What do the words database encryption, redundancy, and backups have in common? They are all catchy phrases hoteliers are hearing more frequently these days. However, these words are enough to make any non-technical person’s eyes glaze over. Unfortunately, these items are worth discussing as they should be taken very seriously by hoteliers regardless of the property size. Securing the property’s database, encrypting guest personal information, and data redundancy should be integrated into your disaster recovery plan.
It may not be clear as to why backup and data recovery are so important because today’s computers are so reliable. While it’s true that some modern servers can go for years without backing up, and emerging cloud PMS systems are eliminating the need to perform a formal backup each day, backups are still an integral part of today’s hotel operations.
Consider cars today: They are more secure and offer more safety features than a decade ago. However, if you find yourself in a car accident, those features don’t mean much when it comes to helping you get your car repaired; you need insurance. And while most insurance liability seems like a two-edged sword, think of how you trust your insurance carrier with your most prized possessions; cars, homes, cell phones. Think about it: If your hotel’s property management system was down for just one day- what would happen to your hotel’s operations? What if your server contracted a virus? What kind of chaos would ensue at your property? Avoidable chaos is possible when you have adequate backups in place.
Until very recently, the backup method most considered was onsite backup. Floppy disks were replaced by tapes, CDs, and eventually external hard drives. These outdated forms of backup all had one thing in common, and that was the threat of human error. In fact, online backups were designed with human error in mind. Think about it: What if your Night Manager forgot to upload the data? What if they accidentally backed up the wrong date? What if someone remotely turned off the workstation running the backup? If you have ever found yourself calculating your hotel’s forecast with a pen and paper, you know what we’re talking about. But, these problems are what you could be facing without the proper backup protocols in place.
While it may seem like online backups are ideal for your property due to the sensitive nature of guest information, it is imperative that you have a backup service that you’ve researched and feel comfortable with. Before using any online backup service, make sure all your files are sent using a secure protocol such as https, and that the data is encrypted so personal guest information can’t be obtained or read by any unauthorized party. It would be tragic to move to an online backup system and then find that your data has been lost or compromised.
Cloud PMS, backup? What Backup?
Moving to a Cloud or hosted solution provides hoteliers a host of great benefits. Like, reduced hardware infrastructure, mobility, and pertinent to this conversation, the backup burden. However, not all cloud solutions are the same. So, make sure to inquire with your provider as to what is the hosting environment, uptime in the SLA, the redundancy protocols, and backup procedures of the cloud environment and your data. In addition, even though your PMS data may be in the cloud, don’t forget to account for any printed reports, marketing assets, employment files or other important documents that you may be storing locally on your hardware. Make sure these are part of your backup plan as well.
While a secure online backup is a great tool to have in your hotel data arsenal, it is not the only item to consider for your data security. The other side of data is recovery: If you experience a system failure, how quickly and easily are you able to get back up and running at one hundred percent? Let’s look at the car accident analogy again: If your car has safety features- they will likely keep you safe from serious injury, but if you have insurance, you and your car will be repaired quickly and efficiently. The same holds true with your hotel’s data. Depending on the nature of your PMS system’s failure, it could be restored easily by a remote technician, or you may need a local IT person to get you back up and running.
While data security, backups, and recovery services may seem like an added expense in the short term, they are worth it in the long run. Why not use this article to check on your hotel’s backup and recovery policy? If you have any questions or need more information on what is best for your hotel, contact our Sales Department for a review.