Point Made. Create Your Own Sandbox | TravelResearchOnline

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Point Made. Create Your Own Sandbox

Hey, did you see that viral meme that went around Facebook, What’s App, and Instagram last Monday afternoon?  Of course, you didn’t because Facebook, What’s App, and Instagram all were down for the day. Oh yeah, and Messenger as well.

If your business relies on these platforms for survival, or any platform you do not own, shame on you.  Last Monday, the New York Times highlighted just how far-reaching the issue was with some facts including:

  • 5 Billion people use Facebook worldwide on a daily basis
  • Not only did it take the platform down, but the sign-in capabilities of many other sites
  • Myanmar and India consider Facebook to be “the” internet

But let’s look at some real-life situations cited by the New York Times:

“With Facebook being down we’re losing thousands in sales,” said Mark Donnelly, a start-up founder in Ireland who runs HUH Clothing, a fashion brand focused on mental health that uses Facebook and Instagram to reach customers. “It may not sound like a lot to others but missing out on four or five hours of sales could be the difference between paying the electricity bill or rent for the month.”

Or this one:

Douglas Veney, a gamer in Cleveland who goes by GoodGameBro and who is paid by viewers and subscribers on Facebook Gaming, said, “It’s hard when your primary platform for income for a lot of people goes down.” He called the situation “scary.”

If nothing else, this outage should highlight the importance of controlling as much of your own technological destiny as you can.

Yes, the outage cost the two businesses cited above some revenue and lost business, but in the travel industry, the stakes are considerably higher. How do you explain to a client that their cruise cabin was canceled and cannot be re-instated for the same price?

While your own website can (and they do) go down, you do have control over it. You can put a message saying it is down and to call or contact you by an alternate means. Your website is likely not nearly as complex as Facebook or Instagram, so any outage should be relatively short-lived.

Last month, I was hit with a DDoS attack on my site for two consecutive days at the same time. A DDoS attack, as it was explained to me is a denial of service (DoS) where internet traffic is sent to a particular site with the purpose of overwhelming it and putting it offline. It completely escapes me why my site was targeted, but it was. We were alerted about crazy high traffic and were able to adjust the server to balance the load and continue to work. It was slow, but it was working. On the second night, we found out it was targeting a specific old and outdated page, and we ended up deleting the page. Eventually, they realized the page did not exist any longer and the attack ended. Had I (ah who am I kidding, I pay for an IT service to do a lot of the tech stuff, but I pay the bills) not had control over my own site, the outage would have been much more severe and long-lasting.

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A good friend of mine, Dr. Terry Riley is an expert in travel security has always said that “you are responsible for your own safety” and I believe this is true when it comes to websites as well, “you are responsible to maintain your own website.” When you allow someone else to drive the ship, you never know where you will end up, or when. If you are relying on Facebook or some other platform that you do not control, make an early New Year’s resolution to do something about it. The next Facebook outage is on the way!

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