In today’s ultra-connected world, going to an average hotel with free Wi-Fi and USB charging stations is considered par for the course. Consumers expect their guest experience to be as personalized as their home. From check in to check out, it’s up to today’s hospitality leaders to ensure not only a pleasant experience, but one where guests leave feeling like they never left home at all.
IoT is changing the game when it comes to upgrading basic hotel features. In fact, many major hotel chains throughout the world are adopting IoT technology to deliver smart, hyper-personalized hotel rooms, otherwise known as connected rooms.
Smarter check-ins, happier guests
With IoT connectivity, waiting in line to check into your hotel room after a long day of travel or business meetings is a thing of the past. Guests are able to skip the line and check into their rooms from the hotel’s mobile app, much like they would check in early to a flight. Additionally, when a guest pre-checks into the room with a digital key, smart thermostats, window shades, lighting and TV channels are automatically set to that guest’s preferred settings. Upon arrival, guests will find that they can make further adjustments — including turning off lights, lowering blinds and connecting the TV to their favorite streaming subscriptions — from the comfort of their bed and the convenience of their mobile device.
For years, hotel operators have looked into streamlining the check-in process to get weary guests to the comfort and privacy of their rooms more efficiently. This is weighed versus the ability to provide service, in terms of delivering a friendly welcome to the guest and sharing important information about their stay. The promise of a connected room experience marries the best of both, allowing the guest to update profile information on their preferences and for the hotel to likewise confirm these customizations for the guest before they set foot in their room.
Checking into connected technology
To deliver such an experience, the hotel must be able to communicate with its guests via a secure channel, typically through a mobile app, usually over Wi-Fi or cellular in congested locations, such as airports or planes. Guests might have a short window of time in which they can review information and transact, so reliability and responsiveness of the communication is key. Likewise, this information then needs to be transmitted to hotels that, by nature, are in every corner of the world.
The experience that hotel operators intend to deliver with a connected room competes not only with heightened expectations — as private homes become more IoT-enabled smart homes, guests want more of that experience when they travel — but it also gives a leg up on house or room sharing platforms. Hotels can offer a much smoother, more reliable and consistent experience versus what might be found with competitors.
The advantages and ROI of connected rooms
Environmental effects: The convenience of automated temperature and lighting goes beyond enhancing the guest experience. Connected rooms can also use IoT devices to determine when a guest has left the room and trigger lights and thermostats to turn off or down, saving hotels money and reducing energy waste. What’s more, reports show that consumers are more likely to do business with a brand that’s committed to sustainability, with 83% claiming to always pick the brand that has a better record of sustainability, according to an Innovation Group survey.
Safety and security: Hotels can use IoT to stay one step ahead of an emergency or security issue. IoT-connected messaging can alert managers to a potential gas leak or pending power outage at one of their hotels, keeping guests and employees safe from harm and preventing the hotel from having to close down until the issue is resolved. Looking ahead, IoT technology will soon be able to alert hotel staff and even local law enforcement to a break in, a theft attempt or an unregistered guest walking the hotel grounds, ensuring the safety of staff, guests and their belongings.
Back-of-house pros: Not only can hotels benefit from connected room systems that their guests touch and feel every day, but also smart systems that help manage the infrastructure facility and drive good returns. These back-of-house systems include the common or building-wide HVAC and climate control systems, lighting and comfort controls for common areas, such as the lobby, and restaurant equipment, such as coolers and fryers. By connecting these systems, operators can realize cost savings from predictive maintenance and greater customer satisfaction by ensuring they are operational and ready.
Connecting to the future of hospitality: As hotel operators continue to prioritize connected rooms as one of their primary future initiatives, this will bring about standardization of platforms within chains. Operators will centrally manage their IoT infrastructures, maintaining base standards of operability and security, and ensure that their investment in connected rooms will provide maximum returns.
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