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More Hotels Going Mobile. Will They Sacrifice Speed for Security?

August 14, 2013 | No Comments | Data Security, Mobile Payments

Let’s face it, in this day and age everybody’s in a rush. I constantly find myself in a rush, and find it necessary to use my tablet for nearly everything. I never thought I’d be “that guy,” tied to technology, but here I am. I’m using my tablet to shop, make airline reservations, text, read emails, listen to music, watch movies….and the list goes on.

Targeting Tech-Savvy Guests

So as technology users go, so goes the industries that service them and want their business. Hotels specifically are trying to target and capture those business professionals who are tech savvy. Besides giving away “freebies” to these frequent travelers, hoteliers are trying to upgrade their travel & hotel technology within the hotel itself by increasing bandwidth, providing free internet, installing more kiosks, adopting electronic couponing and enabling their employees to be more mobile to better serve guests, among many other efforts.

Elimination of the Front Desk?

Recently at HITEC, one of the hotter topics of frequent discussion was the elimination of the front desk. The proposal is to have a fleet of employees with tablets and tablet add-on devices waiting to help guests check in. Imagine a check-in clerk meeting you as you get out of your cab, with a PMS running on their tablet. The clerk can take your payment, create your room key, and apply any number of coupons and loyalty information from your smartphone while the two of you are walking toward the elevator, to your room. Bringing the “front desk” to the guest rather than the traditional way is not that far away.

What About Credit Card Security?

Convenience and the “cool-factor” are definitely great and admirable, but what about credit card security? How secure are these new devices? And do they work in the budding credit card security industry? Well the answer is like all answers these days, “it depends.”  Property Management Systems run securely on tablets today, add-on devices that encrypt data are available by nearly all device makers, and tokenization and encryption is readily available by nearly all interfaces and banks, which should all work securely.

Recently, Merchant Link “lifted the hood” on a PMS tablet integrator and found a couple of areas for improvements that definitely would have affected PCI status. Those improvements are underway and will result in a much more secure solution. This effort was supported by many different parties including the PMS manufacturer, the tablet integrator, the encrypting device maker, and most importantly, the customer. By demanding to understand the transaction flow in detail, the customer led the effort in creating a more secure product and process.

Ultimately, we all want the quality of our stay and service enhanced and technology can help. However, as fast as technology is racing, it requires all parties to work together to create technology that not only improves and speeds up service, but does so in a way that keeps our personal and financial data safe.

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