The Internet of Things. It refers to the wireless connections between things—devices, objects, vehicles, systems, buildings, and more—that allow them to share information and data. It’s the next industrial revolution, and with it is coming a whole new set of guest expectations, concerns, and business opportunities. Are you aware of the rapidly developing changes your guests are experiencing in their homes? Are you prepared to offer them the same experiences? Take a moment to consider the following innovations, because if you implement them, you’ll both impress your guests and run a more profitable business.
Expectations for connectedness are set long before arrival
Picture me as a guest at your hotel: Here’s a look at my day before I arrive….
A tap on my wrist five minutes ago hailed the car that’s just pulled up to my doorstep. I run out the door, not bothering with the lights because the house will soon recognize I’m no longer there. In my absence, the lights turn off and the temperature is altered to a more energy-efficient level.
After arriving at the airport I bypass the check-in counter and head for security. A quick scan of the QR code on my smartwatch and I’m through the first checkpoint. I buy a coffee and pay for it with my phone, and then head to my gate where I’m allowed entry to the airplane by again scanning my smartwatch. Upon landing, another tap on my wrist hails a car and within minutes I’m on my way to your hotel.
Will these hyper-connected experiences cease at your doorstep? Or will I be welcomed into an innovative property that meets my expectations of convenience, connectedness, and an Internet-based user experience?
Let’s find out what exactly this experience looks like.
Checking in and getting the key
In 2014 we saw the first digital hotel keys, which allow guests to enter their rooms without stopping at reception thanks to a phone app. This innovation, once reserved for most luxurious of guest experiences, is now increasingly in demand. As phone-based entry to private residences gains in popularity, more travelers will look for hotels that offer the same.
The convenience of keyless room access is not the only benefit; the entire check-in process is streamlined, as guests are able to skip reception lines altogether.
I recently met with SESAME Technologies reps at WTM in London. They specialize in mobile key solutions for the digital traveler. Check out this video of their innovative technology and all the benefits it provides to both travelers and hoteliers.
Air conditioning: the elephant in the room
Air conditioning accounts for the largest amount of energy consumption at hotels. But it’s difficult to know when it should be running for guest comfort and when it needs to be off to conserve energy. If guest comfort is the deciding factor, it’s not possible to leave the air off until they turn it on. Your guests would be greeted by musty, stale air every time they walked into the room. But neither can you leave the air running all day, burning up energy and exponentially increasing your electricity bill.
So what is the solution? The Internet of Things means that location-based air conditioning is possible. Guests’ location data is becoming increasingly accessible, letting you know when they’ll be returning to the hotel. But even if you can’t track their location outside of the hotel, you can map guests’ mobile devices to their rooms when they check in. The air conditioning system can detect who’s on the premises by their connection to the wireless network.
You can program the air conditioning to turn on the minute the guest enters the lobby, so that by the time they reach their room the air will already be approaching the ideal temperature. Likewise, when their phone disconnects from the network, the air conditioning can be programmed to go into power-saving mode.
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Television and video streaming connectivity
The most annoying thing I experience whenever I’m in a hotel room is figuring out the television. Where are the channels I want to watch? What is this commercialized video loop that appears every time I turn on the TV? I’m in a new place; possibly one with a new time zone and a different language. I don’t want to watch your local television programming; I want to watch the videos and use the streaming services I have on my mobile devices. And the Internet of Things makes this possible.
Enabling your guests to wirelessly connect their video and TV streaming devices to the in-room television set is a great way to add value to the room and make your guests feel at home. It means they won’t feel lost browsing local programming. Nor will they have to resign themselves to watching their shows on tiny phone screens, which not only is a poor guest experience; it completely devalues the sizable investment of outfitting the room with a TV.
Smart beds with mass appeal
Select Comfort beds, which let you adjust your mattress firmness, have been on the market for years. The company now has a series of smart beds that connect to the user’s mobile device and monitor sleep quality throughout the night. When it comes to the Internet of Things, they even make automatic adjustments in order to, as the Sleep Number slogan goes, “help protect your sleep.”
There’s nothing more central to a hotel room than the bed your guests sleep on. As more people opt for smart beds, they’ll start to look for hotels that have them as well. Your guests won’t want to lose a good night of sleep (or sleep-data collecting) while away from home. Delivering the innovative sleep experience they’ll have grown used to will only get easier when guests can program their beds to fit their preferences.
Lighting: it sets the mood but breaks the bank
Getting out of that cozy bed to go turn off the lights after watching a favorite streamed TV series is a hassle for your guests. Similarly, who wants to fumble around in the dark for an unfamiliar light switch in the middle of the night? Chances are good that guests will grab their smartphones to use as flashlights, so why not put the light switch right there in their hands with connected lighting?
You can also have lighting that tracks activity in the room and switches off as appropriate. Why leave the lights on all day when nobody is there? Save money, save the planet, impress your guests, and invest in a smart lighting system.
If you’re not ready to go full wireless and mobile-connected, there are still lots of great smart-room technologies to make your hotel more efficient. Leviton has a range of solutions, from occupancy sensors to key-card master switches. Many of these technologies offer affordable room upgrades that can save you money on your electricity bill while delivering a more comfortable experience to your guests.
Are you ready for the Internet of Things?
Are you already thinking about your hotel’s future connectedness? Or maybe you’ve already got your property caught up with the latest technological revolution. Let us know what you’re doing to bring your hotel into the 21st century in the comments below.