The Challenge for Hotels When It Comes to Securing Their Systems

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In hotels, guests are a unique challenge to securing hotel systems. One of the first things a hotel guest does once they reach their hotel room is to check their Internet connection. According to studies conducted by Dr. Agnes DeFranco, CHE, CHAE, CHIA and Dr. Cristian Morosan, CHTP, CHE who are both researchers at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, over 80 percent of travelers from the United States travel with at least one mobile device — whether it be a laptop, tablet, smartphone or a combination of the three.

In addition, these studies examined how guests view the security level of hotel network connectivity and what safety practices guests utilize when traveling. Overwhelmingly, the number one practice for both domestic and international travelers was to connect to the secure Wi-Fi network of their hotel and access the Internet.

This research, partially supported by HFTP, examined the practices of 1,301 guests who stayed in hotels within the United States and 1,017 guests who stayed outside of the United States. The following provides a glimpse at the results of the study.

Top Safety Practices for Travelers

Laptop Tablet Smartphone
Connecting to the secure Wi-Fi network of the hotel to access the Internet Connecting to the secure Wi-Fi network of the hotel to access the Internet Using a phone carrier network to access the Internet
Using antivirus protection Using antivirus protection Using antivirus protection
Accessing regular websites Accessing regular websites Using email clients
Using email clients Using email clients Accessing regular websites
Leaving the computer shut down in the room Leaving the tablet shut down OR in the room’s safe deposit box Accessing social media websites

As part of the results of this study, DeFranco and Morosan provided the following advice for hoteliers to help safeguard their systems:

  • Provide a reliable network connectivity service with sufficient bandwidth.
  • Educate consumers to engage in safe computer and access practices.
  • Educate guests to use protection software and encryption for their devices and data.
  • Persuade consumers to connect to secure networks.
  • Educate consumers to use secure Internet practices after they have connected to the Internet.
  • Create a safe mobile device environment for our guests and our hotels.
  • Persuade guests to secure their devices in safe deposit boxes where applicable.
  • Perform security checks of IT systems both periodically and non-scheduled.
  • Inspect for rogue sites set by hackers, neighboring businesses, or even employees.
  • Stay abreast of technological innovations in cyber security.

The full results of these studies were published in a series of articles in HFTP’s publication The Bottomline. Part one of the three-part series can be found in the Winter 2017 edition of The Bottomline: How Travelers Secure Electronics During a Hotel Stay.

Tanya Venegas, MBA, MHM, CHIA is director of customer success at HotStats based in Houston, Texas USA. Tanya served as executive director at the HFTP Americas Research Center at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston for more than 15 years. 

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