From hijacking servers to stealing data, cybercrime has unfortunately become a daily threat to internet users. Naturally, online consumers are more careful than ever. If your website doesn’t give customers confidence, they won’t stick around, let alone make a booking. And if your website becomes compromised, it could cost your business even more.
The security of your website is critical to the user experience—and to protecting your business too.
How can you make sure your hotel website is safe? The answer lies in HTTPS.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure,” and is an internet communication protocol that protects the privacy and integrity of data passed between a website and a user’s computer.
Through data encryption (protects data from spies), data integrity (data can’t be modified or corrupted without being detected) and authentication (proves users are communicating with the website they expect), HTTPS ensures the user’s connection with the website is secure.
Any website that accepts data from users (for example, newsletter sign-ups or online bookings), or any business that wants to assure users that their website is credible and secure, should implement HTTPS.
HTTP vs HTTPS
We have long been familiar with HTTP (“Hypertext Transfer Protocol”) appearing in front of website URLs, but the difference between HTTP and HTTPS is much more than just a letter.
Standing for “secure,” the added S is earned by obtaining an SSL (“Secure Sockets Layer”) certificate, which creates a secure, encrypted connection between the website and the user’s web browser. On the other hand, data passed between a website using HTTP (not HTTPS) and a user’s browser is not encrypted and can be intercepted by third parties.
If a website has an SSL certificate, it will display HTTPS or a padlock icon (depending on the browser) alongside the URL, signifying to users that the site is safe.
In keeping with their mission to provide a superior user experience, Google’s Chrome browser now marks websites without an SSL certificate (HTTP websites) with a “Not secure” warning displayed in the address bar. Firefox, too, alerts users to non-secure websites by displaying a padlock icon with a red strike across it alongside the URL.
This is for good reason. Without HTTPS, cybercriminals can steal customer information submitted through your website or insert malware into your site without your knowledge, which can then be unintentionally downloaded by your customers, jeopardizing their privacy and your business.
Advantages of HTTPS
Safeguarding your hotel website shouldn’t only be considered advantageous—it should be considered necessary.
First and foremost, HTTPS makes your website safe for your customers to interact with. By taking steps to protect customer data from prying eyes, you show them that you take their privacy seriously.
HTTPS gives customers confidence in your website and therefore your business, helping to increase business credibility. Experienced online consumers know to look for HTTPS or a padlock icon alongside the URL before submitting personal information; without that reassurance most simply won’t make a booking.
As mentioned above, browsers like Google and Firefox now alert internet users to unsecure sites (HTTP) by including a “not secure” warning alongside the URL. Would you enter your credit card data into a website labelled “Not secure”?
And, finally, because of the better browsing experience yielded by secure websites, Google uses HTTPS as a ranking factor in search results, so HTTPS positively impacts SEO too.
How to Implement HTTPS
To convert your website from HTTP to HTTPS you need an SSL certificate from a certificate authority (CA). Once the SSL certificate has been installed, a permanent redirect to your site (from HTTP to HTTPS) will need to be added. As well, all internal links within your website content (as well as external links that you control) will need to be updated to include HTTPS. Make sure you set a reminder to renew your SSL certificate before it expires.
A secure website is key to protecting your customers and your business. HTTPS safeguards your customers’ data and helps gain trust. Without HTTPS, you risk losing business—it’s as simple as that.