With our industry’s seismic transition toward providing home-like experiences in the wake of popular services like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO, you’re likely in the process of taking your wireless infrastructure beyond just offering free Wi-Fi to enabling next-generation guest journeys.
Regardless of the size or type of property you operate, brands like yours will be embracing IoT devices, and related innovations, over the next year to get you to your goals. This article from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, discusses the four most important IoT and wireless innovations for hoteliers in the coming year.
1) Location Awareness Helps Create Home Away From Home
By deploying Bluetooth-enabled IoT sensors throughout your property, along with the latest innovations in location-aware mobility and analytics solutions, you can automatically recognize and register guests the minute they step onto your property. Eliminating the stop at the registration desk goes a long way toward mirroring the experience of walking in the door at home.
As newly-arrived guests proceed through your lobby, they can receive an automated update, via your mobile app, on the status of their room. If it’s not yet available, the same technology can offer them a discount on a snack or free cocktail in the lounge. Whenever a guest ultimately heads for their room, they can set the climate controls before they arrive.
Once in their accommodation, your IoT-enabled and location-aware infrastructure will work for you in other ways. For example, it can permit guests to stream personal content onto their in-room television while using your mobile app to schedule a massage in your spa and order a beverage to arrive pool side the same time as they do. As wireless solutions advance, expect even more options, such as using a mobile device to project a preferred fitness routine onto a full-length mirror.
2) Improved Access Management Supports Frictionless Journeys
An important contributor to creating home-like experiences is reducing friction, including around mobile connectivity.
For example, if your organization still presents guests with cumbersome authentication routines for accessing the Wi-Fi, that will be on its way out in 2018. Rather than typing in arcane, lengthy usernames and passwords, you need to enable them to authenticate with a single touch – and let your access management solution handle the device identification and network security chores.
With even more advanced access solutions, your regular visitors need only complete the log-in process once over a given period of time, such as quarterly or bi-annually. Larger brands have already begun enabling this functionality across multiple properties. So, if you visit a brand’s property in New York and log in to the network, when you visit a sister property in San Francisco two weeks later, you’ll already be recognized.
Another way to alleviate friction is by deploying navigation features within your mobile app to guide guests to food and beverage options. More advanced implementations can include real-time seating availabilities for encouraging guests to visit underutilized locations. Another capability is offering guests already waiting at a packed location an enticement to patronize an option that is virtually empty.
Sophisticated mobile engagement tools can also draw data from other records to automatically detect when a large group appears headed for refreshment and offer them specials at locations where demand is currently low. Similarly, such solutions can help you redirect staff to ensure locations experiencing demand spikes have the personnel to cover.
3) Asset Tags Enhance Experiences and Resource Utilization
Even the most home-like experiences and frictionless journeys can all be overshadowed by frustration caused by something as simple as a luggage cart delay. However, this perennial bottleneck is solved by adding cost-effective asset tracking technologies to your location-based solution. Then, you can enable your staff, or even your guests, to pinpoint carts for fast retrieval on your mobile app.
Similarly, it’s a real buzz kill for guests to encounter a gauntlet of dining carts and trays on the way to their room, diminishing your efforts to present an attractive hallway decor. With asset tagging, your staff can get alerts whenever meal carts leave a room – and wherever they are in the building – for fast and efficient retrieval.
The best deployments even track how long an asset remains stationary, such as in a guest room, and alerts staff. Then a human can check whether a guest is finished or, in the case of luggage carts, may even need an assist.
But, before staff intervenes, a personalized message can be delivered to the guest, creating yet one more touch point that feels unique and special.
4) Zoning + AI = Latest IoT Security Innovations
To effectively drive the experiences we’ve discussed, IoT-enabled systems must also be secure. We’ve already seen attempts by hackers to access hospitality networks via IoT devices, such as compromising an IoT fish tank sensor in an attempt to steal data
Advanced IoT security options include the ability to group your connected IoT devices into “zones” for segregating them on your network. This improves the ability to apply customized security policies, such as defining one set of policies for asset tags and another for network-connected door locks.
Additionally, the best solutions infuse real-time intelligence, advanced analytics and AI-based machine learning. Such tools can spot changes – at millisecond speeds – in user or device behavior that may indicate an invasion has evaded your perimeter defenses. Affected devices can then be automatically quarantined and an alert sent to a designated human to investigate.
No matter what your specific guest experience modernization entails, it’s clear IoT will play an increasingly vital role in 2018 and beyond. To get the most from your deployment, now is the time to consider the options available to help your organization stand out from the rest.