Hotels turning to IoT to get smart

Hotels turning to IoT to get smart
The hospitality industry is getting more competitive than ever. Against this backdrop, hotels are seeking to differentiate themselves by offering cutting-edge service to guests. With the arrival of IoT, hotel operators are now able to use connected devices and the data they generate to maximize the guest experience, at the same time achieving further operational efficiency and energy savings.
Globally, hospitality is a booming industry on the back of increased business and leisure travelers. And hoteliers have reasons to be optimistic, as the uptick in tourist arrivals is expected to continue. The World Tourism Organization under the United Nations forecasted that international tourist arrivals are forecast to reach 1.8 billion by 2030 and grow at a steady rate of 3.3 percent every year between 2010 and 2030, translating into an average 43 million additional international tourists joining the tourism marketplace annually.
However, while this growth is good news for hoteliers, the industry is seeing increased competition, given more and more new hotels are being built. Travelport Hotelzon, a hotel solutions provider, wrote in a 2017 blog post that Berlin was expected to add about 3,700 hotel rooms within the next two years, and London was set to open 8,000 new rooms by the end of 2017 alone. Budapest, meanwhile, has quickly becoming a hotspot with an additional 2,600 rooms to open across 2017 and 2018, the post said.

‘Data is king’

In the midst of this trend, retaining old customers and attracting new ones has become more important than ever for hotel operators who seek to sustain growth and ensure profits. To that end, operators are turning to IoT and big data for help. “IoT in hospitality has been steadily growing, where it’s becoming available outside of traditional luxury deployments,” said Bill Lally, President of Mode:Green. “Hotels have been using technology to accomplish a specific goal, such as sustainability, but are now incorporating technology as an addition to their branding to differentiate themselves.”
“New, digital customer values are being driven by millennials. They want authenticity, personalization, co-creation, social and emotional connection, seamlessness, convenience, control, speed and precision. In this regard, data is king,” said Shovan Sengupta, VP of Hotel Segment at Schneider Electric. “Data around guest interests and patterns informs service design, drives potential partner relationships, and becomes the primary asset of hotel chains.”
In fact, IoT deployment in hotels is in keeping with the smart home trend, as operators seek to replicate the same kind of smart home experience – the ability to turn on and off lights via voice command or the smart device, so on and so forth – in the hotel room.
“An increasing number of hotels are taking on automation technology, as homeowners expect it as they’re adding connected systems to their homes. The smart home category is growing, especially with voice assistants, where homeowners are commanding their lighting, temperature, and multi-room audio with their smartphone, a remote, keypad, or a voice command. As homeowners become used to these devices in their home, they’re starting to expect them in the hotels as well, which will drive adoption of smart systems in hospitality,” said Greg Wright, Senior Operations Manager for Hospitality Services at Control4.
“Hotel automation has become mainstream in the last few years as the technology has become more accessible, and hotels are understanding the ROI beyond energy savings. This goes in-hand with consumer awareness and comfort with smart technology; voice assistants are a great example. As they’ve become the most quickly adopted smart home device, hotels are eager to add them into their guest experience,” Lally said.
And the smart hotel trend is unlikely to stop. In a recent report, MarketsandMarkets pointed out the smart hospitality market size is expected to grow from US$5.74 billion in 2016 to $18.11 billion by 2021, translating into a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.8 percent.
It further noted business hotels are likely to hold the largest market share in the smart hospitality market by hotel type. “Business hotels primarily serve business travelers; however, many tour groups, individual tourists, and small conference groups find these hotels attractive. Business hotels provide their guests with unified communication capabilities that enable the guests to conduct meetings, conferences, and connect to associates around the world,” the report said. “In addition, these hotels deploy various building automation and mobile device-enabled technologies to provide a mesmerizing experience to the guests.”

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