May 26, 2023

How to Help Protect Data in the Hospitality Industry

Summer is the busiest travel season. According to the 2023 Summer Travel Survey, nearly 85% of all American adults intend to travel this summer, representing a demand for services in the hospitality industry. In the summer of 2022, hotel occupancy reached 68.3%, the highest percentage since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospitality industry often collects and stores personal data for their accommodation requirements. This confidential information about customers, employees, and businesses must be protected.

The hospitality industry is under constant threat of a data breach. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report found that the Accommodation and Food Services sector continues to be targeted by financial criminals, who seek credit card information and personal data in most cases. Although many breaches are digital, hotel operators may overlook a common, low-tech threat to their information security: paper documents.

When paperwork and financial records are not securely disposed of and destroyed, they can be vulnerable to identity theft, fraud, and more. Here are a few examples of what documents the hospitality industry should shred:

  • Guest documents
  • Procurement records
  • Accounting
  • Executive-level information
  • Human resources records

Not sure what to shred? Ask the following questions before discarding a document. If you answer YES to any of these questions, then SHRED the document.

  • Does it contain personally identifiable information (PII)?
  • Is it information subject to requirements in privacy laws?
  • Does the document include confidential corporate information?
  • Is the record part of your company’s or customer’s financial information?

Recommendations to Help Improve Hotels’ Data Security:

Hotel operators can use the following recommendations to help keep employee, guest, and business data safe:

1. Identify Areas of Risk: Conduct an information security risk assessment and a walk-through of your administrative areas, including the front desk, to identify high-risk areas, such as printing stations, messy desks, and exposed trash and recycling bins. Flag these vulnerabilities and develop policies that can help to remove the threat. Effective policies include:

  • Clean Desk Policy:clean desk policy helps ensure hotel staff shred or contain physical documents and that all technological devices are password protected each time an employee leaves a workspace. A clean desk policy helps reduce clutter, improves the security and confidentiality of information, and can contribute to an organized workspace as a best practice throughout the organization.
  • Shred-it All Policy: This policy encourages the regular destruction of all documents. It is one of the most effective ways to help prevent physical data breaches from occurring either inside or outside the hotel.

2. Develop Retention Schedules: All documents have a recommended retention period, depending on their importance and content. Depending on the record, there may be laws and regulations that dictate which documents need to be kept and for how long. Follow document retention schedules to help keep offices free of clutter and to contribute to information security. To create an effective document retention policy, you need the following:

  • A checklist of common document retention guidelines
  • Recommendations for implementing a document destruction policy
  • The proper document retention schedule
  • To understand how a secure shredding program can help you meet your obligations

3. Reinforce Policies through Reminders and Rewards: To help get buy-in from employees, put up posters reminding them of the new policies in place to protect confidential information in the workplace. Hotel owners can also drive employee engagement initiatives to encourage employees and incentivize good behavior through rewards such as team member recognition.

Contributing to hotel data security is essential for hotel owners and operators. Secure document shredding services offer a way to manage the needs of businesses when it comes to secure information and document management.

Shred-it® offers a wide range of reliable data destruction services that are designed to best meet your needs.

Download our infographic for a more detailed list of what documents should be shredded. Contact Shred-it® today to learn more about how we can help keep your hotel’s physical data secure.

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