Progress continues towards decentralized customer data model for hospitality

Momentum is building in travel for a solution enabling customers to hold and managing their own personal data.

Travel companies not only struggle to store data and keep it secure but also find it hard to make sense of it given how many sources they are drawing on.

There has been an acknowledgement for some time that the current model does not work with companies including British Airways and Marriott incurring multi-million pound fines for data breaches.

Nick Price, founder of NetSys Technology, believes the breaches are only going to increase and the fines go up because the “centralized customer data model” is wrong.

Price, who joined a Hospitality Net panel last week on hotel technology in crises, says travel companies “can and will have to” change the model.

“There’s a number of confluences here – global distributed technology, the best example of which is blockchains, secondly, mobile devices which we all have, associated with those mobile devices digital wallets, increasingly you will see identity wallets on those devices, and the concept, most importantly above all of that, of self-sovereign identity which means you, the individual, own your data.”

He adds that it’s time to take an “axe to the model” and find a different solution.

It’s not the first time that industry experts have discussed the need for change with airline executives looking at the possibility of a super Passenger Name Record and portable profiles in the past.

The Solid Project, led by world wide web creator Tim Berners-Lee, is also developing a decentralized solution for individuals to store and manage their data in Personal Online Data stores or PODs.

Panellists at the Hospitality Net event also discussed digital giants such as Amazon and Alibaba, how much they had grown during the pandemic and the influence they have on consumer expectations.

Investment priorities

However, there’s a question mark over how much hotels can do currently on depleted resources because of the impact of the pandemic.

Martin Bookallil, vice president for IT at Marriott International Asia Pacific, says the company is “looking to our backyard” when it comes to investment priorities.

“We’re in recovery mode. We’re a bricks and mortar operation, it’s a physical operation, not just digital. We need our RevPar to come back, our real focus is around RevPar.

“Rather than poke all over the place, and try this or try that, we’re tried to go in at the very high level, at a global picture and say we need to update our PMS and our supporting systems around our network. It’s a project we’ve given thought to and we’re looking into.

“Then, at the other end of the scale what are those really important local systems that are going to bring us back out of this – the payment systems, local technologies that add value. The kind of hit and miss stuff in the middle, the fast-fail fad aren’t going to be helpful for us and frankly we can’t afford it.”

The full discussion is available to view here.

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