For those in the travel industry, one of the most important and powerful emerging technology trends, which needs to be understood and explored, is the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. It has the potential to fundamentally change how many tourism companies operate, improve their revenue management, and enhance the customer experience. In this article, you will learn more about what the Internet of Things actually is and find out how it can be of benefit to those in the travel industry, complete with real examples of its uses.

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What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

First, it is important to define what the Internet of Things is. While it technically includes absolutely everything that is connected to the internet, the term is more typically used to refer to everyday physical devices, appliances and other ‘things’ that have been fitted with internet connectivity, making them capable of sending and receiving data.

This effectively turns them into ‘smart’ objects, capable of ‘talking to’ or interacting with one another. The technology allows devices to be controlled or monitored remotely, and to perform actions automatically. Examples might range from smart energy meters, through to internet-connected vehicles and driverless cars.

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How Can the Travel Industry Benefit From the IoT?

While many industries can benefit from IoT technology, the travel and tourism sector is particularly well-placed to reap the rewards, because the Internet of Things can enable further automation, more personalisation, and a greater customer experience. It can also streamline day-to-day tasks that go into running a hotel or travel company.

The use of smart devices can help to optimise the physical state of a hotel and its rooms, and can reduce energy costs. On planes, sensors could even be used to alert staff when someone’s anxiety levels elevate above a certain level. Meanwhile, the IoT can provide tourists with greater control and access to information via their phone.

5 IoT Examples Within the Travel Industry

1. Personal Control

One of the most widespread uses of IoT technology within the travel industry so far has been to enable a greater degree of personalisation within hotels, and on flights, and this is primarily provided by enabling customers to control more appliances or services through a centralised device, such as a tablet or even their own phone.

By implementing internet-enabled heating, lighting and television, customers can turn them on and off from one place. They may even be able to choose a specific temperature and light level, and have the devices maintain those levels automatically. Similar technology can also be used on flights, regulating seat temperature or air conditioning.

2. Seamless Travel

Another great use for the Internet of Things involves streamlining as much of the customer experience as possible, across all areas of the travel industry. In airports, this may mean using sensors and sending information to passengers’ smartphones, alerting them when their baggage is nearby and allowing them to locate it faster.

In hotels, the check-in process can be made seamless, with hotels sending electronic key cards to guests’ phones which, when used, automatically check them in without them ever having to stop at the front desk. Sensors might also be used to alert restaurant staff when a guest arrives, and automatically send them the right table number.

3. Smart Energy Saving

While the IoT can enable personalisation, it can also offer businesses financial benefits through automated or smart energy saving. In a hotel, for instance, internet-enabled devices and sensors can allow for the room temperature to be adjusted continually, meaning heating is only used when it is really needed.

A similar principle can also apply to lighting and, already, some hotels are using IoT technology to control its power. Sensors automatically detect the levels of natural light in the room, reducing the power of light bulbs in the process, meaning less energy is wasted and high powered lighting is only used when light levels are low enough.

4. Location Information

Companies operating in the travel industry can also use the Internet of Things to send location-specific information to customers, and to gather valuable data too. By combining smartphone capabilities with beacon technology or other sensors, messages can be sent to tourists at the point they are most relevant, based on where they are.

For instance, this might mean sending messages about local attractions and times when they are least busy, or to point out nearby public transport services. The IoT can also be used to gather accurate data about the number of people using specific hotel facilities at different times, so that staffing levels can be optimised.

5. Maintenance & Repairs

Finally, the Internet of Things can also be used to directly benefit IoT devices, by providing valuable, real-time information about their current status and working order. This can be vital for many of those operating in the travel and tourism industry, allowing essential devices to be repaired or replaced before they stop functioning.

For example, hotel staff can be alerted if a radiator or light bulb starts to deteriorate. Away from hotels, the Internet of Things can also be deployed to allow airlines to fuel aeroplanes more efficiently, or replace parts at the right time, striking the ideal balance between gaining maximum value and maintaining safety.

Ultimately, the Internet of Things (IoT) involves adding internet connectivity to everyday devices and appliances, allowing them to communicate with one another, and this offers numerous benefits for those operating within the travel industry, including the ability to deliver a superior customer experience and to optimise internal processes.

More Innovating Technologies Within Travel

With technology continuously evolving, it should come as little surprise that its applications within the travel industry evolve too. In the following articles we piled up some more innovating technologies in today’s travel and tourism industry.

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