I recently stayed in a hotel for the first time in more than a year. The experience was like nothing I had seen before: a seamless, low-touch check-in and check-out process. Upon arriving, I checked in on my phone, picked up my room key from a kiosk (I could have just used a mobile key, but I like to have a backup), and headed to my room. In my room, I found a welcome note, instructing me to download the hotel’s app, and from there I was able to control the lights, blinds, TV, air conditioner, order room service, schedule cleaning, and probably a dozen other things that I didn’t have time to discover. When checking out, I simply hit a button on my mobile app and dropped my room key in a box on the way out.
According to the 2020 Digital Transformation Report, 57% of hospitality and travel organizations said COVID-19 had a large impact on their digital transformation plans. While you might have thought that digital transformation projects would be put on hold due to hard economic times, the opposite seems to have occurred. Many decided that digital transformation was essential to the recovery of their business and took the past year to overhaul processes that no longer serve today’s new travelers, and to best position themselves to not only survive but thrive in the coming years.
Hotel executives also took this time to focus on being more efficient and insightful so that they could generate the necessary actionable digital information to improve competitiveness. Seventy-three percent said using and applying customer data analytics was critical or very important to the success of their company according to the Digital Transformation Report.
This accelerated shift in transformation focused on blending the digital and the physical world in a way that allows guests to safely -- and more conveniently -- interact with the hotel staff and enjoy their stay. The technology enhancements focused on improved customer service and new innovations to provide a safer more contactless environment. As a result, today’s hotels are even more interconnected, with highly innovative booking experiences and AI-powered concierges. Whether it’s through mobile apps, loyalty programs, partnerships, or entertainment, the menu of services has shifted towards a digital-first experience.
During the summer of 2021 many hotels were already putting their new digital innovations to the test as the global economy began to reopen and hospitality experienced an influx of customers. Unfortunately, along with these innovations, there was an influx of cyberattacks. No matter how convenient it is to book rooms, how fast the contactless check-in system is, or how clean your hotel is, if your apps are not protected against automated attacks, you are putting your hotel and your guests at risk.
Automated attacks are becoming one of the most favored attack methods used by cybercriminals. In fact, 77% of all cyberattacks are leveraging malicious automation. This is for three simple reasons:
First, automation is cheap. Attackers can launch bot attacks and only pay for the CPU they use.
Second, bots are efficient. They are a favored tool because they work. If an organization does not use a solution that can properly identify malicious automation, bots can easily evade the detection of other security tools.
Third, bots can scale. Attackers can launch as many bots as they want by simply increasing their CPU resources.
Bots allow attackers to gain access to guests’ accounts, test and use stolen credit and gift cards, siphon loyalty rewards, scrape competitive information, slow down or even take sites down completely, and hoard room reservations so that legitimate customers cannot book their stays.
How to Ensure a Fast, Reliable Digital Experiences-Protect Against Malicious Bots
With the proliferation of bad bots targeting the hospitality industry’s weakest entry points, identifying bad bots and stopping them is key.
When considering a bad bot management strategy, keep in mind the following:
Remain Agile: With new digital innovations moving so rapidly, you don’t want security to slow down your progress. If an organization can find a scalable anti-bot solution that doesn’t rely on dedicated expertise and ongoing maintenance, you and your team will be able to innovate at-will, without having to spend valuable time blocking bots or being slowed down by a solution that doesn’t scale quickly.
Dissuade Future Attacks: An effective anti-bot solution will put barriers in front of malicious automation that are invisible to legitimate human customers. These barriers occupy attacker’s time and resources, making attack campaigns too difficult and costly to continue, forcing attackers to move on to another target. Once the malicious traffic is offloaded from your infrastructure (for good), site performance and reliability will dramatically increase for real customers.
Gain Actionable Insight: Removing malicious bot traffic from analytics allows organizations to gain a deeper understanding of how legitimate customers interact with their online channels. This improved insight allows organizations to see true conversion rates, engagement with pages, and what hotel properties and promotions are performing best. With clean data, businesses can accurately allocate their resources and investments in order to best optimize customer experience.
As the hospitality industry continues to drive business across digital channels, a bot mitigation solution that can adapt as quickly as attackers will become essential for all companies conducting business online. If hotels do not have the insight and ability to identify what is real human traffic, they should expect negative consequences, as the most valuable assets, including customers, brand, and intellectual property, are left vulnerable. Equally important is finding security solutions that don’t slow down your digital transformation. Finding the right partner that will scale with the business is essential so organizations will not have to slow down their digital transformation while waiting for their bot mitigation solution to meet their needs.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for digital transformation in the hospitality industry. However, with this catalyst comes an increased threat surface and the renewed need to make bot mitigation imperative for hotels so that they not only pull through this recent downturn, but successfully thrive and prosper.
Jonathon Doherty, Industry Strategist, Kasada