One of the most important emerging trends for those in the hospitality industry is the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. It is, therefore, important for hotel owners, managers and other business leaders to make the most of it, yet many people still struggle to fully understand what it is, and how it can help. In this article, you will find out more about what the Internet of Things is, and how it can benefit those in hospitality.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the phrase used to refer to the inclusion of internet connectivity within everyday devices and appliances that have not typically had such capabilities. Examples of these devices might range from thermostats and energy meters, through to vehicles and large machines.
Essentially, it can turn those devices or appliances into ‘smart’ objects, which are capable of both sending and receiving data and communicating with each other. This can improve data collection, increase levels of automation and allow for multiple devices to be controlled or monitored from one centralised place, such as a phone or tablet.
Video: What is the internet of things?
How Can the Hospitality Industry Benefit from the IoT?
Many within the hospitality industry have already incorporated the Internet of Things into their businesses, because the technology offers a number of crucial benefits that are especially relevant to hotels. These benefits range from allowing companies to save on energy costs, through to delivering a better customer experience.
In terms of the latter, IoT technology allows hotel owners to optimise the conditions within their hotel, deliver a more personalised experience for guests and reduce waiting times. In terms of operations, the automation and real-time data can help companies to identify problems earlier, and even prevent some problems from ever occurring.
5 Examples of the IoT in the Hospitality Industry
1. Hyper-Personalised Hotel Rooms
So far, the main use of the Internet of Things within the hospitality industry has centred on hyper-personalisation. For example, Hilton and Marriott have experimented with slightly different takes on the ‘connected room’ concept, where users are able to control many of the room’s features from their mobile phone, or from a provided tablet.
This might allow guests to control the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems from one place, or even just specify a temperature and allow the various devices to automatically regulate the room to that temperature. It will also typically allow them to control the television, while some devices may even greet them by name.
2. Location-Based Information
Bluetooth, GPS and beacon technology have all opened up new possibilities in terms of delivering location-based information, and this can be used by companies in the hotel and hospitality industry to send messages to customers at the precise time they are most relevant to the recipient.
This may mean, for example, sending SMS messages about menu items at the restaurant when guests are close by, or advertising gym services when they are near the gym. It may also mean sending up-to-date information about local transport links, or nearby attractions. Businesses can also use location data to optimise staffing levels.
3. Predictive Repairs & Maintenance
Another potential use of the Internet of Things within the hotel industry involves providing hotel staff with up-to-the-second information about the operating status of different devices and appliances, and alerting those staff to any warning signs that might be indicative of deterioration, or unusual performance.
The primary benefit of this is that it allows for repairs to be carried out, or replacements to be fitted, before the device or appliance fully stops working. This can be invaluable when dealing with crucial appliances that the hotel cannot operate without, and can allow repairs to occur before any major loss of function.
4. Electronic Key Cards
Traditionally, hotels have relied upon physical key cards or even actual keys to unlock hotel rooms, but the IoT opens up new possibilities in terms of sending digital or electronic key cards directly to guests’ mobile phones. This can then communicate with the lock on the door, unlocking it, and removing the need for a separate key.
The potential of this technology also goes much further. Hotels could use internet communication technology to automatically send the electronic key to a guest’s phone an hour before the check-in time, sync the door up with the check-in desk, and allow guests to bypass the check-in desk entirely and go straight to their room.
5. Voice-Controlled Customer Service
Finally, hotel companies like Best Western, Marriott and Wynn have been among the early adopters of voice-controlled customer service and this is an area that is likely to expand substantially over the next five years, as products like Amazon Echo become more widely adopted within the home environment.
In terms of how it can benefit those in the hospitality industry, the main way is through delivering a superior customer experience. For instance, voice-controlled room assistants can allow customers to request room service, book a table at the hotel restaurant, or book spa sessions by simply speaking to a device in their room.
The Internet of Things is already being deployed in the hospitality industry and the future potential for hotel owners makes it important to understand and capitalise on. In particular, it can help to automate processes, improve the customer experience and help hospitality companies to save money on energy costs and maintenance.
More Digital Trends
With digital technology continuously evolving, it should come as little surprise that its applications within the travel and hospitality industry evolve too. In the following articles we piled up the most innovating digital trends in the hospitality industry.
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