The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart automation are bringing new possibilities to the table when it comes to the smooth running of a hotel. What’s more, the age of networked, smart devices has huge potential for enhanced guest experiences, streamlined services, improved sustainability and reductions in operational costs.
With IoT devices in place, the Head Chef can receive orders directly from guests. Housekeeping is immediately notified when a room service tray is ready to retrieve. Gym staff know when and how many guests have booked themselves into the early yoga class. A packed conference room cools itself with automated air conditioning. Lights turn themselves off in unoccupied corners of the building.
It’s these capabilities, and the big and small impacts they will have, that should prove exciting to hotel operators.
What are the guest benefits of IoT in hotels?
Customisation lies at the heart of great hospitality. Having things just the way we like them makes guests feel special, and IoT facilitates this as never before. Not only can individuals make their own customisations, but the demand on staff is reduced because guests can make autonomous requests and choices – making life easier for all parties.
The opportunities presented by automation and smart devices in hotels may seem overwhelming, but there are many simple ways that this technology can easily improve guest experience and operational management:
- Smartphones can be used as digital keys, giving easy, secure access to guest rooms or facilities.
- Digital wayfinding helps in navigating large hotel complexes
- Location-based content provides local information for travel or tourism
- Automated check-in means there’s no need to queue at the front desk
- Guests can adjust their own room temperature and lighting and customise room features using voice activated AI such as Amazon Alexa
- Hotel apps make it easy to order food, concierge services, laundry, book the use of facilities or flag up problems.
- Settings and preferences from previous stays can be remembered
- Assets and employees can be tracked with IoT tags or GPS
- Smart energy management reduces consumption and costs
- Scheduled maintenance pre-empts breakdowns and repairs
- Improved security through electromechanical locking
- Access control scheduling can authorise of certain keys for certain staff members
- Networked security cameras
- Better control of staff entrances and exits and knowledge of who is in the building and when
- Better stock control and inventory management
What are the benefits of IoT for hotel staff?
It is far easier for staff to meet guest expectations if communication is optimised. Hotel apps facilitate this by making it easy for guests to make requests and reducing the number of people a request has to go through before it can be actioned.
Furthermore, customers service can suffer when equipment fails, even in small instances like lightbulbs going out or air conditioners malfunctioning. Automation not only means that maintenance can pre-empt these issues, but problems can be more rapidly resolved by guests directly flagging up problems.
Additional ways of improving conditions and operations for staff include:
- Improved security with enhanced knowledge of who is in the building and where
- GPS tracking so key colleagues can be quickly located
- Smoother operations due to automated systems and quicker communications
- A better guest experience meaning fewer difficult customer service situations
- Greater autonomy – every action doesn’t have to go through a supervisor or manager
- Prior knowledge of customer preferences making preparation easier
- Quick access to help in case of emergency with “panic buttons”
- IoT location tags which notify the whereabouts of luggage trolleys, laundry bags and room service trays
What are the opportunities for improved business operations?
A hotel can only survive with positive reviews and word of mouth, so the importance of delivering a great experience is paramount. Guest feedback can be easily gathered and harnessed, and smoother operations mean a better quality of service overall.
New insights and opportunities can also be revealed from the wealth of data that can be gathered on guests, staff and building usage. The efficiencies and savings possible from an IoT-optimised hotel can also be significant, with intelligent systems and sensors also able to make efficiencies autonomously reducing energy consumption.
What are the challenges of implementation?
Networking a vast array of different devices and systems is highly complex. IoT services are delivered through an array of different protocols, including Bluetooth, Zigbee and WiFi, and it can be challenging to get them to work in harmony.
However, this complexity no longer needs to be a barrier to introducing IoT to hotels, as technology solutions like Ruckus provide centralised and secure access networks, designed to simplify and unify the process.
There are security challenges, with each device on the network presenting a potential weak point, vulnerable to hackers or ‘hostage’ takeovers of IT systems. Reputable providers are therefore offering unified security protocols, policies, and best practices as part of a package to mitigate the risk.
How easy is it to implement IoT in my hotel?
It’s not as futuristic as it sounds. The ability to have one, converged network which supports virtually unlimited services means that the possibilities of introducing IoT to hotels becomes tangible.
IoT solutions already exist in many hotels, such as the Marriott chain, and there are readily available options on the market like as Mount Kelvin for room preferences, Flic for guest communication with staff, Nest for thermostats, and even Valpas for registering bedbugs.
While investment in IoT and automation might feel like a large cost, the proven benefits mean it’s likely to soon become industry standard in hospitality.
Speak to MLR Networks today about Ruckus wifi and IoT solutions.