The IoT Promise Only Comes True if Support Can Keep Up
Enhance guest experiences. If there’s a singular unifying goal in the hospitality industry, that’s it. Hotels and restaurants are constantly working to deliver top-notch hospitality and personalized experienced for their guests.
The most nimble businesses within the industry know that technology (and specifically the Internet of Things or “IoT”) are reshaping hospitality and building it into their business models. Hotels with automation settings that allow guests to control lights and temperature from devices while laying in bed. Restaurants that allow guests to order from their phones and automatically enroll them in guest loyalty programs while tracking their spending patterns.
The IoT revolution has arrived and with 20.4 billion connected devices by 2020, hospitality business owners are adapting new ways to enhance guest experiences. Here’s a bit more about how the industry stands to benefit from IoT and some of the challenges the hospitality will face as it embraces IoT.
How the Hospitality Industry Benefit from the IoT
First, let’s tackle the guest experience.
- Hotel rooms that are hyper-personalized: Shared data remembers that a particular guest likes to sleep with the shades drawn and in a slightly cooler rooms and automatically sets up the room accordingly at bedtime.
- Greater ease for guests when checking in: No more checking in online and at the front desk following by juggling luggage with your keycard. IoT enables guests to go straight from the lobby to their room using only their smartphone after they’ve entered all relevant information.
- Location-based preferences for guests: You already know that your guest loves Mexican restaurants, so why not pre-populate their phone with local Mexican favorites when they arrive for their stay? IoT allows for this high level of customization of the guest experience.
- Customer service via voice activation: Just like they give Alexa and Siri their marching orders, guests will want similar experiences using voice activation when it comes to their hospitality experiences. Businesses in the sector can level up by offering customer service via voice activation that allow for instant support and increased ease for guests.
The benefits of the IoT don’t stop with guests. They extend to overall operations and bring lots of advantages for hospitality teams as well. For one, hospitality business can save a nice chunk of change by integrating IoT into their work.
Imagine hotel lighting technology that can adjust itself based on the natural light coming into a particular suite.
Picture energy usage systems that respond to the occupancy of the room and adjust the heating and cooling accordingly, saving on energy costs.
Think about smart rooms that can identify broken fixtures and conduct predictive maintenance so that guests never have to deal with a less-than-perfect experience in their rooms.
These efficiency advances could significantly improve the bottomline for hotels while also enhancing the guest experience.
The Challenges of IoT Implementation in Hospitality
While the IoT brings a lot of promise for the hospitality industry, it’s not without some peril. One of the keys to getting the IoT right in the hospitality industry: nailing customer support.
There are various layers of support that must be considered:
- Companies often provide support to guests directly, which includes troubleshooting various connected devices and integrations
- Hospitality companies may require dedicated support from vendors that support specific technology in order to troubleshoot their own integrations
With the IoT, we get dramatically more devices looking to connect with increasingly complex network infrastructure. Now, guests are looking to connect not just their laptop but also their smartphones, tablets, noise-cancelling headphones, wearables, and other devices to your network. When they have trouble getting the full functionality out of those connections, they’ll be seeking support and it will need to be highly-specialized.
Hospitality IT staff will need to be highly-networked with customer support providers across a growing ecosystem of connected devices. In other words, a better guest experience requires better collaboration among an ecosystem of providers to deliver customer support as needed.
These networked customer support teams will need to stay vigilant about heightened security threats as more guests connect with more devices. Something as simple as a device lacking the most recent update could make the broader network vulnerable to security threats. All those updates will need a talent customer support team to coordinate.
As IoT increases the number of devices, data volume also ramps up—big time. Customer support teams will need to work together in an ecosystem context to capture, secure, and utilize guest data to make more informed decision-making using machine learning and other strategies. The opportunity to personalize guest experiences using this data is key to leveraging IoT for the benefit of the customer.
Enhancing guest experience using the IoT in the hospitality industry means responding to new trends proactively and innovating while also building the right ecosystem-enabled infrastructure to deliver high-quality customer support.
About the Author:
Chip Kahn is the Founder & CEO of Boomtown.