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Hotel operators rely on IoT for operational efficiency

Hotel operators rely on IoT for operational efficiency
More and more, hotel operators are using the Internet of Things to create a positive, homely experience for guests. But in addition to guest experience, operators are also relying on IoT and data connected devices generate to improve operations and management.
More and more, hotel operators are using the Internet of Things to create a positive, homely experience for guests. Mobile engagement and loyalty apps are some examples. But in addition to guest experience, operators are also relying on IoT and data connected devices generate to improve operations and management.
Mobile check-in and digital keys are part of the mobile engagement trend seen in an increasing number of hotels. But the loyalty app is also part of the guest experience where offers and services tailored to the customer’s preferences are sent to their mobile device. “Although the lines of privacy can be delicate here, data can be captured from all purchasing habits, such as through a specific hotel chain app or specific tourist region app, with app credit cards linked, and AI bots can then offer discounts and offers related to that data captured. For example if you went to a seafood restaurant on your last trip to Munich three months ago, and this time as soon as you check in to a hotel in Barcelona, a list of nearby seafood restaurants could be messaged to you with all offering discounts if you display the voucher on the hotel app,” said Steve Dunn, CEO and Founder of LEAPIN Digital Keys. “Guest loyalty apps not only give hotels opportunities to build guest loyalties but it can also offer additional revenue opportunities, such as upsells to local tours/attractions, affiliate program/service referrals.”
According to Dunn, the biggest problem right now for hotels and guest loyalty apps is how to motivate the guest to download the app. “Our phones are already full of apps right? So why do we have to download another app? A hotel faces the question ‘what is the point in building and promoting a guest loyalty app if no-one is going to download it,’” Dunn said. “One of the best ways to motivate guests to download guest loyalty apps is to offer digital keys inside that app. It’s simple then. If a guest wants to get into their room, they simply download the guest loyalty app that also contains the digital key to their room.”

Boosting operational efficiency

Besides beefing up the guest experience, operators are also using IoT to maximize management and operational efficiency. This can be discussed from two perspectives, namely preventive maintenance and energy savings.
In terms of preventive maintenance, sensors and devices that are self-diagnostic can notify staff of impending problems. “With an integrated, IoT-based system, hotel operations teams can access analytics to identify faulty equipment and low battery status. This enables the team to identify issues before they become major problems, prioritize work orders depending on level of criticality, and plan the team’s work in advance. Teams can troubleshoot, and even solve many problems remotely,” said Shovan Sengupta, VP of Hotel Segment at Schneider Electric.
"It will be very easy to find out a problem even before someone on site knows it," said Jack He, VP of HDL Automation. "All upgrades could be done online automatically and in most cases you don’t need to send people."
“IoT sensors can be installed on certain devices, such as air conditioning units, to notify service teams when they need to be replaced or service. In-room automation also facilitates room management, where room temperature and lighting can be set on a schedule, and staff can receive a notification when a specific light or device in a room is no longer connected or working,” said Bill Lally, President of Mode:Green.
Meanwhile, the same technology that boosts the guest experience can also be leveraged to help operators save energy. "By using IOT technology, it will be easier to monitor the real status and calculate how much energy is needed. You can adjust the temperature or turn off the lights by checking if someone is in the area or if the door or windows are open," He said.

“Automation devices in a hotel and across guest rooms can largely contribute to reduced energy usage. Systems are customized based on the hotel operation; for example, the lobbies, ballrooms, and other common areas can be coordinated with operating hours so that staff doesn’t have to manually set the lights or temperature. And guestroom temperature and lighting automation makes it easy to keep devices deactivated as much as possible, so that they only turn on when the outdoor temperature changes, time of day, or when a sensor detects someone entering the room. Each of these actions can be tracked in a backend, to help hoteliers find new ways to optimize their energy usage over time,” said Greg Wright, Senior Operations Manager for Hospitality Services at Control4.
“A smart room controller, together with a few sensors, enables fully automated occupancy-based energy management. If the room is rented but unoccupied, lights automatically turn off, curtains close, temperature adjusted to setback mode. When rooms are then networked and connected to a guest room management system, operations teams can easily identify rooms that are out of temperature range and troubleshoot accordingly, thereby avoiding costly energy waste,” said Sengupta. “The same principle applies to common areas as well. Hotels can easily automate lighting and temperature based on occupancy. They can also automatically adjust lighting levels based on ambient light coming from outside. This is sometimes called “daylight harvesting,” and it is enabled by IoT-connecting sensors, lighting devices and software.”

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