By Bob Quick, Executive Director of Global Secure Accreditation
How safe is your hotel? No, really. How safe would it be if it were targeted by criminals, or terrorists, or if your systems came under cyber-attack?
It may seem bold and jarring to address these questions, but in a time where the travel industry is under attack in more ways than one, now, more than ever, we need to earn the trust of customers and booking agents.
We must reassure them that beyond the freshly laundered sheets, fully stocked mini-bar and infinity pools, hoteliers are planning for the worst-case scenarios so their guests can have the best possible experience.
Industry experts show that fraud in travel is on the up and it’s no surprise: the hospitality industry provides a data-rich playground for cyber criminals to mine: credit card details, birth dates, passport information etc. are incredibly valuable and dangerous in the wrong hands. In the last few years some of the biggest names in the industry including BA, Marriott and Sabre Hospitality have had unimaginable data breaches.
It’s not surprise then that 59% of customers believe their personal information is vulnerable to a security breach, and 54% don’t believe that companies have their best interests in mind, according to a report from Salesforce.
The targeting of hotels by terrorists is certainly not a new one but is, sadly, growing. Hotels are seen as soft, high-value and easy targets. The number of major terrorist attacks against hotels around the world more than doubled in the eight years following 9/11 and earlier this year the world watched in horror as 290 people died, including at the Shangri-La Hotel.
Not only do they have a high density of guests and staff flowing through them at any one time, they are easy to scope out in advance with many assets such as floor plans and photos available online. Hotels that host foreign dignitaries or western guests can become a political symbol for militant group.
A recent Travelzoo Survey in the nine biggest traveller countries saw 89% of guests ranking security as their first concern – an understandable concern within the current climate. Not only is this of concern to individual consumers, but highly relevant to the business community, with greater assurances on security being sought by the business traveller, international guests, corporate booking officials, and travel management companies.
Beyond these two major threats, hotels have also been under attack by industry disruptors such as Airbnb – who operate with little to no regulation when it comes to its guests – and the impact that the demise of brands such as Thomas Cook and Monarch on consumer trust.
Despite all of this, there’s no doubt that consumers will continue to travel – they’re a resilient group and don’t want to forfeit their holidays. However, these travellers are making more savvy choices when it comes to where they go, and where they stay. They want to feel safe in the knowledge that their home away from home truly is taking care of their every need – including security, physical and otherwise.
With this very much at the forefront of our minds, Global Secure Accreditation offers hotels a chance to thoroughly evaluate their security procedures to ensure that they are maintaining the highest standards for guests and that nothing has slipped through the net. Meanwhile, travellers can make an informed decision when booking a hotel, and travel with greater peace of mind in the knowledge that a hotel with Global Secure Accreditation upholds industry leading security standards – on all fronts.
Let’s work together to rebuild an open and trusting relationship with our guests. For more information, visit www.gsaccreditation.com