It’s understandable if hotels and casinos are worried about cloud security. High-profile data breaches, like ones for Orbitz or Target, were starting to feel familiar. That might make a lot of people in the hospitality industry, which is still too dependent on legacy technology, question whether it’s worth it to migrate their tech stack to the cloud.
Let me just state the obvious: It’s definitely beneficial to move your data to the cloud. The future of hotel marketing, operations and revenue management can’t be found in a box under somebody’s desk or in an on-property server room. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is replacing software delivery in most mature industries, and hospitality is finally catching up.
Bookings will continue to migrate online and ecommerce will continue to evolve, so hotels and casinos need to accommodate this shift. The online travel agencies certainly have.
Cloud security will always be an important issue. If a property tries to save money by cutting corners with a poorly architected tech stack, then sure, moving to the cloud could cause problems. But if that transition is done right, with solutions built the right way, then cloud architecture can yield superior availability, security and scalability for hotels and casinos.
Fears about cloud security like the ones expressed in this editorial from HOTELS magazine are overblown. If you’re overly worried about such risks, you might just misunderstand what “in the cloud” means for hotel technology.
How Hotels Know They’re Secure in the Cloud
Hotels and casinos need to be in the cloud if they expect to grow their businesses instead of ceding more and more transactions — and a greater share of profits — to OTAs or any other disruptor (like Amazon or Google) focused on innovating in hotel ecommerce.
But are you really “in the cloud” just because you can’t see a bunch of hardware in your hotel or casino? What SaaS means is that the vendors that build and support different solutions, like a property management system or revenue management system, are continually monitoring and improving those tools and making sure they’re always accessible to a hotel’s users from whatever device those users prefer.
If a solution or application is built the right way, it’s not only “in the cloud” but also safe and scalable as a hospitality company grows and requests new functionality. You are truly secure in the cloud if:
- Your systems don’t rely on a single data center. Good cloud-based applications and solutions are designed to have their component services distributed, instead of one machine running the entirety of the system in one location. Duetto’s applications, for instance, run exclusively on Amazon Web Services. The company’s architecture is designed with many redundancies to avoid single points of failure. Different servers run Duetto’s database, application and analytics functions, and everything is backed up across several different data centers.
This keeps data secure in the sense of disaster recovery. If a vendor uses only one data center, it risks losing all of its users’ data if that location has any kind of outage or failure.
- Your growth doesn’t affect your capacity. You’re not really “in the cloud” if you have to worry about capacity as you scale up your company — or as your technology partners add more clients using the same product. A vendor that designs its solutions with multi-tenant cloud architecture can scale horizontally very efficiently. The vendor, rather than the hotel client, can add capacity through AWS or whatever similar hosting service it uses, without interrupting its customers’ day-to-day operations.
Hotel and casino clients don’t need to experience scheduled maintenance when their systems are unavailable, if those solutions are set up on multi-tenant cloud architecture.
- You’re always using the latest version of a product, not waiting for a new release. SaaS has a huge advantage over traditional software on a legacy on-premise system, because the product developer can continually improve the system and roll out updates and new features. Through an agile development process, cloud-based applications could be updated with a few lines of code, and users could give feedback to the product’s developers right away. Updates could be released as frequently as needed.
If a vendor is making its customers wait for a new release with bug fixes and new features once or twice a year, or has to support multiple versions of the same product or system, it’s not delivering the value inherent to cloud architecture.
Where Innovation in Hotel Technology Will Happen
When built the right way, cloud-based architecture ensures the availability, security and scalability of the data a hotel or casino needs to price rooms intelligently and tailor the booking experience for increased conversion. It also safeguards that property from getting completely left behind when innovation in hotel technology continues on its current trajectory.
Properties’ typical use of the PMS, CRM, RMS and other systems require and create a massive amount of data. Now, think of the next-level strategies every hotelier wants to implement, namely personalizing the guest experience from the booking path to post-stay. That will require even more data.
Cloud-based systems and applications can certainly handle mountains of data better than legacy technology can, but that’s only part of the solution. To make all this information actionable, it needs to be aggregated, de-duped and unified, so that all a property’s decision makers, from the revenue manager to her counterparts in sales and marketing, are working from the same set of data.
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The technology landscape in hotels and casinos is incredibly fragmented and still relies on point-to-point integrations, where systems like the PMS, CRM and CRS connect with each other separately. As a result, data is replicated several times across a property’s tech stack.
The unification of data, where all a hotel’s different systems integrate back to one platform that serves as the single source of truth — and from which new sources of third-party data can be made actionable across the rest of the technology stack — is only possible in the cloud. Furthermore, SaaS is what makes that information secure and available in real time, which allows an entire hotel or casino organization to get crucial insights and to become more collaborative and strategic.