By Deb Kohls on February 25, 2014 at 2:00 AM
If you are a small business owner of a hospitality related property, you should observe the latest in cyber-threats that could affect your business and revenue streams.
A recent article in the San Francisco Bay Area highlights the importance of protecting your business from online ‘phishers’. With these types of threats (in effect, email theft) property owners are at risk for losing business to scammers and increase the opportunity for customer ‘dissatisfaction’ and ultimately reputation on hotel/campground/travel review sites. It doesn’t need to be this way . . .
Here are some steps to consider in assuring that your business is protected online and maximizes the trip planning experience for prospective guests:
- Look for a fully integrated reservation or property management system that manages your inventory no matter where the reservation originates. By maintaining complete control of inventory within one single system, you can lessen the chances of reservation hi-jacking.
- Remove online forms that require email entries. Reservation request forms that require email addresses before the confirmation process increase the chance of ‘phishing’ scams.
- Integrate a real-time booking engine on your website or utilize listings on other sites that incorporate a real-time booking transaction with connections to your property management system. This eliminates double bookings and ensures greater management of the inventory
- Always be sure an SSL certificate protects your online presence. This provides further assurance to the consumer that sensitive data is protected.
- Review any 3rd party online listing agreements and security policies. Assess your liability during the reservation process on their websites and insist on protection for your reputation through refunded compensation and customer engagement.
Homeway and VRBO are popular websites for vacation rentals, though they do not instantly reserve and confirm the reservation. Unlike the online travel agents such as Expedia or Travelocity, their process requires a ‘time factor’ that requires business owners to be vigilant in responding quickly. And the chance for online fraud to occur during the reservation ‘waiting’ process is increased.
By providing the consumer only a ‘request form’ to book reservations through these channels, the consumer and property owner are at the mercy of technology to work and to connect to the two interested parties. With many software options available to the business owner to manage their business, there is no reason that a request form should any longer be the norm on any website. By adopting simple processes to connect with the online consumer who is in the trip-planning phase, it’s important that you protect your business, inventory and revenue and reputation.