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HOSPA Explains the 'Internet of Things'

Since Google’s recent acquisition of Nest, the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) has been the phrase on everyone’s lips but what is this new phenomena all about?

It already has its own definition on Wikipedia -

Looking back, the internet of things is not new at all – the term was coined back in 1999 and RFID (Radio-frequency identification), which has been around since 1973  is seen as a prerequisite to the internet of things.

So what’s changed to make this the current hot topic and a market that will reach a value of $8.9 trillion in the not too distant future?

In short, technology and the internet itself have changed. Bandwidth is growing exponentially with increased pipelines from internet providers and the introduction of 4G to the UK as well as component costs dropping in price rapidly to the point that connectivity is becoming a standard feature, even for processors costing less than £1.

As an example of this increased connectivity, in 2013 there was approximately 1 device connected to the internet per person on earth. By 2020, we expect this to increase to around 9 devices connected to the internet per person (with a population of 8 billion in 2020). Presently, 80 ‘things’ connect to the internet every second but by 2020 we will see this rise to more than 250 ‘things’ connecting to the internet every second!

The above stats may sound quite daunting for a hotel that is currently struggling to keep up with its customer’s bandwidth demands - but it is not all bad news for Hotels.

For example, new ‘smart fridges’ will mean businesses will no longer run out of stock as the connected fridge will have the ability to re-order depleted stock without the need for human interaction, freeing up your chef’s time to concentrate on what they do best. Similarly, the connected fridge could alert a chef via their smart phone when the temperature has risen to an abnormal level further preventing stock wastage.

Furthermore, connected mini-bars can auto-charge when a product is removed, can alert of the need for refills, and then store the data on the customer profile to ensure the ‘favourites’ are fully stocked on their next visit – or even help create the IoT version of Room Service that every hotel is trying to re-invent!

Wearable technology such as smart watches and smart glasses will allow for an enhanced guest experience as the device can detect who the customer is using facial recognition as soon as they enter your property informing the wearer that:

  • Mr Jones’ has stayed at the hotel before

  • likes a wake-up call at 6.00am

  • prefers to communicate in his native language

  • is a member of your loyalty club

  • And deliver special offers based on this info to the latest Digital Signage as he passes

The IoT brings people, processes, data, and things together to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before, and its impact is no different at hotels than it is at your home, at work or in your car. Through the IoT, information is turned into actions that create new capabilities, richer guest experiences and unprecedented economic opportunity for hotels.

The hospitality industry should aim to benefit from the IoT as it is on the forefront of utilising it to enhance the guest experience and increase operational efficiency.

But first let’s sort out decent free Wi-fi in all hotels – and then we can get to ‘The Internet of Hotel Things’..perhaps?


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