In the old days, especially if you were travelling by car, finding a good hotel or restaurant was a hit or miss affair. That all changed in the 1950s with the likes of Holiday Inn and McDonald’s, as travelers preferred (and continue to prefer) a known experience to taking a chance on something new. Staying overnight in a room (or even eating at a restaurant) generally is not a primary reason for travelling, so folks want something familiar and as hassle free as possible.
This guest psychology is driving adoption of IoT-enabled devices in the hospitality business, so much so the travel industry as a whole spends more on IoT innovations than almost any other sector. IoT technology now makes it possible for any hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast to offer a ‘known’ experience each and every time. And in this fiercely competitive marketplace, with tech-savvy guests, that is an edge every facility ultimately must have.
How does it work?
Customers book reservations online as normal, except now they are offered a multitude of choices to individualize their stay—and choices can get very granular depending on how much the establishment decides to offer. For starters, guests need never interact with a human or even a kiosk when checking in. The facility detects the customer’s smart phone and sends an alert confirming check in, which room to occupy, any need-to-know messages (massage time, where a meeting is taking place, etc.), and where to pick up the keys. The phone itself can act like a key, with the room lock pre-programmed to recognize the signal.
Once in the room, the magic happens. The temperature is set exactly to the guest’s request, with the system knowing when to turn on heating/air conditioning. If the customer has not checked in as scheduled, the system can send automatic alerts asking the guest for the approximate new check-in time. Television channels, welcoming beverages, and even the minibar are individualized. Special requests, such as gluten-free snacks, extra linens, an additional portable bed, fragrance-free soaps/shampoos, or a multitude of others requests are fulfilled easily ahead of time.
The guest then can use a smart phone, tablet, or the facility’s device to order room service, alter existing room presets, book massages, schedule a shuttle or taxi, or make any number of concierge requests. “Do not disturb”, “no need to change linens”, and other housekeeping messages can be sent with a few clicks. Groups can be customized as well. The facility can create a ‘social network’ for visiting groups to offer features such as room locations (where each member is staying), events/dining, meeting rooms and times, on-the-fly amenities (group members suddenly decide they want a spa day or to visit some attractions), and more.
On the facility side, IoT represents a great way to differentiate the property. Smart apps can automate a lot of work normally done by humans, especially minor concierge requests, thereby enabling staff members to be more efficient and productive. Room and common area conditions can be monitored proactively to reduce maintenance costs and guest inconvenience. Bookings become more streamlined to better allow for guest changes, such as early or late check-in. And overall operational costs, from water usage to shuttle expenses, can be reduced substantially, with the added bonus of helping the environment.
Taken together, all these advantages offer travelers a consistent, high-quality experience that mimics ‘all the comforts of home’. This encourages repeat visits, increased brand loyalty, and tremendous word-of-mouth potential thanks to social media.
To learn more on how to make guests feel right at home, contact Neo.