The risks of data sharing

Recently several managers have been caught out by unwittingly handing over their sensitive business data to a third party believing this was necessary for the supplier to undertake marketing for them.

Some of the most experienced managers of all are willingly entering into these transactions without realising the obvious risks involved with this.

Almost daily we are contacted by our clients asking how to export their critical business data to a third party to reduce the cost the company will charge them to undertake their marketing. Many of these companies are asking the manager to enter into agreements with them to use their products and services for a specified fee. They offer reduced rates if the client list is provided to them each month. While this may seem innocent enough, what managers may be overlooking is that these providers are gaining access to the property’s complete customer client base on an ongoing basis.

Marketing companies seem to be springing up at the rate of knots, several of them with no experience in this field or with any industry references at all. Yet managers are happily handing over details of every guest that ever stayed in their resort without thinking twice.

100% of business accommodation turnover, market segments and client personal details are now in someone else’s hands. Operators need to ask themselves whether they would give this information to a stranger off the street. If not, then they need to urgently review this practice. Take a step back and look at the whole picture carefully and thoroughly, remembering at all times business protection is vital in every decision made.

Managers need to start asking themselves “Who can benefit from this data, how else could it be used?” They also need to ask, “Who really are these people that I’m revealing the whole of my business to?”

A better solution is to simply outsource the creation of a newsletter if need be, after all not everyone is a copywriter or graphic designer, and then mail merge it directly from their property management system. This way they have a polished product without exposing their business.

There are numerous free tools available on the market that allow for the creation of a newsletter with the assistance of ready prepared templates. Simply pick the preferred style and fill in the content. There are many consultants who will assist in learning this product for a small fee and even hold a managers hand through the first couple of newsletters. The cost of these professionals is far less than a single newsletter through a marketing company and at least the manager knows the content is personal and pertains to their own property. Holiday makers have likely stayed in other properties in the same location, receiving a generic newsletter with a different photo and perhaps one paragraph personalised is not a professional image that operators should portray.

In addition, does a resort operator have the permission of the guest to forward their personal details to a third party? The guest may have agreed to receive communication from the resort but have they agreed for their information to be shared with unknown third parties. Most likely not and managers may be unwittingly breaching the Privacy Act simply by outsourcing their marketing.

Remember, what puts the dollars in your pocket are your guests, don’t risk sharing them with anyone else.

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