How one of LA’s boutique hotels manages mobile data security for staff and guests
The LINE is a lively, modern boutique hotel nestled in the heart of LA’s Koreatown. It exudes hip design details—from its mid-century architecture to its sunlit second-floor pool to its lush urban greenhouse restaurant, the Commissary, run by LA chef (and street-food king) Roy Choi. The bright, welcoming lobby is always a scene, bustling day and night with guests having too much fun to head back to their rooms.
Amidst all this style and polish, it can be easy to forget the glue that holds so much of it together: the LINE’s IT team keeping guests connected and secure, enabling smooth communication and file sharing between the designers, marketers, and contractors behind the hotel’s success, and helping safeguard the LINE’s proprietary ideas—which are especially valuable in an industry that competes on creativity.
“The confluence of ideas and collaboration that happens at the LINE, it needs to be secure,” says Nick DeMarco, IT director. “Because those ideas are perpetuating our brand outward. That creative sauce, as it were, really needs to be protected.”
Secure cloud collaboration
The LINE team keeps all kinds of documents in the cloud—from revenue analytics and blueprints to budgets and presentations—and they often share those externally while collaborating with vendors. “It’s crucial to keep the data safe,” says DeMarco. “Because that’s what is proprietary and special about our brand. If we didn’t have this level of protection, we would be a lot more open to social engineering and other kinds of hacks, and a lot of our ideas could show up as competitor’s ideas.” These days, intellectual property is just as valuable as, if not more than, physical property.
DeMarco says mobile data security is also essential because hacks are no longer a matter of “if” but “when”—so his team needs to be able to respond quickly. “I need to be able to administer email easily, even when I’m mobile—literally get a phone call, not be anywhere near an office, and delete or freeze a user on the fly, in real time.”
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Service and security, around the clock
When running what is essentially a 24/7 business, internal company data isn’t the only data that needs protecting. “Servicing the guest is top of mind for the LINE’s team,” says DeMarco, “and that means constant communication. You never know what you’re going to get at the front desk, what emergency you’re going to be dealing with—so the continuity and mobility of communication is hugely important.”
But it’s not enough for those connections to be always-on, they also need to be secure—whether that’s a guest getting email over the hotel’s Wi-Fi or the front desk sharing sensitive financial data with the revenue manager. The team at the LINE prioritizes customer trust and data protection. “Customer data is the LINE’s lifeblood,” says DeMarco. “If we do not keep that data safe and keep to that unwritten contract, then we potentially lose a customer.”
With staff moving around the hotel and some workers at remote offices, that mandate for mobile data security can get complicated. “Because we are a highly mobile team, security and access to our data is paramount,” says DeMarco. “Email security and uptime is first and foremost for us, as our teams need to communicate on the go. Second is being able to share data within and outside the company.”
Securing the future
Like many IT teams, the LINE team does a lot with a little—with just DeMarco and one other person coordinating all IT for the hotel brand. And success to him is being able to deliver that security and reliability even with a small staff. “There’s never an excuse like, ‘There's no email. There’s no this. There’s no that,’” says DeMarco.
Security is more important than ever, especially in a business where reputation is everything. “All industries should care about data protection, but any business that relies on face-to-face interaction—like in hospitality—owes it to all users and guests to operate in the most secure manner possible,” says DeMarco.
“I think the world has taught us right now that you’re never too small to worry about file security or data protection.”