Smart Hotels: Your Home Away From Home

We’ve all heard about smart homes, but what about smart hotels? Automation is a big factor in efficiency and when it comes to one of the single largest industries in the world, hospitality is no different. So how and where can the IoT help?

It can help improve customer satisfaction

The IoT is a powerful tool because of its flexibility. It can be used in any number of ways. For instance:

A web portal which a user can log into can help them control certain things. Easy check-in/check-out changes, searching movies before they arrive, and making sure requested features are there before arriving.

That same web portal could be used to set the temperature of your room for your arrival. Something that might seem like a small feature, could be the difference between going to one hotel over another.

It could even be used to order room service at any time, set alarms, open and close blinds, or even unlock the door for visitors without ever getting up.

It can improve costs, too

With features, like those seen above, helping you customers, it means less work for employees to do. That’ll leave those employees to do work in other areas, cutting the cost of employees needed.

It can also help cut heating and cooling costs, as vacant rooms won’t be using the system. If you take things a step further and connect sensors to the balcony door or windows, you can even turn off the air conditioner when the window is open or door is open.

One of the biggest things it can do for any hotel though is to lower the cost of improvements. The fact is that most hotels right now are not the top of the line, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become that with a few improvements.

For instance, most hotels come with a phone for calling reception. Well, what if that phone had more uses? It could help deliver important instructions for an emergency or an introductory message when a guest checks in.

Know when and where to improve

In hospitality, you can’t go too far. After all, most customers still prefer the experience of talking to a real person at the front desk, in the kitchen, or on the other end of the phone. Automation is a great tool but overuse can be detrimental in an industry focused on the human experience.

Improving your service and efficiency is a great use of the Internet of Things. Trying to remove the employees in lieu of more technology, however, is not. If in doubt, think about what an average Joe would want in a hotel. Chances are, he doesn’t want that hands-free body-washer you were planning on installing in all the showers.

IoT: Collaboration Required

In the past century or so, the world has gone through vast changes.  Much of the world and land borders have settled and we’ve had a wave of peace between the biggest nations.  Nationalism has been replaced by globalism, especially across Europe.  That same sort of national collaboration is needed for the Internet of Things to be successful in the days to come.

It’s all proprietary, now.

With all the new technology coming out from companies across the globe, each with their own coding language and practices, you can’t expect them to be able to send, receive, and understand other device’s data without help.  And if devices can’t understand each other, any data sent and collected becomes useless and the IoT fails.

The reason most companies want to keep their information secret is to have a leg-up on their competition.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the IoT, this inability to cooperate between companies hurts us all.

Expanding the Network

Think of the Internet of Things as a spider web.  Just a strand from one device to another isn’t very helpful.  As we add more lines, the weave becomes more intricate (companies start talking to each other and sharing information), our devices are able to communicate more and more.

Information needs to be shared between companies for the Internet of Things to succeed.  Companies have got to start coming together and talking to each other or we’ll just have a hundred different single-strand “webs” with little purpose past connecting a couple devices.

Global standards are another way to go, though.

Giving companies a set of rules to adhere to for information transferring could work.  After all, if every company agrees to adhere to the same guidelines in data collection and receiving, then devices talking to each other would be no problem at all!  Companies don’t have to give out their secrets anymore.

Of course, this too will come with risks.  For instance, security might be sacrificed for global coding standards.  Once hackers know exactly what to look for in the code, they’ll always find a way inside.  And with how sensitive the IoT is already to hacking, it could lead to some massive attacks.

In reality, there’s never a perfect solution to please everyone.  Even now, we’re having trouble implementing smart traffic lights, something one might initially think is simple.  In the real world though, there are hundreds of different types of cars and dozens of on-board computers with different code in each.  Collaborating with that many companies is a huge endeavor, and the same will be true with most projects.