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How IoT, big data improve hotels' business processes

How IoT, big data improve hotels' business processes

The hospitality industry has been thriving over the past few years. A recent survey by Scotiabank, for example, indicated that European hotels saw a 7.1 percent increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR) and 1.5 percent increase in occupancy rates in 2015 compared to 2014, and that up to May 2016, U.S. RevPAR went up 3 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. While the growth in hospitality brings opportunities to hotel operators across the globe, they are faced with threats as well. With existing hotels in place and new ones springing up, operators find it more and more difficult to compete and retain customers, who are faced with more choices.

To stay competitive and ensure sustainable growth, hotels find it necessary to streamline operations, reduce energy cost, and deliver a better guest experience to keep bringing customers back. To achieve those, they turn to technology, which has become more advanced and mature over the years. In particular, they can benefit from IoT and big data, which, though at a beginning stage as far as hotel applications are concerned, are set to transform the hospitality industry in the coming years, enabling operators to do things that they weren’t able to do before.

One major benefit of the Internet of Things in hotels is it helps operators achieve greater operational efficiency, better staff deployment, and reduced waste in resources. Imagine decibel-monitoring sensors detecting strange noise in the facility that may indicate a mechanical failure; temperature sensors in the fridge that keep track of the freshness of food; or asset tracking solutions making sure that dirty towels/linen are properly returned to the hotel from a laundry service.

“The IoT sensors are directly connected to the network so that they can be used for many different things. For example you want to know how many people go through the clubhouse, how many people are hanging around in the lounge area, or how many people go to the swimming pool. Then you can make better decisions for your service … where u want to deploy your staff, even if you want to renovate or you want to decorate the place for Christmas or the New Year’s, which are the places you want to spend more time on,” said Patrick Lim, Director of Group Sales and Marketing at Ademco Security Group.

Preventive maintenance is an area that can be addressed by IoT, as devices with self-diagnostic capabilities are connected together and send a signal to the back office in the event of a failure. “If a shade or light isn’t working or even if the batteries are low in the remote control, the hotel should know instantly. This way the hotel can proactively fix it without having to wait for a guest to report it,” said David Phillips, Director of Hospitality and MDU Sales at Control4.

“Staff can see when pieces are malfunctioning for proactive fixes,” said Bill Lally, President of Mode:Green. “In a 3,000-room hotel is Las Vegas, air conditioning filter changes can be cut down from monthly to when indicated through the system – some rooms might need to be changed more frequently and some less.”

The roles of video

The video camera is itself a sensor that can monitor the number of people in a given area in the hotel and contribute to more business intelligence. “For example, a hotel can take video footage during a particularly busy time for check-ins or check-outs, alerting officials to a greater volume of customers in line at the front desk. Once alerted, managers can call upon more desk clerks to become available in an effort to speed up the process for guests,” said Scott Brothers, VP of Global Business Development at Oncam. “Using video surveillance to gain business intelligence allows these organizations to get ‘more’ from their investments. Not only is the video gathered by 360-degree security cameras, for example, being used to thwart crime or aid investigations, it’s also being used to analyze traffic patterns, determine whether marketing programs are effective and provide managers with the information they need to improve the check-in process.”

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