Balancing personalisation and privacy in the hospitality industry 

by | Apr 16, 2024

The year 2024 is all about digitalisation, personalisation and protecting data privacy. The landscape of digital hospitality is undergoing a significant evolution, leveraging numerous technologies to enhance guest satisfaction. In pursuing personalisation and seamless guest experiences, the industry relies heavily on collecting and utilising personal information, including preferences, and behaviours among others.

In this dynamic and evolving environment, the industry faces the ongoing challenge of balancing the use of personal data for enhanced guest satisfaction and ensuring stringent measures to uphold data privacy. Statistics also show that 65% of five-star hotels have reported at least one theft incident, while 12% have been victims of credit and debit card fraud.

The overarching question lingers: How far can the industry guarantee the protection of guest data in this evolving digital and competitive environment? Addressing this question is pivotal for the industry to sustain trust, meet regulatory standards, and thrive in the ever-changing digital hospitality landscape.

What can hospitality businesses do to improve data privacy and integrity?

Adhering to established best practices is imperative for the industry to proactively mitigate risks and exercise caution in preventing unforeseen events, thereby ensuring the safety and well-being of their guests.

1. Comprehensive data governance

A solid foundation for guest data protection necessitates establishing a comprehensive data governance framework. This involves developing clear and well-defined policies governing the entire data lifecycle– from collection and processing to storage. The framework delineates authorised access, specifying who can access the information and the circumstances under which such access is permitted. By implementing these structured guidelines, hospitality providers can enhance the security of guest data and ensure transparency and compliance with privacy regulations. This proactive approach sets the stage for responsible data management, bolstering trust between the industry and its valued guests.

2. Informed consent practices

Transparent communication is the base for establishing and fostering trust in the hospitality industry. Hospitality providers must prioritise clear and understandable consent mechanisms in their interactions with guests. This involves openly communicating the types of data collected, the intended purposes of data usage, and the specific processes involved in handling such information. By implementing transparent consent practices, guests are encouraged to make informed decisions about their personal information. Offering the option to opt in or opt out further emphasises respect for individual privacy preferences, enabling guests to tailor their level of engagement while reinforcing the commitment to ethical and responsible data practices within the hospitality sector.

3. Data encryption and security protocols

Employing state-of-the-art cybersecurity protocols, including end-to-end encryption techniques or multi-factor authentication, safeguards guest data during transmission and storage, protecting it from potential breaches or unauthorised access. When investing in technology, it is imperative that businesses analyse the compliance level of software and other tools. Global data security regulations such as GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation) and PCI DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard) compliance, for example, guarantee that business operations will remain safe on cloud architecture. These regulations aim to return control over personal information to individuals while simultaneously enforcing stricter rules for organisations in protecting such information during any period in which they possess it. 

4. Regular staff training

Studies show that the most significant challenge in cybersecurity management, as perceived by 77% of organisations, is the need for more adequately qualified employees. Employees in the hospitality industry, who constantly work with personal identification information and payment details, play a pivotal role in data protection. Implementing regular training programs is essential for informing the staff about the critical aspects of guest privacy. These initiatives go beyond emphasising the significance of safeguarding sensitive information to encompass thorough education on data handling protocols. Through training, security audits and simulation programs, businesses can train their employees to adhere to cybersecurity best practices.

5. Investment in reliable solution providers

Digital solutions have become a necessary infrastructure for hospitality businesses with the digital acceleration within the hospitality industry. As such, most industries are investing in smart technologies and migrating to cloud architecture. However, with this new shift, businesses become more susceptible to cyberattacks. It is essential that businesses follow a thorough strategy when investing in solution providers; solutions that comply with the regional security standards, have regular updates, provide adequate training on technology usage and are experienced in the technology and changing cybersecurity standards will help businesses safeguard the integrity of their data. This will help prevent outside attacks and keep a business’ digital architecture secure against evolving threats, ensure compliance, avoid legal consequences, and prevent unintentional breaches by untrained employees.

Moving forward: personalisation vs privacy

Guests appreciate tailored experiences; but they also expect their personal information to be handled with integrity. Striking this delicate balance is an ethical obligation and provides a competitive advantage in an industry where trust is paramount. In the competitive marketplace where the involvement of technology and personalised services is reshaping service delivery, prioritising guest data protection is non-negotiable.

By adopting comprehensive strategies that blend personalisation with stringent privacy measures, hospitality businesses can meet and exceed guest expectations while fostering trust and loyalty. Choosing the technology partner who understands these factors with a proven track record is only imperative in today’s environment. This would help finding the right balance in this delicate dance between customisation and confidentiality, ensuring a harmonious relationship between hospitality providers and their valued guests

Kevin D'Costa IDS NEXT


Kevin D'Costa

Senior Vice President- SAAS Engineering

An extremely driven and dedicated personnel, Kevin is currently the Senior Vice President - SAAS Engineering at IDS Next. He has the unique ability to be a strategic leader looking over the entire new development concepts and making them a reality. He works extremely focused in an intense environment and is a result-oriented person. He is responsible for planning, creating and implementing the overall new products strategy. Besides that, he is responsible for setting up the overall strategy for creating company’s products and offerings for the future.