The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects, devices, vehicles, buildings and other items — embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.
The tourism industry is often viewed as a slower adopter of technology, but still continuously looks for the latest innovations, which would enable them to improve operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction.
How does IoT affect the tourism industry?
The adoption of IoT creates great opportunities and challenges. With a continuous stream of information, people can know more about the world, and of course, companies can know more about people.
In 2016, it’s no longer a discussion about what is IoT but rather about how to implement it because it’s already here. According to Gartner and Cisco 99% of physical objects that may one day join the network are still unconnected, 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016 and nearly 21 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.
How is IoT used in Hospitality and Tourism?
Mobile Keys were already introduced this year by some hoteliers like Starwood and Hilton. Guests no longer need to wait in line at the front desk. Through a mobile app, guests are notified when their room is ready. Once at the room, guests simply wave their phone in front of the lock to open the door. Mobile keys increase guest satisfaction and the likelihood of a customer booking a room through the hotel’s app or website. Starwood is using the SPG keyless entry phone app so that guests book through Starwood’s own properties rather than Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.
The next step is to collect data from each room using a unique digital identity. Each room can be booked, rated and reviewed individually. In addition, each guest can be monitored by room identity. This allows hotels to collect data about a guest’s preferences in order to offer them a more customized experience during their next stay:
perfectly regulated room temperature, suggested playlists based on favourite artists, selection of TV channels based on viewing habits, ideal assortment of mini bar items, etc.
loT also makes it possible to perform preventive maintenance remotely. Malfunctioning equipment can be detected and analyzed long before it becomes a major issue — meaning maintenance can be planned for a convenient time and rooms do not unexpectedly need to closed off for repairs.
It has already been introduced by a few manufacturers as a prototype. One such manufacturer is Trunkster: A Kickstarter project that raised $1,395,370 to bring their luggage idea to production. Trunkster offers zipperless luggage equipped with GPS + Battery + Scale.
The main challenge that organizations trying to implement IoT face today are that this new technology involves sensors and a new kind of data produced by machines. This data needs to be collected, stored and analyzed so it is really an IT challenge that requires using new tools and methods. Even if we collect a lot of data we still have the challenge of what “wisdom” can we produce from this data to benefit our business goals in a profitable manner.