Hotel occupancies continue to be on the rise, and that’s great news for the industry. A recent industry report found that, after falling by almost 50 percent in 2020, hotel occupancy rates and room revenue are projected to approach 2019 levels in 2022. That's a 19 percent increase compared to 2021. There’s no question that it’s vital to hotel owners nationwide that those numbers keep going up, which means customers need to be happy with their stay -- which also means hoteliers need to give guests the service they expect. But there’s a new kind of guest to consider today, too. The same report also noted that the global pandemic has created a new kind of traveler with his/her own needs: the “bleisure” traveler, combining business and leisure in one trip. To satisfy these digital nomads, technology investment is critical. Near the top of most every traveler’s list of needs is reliable technology services so they can access home, school, work and entertainment. Information is intense in hotel businesses and information technologies have become a main source of competition superiority.
Though it’s not immediately visible to the guest like a clean lobby and crisp sheets, quality IT infrastructure is critical to today’s interconnected and distributed world. Everything from internet access, HVAC management, security systems, plumbing, etc. all rely on technology to function at maximum efficiency. Unfortunately, IT management in a hotel is often a back-burner thought, behind room comfort, bathroom amenities and breakfast options. Many hoteliers may not have an IT expert on staff and their “IT Infrastructure” probably is a closet full of servers adjacent to the manager’s office that is also being used for storage of extra boxes, customers’ luggage, and more. When a hotel’s IT servers -- one of your hotel’s greatest competitive advantages -- reside in a room in which critical equipment can be jeopardized by innocent mistakes such as unplugging a server to plug in in a vacuum, or tripping over a cord and ripping it out of a machine (and not knowing where to plug it in) your hotel operations and guest satisfaction are in a precarious position.
This is where sensors come in. Not only can smart networked sensors monitor the temperature in your IT closet, saving your equipment from overheating and going down, but it can save you money by collecting data you can analyze over time. Data collected from these sensors can tell you, for example, what the average temperature of a ballroom is during large events and if you could adjust that by just one degree to save money while also keeping guests comfortable.
Here are just a few things hoteliers should look for when investing in smart sensor technology for their increasingly important IT assets:
- Tell Me Exactly What’s Wrong. A sensor may just “beep” at you when an anomaly is detected (i.e. the temperature of the server room is too high), but doesn’t give you more information about what the anomaly IS that created the alert. This requires IT staff to physically check out every alarm. When using networked sensors, you receive real time, deep intelligence that makes it easier to prevent, thwart, or remediate costly IT situations. You’re able to discern what is and isn’t an emergency, giving you the ability to make smarter decisions and save on resources.
- Show Me Trends. There are tons of sensors, cameras, etc. on the market that you could hang in server closets – but they only monitor in inches, the immediate area or the ambient temperature around that sensor or camera. Find an advanced sensor that uses broad thermal imaging so you can see down to the pixel level the temperature variants around the whole room (server room, ballroom, etc.). This information, when viewed in aggregate over time, gives you the knowledge to spot trends, ultimately allowing you to find solutions for recurring issues and make decisions that can save you money.
- Meet Sustainability Goals. The more data you have the better you can meet your company’s sustainability goals (which is also very important to guests). When you know what is “normal” in any specific room in regard to usage of lights, HVAC, etc., you can more easily detect anomalies, building parameters around acceptable levels and “rules” that create comfortable and efficient spaces.
- Don’t Let Me Down. Make sure you utilize monitoring technology that is “failure tolerant.” Systems should offer a battery backup with an LTE connection so that you have visibility into these critical spaces even with a complete loss of power.
- Grow With Me. Whether you have five remote IT sites or 10,000, your sensor system should be highly scalable and offer reporting on a requested and an automated basis.
Without real-time environmental and critical asset monitoring tools in place, unmanned and unmonitored IT spaces can be costly to a hotelier, whether you own one or 10 locations. As the capacity for hotels increases, as more and more infrastructure is added to enable connectivity to meet consumer demand, infrastructure monitoring becomes crucial to maintain not only security, safety and uptime, but customer satisfaction as well.
About the Author
Jonathan Luce is Vice President, Business Development for RF Code. As a key member of the company’s executive management team, he is responsible for building strategic account and channel partnership relationships for the company.