as sensitive as data privacy. Having the right privacy systems and creating a culture of privacy only goes so far. Ensuring the methods put into action are appropriately maintained is crucial for avoiding data breaches and hackings. Make sure your hotel is reviewing the systems it uses to ensure they are both functioning properly and are still a good fit for the types of data you are collecting, storing, and sharing. Also, continue to educate your employees on the importance of data privacy by emphasizing it in further training. Educate your employees on the methods hackers use to breach security and gain access to data, such as spam, viruses, adware, and worms. Teach them how to identify and avoid falling victim to these hacking attempts. Make sure your employees also feel comfortable with the data they are handling.
If the hotel does experience a data breach, be accountable in how you handle the aftermath of the breach. Making an effort to protect your guest’s data does not end once a breach happens. Take steps to protect any data not breached and identify what data has become vulnerable to the breach. Consult with a data privacy attorney for advice on how to handle the breach, and how to repair your data privacy structure to reduce the likelihood of future breaches.
5. HAVE EMPATHY
To gain the trust of your guests, you need to empathize with them. Understand the data they are sharing with your hotel business is often personal. Think about the potential credit card fraud and identity thefts that could plague your guests if you don’t take care to protect their data. And if your hotel does experience a breach, handle that situation with care and empathy.
Hotel guest data privacy should not be overlooked; it can have serious implications on the hotel’s brand, as well as legal and financial impacts. Ensuring you are creating the right system for your business is essential. A data privacy attorney can be instrumental in creating a data privacy plan that works best for you.
Yuriy Moshes is a founding partner at the Law Office of Yuriy Moshes P.C., a firm that specializes in creating the privacy trust that’s best for your hotel business and consults on issues involving labor disputes. For more information, visit www.mosheslaw.com.