Tips for Backing up Your Data and Files: The Ultimate Test of Being Prepared
Almost anything can disrupt a hotel's computer system - from power outages to natural disasters to viruses. Backing up and protecting your property's data is critical to keeping guests' proprietary information and your own files safe from harm. It also is key to keeping your hotel running smoothly and efficiently.
"Stop using pen and paper; decision-making dependent data should be located all in one place and that place should be accessible as possible," said Richard Bradbury, vice president of strategy and alliances at Quore, a Franklin, Tenn.-based provider of hotel management software. "If the plan fails, then turn to pen and paper, but know that it is the only record."
Working in the cloud is essential, sources agreed. One of the greatest benefits to having systems and data in the cloud is accessibility during a power outage, Bradbury pointed out. Cloud-based systems now require only that the system be accessible on mobile devices using cellular Wi-Fi.
Sporadic weather outages are easily, for instance, are smoothed over by access via cellular Wi-Fi. Extended outages, particularly those affecting the availability of power to recharge mobile devices, is of concern, Bradbury said. Normal cloud data security protocols will protect the data itself, but access to the data requires access to the Internet. While this may be unavailable locally, the use of the system is still possible remotely.
Atlanta-based Hotel Equities, for example, utilizes Microsoft 365 Cloud-based services to host its corporate communications platform - inclusive of email, document storage, and intranet, said Jeff Shockley, vice president of asset management & operations. The cloud is backed up constantly to prevent loss of data in the event of power outages, hard drive crashes, or other disruptive acts.
Cloud-based or private cloud solutions and partners also provide data security as a part of their full services/product delivery, added Robert Rennie, director of internal audit and compliance at M3, a Gwinnett, Ga. cloud-based financial solution company for the hotel industry.
Also, determine which systems (PMS, POS) already provide vendor-based backup solutions, said Joe Sullivan, chief information and chief technology officer at UniFocus, a Carrollton, Texas-based labor management software company. If you decide to backup your system databases, check with your vendor on the file sets to target.
"Backing up active databases is a multi-step process. If your PMS/POS is already cloud-based, then it is recommended for you to investigate how the vendor is doing offsite backups," Sullivan said.
Another important mode of data protection is redundancy. "Redundant internet circuits, datacenters, servers and backups are essential to ensuring availability of data during a crisis, disaster or other emergency scenario. One way businesses can ensure redundancy is by creating an up-to-date disaster recovery and business continuity plan to help with minimizing the risk of extended outages," Rennie said.
Naturally, your employees need to be a critical part of your data protection plan. Employees should engage with management teams and ask questions about policies, processes and procedures in place when it comes to securing data, Rennie pointed out. On the flipside, leadership should keep employees fully informed and continually aware of an organization’s preparedness activities.
"Hotel associates can ensure data integrity by saving mission critical documents on the cloud server and ensuring proper contingency plans are adhered to," Shockley said.