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Why the Hospitality Industry Should Embrace the IoT

Jan Kemeling, Gooee CCO, suggests “the hospitality industry is best positioned to benefit from enhancing guest customer experiences. Guests like to feel at home, be recognized, be pampered and love to feel comfortable in hotels.”


And if you believe the mission of many hotel brands, this is exactly what the industry is trying to achieve:

  • Shangri-La hotels: Our mission is to delight our guests every time by creating engaging experiences straight from our heart.
  • Ritz Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. 
  • Accor Hotels intends affirming its ability to explore occupations very closely connected to our traditional hospitality professions that have the same mission at heart: to serve international guests and travelers in the best way possible.

 

Through the introduction of the IoT and implementation of new technology, delivering on promises and increasing the overall guest experience could be so much better.

Hotels aim to maintain high standards when it comes to every aspect of service, however, there are incidents that can cause standards to drop. These might include failing equipment, poor lighting or an air-conditioner/ heater that is either too cold or too warm. There are also experiences where staff can cause disgruntlement among guests, for example, the occasional door knocks, from either maintenance or housekeeping staff, during times when guests want peace and quiet. Or accidental disturbances when they are trying to take an afternoon nap, hold a conference call or have a shower. When reviews from guests that have been affected by these experiences hit social media or travel review sites it can affect business revenues.

Arriving at their favorite hotel after a long and tiring journey is what guests look forward to but when faced with long queues at check-in it can affect that comfortable, welcoming experience. All guests want to do is just get a key and go to their room. If they then get to the room, after having waited forever for an elevator, nothing is more annoying than a key-card that suddenly doesn’t work. Having to go down to reception again, with luggage, queuing and then waiting for the same slow elevator to take them back up is the last thing they need.

Finding a meeting room in the morning can also be a challenge as can locating someone to set up an LED screen for a presentation.

Smart hotel features not only anticipate the needs of guests, they enable the benefits of a personalized concierge service to all.

The IoT is helping the hospitality industry in many ways. For example, smart sensors are used in every area of the hotel, including motion sensors that also track motion-direction and velocity, air pressure sensors, ambient light sensors and temperature and humidity sensors.

 

Data collected from the sensors are sent to a cloud for data analytics and could trigger scripted actions to activate and deactivate or control settings of all relevant devices. For guests, this will provide a more relaxing and comfortable environment that has been designed according to their preferences.

The installation of wireless smart control systems will allow for control of a multitude of in-room devices such as the TV, climate control, lights, curtains, water temperature, alarm clock, music, internet access etc. Everything can be operated via a simple hotel app on a guests’ mobile phone or via voice commands like, for instance, Alexa.

 

Technological advancements enable the following actions:

  • Mobile Check-ins and instant digital keys to your room
  • A room that is not chosen randomly but dynamically, based, for instance, on the distance from the elevator, your preferred view or floor as per your preferences collected in your guest profile
  • Digital voice commanded room assistance
  • Scripted actions held in the cloud, for instance, “Close curtains in occupied room at 6pm every night”
  • Predictive maintenance on (light bulbs, room equipment to provide regular updates on performance)
  • Presence-based energy management (air conditioning, lights, heating)
  • Presence-based dynamic scheduling for housekeeping
  • Remote management of all controls (light, curtains, HVAC)
  • Guest engagement via the Sheraton, Hilton or Hyatt app
  • Indoor positioning via the app, wayfinding, promotions, guest information on nearby facilities


How are technology advancements benefiting guests?

Increased sense of well-being and comfort:

  • No more waiting upon check-in or check out
  • Wayfinding – never go to the wrong floor to find your meeting room or breakfast restaurant
  • Promotional offers, personalized and tailored to your profile and to your habits (the wine you always order, your favorite table in the restaurant etc.)
  • Customised room-settings (you always sleep with 22 degrees Celsius or you always keep the light in the bathroom on)
  • Your TV switches automatically to the channels you usually watch or enable you to watch movies on your own Netflix account
  • Your room service remembers your usual breakfast order
  • Nobody disturbs you when you are inside your room
  • Your shower has your ideal water temperature – no more confusing faucets 


IoT capabilities are creating disruptive differentiation, forcing competitors to adapt or risk potentially losing guests & established loyalty-based business accounts.

 

 

How are hotels benefitting from IoT technology? 

  • Considerable savings on HR (front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, supply chain)
  • Increased revenue from one-to-one customer engagement
  • No work disruptions – processes by unpredicted ad-hoc maintenance activities, predictive maintenance is cheaper, non-disruptive and easier to plan for
  • Considerable cost savings (HR, maintenance, 20%-40% decrease in energy usage thanks to presence-based activation and controls)
  • Richer data collected about customers (habits, likes, dislikes, preferences, wishes and needs, spending patterns)
  • A deeper understanding of the guests’ personal profile will lead to offering the guest what he/she wants when he/she wants it. This leads to a higher satisfaction rating and increased customer loyalty.

 

The technology is there, why is it not widely deployed yet?

Traditionally this industry is conservative, which could have something to do with complicated ownership structures. Who carries out the capital expenditure? Often there are conflicting interests.

A hotel might be part of the Hyatt or Hilton Group, for example, and therefore the individual property owner is the one having to make building upgrade investments. But if the benefits are largely going to the hotel management company, be it financial or otherwise, does the ROI model still work for the property owner?

 

Author:  Jan Kemeling, Gooee CCO