The APEX workgroup is focused on educating the market on what meeting planners and suppliers can do to help minimize the impact of these poachers, pirates, and new disruptive companies. Consumer education is another important piece of the puzzle, especially as recent headline-grabbing breaches have made data security top of mind. “It’s important to let people know we cannot control their data if they’re not booking through the official housing agency and the official hotel,” he says.
Room block poaching refers to businesses that actively seek to recruit or divert event attendees away from official room blocks and into other hotel bookings. “This is pervasive,” says Mike Dominguez, senior vice president of corporate sales at MGM Resorts International. “It’s touching everybody now, primarily in the big cities that have larger citywide conventions.”
Dominguez is part of a workgroup formed by the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) that intends to develop awareness and best practices for minimizing the impact of room block poaching.
The practice isn’t new, but technology has made it easier for accessibility to a customer, Dominguez says. Poachers attack public information, such as exhibitor lists on conference websites.
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“The hospitality industry plays a critical role in the fight against modern slavery, since many traffickers exploit their victims in hotels and motels,” said Bradley Myles, chief executive officer of Polaris. “If we are to truly eradicate human trafficking, it’s absolutely essential that companies like Wyndham take proactive steps to combat this crime at the root while also helping victims rebuild their lives. Polaris applauds Wyndham Hotel Group for integrating a responsible business culture company-wide and for actively taking such a strong stance against human trafficking.”
Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company with approximately 7,590 hotels and part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN), today announced its continued commitment to preventing human trafficking by partnering with Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors.
As part of the joint effort, Wyndham Hotel Group and Polaris are developing comprehensive training and educational tools for hotel owners and franchisees, property-level staff and employees at its corporate offices and call centers to educate them about all aspects of human trafficking.
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Hoteliers need to know how the bandwidth is currently being used so they can prioritize different types of usage. Packet inspection equipment can help you figure out if guests are using the Internet to download movie torrents or to make voice over IP calls, and then you can prioritize and make more bandwidth available for one activity over the other. “You don’t want to overpay for excess bandwidth when it isn’t necessary,”
Two years ago, BioMarin, a pharmaceutical firm based in San Rafael, Calif., called Inn Marin to book an offsite training session. This wasn’t unusual since the 69-room independent hotel is located eight miles up the road from the company’s headquarters. And with only 35 people attending, the meeting requirements were far from onerous. But there was one last-minute request that nearly caused Inn Marin to lose this booking. BioMarin needed an Internet connection that was six megabits per second (Mbps) or faster to allow 20 desktop computers to log into the corporate server in San Rafael. And the DSL line coming into the hotel was only capable of 1 Mbps down and 1/2 Mbps up. “I just about had a heart attack,” says Inn Marin General Manager Robert Marshall. “That’s when I realized that we couldn’t keep doing business like this.”
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At a Crowne Plaza hotel, the maid collected all the used drinking glasses, put them into the sink, and turned on the water. Then she gathered all the dirty towels from the bathroom floor, held onto one, and used it to help dry the cups. The Crowne Plaza maid then used the same towel to wipe down the countertop, the toilet and the bathtub. She never used soap on anything, but she did return to spray the room with air freshener.
When you check into a hotel room, you assume the maid has cleaned everything, including changing the sheets and disinfecting the bathroom. But a hidden camera investigation revealed that may not always be the case.
The Rossen Reports team booked rooms for two nights at some of the most popular hotel chains and rigged them with cameras (all three of the hotels were in northeastern New Jersey). In each case they put soda in the glasses, threw towels on the bathroom floors and made the rooms looked used before calling to have housekeeping make them up, as well as prominently displaying the card requesting that all linens be changed.
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Whatever the cost, hoteliers are advised to take certain precautions. “Complacency” is dangerous, Schoshinski said, adding that hoteliers should update security protection plans periodically…Despite such resources and other preventative measures in the hotel industry, “the bad guys are getting smarter,” Cividanes said. “The bad guys are watching what you do.
Data security breaches, a hot topic at last year’s Hotel & Lodging Legal Summit, took center stage again at the 2014 conference as the No. 1 topic that keeps hospitality lawyers “awake at night,” said Robert Lannan, program co-chair and principal of Lannan Legal PLLC.
His opening remarks mentioned several headline-making cases, including breaches at Target, Home Depot and White Lodging, where it was revealed in January 2013 that attackers allegedly collected customer credit and debit card numbers, security codes, card expiration dates and other personal information from guests who had stayed at 14 hotels.
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