While balancing data security and personalization can be fairly difficult to pull off, properties—especially as guests become more demanding about selection and a customized experience—will have to continue to show growth in these areas.
“Security access solutions walk a tight line between protecting against the latest threats and enhancing guest convenience,” said Markus Boberg, VP of business development at Assa Abloy Hospitality, a hotel technology security solutions company. “With consumer lifestyles growing more accustomed to faster, more personalized and reliable service due to the widespread use of smart devices, guests are further demanding hotel services that can accommodate preferences for a mobile-compatible experience. From booking online to checking in and accessing guestrooms, more and more hoteliers are ensuring that their amenities offer a means for mobile interaction, allowing guests to access services on their terms without the need for any hotel staff assistance.”
“Every hotel guest expects that they’ll have WiFi access during their stay,” said Marc Laliberte, information security threat analyst at WatchGuard Technologies. “It’s the hotel’s responsibility to ensure that their WiFi network is not only accessible and high-performing, but secure as well.” This can present challenges to properties with limited IT resources.
Data security will continue to be an issue in the industry as properties seek to enhance guest experiences through personalization. “Security overall will evolve toward becoming more ‘personally identifiable’ to drive higher levels of confidence in the data provider and create more difficulty in attempting to illegally access or use that data,” said Brian Shedd, VP of sales and marketing at OpenKey, a provider of mobile hospitality solutions. Vulnerabilities will arise more frequently when guest data is used.
“The trends are for hotel technology systems to start incorporating more guest data to personalize the stay experience,” Shedd said. “Personalization is being driven by guests who have shown a demonstrated preference for hotels that seem to ‘know’ what their preferences are—and hotels must use guest data to provide that personalized stay experience.”
Finding a balance between property safety and convenience is essential. “Digital key technology is first recognized as a solution that caters to demands for instant and mobile-compatible service by allowing guests to use personal smart devices as electronic room keys,” Boberg said. “This allows users to eliminate the need to wait in line at the front desk upon arrival, and instead provides guests with a personalized service that ensures total control over how they interact with a property from the moment that they arrive.” This type of technology makes use of digitally encrypted data, which is directly transmitted to a guest’s personal device and stored within an app.
He explained further: “Once a guest presents their device to the appropriate door, the app then transmits a signal to the door lock via a secure communication channel, entirely offsetting any chance that individuals other than those authorized can ever acquire sensitive information.”
Additionally, properties are trying to find the balance between risk and reward when it comes to data security. “They understand that using guest data to improve the stay experience comes with the risk of that data being breached—and that creates a liability for the hotel,” Shedd said. “For that reason, hotels are looking for technology providers that take data security as seriously as they do.”
“Millennials’ interest in technology is pushing the industry to redefine services,” said Joey Yanire, assistant VP of mobile access, lodging systems at dormakaba. “Millennials prefer to use their smartphones to manage their loyalty programs. Mobile-minded travelers are using them to book trips, make dining reservations, board a plane, make room reservations, check-in and checkout. By passing the front desk and going straight to the room, it’s more efficient for the guest and improves operational efficiency.”