Who Owns the Data Stored in Your Back Office Travel Software?
When it comes to travel agency software, the goal is to make back-end tasks easier and more efficient. This is certainly the case with programs like Tourwriter, which manage client and vendor data and streamline business processes.
It is important, therefore, to make sure that use of this type of software gives you an edge, instead of becoming a hindrance for your business. A major pitfall to consider is what actually happens to your data when it gets entered into a local or cloud-based application.
Do You Actually Own Your Data?
This may come as a surprise to some, but you don’t necessarily own the data you put into your software. According to Computerworld, ownership of data largely depends on the terms and conditions set forth in a cloud provider’s contract. Google Drive, for instance, stipulates that users maintain all ownership rights of data they put into the system.
Other providers, however, might not make similar assurances. It is absolutely vital, then, that you check any contract with a potential software provider thoroughly before sealing a commitment.
Another important consideration is that there is more data that winds up in the cloud than what you put there yourself. Processing data in the cloud can often lead to the creation of additional information. Do you own these results, or do they belong to the provider? A contract should clearly address this.
The Lock-In Problem
A pressing issue, in addition to data ownership, is the fear of being locked into a single service provider. People who have faced the daunting prospect of switching to a new mobile phone company are all too familiar with the difficulties this entails – you might lose your number, contacts and important messages in the switch, not to mention any penalties you could face from the first provider.
Risks like these can certainly be present when switching from one provider to another. In fact, the issue of vendor lock-in has long been identified as a barrier to greater migration to the cloud.
Research reported in the Journal of Cloud Computing found that, in a survey of UK businesses, 35.1 percent were concerned with relying on just one provider, while 28.8 percent were put off by the inability to move their data back onto their local network or to another cloud system.
Tour and travel companies are not immune to these problems. If a chosen piece of travel software isn’t working out, you need to be able to move to a more effective solution with as little hassle as possible. This will minimise any downtime and get you back on track to see the efficiency benefits right away.
What’s Your Exit Strategy?
There are many reasons that a tour operator would want to switch his or her software provider – including service issues, an unsatisfactory return on the investment or any number of others. The important thing is that, when you’re ready to leave, you can take your data with you. Depending on the way a provider handles data ownership, this could be incredibly simple or agonizingly difficult.
This is where thorough research into a provider will pay off; it will answer crucial questions that will inform your cloud service exit strategy.
- How, if and when you can get your data back.
- How much canceling the service and retrieving data will cost.
- What format it will be in, and if it is accessible in that form.
- Whether or not the provider will retain a copy of the data for a certain time period.
It is vital that you get the answers to these questions and fully consider your options before signing on with any service.
Your Data, Your Way
If a software provider puts barriers between you and your own data, that should raise some questions and eyebrows. Why are they doing that, and why don’t they want you to have that access? If nothing else, it should give you a reason to pause before considering using that product.
At Tourwriter, we know that your data is the cornerstone of your business processes – from lead generation to final booking, and all tasks in between. As such, we believe that you should always be able to access and backup your data, as you see fit.
That is why we provide you with easy access to your data, whether you’re using a cloud-based or offline version of Tourwriter. Both those using our online hosting and our offline clients can get at their data any time they’d like. On top of that, we recommend that you back-up your data frequently, so that you still have access to it even if you experience a temporary network or hardware issue.
For more information about Tourwriter and how it can make your tour company run more efficiently without having to worry about your data, contact us today.