Privacy, Please

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Privacy, Please

By Abigail A. Lorden, Group Editor in Chief - 09/18/2015
I’m back! Regular readers of HT’s editor’s note may have noticed that last month’s column was authored by our managing editor Dorothy Creamer while I was out on maternity leave. Several months into first-time motherhood and I’ve picked up a few things: never leave home without a burp cloth, being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding job there is, and privacy has taken on new significance to our family.

As the editor of a technology publication, I’ve always had a clinical interest in privacy: what caused the latest data breach, and which new technology solutions best secure customer data. Now that I am responsible for a human other than myself, I’m sensitive to how little control we have over the information that becomes public. Thanks to social media, well-meaning friends and family members can share photos and personal information without parental consent. One hashtag later and it’s gone forever. I’m still figuring out how I feel about that, and it’s not overwhelmingly great.

In this month’s cover story, we interviewed the EVP and CIO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Martha Poulter. In it, Poulter talks about a variety of the customer-centric initiatives taking place at Starwood. Given my increased sensitivity to privacy, her comments on that topic leapt off the page at me. “It’s not like you had to be given a personal bill of rights that says, ‘don’t leave your wallet on your car’s dashboard in Times Square,’ but somewhere along the way you’ve learned not to do that. You’ve learned to lock your doors at night. We need to help people understand that their digital assets need to be private.” Starwood is focusing on protecting personally identifiable information, she says, and will be educating both staff and guests accordingly.

The vulnerability of digital assets isn’t overt like the unattended wallet or unlocked door. Meanwhile, social media culture has relaxed our standards for sharing personal information. I believe Poulter is correct. Hotels, as a home away from home, are in a unique position to both protect digital assets, and build awareness about how and where they become vulnerable. Conceal your room number, lock your door, and hang that tag on your digital assets that says, “privacy please.”

More Blog Posts In This Series

Delivery Interrupted

A friend of mine recently shared a negative foodservice experience. A third-party delivery service arrived, handed a bag full of food to my friend’s eight-year-old daughter, and — to hear the eight-year-old tell it — bolted down the walkway and drove off into the night.

Between a Mouse and an Expectation

Consumers feel a greater sense of loyalty to a brand when they’ve played a key role in the creation of their experience. 

Benchmarking Familiarity

With so much data available and a willingness of customers to share personal insights in exchange for personalized service, brands that don’t make sure to optimize customer data will flounder.