Are Hotels Breaking Privacy Laws by Storing Client Information?

It was recently reported in The Times that many hoteliers in Britain, and possibly all over the world, take, store, and keep personal files on its clients and customers – with the justification of “improving customer service” – much without the knowledge of customers’ knowledge.

Couple at a hotelThis is usually done for most hotel guests, high profile clients, business or corporate clients and celebrities. The information is collected from past stays and from the Internet to be distributed with profile photos to doormen, receptionists, waiters, and chambermaids.

So What Do They Know About You?

Harmless information such as details about favorite sports, films, newspapers and meal preferences are kept.

However, more sensitive information have also been kept: home life, whether there were any incidences during their last stay, marital status, number of children, home town, pastimes, occupation, names of dining or overnight companions, television channels, behavior to hotel staff, whether they were heavy drinkers, whether they ordered/paid for adult films, had any sketchy visitors, used drugs or took party in “immoral activities” – all on file.

Photos are found through Google.

Front DeskEthical Dilemma, Much?

So, is this really all in the name of “improving customer service?”

“We believe in a systematic approach to customer service,” said Derek Picot, Jumeirah Hotels’ regional general manager for Europe. The idea is that hotel staff be better equipped and knowledgeable of their clients, rather than just their name and faces. Picot adds that customers are able to request to see their files – and argues that their customer profiles are “not meant to be intrusive.”

Some of the hotel chains that are known to keep such records include: Fairmont, Four Seasons, InterContinental, Eton Collection and Starwood.

Moral of the story? Be careful what information you divulge and ask hotels whether your information is destroyed upon the completion of your stay – especially credit card and personal financial information.

Source: “Are hotels keeping records on you?” by Tom Chesshyre,, June 28, 2008.

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