Hospitality firms invest large amounts of time, money and energy tracking customers for marketing purposes. Cruise lines, hotels and timeshare companies collect consumer data in order to sell their services to their target markets. There are specific challenges that arise when tracking customer-related information, which makes ethical standards critical for risk mitigation and social responsibility.
Timeshare companies, such as Wyndham Vacation Ownership, collect information on potential clients and their friends through special promotions. For example, cars or trips are given away via drawings that require individuals to provide their demographic information. This data ultimately is tracked in a database for marketing purposes. It is important participants are clear on what they are getting themselves into before they fill out drawing materials. Trying to obtain customer data using trickery is not ethical, and it perpetuates misconceptions about the hospitality industry and timeshare.
Many casinos offer reward programs to entice their guests to frequent their establishments. MGM Grand’s rewards program is called M Life, and it allows the company to track customers’ gambling and spending habits. Customers are rewarded for dining, spa services and other activities they participate in at MGM Grand properties. Casinos are able to market specific services and amenities to guests based on reward programs and related tracking systems. Showing respect for customers’ financial information and preferences is important for a casino’s reputation and continued well-being.
Hotel, resort and timeshare telemarketing call centers have access to customer tacking software and need to protect confidential information in a structured way that preserves consumer confidence. Selling customer lists to third-parties without prior consent is an action frowned upon by most consumers. Also, there are reported instances of telemarketers memorizing or coping client lists then change jobs taking customer information with them. Hospitality firms have to develop effective systems of internal control to protect their tracking systems from corruption. Otherwise, customer data is put at risk for theft or misappropriation.
Professional organizations, such as the American Resort Development Association, World Tourism Organization and the American Marketing Association, create ethical standards for dealing with consumers. This helps hospitality-related businesses maintain an ethical attitude when using customer information. Honesty, transparency and fairness are among the prescribed standards. Tracking data in an honest and forthright fashion is important for the integrity of marketing programs and well-being of all stakeholders in the hospitality industry.