Industry Update
Opinion Article29 April 2020

How the IoT and Voice Technology are Changing the Guest Experience

By Megan Pope, Vice President of Marketing, INTELITY

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We're living in fast-changing, high-tech times, and hospitality industry players need to adapt in order to stay relevant. A recent study conducted by Zebra Technologies found that 66 percent of guests have a better experience when hotels have implemented the latest guest-facing technology. Guests no longer consider hotel technology a nice "extra," but rather a must-have feature, and are looking for hotels to provide them with highly personalized experiences. As such, hoteliers should prioritize technology that adds a level of personalization to guest service.

Technology is critical to creating a hospitality experience that guests will want to return to again and again. This is not a secret. Not only does technology improve the guest experience and help hotels stand out amongst their competition, but it can also open opportunities for additional revenue streams by allowing properties to capture detailed data on guest preferences. Two recent technologies in particular, the Internet of Things (IoT) and voice-controlled tech, should be in every hotelier's toolkit as they look to make future tech investments. Each of these trends impacts the guest experience in unique ways, while allowing hotels to capture critical data around how guests are interacting with their property. By implementing these future-facing tools, hotels can further differentiate themselves from competitors by offering personalization opportunities that create deeper connections with guests while driving incremental revenue streams to their business.

Internet of Things (IOT)

IoT refers to networks of devices that collect and transmit information in real-time over the internet. Right now there are more than 26 billion connected IoT devices in the world, and in just five years that number is expected to increase to about 62 billion. We must not underestimate how much impact the Internet of Things (IoT) is having, and will increasingly have, on the hospitality industry. Goldman Sachs goes as far as to say that "companies' ability to adapt and thrive in this new era of the Internet of Things is very likely to determine who the next set of winners and laggards will be in this new connected age."

The hospitality industry is well-positioned to benefit from the smart use of IoT technology, which can bring about higher revenue, lower costs, and increased customer satisfaction. The best way to improve the guest experience in hospitality is by creating a more connected and customized stay. Hospitality technology gives guests the ability to check-in remotely, use their mobile device to unlock their guest room door, and allows them to use their smartphone or in-room tablet to adjust the TV, communicate with hotel staff, place in-room dining orders, make reservations at on- or off-property locations, and much more.

Using IoT to automate guest room controls such as lighting and the thermostat can save energy by sensing how much natural light is coming into a room and dimming lighting, or knowing when a guest room is empty and adjusting the air conditioning setting. It can monitor occupancy in a large ballroom and indicate when more servers are needed, adjust the temperature to increase comfort if there are a lot of people in a room, or conserve energy when it's empty.

An IoT system can also improve predictive and preventative maintenance capabilities. Sensor data can monitor equipment like air conditioning units, and proactively alert staff to the need for maintenance before equipment malfunctions. Preventative maintenance saves on manpower, frees up staff for other work, and prevents a guest from experiencing a problem when it's too late, which can lead to a negative guest experience.

Voice-Enabled Tech

Voice recognition technology allows guests to control devices like smartphones and smart TVs through voice-powered commands. The technology largely relies on artificial intelligence, which allows voice-controlled devices to recognize speech patterns, understand which ones are commands, and respond appropriately.

One study found that hotel guests spend an average of 12 minutes adjusting the room temperature and figuring out how to operate and customize the lighting, shower taps, and TV to their liking. Incorporating voice technology in your guest rooms can dramatically minimize that time spent; guests can simply walk in, use voice commands to state their room preferences, and features will instantly adjust to their liking.

In addition to controlling features such as lighting, temperature, and TV by voice, guests can easily order lunch, make a dinner reservation, request fresh towels, or find local weather information. They no longer have to look through a possibly outdated menu and find the phone number for guest services to make such requests.

Using Guest Data to Make More Informed Decisions

By implementing IoT and voice-controlled technologies into your guest operations, you gain the ability to capture detailed data about what guests are doing while on property. It's one thing to simply collect vast amounts of data from the various systems that make up your tech stack. It's another to actually analyze and use it efficiently to better understand your guests, improve their experience, and increase revenue. Fifty-eight percent of enterprises report seeing a significant increase in customer retention and loyalty when they effectively use customer analytics.

How do you ensure your guests want to come back again and again, and encourage their friends to do the same? Start by giving them a way to connect seamlessly with your staff. Research shows that hotel guests who are engaged during their stay are 40 percent more likely to return and will spend up to 46 percent more per year than disengaged guests.

So how exactly does data-driven analysis equate to increased revenue? Of course, every hotel has unique data and guest demographics, but we'll look at a simple example for starters. Let's say your existing online marketing focuses on travelers looking to stay in your city. After analysis of internal data, like guest purchases and requests, you realize a large segment of guests stay with you during a certain season, or perhaps for special occasions like an anniversary. Once identified, campaigns and ads can be segmented to start meeting your guests earlier in their online journey, such as when they first search Google for "places to visit in fall" or "anniversary gift ideas." The data also allows you to reach your high-value guests during their stay with personalized offers and promotions. Understanding your guests' preferences like the scenario above can introduce your brand to potential guests earlier, engage them effectively, and dramatically increase your bottom line.

Data collection and analysis can help you better understand and delight your guests. By using the insights that this data provides, you'll be reaching guests earlier in their online journey with relevant offerings, which increases engagement, and revenue.

Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from http://www.hotelexecutive.com/.

Megan Pope

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    About INTELITY

    INTELITY is the global provider of the most advanced hospitality technology platform for the hotel, casino, and luxury residential markets. INTELITY offers its customers comprehensive, fully-integrated solutions to better connect and manage their guest experience and staff operations in a single platform. INTELITY has been named the "Official Mobile and In-Room Technology Provider" by the distinguished Forbes Travel Guide in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, and is in use by major hotel groups, including Marriott, Fairmont, Four Seasons, and more. For more information or to view current job openings, please visit www.intelity.com.

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