The concept of ‘the guest experience’ in hospitality has significantly evolved over the last 5-10 years, mirroring changes in both demographics and technology. For hoteliers, the clear mission is to provide an incomparable experience for each and every guest. In order to do that, you must know your guests. The more information, the better. Then, armed with guest data – such as anniversaries, room preferences, favorite wines and the like – you can personalize your services and create highly customized experiences. The results are increased guest satisfaction and loyalty. And spending levels per visit will grow, because the service you provide meets or even exceeds guest expectations.
In this two-part post, we’ll explore how hotels are leveraging IoT technology to create these individualized guest experiences as well as a few tips for deployment.
The Technology of IoT
The basic requirement is interconnectivity between devices and systems. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), specifically Representational State Transfer (RESTful) APIs, are key to this interconnectivity and data exchange, and are especially critical for lodging systems – such as the PMS, CRS and CRM – to support IoT enablement. In the simplest terms, APIs are sets of requirements that govern how one application interacts with another. APIs make it possible to move information between programs, and they enable applications to run on top of an operating system.
Also important is data aggregation, processing and analysis, which is faster, easier, less expensive and more comprehensive than ever before. At the same time, data security is becoming more robust. All of this will influence the development and adoption of IoT systems in the immediate future.
The Role of IoT Technology and Guest Data
Data collection can happen in one of two ways: explicitly, when staff asks if the guest prefers red wine or white wine, for example; or, implicitly, when the hotel’s CRM or POS automatically recognizes a repeat pattern of red wine ordering and stores that preference data. The more automated you can make the process of data collection, the more likely you are not only to obtain more information but also to obtain more accurate information.
So, how do hotels move toward implicit data collection and automation? Through IoT technologies. IoT-enabled devices will offer data all day long — temperature, power consumption, presence of guests and more. There will be endless possibilities of what well-equipped hotels can do with all the data, provided they have the right systems in place to capture the data from IoT devices. Hence, IoT-enabled devices and the resulting data collected helps drive custom promotions or upsell opportunities.
Guest Security Considerations
As with virtually everything that was once new to hospitality technology, the IoT also brings security and privacy issues, such as data and personal information confidentiality, authentication and authorization, and secure communication. Addressing the security and privacy challenges in advance, as part of a well-rounded deployment plan, will pave way for wider adoption and better security protocols. The IoT security should move toward perceiving threats versus reacting to attacks. The move toward greater autonomy for objects will bring the security of technologies and processes, and the privacy of guests into sharper focus, and even perhaps become a differentiating attribute across the hospitality industry.