Almost half of UK travel firms have lost access to important booking data at some stage, a survey claims.
Any delay in accessing data could have a “catastrophic impact”, leaving businesses struggling to maintain the kind of real-time accuracy and service levels now expected as standard by online customers, according to the report by co-location data centre City Lifeline.
Whether caused by equipment failure, a data traffic surge, computer virus or road works cutting through a power line, the loss of access to booking data can have serious financial, operational and reputational impact, particularly for smaller travel firms.
The study found that the vast majority (86%) of respondents saw their online bookings increase last year. This is expected to rise to a third of all travel bookings by the end of 2012.
But smaller firms will have to work particularly hard to get customer share in this highly competitive field.
For many this will involve developing and delivering more sophisticated and interactive online experiences – which will invariably require more complex, and therefore potentially more vulnerable IT, the study said.
City Lifeline managing director Roger Keenan said: “Smaller travel firms competing alongside larger, more established brands in the travel industry will be far more exposed in the event of even temporary data loss.
“Losing access to booking data inevitably means reduced productivity, missed business and unhappy customers and suppliers, something many smaller firms simply cannot afford. It is vital that travel firms make sure important files are saved not only on an external hard drive, but in a safe and secure offsite location.
“Co-location data centres are created to avoid disasters or at least able to cope with them protecting the equipment and servers hosted inside. Most importantly, they are designed to protect a business’ critical IT systems.”
The study took account of research conducted by City Lifeline at this year’s Travel Technology Europe show held in London in February.