"Smart Cities" promise to leverage technologies to improve the delivery of government services, reduce traffic congestion and reduce pollution levels so as to improve the overall quality of life for residents. To do this, many municipalities first identify key places within their cities where residents are looking for services and then create a network of smart interaction points linked to these places that are able to initiate two-way communications with residents’ and visitors’ via mobile applications. Government agencies and businesses can then provide residents and visitors with targeted, proximity-based, relevant notifications, alerts and offers in real-time given their location in the city.
Hotel owners and operators who want to create more personalized levels of customer service can follow this same template. Why? Hotels are more than just a place to find a bed for travelers. They are all-in-one home bases that provide easy access to food, clothing, entertainment, a viable working space, and play host to business conferences and events. In effect, they are mini-cities that can take advantage of the ubiquity of the smartphone. This article from Connecthings discusses how hotels can use geo-targeted notifications within the hotel to benefit guests as well as why it should partner with smart cities to integrate with their mass transportation hubs.
Most hotel guests, and in particular business travelers, are now connected to the Internet every minute of the day thanks to their smartphones. Cities are leveraging this and turning high traffic areas into smart networks of interactive points where people can then receive hyper-contextualized, relevant notifications on their mobile devices. Hotels can take the same approach and provide guests with targeted and highly personalized content in real-time while they are in precise locations (e.g., the lobby, restaurant, business center, their rooms, etc.).
Beyond pushing relevant information to a guest’s smartphone via its own mobile application, a smart hotel network can actually reduce the amount of time the guest has to spend opening and closing multiple mobile apps. How so? Consider a guest preparing to leave the hotel in an unfamiliar city that is trying to decide upon a transportation option. That guest could use a smartphone app to hail a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft or he could download/open other city specific mobile apps to check the bus or train arrival times. Each step requires that guest to initiate an action. However, the hotel could improve that process by triggering all those mobile applications to open as the guest leaves his room and heads down to the lobby or concierge desk.
This type of technology is already being implemented around the world. For instance, the Bologna Airport in Italy, which ranks as Italy’s seventh largest in terms of passenger traffic, recently brought online a new digital infrastructure to improve access to information for travelers. A “One Touch” mobile application delivers information to travelers based on their location. It runs on a network of 40 Bluetooth beacons that are configured to address visitors with real-time information, triggering app notifications with relevant messaging according to different airport zones (i.e., terminal entrance, check-in, duty free, boarding).
Since many hotels rely on mass transit systems within cities to connect guests to their business and leisure destinations, the hospitality industry should consider playing a more active role in cities’ plans to turn “dumb” transportation hubs and services into smart transit network. To ensure the long-term success of an interactive network, hotels must also keep in mind that the network is open and available to everyone, regardless of their mobile device hardware or operating systems, or their preferred mobile apps. Therefore, the hospitality industry should work closely with local and state municipal officials to identify and partner with technology developers and integrators that offer a global solution at the city level. This will ensure all business and leisure travelers – both national and international – will be able to leverage the shared network.