Travel industry leaders have insisted consumers can have “confidence in how their data is stored” despite growing concern about cyber security and after Google was fined €50 million under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

However, Sabre Hospitality Solutions president Clinton Anderson said the data breach revealed at the travel technology company in 2017 was “a day of awakening”.

Sabre’s SynXis hotel reservations system suffered a breach in 2016-17 which saw unauthorised access to credit card details, including card security codes.

Speaking at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin, Anderson said: “We had a data breach 24 months ago. It was a day of awakening for us.”

He said: “These problems are not going away. Cyber threats are increasing.” But he insisted: “Ultimately, we will see significant consumer confidence in this, in how data is safely stored.”

Also speaking at ITB, Google Deutschland travel industry leader Lutz Behrendt said: “We do not necessarily agree with the violation [ruling].”

He argued: “There is a lot of uncertainty in the industry about how data is handled.”

Google was fined €50 million by the French data protection agency in January for breaching GDPR rules on transparency.

The agency found Google failed to provide transparent information on data use “such as data-processing purposes, data storage periods or categories of personal data used for ads personalisation” by splitting information across multiple documents, help pages and settings.

It was the first major ruling and the biggest fine to date under the GDPR, which came into force in May last year.

Anderson argued users welcome use of their personal data, saying: “60% of customers say they are willing to pay more if they get a customised offer.”

Behrendt agreed, saying: “The booking and planning of a vacation can take 30 days and we know consumers don’t like to take all that time.”

Chris Silcock, Hilton executive vice president and chief commercial officer, added: “Customers are beginning to get frustrated if they know you have data on them and you are not using it.”

tw4