Consumers worry about loyalty-program-data safety

Most consumers do not have confidence in hotels and airlines when it comes to protecting their personal data, according to a report by Deloitte’s Travel, Hospitality and Leisure Practice.

The Deloitte report found 75% of those surveyed expect their frequent traveler accounts to be secured to at least the same standard as a financial institution. However, only 33% feel their accounts are secure enough.

The report also found consumers are not taking control of protecting their own data and are unaware of the privacy and security policies of their frequent-traveler programs. In fact, only one in five are knowledgeable/very knowledgeable about the security and privacy policies of their frequent-traveler plans, only 21% change their passwords at least once per quarter and 53% use the same password for other accounts.

In addition, few frequent travelers appear fully aware of the wider risks involved when loyalty data — including travel schedules and other personal data — is lost or stolen. Roughly one in seven are simply concerned that a breach would result in a loss of loyalty points, while 76% worry about the loss of credit-card numbers.

“Travel companies increasingly request that customers share a detailed level of personal information. These same companies need to roll up their sleeves and move beyond mere policy compliance to ensure that customer data is truly secure,” said Charles Carrington, partner, Deloitte & Touche’s Travel, Hospitality and Leisure practice and author of the study. “Failure to do so could not only frustrate but even endanger travelers and cause serious reputational damage and revenue loss.”

The study also revealed consumers’ low level of trust in these companies’ security standards restricts the amount and type of information travelers are willing to share.

Most consumers (93%) are willing to share travel preferences such as seating choices, and 74% are comfortable sharing their food and drink preferences. However, many draw the line at sharing more personal information, such as hobbies (32%), geolocation (28%) and health and fitness records (7%).

Despite Millennials typically being more receptive to sharing personal data with companies, the study revealed only a slight increase in their level of trust with loyalty programs.

The study showed that any breach of loyalty data would have a significant impact on the brand involved. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of survey respondents said that should such a breach occur, they would be less likely to use the company responsible, and 15% said they would be a lot less likely to do so.

Additionally, 41% of consumers indicated they had little or no knowledge about travel companies’ privacy and security policies of their frequent-traveler programs.

Deloitte said to improve traveler trust, travel companies may want to reward points to customers who regularly change their passwords, offer cyber-security-monitoring services or send reminders or links to change passwords.