A comprehensive guide to AI data security for tours and attractions

Carla Vianna
Carla Vianna
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A comprehensive guide to AI data security for tours and attractions

As the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in travel becomes more prevalent, a new challenge arises: data security.

Yet the mishandling of this sensitive data poses significant risks, ranging from regulatory non-compliance to customer dissatisfaction. And the introduction of AI tools like ChatGPT and other automated tools adds another layer of risk to your business data.

Understanding the value of customer data and the potential consequences of mismanagement is necessary for all tour operators aiming to leverage AI in a responsible and ethical way. In this post, we’ll explore how to achieve travel data security with AI.

Why does AI data security matter for tour operators?

Trust and reputation are crucial in the travel industry, as word of mouth marketing and online reviews are crucial for success. A single data breach can severely damage trust , leading to a loss of business and tarnishing the operator’s reputation.

Establishing and maintaining trust is not only crucial for customer retention but is also instrumental in attracting new business. If a user does not feel their personal information is safe, they will avoid giving their business to that tour operator.

This is why implementing stringent AI data security measures is essential for safeguarding the trust and reputation your business has worked hard to build.

On a global scale, data protection regulations are becoming more stringent. Operators need to stay vigilant about the legal consequences of a data breach, as well as keep up with ever-evolving compliance measures in the U.S. and beyond. Non-compliance can result in significant fines and legal actions.

Lawsuits around copyright infringement, defamation, and data use already abound. The use of AI tools to create new content and ideas, such as conversations, stories, images, videos, and music  — may even violate a company’s own privacy policy.

Additionally, international laws vary around AI and can be difficult for companies operating in multiple countries to adhere to. Some governing bodies, like the EU and India, have already proposed comprehensive regulation around AI, but are yet to be enacted.

While the world awaits legal direction, companies like Microsoft and Google have published a set of principles around AI development seeking to promote fairness, safety, reliability, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability. This could be a useful starting point for a tour company’s own AI principles.

The value of customer data and the risks associated with mishandling it shouldn’t be understated.

What types of data are collected by AI?

AI can collect both intentional and unintentional data from users.

When a user poses a question to a chatbot or provides documents for it to analyze, this is known as intentional data. The user intentionally provided that information to the AI tool. Unintentional data is less direct data collection, like facial recognition or audio collection by phones.

Businesses collect an infinite spectrum of customer data. This data is used for many purposes, and each type has varying risk levels.

Let’s take a look at the different categories of data a tour operator might collect from its customers.

1. Personal data

AI systems can collect a plethora of personal information when users sign up for a tour or experience, including names, addresses, passport details, and more. Private personal information is highly sensitive. This data is often used for marketing and booking purposes at tour companies.

2. Transactional data

Tour operators routinely gather transactional data such as booking details and payment information, which are crucial for the business to function. This data has a high level of risk, as any exposure poses a threat for the customer’s financial security. Customers who are not confident in a company’s booking system will avoid making transactions.

3. Behavioral data

AI analyzes behavioral data to understand travel preferences, browsing history, recommended itineraries, top tour companies and more. This comprehensive data helps operators understand how users are engaging with their website or app in order to improve the user experience and provide tailored ads. Beyond securing this data, businesses must be transparent with customers about the use of this data.

Best practices for AI data security

S Here are some AI data security best practices. 

Data minimization

Data minimization is the practice of only collecting the minimum amount of data necessary from users.

When tour operators limit the data collected from customers, they reduce risk and potential exposure points for both themselves and customers. Additionally, establishing clear policies regarding data retention periods ensures that data is not kept longer than necessary, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access.

Data encryption

Data encryption is a crucial layer of defense against unauthorized access. Every tour operator needs a strong encryption method for all sensitive data that is collected and stored.

For example, your website should have SSL/TLS encryption, which are used to keep information like credit card details or login credentials confidential.

Regularly updating encryption keys ensures that security measures stay ahead of potential vulnerabilities, providing a continuous shield against evolving threats. This is akin to changing locks on a door, ensuring your company is secure against potential vulnerabilities.

Regular security audits and assessments

Conducting periodic security assessments for one’s business is vital for identifying vulnerabilities before they are exploited by malicious actors. Third-party services can be used for unbiased evaluations of your data security setup. An outside source can give you a fresh perspective on potential risks, including those associated with AI-collected data. This proactive approach allows for the implementation of necessary security measures to maintain a robust defense against evolving cyber threats.

Access control

Who can access your data? Business owners should implement strict user authentication measures and limit data access based on employees’ specific roles. Limiting data access to only necessary staff decreases the risk of exposure for customer and business data.

Data backup and recovery

Data backups should be performed consistently and stored in secure locations. In the event of unforeseen incidents, having a comprehensive disaster recovery plan minimizes downtime and data loss. A distillery tour operator, for instance, should ensure that customer booking information and preferences are regularly backed up, allowing for swift recovery in case of data loss.

Stay updated with regulations

The landscape of data protection regulations is ever-changing. Tour operators must stay ahead of data protection regulations in different countries and regions to ensure compliance, especially if you cater to an international audience. Regularly updating internal policies and procedures in alignment with these regulations is crucial for mitigating legal risks.

Employee training

Employees are often the first line of defense against potential security threats. Ensuring that all staff members understand the importance of data security is imperative, no matter how small your business might be. Every tour operator should provide regular training sessions on best practices and security protocols to empower employees to actively contribute to a secure environment.

What tour operators might not know

Here are four AI risks that aren’t as talked about in the industry — but are just as important, especially with the integration of ChatGPT in the travel industry.

AI’s continuous learning can be a risk

While AI’s continuous learning capabilities enhance its functionality, it can inadvertently access or store sensitive information as it adapts to new data. To mitigate this risk, tour operators should implement mechanisms to monitor and control the data AI interacts with. This involves setting clear boundaries and protocols to prevent the unintentional exposure of sensitive information.

Third-party integrations

External plugins can introduce a multitude of potential security vulnerabilities. It’s essential to vet all third-party services, ensuring they adhere to strict data security protocols that abide by company and government policies. Regularly updating and patching third-party integrations is required to keep security tight, as new threats and security risks are constantly being discovered.

The risks of shadow IT

Employees using unauthorized devices or software can pose significant security risks. Clear IT guidelines should be implemented and consistently monitored for compliance. This includes implementing measures to detect and prevent the use of unauthorized devices or software within the organization — like using a personal cell phone to communicate with guests — as they can present an entrance for unwanted actors breaching the entire company system.

Physical security matters

Physical breaches, such as stolen devices, can lead to data leaks. All tour operators should ensure that robust physical security measures are in place, especially in offices and data centers. This includes restricted access areas, surveillance systems, and secure storage for physical devices.


As tour operators increasingly embrace AI , prioritizing data security needs to be at the forefront. 

Implementing the best practices outlined in this guide not only fortifies data security for both the business and its customers, but also ensures compliance with regulations, protects customer trust, and safeguards the reputation of tour operators in an industry where trust is paramount.

By remaining vigilant, proactive, and informed about the evolving landscape of AI data security, you and your team will confidently provide secure and seamless experiences for your guests.


Writer Carla Vianna

Carla Vianna

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