Cyber-attack shut down IHG’s reservation system

AAHOA calls for accountability and assurances of security

Last week, InterContinental Hotels Group reported a cyber-attack had disrupted its reservations system. In response, AAHOA issued a statement saying IHG should explain the cause of the breach to affected franchisees and ensure another breach does not happen.

A CYBER-ATTACK “significantly disrupted” booking channels and other applications for InterContinental Hotels Group last week, according to a statement from the company. Now, AAHOA is demanding  an explanation for the breach and assurances that its members’ data is protected.

IHG has implemented a response plan, including notifying the relevant regulatory authorities, working with its technology suppliers and engaging external specialists to investigate the incident, according to the company.

‘IHG is working to fully restore all systems as soon as possible and to assess the nature, extent and impact of the incident,” the company said. “We will be supporting hotel owners and operators as part of our response to the ongoing service disruption. IHG’s hotels are still able to operate and to take reservations directly.”

The breach affected IHG’s reservations and customer care call centers, as well as internal systems, such as Merlin and the IHG Help Desk, according to AAHOA’s statement. The association said franchisees, including some of its members, saw a complete shutdown in guestroom bookings during this outage.

As most of the affected franchisees are small business owners who cannot afford such unexpected losses, particularly since they are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, AAHOA said. The association said IHG should ensure that the affected franchisees are recouped their losses from the breach and an explanation for what happened.

“IHG owes its franchisees transparency,” said Laura Lee Blake AAHOA President & CEO. “IHG has not been forthcoming in explaining the outage to AAHOA-Member hotel owners, who bore the brunt of revenue losses from bookings missed due to the disruptions. As the world’s largest hotel trade association, we speak for thousands of small business owners who deserve an explanation, as well as being made whole for these preventable losses.”

AAHOA also said its members are concerned about the privacy of guests’ financial and personal data.

“To maintain the trust and confidence of its current and future customers, and that of its franchisee community, IHG must shore up its booking systems to prevent future data security breaches and provide more transparency into what happened and how IHG plans to move forward,” the association said.

In 2020, Marriott International reported a breach of an internal property system that may have compromised some personal information belonging to approximately 5.2 million guests.