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The Importance of IT and Cybersecurity in Hospitality

cybersecurity in hospitality

Hospitality businesses are at a higher risk of suffering a data breach because of the nature of the industry. 

The most recent case that made rounds is the massive data breach Marriott International suffered, especially because the breach has remained undetected for over 3 years. In that time, data such as credit card numbers, home addresses, loyalty points, birth dates, passport numbers, and other valuable information were stolen. 

Imagine something like that happening to your cafe, restaurant, or hotel. 

Could you handle the aftermath of a breach? 

It’s not just about the massive damage payouts. The real aftermath is dealing with the trust that will be damaged beyond repair. 

How safe are your current systems? Are you sure you could deter or detect a breach?  

The high risk of the hospitality industry

Hospitality businesses are a high-value target of malicious intent. The first part of the issue revolves around the characteristics of the industry: 

  • You work in a people-centred industry where competition is fierce. 
  • To succeed, your hospitality business has to stand out from the crowd by providing your customers with the very best service.
  • You also have to deal with a lot of stored sensitive information about your clients. 
  • This data can help you provide a streamlined and personalised experience. Unfortunately, such data is highly valued on the black market, which makes you a prime target to hackers. 

The other part of the problem is your back office: 

  • It’s a highly dynamic industry that requires a centralised system with lots of connection and access points. 
  • Any of these can become a potential point of access.  
  • The turnover rate of hospitality businesses is higher than in other industries. 
  • Any old, forgotten, and inactive accounts from former staff are security threats.

How can IT and cybersecurity solutions help hospitality? 

Hospitality businesses are highly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Even large enterprises will succumb to a data breach without advanced cybersecurity solutions. 

Instead of sticking to incident response and passively reporting on a security breach, hospitality businesses have to implement proactive measures that will make a breach unlikely and data unreadable. 

The right IT solution keeps your business efficient and your customer and employee data safe. Our IT and cybersecurity solutions and services will: 

  • Standardise your whole network infrastructure – We can take care of everything – from network hardware installation and setup, to VPN and token solutions.
  • Streamline your operations – This will reduce errors and data mismanagement, and will speed up your whole system. 
  • Encrypt data and documents – While you should aim to avoid a data breach, encryption helps you remain compliant and make data unreadable and unusable in case it does happen. 
  • Report any red flags – Advanced monitoring solutions help detect any irregularities in your database, payment system, or loyalty programs immediately. Your data stays secure, and your services stable.
  • Create and maintain backups – Your whole systems and operations backed up, ready to weather any storm.  
  • Train your staff – Even the best systems remain vulnerable if your staff isn’t up to date on how to use it, or isn’t informed about the latest security threats and policies.
  • Provide ongoing support – From helpdesk and remote support to onsite interventions, we got you covered. 

Responsive IT Support 

We go well beyond simple network setup, optimisation, and one-time security protocol setup.

Cybersecurity is an ongoing task, and TowerWatch Solutions offers ongoing IT support for your hospitality business. 

Our IT support range includes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line support. No matter what type of IT-related issues you are dealing with, we can help you resolve it quickly and have you up and running in no time. 

  • Your employee lost their password? Our helpdesk will help them retrieve it. 
  • Your POS can’t connect to the network? We can get it up and running remotely. 
  • Your customers can’t order ahead through your app? Our engineers will find the reason as soon as possible. 

Our IT support is available around the clock, and you can choose between: 

  • Helpdesk support – A solution for any minor issues that keep disrupting your daily operations is just a phone call away. Our helpdesk support will quickly resolve POS connection issues, account lockouts, or network drops. 
  • Remote assistance – When you can’t take care of the problem on your own, our IT support agents can quickly resolve minor inconveniences with remote access. 
  • Onsite IT expert and engineer teams – Have issues with hardware or software setup? Your Wi-Fi system is down and routers aren’t responding? No worries. We’ll deploy our onsite IT experts to take care of all your IT worries in no time. 

Already have an in-house IT team? 

Nothing to worry about. Besides 1st to 3rd IT support, we also offer full IT management support. 

We will take care of in-house team hiring, management, and training to keep your team up to date on the latest security practices and threats, and work alongside them and offer a helping hand. 

Let us deal with technicalities so you can stay focused on your customer and the experience you provide. 

Project Implementation 

The IT projects and solutions we implement are all based on the latest technology and security standards. 

The hospitality industry works with high volumes of sensitive data, and our solutions warrant it stays safe – we will make sure all your operations are GDPR-compliant too.

Project implementation preparations

Our experts and engineers have over 10 years of experience in IT management and project implementation. Before we draft a project for your hospitality business, we will take a look at your current setup. 

TowerWatch Solutions will ensure your IT systems can handle your business demands, follow the latest hospitality trends, and battle security threats. 

We can make the project as simple or complex as you need it to be. We can implement a simple backup solution for your current operations, or reinvent your whole IT infrastructure and offer a streamlined digital dining journey. 

Your IT needs should never take the back seat. Today, IT solutions are the driving force of successful hospitality businesses. We can help you with:

  • Implementing full server systems, communications, and platforms. 
  • Physically relocating your sites and helping you open new sites.
  • Moving your physical servers to safer virtual environments.
  • Converting your local data and operations to the cloud.
  • Installing and implementing encryption solutions for your customer data and loyalty programs. 
  • Taking care of GDPR and PCI compliance.
  • Implementing access control measures. 
  • Setting up Backup and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) measures.  

Fully custom solutions, tailored just for you 

Because no two hospitality businesses are alike, we focus on getting to know you first. Your long-term goals become our long-term goals.

When we are familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, we will know how to design an IT system that will emphasise the former and eliminate the latter. 

  • A custom-designed IT system will cover all your needs and provide a streamlined experience to your customers and patrons. 
  • We will implement new hardware, software, and full IT solutions with minimal disruptions to your operations. 

With our IT services, you’ll be ready for rapid expansion and franchising: We will future-proof your IT infrastructure so you can easily open new locations locally, regionally, and globally, and deploy your whole system instantly.

Streamlined Setup 

Do not worry about business disruptions while we implement our IT and security solutions. 

We have streamlined our setup routine so you can continue working without losses in uptime, efficiency, or staff and guest satisfaction. We’ll start with upgrades that are easiest to implement and work our way to the more complex solutions. 

Continue impressing your guests and customers while we update, improve, and optimise your whole IT system with:  

  • Equipment standardisation – Differences in hardware, procedures, and policies across franchises are a common reason for disjointed operations. We will standardise all your equipment. 
  • The best guest Wi-Fi solutions – Your systems are not the only thing that benefits from being connected. Your customers will keep coming back to enjoy not just your services, but also an amazing, lightning-fast, and most importantly, secure Wi-Fi in any of your establishments. 
  • Cloud solutions that sync across your whole franchise – No matter how many locations you have, relocating your operations to the cloud will allow your staff to work efficiently from any branch and sync data across all your locations.
  • Active network monitoring – Proactive approach to possible issues is the only way to deal with them before they become serious. Our IT solutions can monitor your whole infrastructure and network, and alert our IT support in case of irregularities. 
  • GDPR compliance implementation – Unsure about GDPR compliance and worried about possible legal risks? We got you covered here too. 

TowerWatch Solutions is your one-stop shop for implementing cybersecurity and IT systems that will make you fully compliant with the GDPR. 

Our compliance strategy includes data mapping and auditing. We will uncover where your data is stored and review all your software for possible security gaps. 

We will implement security measures such as system monitoring and advanced data encryption to keep data safe.  

  • PCI compliance implementation – PCI compliance helps you protect your customer’s credit card data and reduce fraud attempts. By making sure your new IT setup is compliant with PCI DSS standards, your customers and guests will know you place the highest emphasis on their security. 
  • Future-proofing – Our IT solutions ensure your systems are future-proof and you won’t have to worry about substantial investments down the line. When you migrate your operations to virtual environments and the cloud, all the updates are handled by the provider, guaranteeing your systems are always up to date and safe.  

Your IT security is only as good as its weakest link. Unintended data disclosure can easily be prevented with the right staff training. Leave it to us to teach them how to use the newly implemented systems and foster a culture of security. 

Consultancy & Research 

Are you opening a new restaurant and want a good IT infrastructure right away?  Or are you an established franchise that could use some updating in the IT department, but you’re not sure where to start? 

Start by consulting with our experts 

TowerWatch Solutions offers consulting services on hospitality IT systems and cybersecurity. We’ll help you plan out every detail of IT system implementation and assist your in-house IT teams on every step of the way. 

No in-house teams? No problem. We can manage your IT projects on our own too. 

If you are more comfortable with having in-house IT experts, we also provide consulting on IT Training and Recruitment. We can help you set up, recruit, and train an in-house IT team for you. We can set up, manage, and recruit new members to your team. 

Our dedicated IT experts and engineers will help you with a boost of specialised knowledge right where you need it:  

  • IT project management – From implementing ePOS systems to handling guest Wi-Fi options, we’ll help you manage the whole project.  We consult you on the best ways to implement it, and what the needed security measures and best practices are.
  • IT security requirements – We can help you and your team set up staff authentication, BYOD policies, GDPR, and PCI compliance, and consult you on the latest industry standards. 
  • Data safety and recovery options – Our experts will be happy to explain all the solutions you can implement to prevent data leaks and losses and help you pick the best mix of options. Learn about:
    • Differences between backup solutions
    • The importance of business continuity strategies
    • How data loss prevention (DLP) works 
    • What disaster recovery options would be best for you
  • Cloud computing solutions – We’ll guide you through possible cloud computing options and advise you on the one best suited to your particular needs, be it private, public, or hybrid. 
  • Migration services – We can help you move your data and operations from one location to another, or to a virtual environment. We will also ensure that any risks – privacy, security, and data access – are eliminated in the process.  

Overall…

Hospitality is an industry that handles huge amounts of sensitive data on customers, guests, and patrons. Hospitality cybersecurity is more important than ever before. As a restaurant, cafe, or hotel owner, it’s your responsibility to keep their data safe. 

How up to date is your current IT setup? Have you taken care of your GDPR compliance? Do you know who has access to sensitive data? 

Here are some of the latest facts and figures on hospitality data breaches, and just how much damage they can do: 

  • Restaurant group Earl Enterprises data breach from May 2018 to March 2019
    • Data affected: Over 2 million credit card numbers were stolen
    • Attack vector: Malware on their POS system
    • Brands affected: Buca di Beppo, Earl of Sandwich, Planet Hollywood, Chicken Guy!, Mixology, and Tequila Taqueria
    • Damages paid: Unknown
    • The company launched a website so guests can check whether their details were stolen.
  • RMH franchise security breach in 2018
    • Data affected: Guests’ names, credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and card verifications codes
    • Attack vector: Unauthorised software placed on the POS system
    • Brands affected: 167 Applebee’s restaurants
    • Damages paid: Unknown
  • Wendy’s data breach of 2015 and 2016
    • Data affected: Name, card number, expiration date, security, and service codes, and other payment card-related information.
    • Attack vector: Malware on POS system
    • Brands affected: Wendy’s restaurants
    • Damages paid: $50 million
  • Dunkin’ Donuts data breach
    • Data affected: Usernames and passwords for loyalty programs
    • Attack vector: Third-party breach
    • Brands affected: Dunkin’ Donuts
    • Damages paid: Unknown
  • Hilton Hotels data breach of 2014 and 2015
    • Data affected: Credit card numbers, names, addresses
    • Attack vector: Cash register computers
    • Brands affected: Hilton Hotels
    • Damages paid: $700,000
  • Marriott data breach: The biggest breach up to date
    • Data affected: 500 million customers’ information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, account info, birth dates, gender, and arrival/departure information
    • Attack vector: Unauthorised access to the hotel database
    • Brands affected: Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott, W Hotels, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le MERIDIEN, Westin, Renaissance Hotels, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn.  
    • Damages to pay: $915 million GDPR 

Digital technology and data safety have become an integral part of the hospitality and dining experience. 

How IT Solutions Influence the Dining Journey

Technology is affecting the hospitality industry, and those who don’t embrace IT solutions are bound to fall behind fast. 

According to the Windstream Enterprise-BRP Consulting digital restaurant study that focused on preferences of Millennials and Gen Z, shows that digital technology affects the hospitality sector, particularly restaurants, quite a lot. 

Here are some of their most interesting finds: 

  • 74% find that ease of ordering and payment is extremely important.
    • only 45% of restaurants have excellent execution for this preference
  • 60% place importance into Wi-Fi availability 
    • only 44% of restaurants have a good solution in place 
  • 42% actively look for contactless and mobile payment availability
    • only 33% of restaurants have it 
  • 41% look for mobile and web order ahead options
    • only 26% of restaurants offer a good solution

The following infographic by Deloitte from 2016 shows just how important technology has become in hospitality:

Source

Some key findings include the fact that 40% of people prefer to order online, and when technology is used to place orders, customers will spend an extra 20% on an average per visit.   

The findings clearly show that the customer journey and experiences are heavily influenced by the convenience of new tech solutions. The only way forward for your business is to implement IT solutions that will be convenient but also safe. 

Do you have the right IT solutions in place? Get in touch to see how we can help you streamline, boost customers with technology projects, and improve your security.

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Five Ways to Avoid Hotel Phishing Scams

Seeing headlines about yet another hotel hacked have become commonplace and statistics are looking grim. A staggering 64% of US citizens have already had to deal with stolen data. Hotel phishing has become way too common.

Hotels are the perfect targets due to the amount of sensitive data they are processing each day and the tech they are using. Lots of high profile breaches that have happened lately signal that many of them do not have the right cybersecurity solutions in place. 

Hotel phishing scams are a common attack, and Verizon’s 2019 data breach report shows that out of all the data breaches detected, 32% involved phishing. 

What’s even more worrisome, 56% of those breaches weren’t discovered for months

Avoiding attempts of such scams is impossible, but lowering the risk of becoming a victim is. Here are five ways to detect and avoid phishing scams.  

#1 Staff Training 

Hotels often skip cybersecurity training because they wish to invest in other areas, yet a single successful phishing scam can lead to a breach that will tank their reputation and customer trust, which results in high fines.

Because emails are the primary trajectory attackers are using for their hotel phishing scams, it’s important that your employees are able to recognise such scam attempts right away. 

A single click is enough to infect the system. The same report from Verizon gives insight that internal actors were responsible for 34% of breaches. Every misclick will result in having your hotel hacked again and again.  

Cybersecurity training for the hotel staff must be a top priority. 

When staff members know how to detect a suspicious email, check the sender and double-check all domain names, the risk of them clicking on it becomes considerably lower. 

#2 Have an External Mail Warning System 

Creating a hotel phishing email is easier than ever, as people are more than willing to share their personal information online.

A well-constructed phishing email can look like a genuine company email from a well-known staff member.

An external email warning system helps identify suspicious emails by displaying a warning when the email originates from an external source. 

This will prompt the staff to double-check the sender and the actual address before opening the mail or clicking the link and report the suspicious email to the IT office. 

#3 Implement a Sandbox

Sandbox in IT is basically a completely isolated environment that fools malicious code into thinking it got access to actual systems. 

Sandboxes are used to test links and attachments and execute them without risking the security of your network. 

If the system detects malicious code or link, it will show a warning and remove the attachment/link so the user and systems stay safe. 

#4 Keep Your Network Secure 

Have antivirus, antispyware, and malware software on your network and all devices, as well as commercial firewalls. 

Keeping your main network inaccessible to outside devices will reduce the vectors of attack.

Have a different network for your guests, and keep all personal IT devices from your staff on a separate network too. 

#5 Stay Informed About Phishing Techniques & Have Procedures In Place

New phishing scams appear all the time, so make sure your IT department follows all new developments closely.  Ask them to regularly send internal newsletters on threats and distribute them to everyone.

Plus, make sure you have strict procedures in place when it comes to payments and authorising new transactions. For example, change of details must be confirmed by a vendor over the phone (rather than email), requests for money are escalated to a higher management level, and links aren’t clicked on unless they are expected.

Hotels Must Be Hypervigilant

The reason why so many hotels fall victim to hotel phishing attacks is the lack of updates to their systems, operations, and standards. 

When coupled with lack of staff training and monitoring solutions, a data breach might already be in progress without them having the slightest clue about it.

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Steps To Respond To a Ransomware Attack

steps after a ransomware attack

Cybersecurity is an important topic for any business now. In the last 12 months, 32% of businesses experienced some sort of cyber attack or data breach. That means that every third business had to deal with a cyber-attack, according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. It goes without saying that every business should prepare for a ransomware attack and other types of cyber-attacks.

Keeping your assets secure against cyberthreats needs much more than installing firewalls and anti-virus software. Today’s cyber threats are sophisticated and use every possible loophole in your security settings to get access.While there are different types of attacks, ransomware is one of the most malicious attacks businesses have to deal with. 

What’s a Ransomware Attack? 

Ransomware is a type of attack where malicious software (malware) takes over a computer or whole systems and denies any type of access until you pay a ransom. The ransom demand usually requires payment in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, as it’s impossible to trace it. 

It is one of the most dangerous types of attacks, as it can stop a business dead in its tracks. In case the ransom is not paid, all data will be deleted from the system. 

This is bad enough if it happens to an individual. Imagine this happening to your company – you will lose all business and operational data, and you’ll have to start all over again. Some businesses never recover.

Preparing for a Ransomware Attack

The bad news with ransomware attacks? It can happen to anyone, and once it does, there’s not much you can do. 

But you can prepare for it. Here’s how: 

Data backup should be your number one priority.

It can save you thousands and millions, but it has to be done right by protecting your data storage properly. Ransomware attacks are carefully executed and attackers will often have access to your systems for months before they attack. 

Why? Because they want to make sure they hijack everything, including any possible backups you might have. 

This is why you should keep backups on another location. It would be best to have backups in the cloud but also have at least one backup offline – completely disconnected from any network – as even cloud backups can sometimes be affected.  

Make sure IT keeps all systems and software up to date.

Although updates are often a hassle, they exist for a reason. Most updates are released to take care of security vulnerabilities. When software and operating systems are not updated, you are basically inviting hackers to access your systems. Your IT department should ensure every device is up to date. 

Start implementing user restrictions.

Not all of your employees need access to all your data. Ask your IT provider to implement user restrictions so that your employees have access only to data they need. In case they need more, they can request special and temporary access that is revoked as soon as they don’t need it anymore. This way, in case their accounts are compromised, the breach will be limited. 

Invest in monitoring software. 

You can get powerful software solutions that can monitor your whole systems for suspicious activity. This goes beyond the regular antivirus monitoring – it can monitor what users are doing, what data they are accessing, and alert you in case something is out of the ordinary. 

Don’t forget about employee training.

No matter what type of security software and solutions you utilise, if your employees are not aware of best practices on cybersecurity, you’re always just one bad click away from a ransomware attack. Make sure your employees know how to spot suspicious email, and know that they should never click on the links in such emails or download attachments.  

Work on your BYOD policies.

Many businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, often allow employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work. Without a good policy in place, however, this becomes a security issue. 

If an employee brings an infected device and connects it to the same network, you’re looking at a possible spread of infection – and ransomware – to all other devices and the whole system. Because of this, any device connecting to your system should be up to date, have antivirus software, and be cleared by the IT department regularly. This goes for smartphones too.

First Steps After a Ransomware Attack 

1. Take a photo of the note

This will help the IT determine what type of ransomware you’re dealing with. 

2. Determine the extent of the attack 

Your IT provider should be able to determine whether the ransomware has infected a single device, or if the infection is spreading through your network.

3. Isolate infected devices and disable sharing

All infected devices should be removed from the network to stop the spread. Any type of sharing that’s active should be shut off immediately. 

4. Notify employees

Send an email to all employees so that they can report whether their devices are working. Those who can work can continue, but those affected can help in other areas while IT deals with the issue. 

5. Let IT remove ransomware from infected devices 

IT should scrub the devices that were infected completely. Sometimes, a local backup on the device can solve the issue, but oftentimes, even that will be unavailable. 

6. Restore data from backups

Once you reinstall the operating systems, your IT can restore data on affected devices from a cloud or offline backup.

To Pay or Not to Pay? 

If you’re not prepared and have no backups, you might be tempted to pay. Take this year’s ransomware attack on the City of Baltimore’s government. Their systems were infected by ransomware that stopped numerous important systems: ATMs, airports, even hospitals. 

The attackers demanded the city pays about $76,000 in Bitcoin. The city refused to pay, only to realise many of their systems weren’t backed up. They lost huge amounts of data, and the attack ended up costing them $18 million

It seems that in the case of Baltimore, it would have been much better if they simply paid the ransom. Well, not really. 

Why? 

You’re dealing with criminals. Even if the city paid the ransom, there’s no guarantee that they would have gotten the access back. If they did, they would have become a prime target for future attacks too, since they paid the ransom already. This is why it’s so important to prepare – it will minimise damages.

Conclusion

Everyone’s at risk of a ransomware attack. Preventing it is next to impossible, but preparing for it is more than possible. Your IT provider should back up your data regularly, and you should make sure your employees know how to spot suspicious phishing attacks. When you prepare for a ransomware attack properly, you can minimise the impact of such an attack and save you from monetary and reputation damage. 

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5 London Hotels That Are Above the Curve on Technology

5 London Hotels That Are Above the Curve on Technology

The hotel industry is only just starting to embrace the latest tech. London hotels areis working hard to make guests feel like they are right at home during their stay. But when does a hotel stay feel like home?

The latest technology has made it possible to set up the room just the way you like it. From choosing the right room, lighting, temperature, music – everything can be controlled and set up in advance.  London hotels have started picking up on the need to personalise every guests’ stay and invest in new technology to make this possible.

Here are five of the London hotels innovating technology in their offering to guests: 

1. Eccleston Square Hotel

Named London’s most high-tech hotel, Eccleston Square Hotel is a unique blend of historical elegance and exciting new technology. 

The hotel’s very own app that guests can download to their device acts as a digital concierge and lets you set up everything just the way you want for your arrival. 

Each room has access to free and fast Wi-Fi, and comes equipped with free smartphones that guests can use for international calls and free data while roaming the city or conducting business.  

The in-room pads let guests control every single aspect of their room – light, sound, and temperature – and they can also browse the menu, order room service from the restaurant, and select the time of delivery. 

The bathroom glass walls can be toggled between see-through and frosted with a simple touch of a button. The best part is that the “Do not disturb” sign can be activated from the touchpad, too! 

2.  Radisson Blu Edwardian, Berkshire

Radisson Blu on oxford Street never stops innovating to offer the very best guest experience. While staying at the Edwardian on the Bloomberry St, guests will be able to use their very own virtual assistant called Edward. 

Edward will help throughout the whole stay and help them with check-ins, checkouts, and requesting anything guests might need. Each room has fast Wi-Fi for an unlimited number of devices, and guests can even stay up to date thanks to their digital news app. 

3. South Place Hotel, London

The South Place Hotel also realised that guests want full control of their room setup, so every guest can control lighting and electronic blackout blinds, and enjoy crystal clear sound thanks to the Bang & Olufsen media centre and a library full of free on-demand movies and shows. 

The bathrooms are equipped with a TV and speakers too, and those who get tired of movies can head to the hotel’s games room.

4. Amba Hotel Marble Arch, London 

Also located on Oxford Street, Amba Hotel Marble Arch lets guests have full control over every aspect of their stay. They can choose rooms themselves during booking, and the Mobile Valet app lets guests explore the hotel and all amenities, order room service, and set up express checkout easily. 

Every room is equipped with USB sockets next to beds and super-fast unlimited Wi-Fi. There’s also a tablet in each room that guests can use as they like, and Smart TVs they can link their own devices with and connect to their favourite services.  Plus, you can keep your tech secure thanks to the in-room laptop safe which is a great addition for business trips.

5. CitizenM London Bankside

The CitizenM London Bankside offers their guests compact rooms filled to the brim with technological gadgets that make the stay comfortable and futuristic. Starting with ‘one-minute’ check-in kiosks, the guests are guided to a room that they can adjust as they want. 

Guests will have their own tablet “mood pad” that gives them control over all the aspects of the room. Coupled with lightning-fast Wi-Fi, it’s really like being portalled to the future. 

Today, a personal touch and focus on guest preferences is what it’s all about. The very best hotels focus on the guest experience by making it easy to check in and out, order, and connect to personal and business accounts and services right in the room.

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6 Hospitality Businesses Who Faced Data Breach Fines

hospitality data breach fine

Contrary to popular belief, the hospitality industry is an excellent target of cybercrime because of the sheer amount of personal and sensitive data held. In fact, there are several businesses that have already faced data breach fines.

Every day, hotels, hostels, and restaurant chains handle credit cards, emails, contact preferences, home addresses, and other sensitive data from millions of customers, and hackers want to get their hands on that information.

A data breach can go undetected for quite a long time, as some of the cases below demonstrate, which would only increase the GDPR fine nowadays!

Here are 6 hospitality businesses who have recently faced data breach fines, and the cybercrime that caused them.

1. Hilton Fined $700,000 After Taking 10 Months To Notify Customers of Data Loss.

Back in 2014, Hilton hotels were a victim of a data breach, followed by another breach during 2015, which resulted in the data loss of over 360,000 customers. The data that was stolen held sensitive information like credit card numbers, names, addresses, and more.

The biggest issue is that Hilton failed to inform its customers about the breach in a timely manner. It took them ten months after they learned about the breach to inform their customers. This resulted in a $700,000 fine for lack of adequate security and failing to inform customers about the breach. If this had happened recently, their fines would be much higher under GDPR –  they would probably have to pay around $420 million.

2. Radisson Hotels Face Potential GDPR Fine

Radisson Hotel Group faces fines under the newly adopted GDPR. The breach was discovered in 2018, with Radisson claiming to have promptly informed the EU regulators within the 72-hour timeline. It was detected in the Radisson Rewards database, and some members of their Rewards programs were compromised.

Apparently, credit card or passwords were not stolen. Stolen data included names, addresses, email addresses, company names, Rewards member numbers, and frequent flyer numbers. As a result, the hotel chain might be facing a €10 million fine.

3. Trump Hotels Pay $50,000 After Not Informing Customers About Breach

Even Trump hotels aren’t spared of data breaches. The hotel chain suffered a data breach back in 2014 when over 70,000 credit card numbers and other personal data were stolen via the payment processing system that was infected. The now president Trump agreed to cover the $50,000 fine that was issued because the hotel chain didn’t bother to inform their customers about the breach even though they knew about it for months.

4. Wendy’s $50 Million Settlement

Restaurant chain Wendy’s had to pay a hefty fine because of the data breach that happened in 2015 and 2016 when 1,025 POS systems used at their locations were infected with malware that led to a lot of stolen credit card info. It is reported that over 18 million cards were compromised in the breach.

Many of these cards were used to commit fraudulent online purchases. As a result, Wendy’s had to face a class action lawsuit from affected financial institutions and consumers. Wendy’s reached a settlement that required them to pay $50 million by the end of 2019.

5. Zippy’s Restaurant $725,000 Data Breach

Zippy’s restaurant chain based in Hawaii suffered a data breach in November 2017. They first discovered the breach in March 2018. All cards used during that time might have been affected. The compromised information included credit card numbers, expiration dates, names, and security codes.

There is no information about how many customers were affected, but a class action lawsuit was filed against FCH Enterprises, the owner of Zippy’s Restaurant. It’s worth noting that not only the restaurant chain was affected. The other franchises held by FCH – Napoleon’s Bakery, Kahala Sushi, Pearl City Sushi, and Pomaika’i Ballrooms. FCH reached a settlement and agreed to pay $725,000.

6. The $915Million GDPR Marriott Case

Probably the case that got most traction is the large data breach that occurred with the Marriott hotel chain. Personal data and credit card details, even passport numbers and dates of birth of more than 500 million of their customers were stolen. The Marriott group includes hotel chains such as Sheraton, Westin, W, Le, Meridien.

The breach was first discovered in September 2018, while detailed investigation revealed ongoing unauthorized access dating back to 2014. They did encrypt sensitive data such as credit card information. However, the group stated they cannot be sure that encryption keys were not stolen too.

The most concerning part is that this was ongoing for four years, meaning security monitoring profoundly failed. The fine: $3.5 billion dollars plus $915 million from ICO GDPR.

With the rising risk of data breach and rising prices of fines, make sure you protect your customers’ sensitive data. This is especially true with the GDPR in place. By doing so, you avoid fines and ensure your guests rest easy knowing their personal information is safe with you.


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5 Reasons Hospitality Businesses Get Hacked

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The last several years have revealed that hospitality businesses are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Many major hospitality players being victims of cybercrime that was in some cases undetected for years. In a separate post, we have cited six hospitality businesses that faced data breach fines resulting from hospitality business hacking.

Hackers are becoming increasingly innovative in ways they gain access to secure hospitality systems. In contrast, the hospitality sector is lagging behind in security measures. Businesses often don’t treat cybersecurity as a priority but prefer to focus on customer experience only, which can have far-reaching consequences in case of a breach.

The most common factors that contribute to hospitality business hacking and data breaches include the following:  

#1 The Number of People Involved

It is the nature of the hospitality industry that makes hospitality businesses such targets – there are so many customers and staff involved that hackers easily benefit from those numbers.  Sooner or later, somebody will make a mistake and click on a malicious link delivered into their inbox from a spoofed email address, and that one click is often enough to get access to everything.

Once inside, hackers will easily find employee credentials to get access to sensitive information, such as customer names, emails, addresses, current residence, credit card information, loyalty programs and points, and more, and use all that information for monetary gain or to sell it on the dark web.  

Another big issue that contributes to the high vulnerability of the hospitality sector is the current hospitality retention rates. Retention rate in the hospitality industry is quite low in comparison to averages or other industries. In the UK, the annual staff retention level is just over 70%, which is concerning since the average retention is usually around 85%. Not only are staff usually less interested in the long-term protection of the business, but frequent changes of users and passwords often leads to bad practices like sharing or logging in for each other.

#2 Unsecured Networks Result in Hospitality Business Hacking

One of the easiest ways hackers are able to access guest and employee data is through Wi-Fi networks that are poorly secured and unsecured. While it’s hard to make sure a Wi-Fi network is 100% secure against attacks, hospitality businesses can do a lot to minimise the risk.

First of all, a network should never be unsecured. While it might seem like a great perk – use your network easily without having to ask for a passcode – this also means that anyone can access it, hackers included. The passcode should always be complex to avoid hackers simply guessing it. Businesses should avoid setting up “12345” or the business name as the passcode.

In addition to the right encryption settings for all the networks, it’s important to separate them too. Guests should always have a separate network for all their devices. Sharing the same network for business devices and guest devices is a recipe for disaster. Some of your guests may not be as innocent as they appear. They may be accessing your internal systems and data whilst also enjoying your coffee.

#3 Lack of Understanding

Another fault of many businesses in the hospitality industry is their lack of understanding of cybersecurity. Hotels are now interconnected digital systems that compete for customers by introducing new digital experiences. As such complex systems, they have a large number of endpoints – like the above-mentioned Wi-Fi networks, but also HVAC systems, Points of Sale (PoS), electronic door locks, smart devices – through which customer data is accessed and stored.

It’s true that they do adopt new technology and software to streamline their operations. But their outdated security measures don’t cover new security threats. You see, each of the endpoints used can also be an entry point for hackers to steal data. Sometimes, it’s enough to delay updating your PoS system for hackers to get a successful entry.   

Because hospitality businesses deal with such a large amount of sensitive data daily, it’s of utmost importance that they also understand the risks that come with the benefits of new software and tech solutions.

#4 Cybersecurity Isn’t Their Focus

Most hospitality businesses will agree that customer satisfaction and the overall experience with their brand is what matters most. The competition is fierce, and it’s very easy to lose customers. In their battle to retain customers, they will often prioritise to spend their money on user experience. As a result, they streamline all their internal operations towards this goal.

Providing a seamless experience in every single one of their locations require interconnection of all hotels from the same chain. For this reason, they are able to easily share their data on customers between locations. This way, the customer’s preferences when it comes to rooms and suites and other data that help make them feel welcome is accessible at any time, no matter which of their hotels the customer walks into. Such data sharing happens within the hotel chain national network, which all hotels have access to.

This interconnectedness can have far-reaching consequences – just one breach into a single hotel from the whole chain is enough for hackers to quickly gain access to their whole system and steal information from central data points.

#5 Lack of Education Lead to Hospitality Business Hacking

With a lack of understanding of why security systems are crucial for all the digital systems in the hospitality industry, cybersecurity is often put into the back seat. This, in turn, results in a severe lack of education for staff members and partners.

If employees working in hospitality do not know how to spot risks, the chances of hospitality business hacking skyrocket. Not all employees are tech-savvy or IT professionals. Some of them don’t know how to spot a phishing attempt. However, with the right training, you can greatly reduce the chances of being hacked.

The best approach here would be to have cybersecurity staff that will take proactive measures to keep all systems secure. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to appoint a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who would oversee all security-related operations. The CISO ‘s responsibility includes setting up a plan in case a breach happens.

The Right Measures Help Detect a Breach Quickly

The hospitality industry will remain a high-risk target for cyber attacks, and there will always be a risk. However, taking the right countermeasures will minimise hospitality business hacking. This ensures that if a breach does happen, there are rules in place that will help detect it quickly. Consequently, businesses take the right course of action.

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IT Managed Service Providers vs In-house IT Teams For Hospitality

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As businesses are undergoing digital transformations, IT is becoming a critical part of their business success. With consumers expecting hospitality to match the digital era with new customer experiences, it’s often one of the things that are left behind!

So whilst basic IT knowledge goes a long way in hospitality, having a dedicated IT expert is still the best solution. Most business owners are now faced with a critical decision: to choose between an IT managed service provider vs in-house IT team.  How are they different? Which one is better? How safe is it to let someone else take care of your IT needs?

The choice between an IT managed service provider vs in-house IT team often boils down to the size of the company and its specific needs. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of each option.

In-House IT Team: Pros and Cons

In-house IT staff usually handle day-to-day IT operations and requirements. Startups and small and medium businesses will often start with a single IT expert who will handle their IT needs. As they grow, however, they will also need more than one IT expert to keep track of everything.

Pros

It’s not that in-house teams are without benefits:  

  • They will have intimate knowledge of your operations and know your infrastructure in and out.
  • They can be immediately available when you need them.

On the other hand, having a full in-house IT team is often limited to large enterprises only. A full IT team when you’re a small or middle-sized business is just not possible financially. Not only would they eat up resources but you need a place to put them day-to-day too!

Cons

The cons of in-house teams seem to be more prevalent when it comes to IT requirements of most hospitality businesses:

  • The costs run high: They will be your full-time employees, meaning you will have to cover their salaries, benefits, training, NI, and other expenses.
  • The emergencies increase costs even more: The cost of intervention often goes up considerably in case of emergencies that happen overnight, and you have to pay overtime.
  • Team members are not bound to your company: If they decide to leave for what they think is a better opportunity, they are free to do so. When they leave, they will take all their expertise with them and you’re stuck with tech you don’t know how to run, unless you employ a team – which is even more expensive!
  • In-house teams can rarely keep up with all the latest IT developments or industry trends, meaning that parts of your IT infrastructure will inadvertently become outdated. It’s their job to keep things running, not constantly innovate!
  • Often limited to reactive interventions instead of proactive IT strategy development.

Is an IT managed service provider better than in-house IT teams? Let’s see what they can offer.

IT Managed Service Providers: Pros and Cons

Business owners are often wondering how is an IT managed service provider better than in-house IT teams. It seems logical that hiring a third-party provider to take care of your IT needs would be less efficient.

But this is a common misconception.

Managed service providers actually improve efficiency. They deliver higher quality services because IT is their speciality; it’s all they do. They are experts who continuously improve their knowledge by following the latest developments.

Pros

When a business hires an IT managed service provider, they will reap the following benefits:

  • Paying a lower price for hiring them than you would for keeping an in-house team. Their services are available for a flat monthly rate, which makes budgeting for IT super easy. You benefit from economies of scale here, because ultimately, you won’t be the service provider’s only client – but that means they are more affordable!  
  • They are available around the clock and can monitor your systems at all times.
  • Your operations will rarely be disrupted: Managed service providers have service level agreements (SLAs) that are legally binding. They guarantee to provide the highest possible uptime and service quality. It also means that should you move to someone else, they should provide you with all the procedures and documentation necessary to ‘hand-over’ your day-to-day.
  • Managed service providers also have access to the latest technological solutions, software, and industry contact. This means that all your IT needs will be up to date as soon as there’s one available.

Cons

Of course, there are also some disadvantages of managed service providers:

  • Finding the right fit for your business needs takes time. Sometimes, trial and error is the only option to find a managed service provider who has everything you need.
  • Sometimes, service packages can be arranged in such a way that you might need to pay for some services you don’t really need. Still, many managed service providers will happily let you make a fully custom package.
  • The biggest concern is their on-site availability. Your MSP should always be able to provide some level of physicality! Particularly for 1st line support which often involves users directly.

IT Managed Service Provider vs In-House IT Team: Who Wins?

Is an IT managed service provider better than in-house IT teams? Our verdict is a big fat YES because they can offer everything an in-house IT team does, and more! Ultimately, you pay for a ‘service’ rather than a person when it comes to an IT managed service provider and therefore you know you’re always covered!

Comparing an IT managed service provider to an in-house IT team shows that you will ultimately save more money by opting for a managed service provider.

Having up-to-date software is also a crucial point – it ensures you are well protected against cybersecurity threats and attacks that are becoming more elaborate over time. Your IT managed service provider will make sure all your security definitions are up to date, that they never expire, and that your business and customer data is secure.

IT managed service providers free up the time you would otherwise spend on the challenging tasks related to your IT. They are not just your IT support, they are the technological catalyst for your business. Working with you to develop the right strategies to acheive your your long-term goals.

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2019 Hospitality Tech Trends We’re Excited to See

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The omnipresence of technology is bringing some exciting new hospitality tech trends that we can’t wait to see put into action in 2019. As one of the least innovative industries and yet highly customer-facing, the hospitality industry is slowly seeing the need (and customer want) for increasing technology.

In addition to improving customer experience, new technological solutions also contribute to the improvement of inner operations and management. From staff having their very own digital assistants to offering personalized hotel rooms, here are some of the coolest trends that await us in 2019.

1. Digital Assistants in a Business Use Capacity

Although voice processing and speech recognition became available in the 1990s, it still couldn’t process or deliver natural speech patterns which made usage difficult and affected user experience.

Since then, we’ve now got Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Samsung’s Bixby and Microsoft’s Cortana as the main digital assistant contenders.

You can give out commands to schedule meetings, book travels, voice queries all the while preserving your natural speech pattern.

The hospitality industry has caught on to the rising trend of voice recognition technology and is incorporating them into their offering in three ways:

  1. Booking & Ordering – On websites or booking pages, there’s no need for longer drop-down boxes or code, instead, users should soon be able to speak their needs and this be picked up by the location from their end. It saves time, energy and is much more user-friendly.
  2. Customer Services – Digital assistants may become part of hotels the same way they do in our homes. They can integrate seamlessly in a hotel to offer guests a new innovative level of service. Controlling room temperature or light settings with their voice as well as order room service or choose from a list of additional purchases, all without having to call or click a button.
  3. Daily Management – Digital assistants aren’t just to benefit customers, but staff too. Daily tasks, like taking food orders, scheduling room cleaning, staff rota organisations, or internal memos could be handled by digital assistants. This will leave the staff with much more time for relevant guest interactions and ensuring everything is up to highest standards.

2. Personalised Hotel Rooms

A personal touch is the most important one in the hospitality industry, and it’s good to see hospitality tech trends focused on it. Many resorts and hotels are incorporating high-tech solutions that enable guests a fully personalised experience during their stay, with the ultimate aim being that the room feels like home as soon as guests connect their devices. This means that guests will have access to their documents, music, and streaming services, and they will be able to control environmental settings such as room temperature or lights.

The Hilton hotel chain is at the forefront of integrating personalisation options with their Connected Room experience, which enables various room controls through their mobile Hilton Honors app. The guests will have the options to set their preferences even before they arrive at the hotel, so the room will be fully tuned to them once they enter.

3. Robotic Cleaners

Automation has taken the world by storm, and it’s currently sweeping (pun intended) through hospitality too.

It has even reached the kitchens, with automated orders being just the start, and the latest development being robotic cooks doing the brunt of the work. However, over 50% of consumers are not fond of this trend and would rather not be served by a robot. There is no replacing the human element when it comes to cuisine. On the other hand, more than 80% of them are sure that robots will be cleaning restaurants soon.

This trend is already present in hotels, who are seeing a surge in robotic help with cleaning operations. While many consumers already have a Roomba in their homes, the robots helping in hotels are a bit more advanced. Maidbot as an example – named “Rosie,” has LIDAR detection to efficiently avoid obstacles and is fully autonomous in operation.  

The Radisson Blu Hotel in Delhi employs a fully automated pool cleaning robot that not only does its job exceptionally well, but also uses fewer chemicals. While it can do most work on its own, if there’s a spot that requires extra attention, it can be controlled remotely too.

4. Biometric Data Analysis to Suggest Travel Destinations

Biometric data has become a standard in many areas today, with many mobile phones and notebooks having face-recognition software and fingerprint scanners. Hotels have also embraced this technology to personalise experiences for their guests.

When a guest is recognised as soon as they enter the hotel or restaurant, their overall experience is improved, which will make them more likely to return. Oracle has conducted an extensive research on customer preferences toward new technology in hotels and restaurants and found out that:

“31% of restaurant guests and 41% of hotel guests will be more likely to visit an establishment with greater frequency if they are recognised by an employee without having to give their name or show a loyalty card.”

The truly revolutionary way to use biometrics in the hospitality industry goes toward knowing what the guests would enjoy most even before they are aware of it. Accor Hotels has introduced Seeker, an installation that suggests travel destination based on behavioural analysis. Seeker records and analyses heart rate, skin responses, brain waves, and behaviour to stimuli presented through its LED panels, waterfall, pillars, and a video board. The installation then suggests perfect destinations based on those responses.

5. Efficiency Wearables

According to Oracle’s research on hospitality tech trends “Hotel 2025,” smartwatches and fitness trackers have become as prevalent as mobile phones. While currently wearables are used to describe smartwatches and bands only, the term actually encompasses any type of accessories that can be fitted with computational capabilities.

One prediction states that wearable tech will be a disruptive change in hotel management. Staff schedules and training would be done through wearable tech, with other predicted uses being guest access to hotels, guest orders, payments, and staff access to workstations.

Some hotels are already implementing wearables, where guests can opt for a wearable device instead of a key card and access the hotel and their room with a simple wave of their wrist. Some hotels, like Westin, even offer sleep monitoring wristbands to ensure their guests get good sleep.

Hotel Alessandra in Houston, Texas, has adopted wearables for staff management and improved their hotel operations efficiency. Staff can be notified about tasks that need to be done much quicker, improving their response times.

It’s amazing to see the extent of technology’s effect on the hospitality industry and we can’t wait to see more innovation developed for the industry in the future.

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15 Tasks IT Managed Service Providers in Hospitality Can Do

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The hospitality industry is starting to embrace digital solutions, with hotels being in the forefront of the industry. Still, many hospitality businesses downplay their IT requirements. For instance, they are still reluctant to open their doors for IT managed service providers in hospitality.

Hotels, hostels, resorts, bars, and restaurants assume they will see no benefit from investing into IT. Their main argument being that they don’t have the time or money to hire and keep IT staff. This is where an IT managed service provider (MSP) can help.

So, here are some of the things, we deal with and take off the plate of our hospitality-based clients.

1. Be Your IT Supplier Liaison

Whether it’s an equipment failure that needs repairing or replacing, software and domain licenses that need renewing or simply negotiating the best deal for tech rentals (think printers etc.) we can help.

As a managed service provider, we act as the middleman when it comes to dealing with suppliers and 3rd parties to talk their lingo and get things sorted as quick as possible. It’s a time saver, and chances are we can save you money long-term with supplier agreements.

2. Provide 1st – 3rd Line Support

Many MSPs provide various stages of support, from 1st-3rd line. Whether you need on-site assistance or a dedicated number to call, your MSP should have it covered.

Unsure of the type of support you need?

  • In the case of minor IT issues, you can access 1st line support and talk to general help desk operators that will guide you through the troubleshooting process. Common 1st line issues are related to email passwords and account access. 
  • For more complicated IT issues, 2nd line support takes over, for example, a non-critical issue with your equipment or tills. 
  • 3rd line is your specialists who are trained in your specific systems. They are often the most qualified and certified and deal with complex or emergency issues. For example, your POS system going offline during service.

3. IT Management

If you already have an IT team but are struggling to tie it together in your operations and strategy, an MSP can help here too. A hospitality IT managed service provider can deal with your entire IT infrastructure, or just part of it depending on what you need.

They will proactively monitor your IT operations, assess the current efficiency, and suggest improvements and integration options to ensure the highest uptime and optimal data flow between systems. So that you’re making the most sales and providing the best customer experience possible. 

4. Backup Solutions

The hospitality sector handles vast amounts of data, and with the introduction of digitalisation and the internet of things (IoT), the amount of data will steadily increase. It includes everything from sensitive data and credit card information to info gathered from your guests and customers that helps you segment them. This allows you to follow the latest trends, and offer personalised experiences, all the way to complex automation operations.

IT managed service providers in hospitality will take proactive steps to ensure all your data is safe in case of system failure, power outage, or natural disaster by using a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery system. This system ensures you have access to your data at any time, no matter what circumstances. It’s a reliable solution that offers better safety and protection than you could set up in-house. Check with your MSP to see which backup vendors they partner with, for us, it’s Microsoft Azure

5. Handle Wi-Fi Security

It is very common to find unsecured or badly secured networks in the hospitality sector. Many restaurants and bars have unsecured Wi-Fi or use the same Wi-Fi that they offer to their guests, which leaves them vulnerable to security threats, most notably hacking and data breaches. To ensure the highest security, your MSP will establish a secure Wi-Fi network throughout your entire establishment or chain that only your staff will have access to, with a fully separate POS network solution.

They can also ensure the protection of your customer data and improved experience by setting effective customer Wi-Fi.

6. Ensure Compliance

While compliance in hospitality is traditionally tied to things like food safety, IT systems bring about their own set of compliance regulations to be followed. Your MSP will ensure that your technology and software solutions are compliant with government regulations (like GDPR) by utilising secure systems like Microsoft’s Azure Information Protection. They can also help with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance for your POS systems. 

7. Standardise Equipment

A very common practice for medium to large enterprises is to standardise equipment to reduce costs and make maintenance and upkeep easier. But, for smaller businesses, this isn’t often attempted, because people don’t know how.

Your IT managed service provider can standardise current systems as well as oversee purchases to make sure they really are necessary and compatible with your current systems. Having this in place will allow for better monitoring, applying updates and reducing response times.

8. Offer Cost-Effective Solutions For Better Customer Service

Your MSP is more than just IT support. They are IT professionals with specific knowledge of your industry that follow the latest trends. Their goal is to align with your goals and help you offer an amazing service to your customers. In hospitality specifically, your IT managed service provider can advise on ways to improve customer experience through technology, whether that’s free Wi-Fi or even marketing beacons.

9. Facilitate Expansions

When opening a new venue or location, your MSP can help fit in the IT seamlessly with your design plans so you can future proof your venue. From simple tasks like outlets and power supplies to the larger, more intricate technological planning, expanding to meet the same IT standards you have currently has never been easier. For example, we liaise with contractors and project managers during construction to make sure IT specifications and planned equipment are tailored to.

10. On-Site Upgrades

Whether your equipment is due an overhaul or you’re in need of repairs, your IT managed service provider can implement them on-site with minimal effect to your customers. Often they can work out of hours to deal with upgrades at less busy times, but if not, they understand how best to proceed with the least impact. Luckily, when you hire an MSP they normally have notifications and analytics to check to deal with these upgrades ahead of time before anything goes wrong. But, even if issues occur, they are dealt with easily and swiftly.  

11. IT Budget Management

All businesses out there have a limited budget, and it can be hard to determine just how big the IT budget of a business in the hospitality sector should be. The industry average suggests around 2.5% of your turnover should be spent on technology, but this will vary depending on the type of business you have.

IT managed service providers in hospitality will assess your current situation and offer a detailed overview of where you can save money and how. This will most commonly include software and hardware standardisation across all your devices and establishments. Additionally, hiring an MSP for your IT requirements means that you will pay them a fixed monthly fee, which is considerably lower than paying for specific IT services when something breaks down, when you need a major overhaul of all systems or emergency fees when you need something done quickly (that could have been prevented.)

12. Meeting and Function Room Setup

Do you make income from function or meeting room rentals? Improve your technological capabilities, become an innovative location for events and not only provide a better experience, but charge more!

Your MSP will inspect your meeting and function rooms in detail and suggest the needed technology and software to implement so they are fully equipped for social gatherings, ceremonies, or conferences. They will also offer their services to the party that booked your meeting/function rooms and help with the setup.

13. On-Site Repair and Maintenance

While traditional IT services offer maintenance and repairs only when you request it, managed service providers conduct proactive monitoring. This helps them spot an issue early on before it becomes a much bigger problem. They will repair and maintain equipment on-site as soon as they detect issues to give faster turnarounds before it breaks completely. 

This also means you don’t have to sit on hold to a helpdesk who try to explain how to do the fixes yourself! It just gets done!

14. New Software & Hardware Audits

An MSP will continuously research new software and hardware options to see if they are viable and relevant to your business. An MSP has the required industry and IT knowledge to assess new software and hardware and determine whether they would benefit you. Often times, restaurants and other key players from the hospitality industry opt for solutions that might be a good fit for their needs but are not compatible with their current systems. An MSP will ensure that the tech solution you choose is compatible and won’t cause major disruptions during or after implementation.

15. IT Consultancy

Some IT managed service providers in hospitality won’t include consultancy, but we do. From consulting on IT equipment and device policies, to making innovative improvements to your security or processes that ultimately help you make money!  

All of these tasks aim to improve your customer service and ability to sell to customers or maintain that relationship. Technology is overlooked in the IT indsutry, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

If you want a ‘one-stop-shop’ and unique MSP that deals with everything tech related for your hospitality business. No fuss, just seamless expert solutions, contact us HERE today.

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Why You Need a Managed Service Provider in Hospitality

With most industries actively embracing digitalisation, the need for having IT staff is more prevalent than ever before. Still, not everyone has the required means or knowledge to set up and manage their IT infrastructure in-house, or enough time to research the best options for their specific needs to keep up with innovation.

The hospitality industry is no exception. Many don’t realise the reliance on technology within the hospitality industry, but with booking and ordering systems, restaurant wi-fi and networks and cloud storage for venues with limited space (just to name a few) it’s more important than ever to stay on top of it.

Plus, hospitality means people. And with the GDPR regulations and the emphasis of increasing data protection from customers, you need to protect your business and technology.

Unfortunately, IT support often doesn’t follow suit here, with security threats and potential problems becoming more prevalent issues within the industry. While established players often have a dedicated in-house IT staff to manage all their needs, not all have the means to do so, and some don’t have the technical expertise to deal with this challenging industry. This is where managed service providers come in.  

What Is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)? 

A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that specialises in the management of IT infrastructure and systems for their customers. This management can either be remote or done at the customer’s office. Most often, it is offered as a continuous service for a set monthly fee.

It is different from traditional IT support because it not only covers reactive maintenance, i.e. maintenance when something goes wrong, but also proactive services and system monitoring, as well as cybersecurity, IT consulting, and upgrades. It is a flexible service that adjusts to the needs of each client instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution.

For example, if a hotel already has good booking solution that can easily handle peak times during holiday season, they will not need infrastructure maintenance, but they might require additional services with their staffing software. A good MSP will adjust to meet these needs.

What Does a Managed Service Provider Do? 

Managed Service Providers cover a broad range of IT support – from infrastructure maintenance to incorporating automation, handling security and compliance matters, or migrating to a new platform. The range of services differs between industries – and even in the same industry – and depends heavily on the needs of each client. An MSP will always provide a fully customisable solution and can do the following:

  • Automate routine tasks
  • Provide maintenance for your entire technological stack
  • Monitor IT infrastructure to ensure all systems perform optimally
  • Develop technological strategies to address current issues
  • Do preventative maintenance to detect loss of efficiency and catch issues early on
  • Implement new technological solutions that scale with your business
  • Future-proof IT systems by upgrading legacy software
  • Apply system and software upgrades and patches to ensure system and data safety
  • Deliver responsive support so that any major IT crisis is resolved quickly
  • Handle data storage and disaster recovery

A managed service provider helps you focus on your business while taking care of your IT systems. They are more than just IT professionals – they align with your goals and ensure your IT capabilities don’t hold you down on your journey to reach them.

Why You Should Work with an MSP 

Employing a managed service provider helps businesses stay on top of the latest technologies and security requirements. MSPs help by identifying flaws in IT systems, operations, or infrastructure and working out the best solutions to improve overall business efficiency in a cost-effective way.

For example, a restaurant needs to sell more seats, not always have the latest fancy equipment, so an MSP will help identify the best option within budgets to suit the individual needs of the client.

They allow businesses to quickly implement new technological solutions and adapt to rapidly changing business environments (particularly when there is a change in legislation.)

They work with their clients to achieve the ultimate goal: ensure the best guest experiences and cultivate guest loyalty.

Here’s some of the ways they do this:

  1. You Get Access to Fully Customisable Solutions – MSPs offer cloud-based infrastructure solutions meaning if you open (or close) a new location, your solutions can be upgraded or downgraded easily to match!
  2. They Improve Your Efficiency and Give You a Competitive Advantage – MSPs have the resources to immediately begin working on specifically tailored solutions that are then deployed and integrated with your existing systems. This process is much faster than it would take to do the research, development, and implementation in-house from scratch. For example, if you wish to update your data storage and improve security systems to keep all guest and consumer data safe, an MSP will do that for you.
  3. They Help You Plan Ahead and Predict Expenses – They help determine peaks in your traffic and help you prepare for it by adjusting your infrastructure to withstand the higher demand. For instance, if you have peak reservations and stays during holidays, your MSP will ensure that your network can carry the increased visitor load and handle billing efficiently.
  4. They Lower Your Business Costs – Instead of using a one-size-fits-all solution that has elements you will never need, you will only pay for services you use and nothing more. In addition to this, they eliminate the costs of hiring, training, and retaining in-house IT staff or hiring emergency or temporary staff only to fix or update your systems. Plus, because they are often on a contract, you get a better rate than if you were to hire an ad hoc IT consultancy firm.
  5. They Eliminate Issues Quickly – Because MSP resolve issues daily, there are a few unknowns left. When your business has an IT issue, they will be able to solve it quickly as opposed to an in-house IT employee who might have never had to deal with that specific issue.
  6. They Help You Focus on Your Business – All businesses have limited resources and focus available, hiring an MSP helps you focus your attention to where it’s really needed – your core business. Leave the IT decisions to them.
  7. They Handle Risk and Compliance for You – Shifting markets and financial conditions make every business decision a risk. MSPs have the required expertise and industry knowledge to choose the best possible strategy. In addition to this, they can help you remain compliant under technological and data protection legislation. .  
  8. They Keep Your Systems and Data Secure – A good MSP will ensure your systems are fully secure and up to date on security patches. They will handle PCI compliance standards for online payments and reservations, ensure your firewall is active, and your guests’ data and sensitive information are safe.

Who A Managed Service Provider Would Suit Specifically 

Managed services are used through a broad range of industries but are particularly effective in the following:

Hospitality Industry

Hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars have embraced digitalisation and are striving to offer the best online and in-house experience to their guests, from the initial landing page all the way to booking, reservations, and payment options on the day.

The key challenge to success in the hospitality industry is providing the perfect customer experience. And innovative technology helps you get there.

A growing number of hotels and other key players have migrated to cloud software to improve their business operations and get access to data analysis capabilities to detect trends and potential customers. On top of this, in restaurants or hotels where you can’t have large equipment or server racks, it’s an effective space saver too.

Because the hospitality industry handles vast amounts of sensitive guest and customer data, they require the right security solutions and must ensure they are compliant with government regulations (like GDPR.)  Financial transactions play a big role, so having safe IT security is the prime objective.

Smaller hospitality establishments often don’t have fully equipped IT teams available, so complementing their existing team or relying on managed services for all their IT needs improves their IT security and quality, gives them access to newest software, and helps them compete with big players.

Small Business Owners and Start-Ups

Small and medium businesses, as well as start-ups, often struggle with keeping up to date on newest IT solutions. It takes a lot of time and money to keep their IT professionals on top of the newest trends and solutions which are often things that a startup doesn’t have.  

Managed Service Providers help SMBs and start-ups with a full suite of IT services that are customised to their needs, goals, and preferences. This brings down overall costs and distributes them evenly throughout the year thanks to fixed monthly fees. Plus, business owners and start-ups get access to the latest tech and software solutions, as well as security options.

Companies With Unfavourable Opening Times

Any company working 24/7 knows that IT costs can run high because you have to hire a team to rotate so you have someone on site. Telephone support only goes so far and hiring emergency IT professionals when something goes wrong can be difficult and costly to fix if they don’t know your business or setup.

Employing an MSP gives them access to IT monitoring and support around the clock, which eliminates overtime pay or shift costs for internal IT staff. MSPs can complement and manage on-site  IT staff as a standalone solution.

Things To Look For In A Managed Service Provider

A good managed service provider will have the required industry knowledge, qualifications, and certifications to back up their expertise. When choosing an MSP, look out for the following:

  1. Qualifications and Certifications – The MSP of your choosing should be up to date on industry-specific knowledge and have experience working in your field. For example, those working in the hospitality industry should look for an MSP who provides cybersecurity solutions that are compliant with GDPR (if you or your customers are in Europe.) Ensure that the IT professionals who handle your infrastructure have the required certifications, but also experience working with your frameworks.
  2. Partnerships – For example, an MSP who is a senior Microsoft partner will suggest they have the knowledge, expertise and vetting of Microsoft to work with their systems. Meaning you have peace of mind that they know what they’re doing.
  3. Pricing, Range of Services, and Customisation – Depending on your needs, you will be able to choose what services you need and which ones you don’t. The right MSP will be flexible and understand your specific needs. They will listen to your goals and get to know your business before offering their services. The pricing options should reflect the services that you will use, and those that you won’t should be excluded from the price. Most commonly, you will be offered a monthly retainer based on the service and level of support that you need.
  4. Service Level Agreements – A good MSP will offer a service level agreement (SLA) that determines all the details, such as quality and performance metrics that should be met, details about liability in case of performance issues or outages, a list of services and responsibilities offered by the MSP, and a framework to resolve service issues.
  5. Availability – Always choose an MSP who provides flexible assistance that includes remote monitoring and emergency support. If possible, opt for one with a local presence so that their professionals can visit your office if needed.

If you’re looking for a managed service provider in hospitality, Contact us HERE today.