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IoT in Hotels: Solutions That are Transforming the Industry

The hospitality sector is staying in step with the pace of technology, moving beyond the hype surrounding IoT and actively embracing every opportunity for progress.

Updated: July 03, 2024 15 mins read Published: April 18, 2024

One of the oldest industries in the world, hospitality is readily absorbing all technological innovations that have the potential to improve the guest experience and enable more efficient service. The sector suffered a considerable blow with the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in harsh travel restrictions and supply chain disruptions.

But the most painful consequence of the pandemic was the loss of qualified staff, which in the US alone resulted in a 48.6% decrease in total employment in the leisure and hospitality industry. During the pandemic, forward-looking hotel chains and individual establishments turned to digital technology to compensate for a lack of skilled personnel, ensure their guests’ safety and comfort, and keep their businesses afloat.

The Internet of Things (IoT) stormed into the travel and hospitality domain to resolve some of the biggest pandemic-induced issues, automating tasks previously performed by hotel staff and minimizing guests’ interactions with both staff and objects in the public space through contactless check-in and check-out. Yet the potential of IoT in hotels turned out to go far beyond meeting social distancing requirements, opening new and sometimes quite unexpected opportunities for the hospitality industry.

Smart devices are firmly on the way to transforming the guest experience on top of justifying hotels’ investments in them via returns from intelligence-based predictive maintenance, asset allocation, and — above all — service effectiveness. Today, the hospitality sector has moved past questioning the relevance of IoT and is actively exploring ways to adopt it, testing new approaches and demonstrating new gains. The global IoT market in the travel and tourism industry (including software, hardware, and services) is forecast to reach $28 billion by 2027, with the software sector showing the fastest growth.

Global IoT connected devices 2019-2030 forecast (billions)

Global IoT connected devices market

Source: Statista

In this post, you will see the transformation triggered by the Internet of Things in the hospitality industry, creating unique experiences and changing the approach to hotel maintenance.

Advantages of IoT in hospitality

For the hotel and hospitality industry, connected technologies bring quite a number of benefits, primarily thanks to their ability to automate tasks large and small that need to be done on a daily basis. Such automation accelerates flows and performs lots of unseen services that contribute to maintaining an unvaryingly high quality of hotel stays for guests. Yet the benefits of Internet of Things in hospitality extend far beyond this.

Personalization of guest experiences

According to a survey by PWC, in the majority of cases of IoT used in hotels, the data gathered by this technology serves to create unique, personalized experiences for guests. From mobile check-ins and keyless room entry to voice assistants and targeted recommendations, connected services accompany hotel guests every step of the way, making their stay as comfortable as possible. IoT-driven mobile applications can accept orders, make reservations for in-hotel services, customize amenities, and suggest places to visit.

As a result, guests’ interactions with the hotel become smooth and positive, with no time wasted talking to service agents or queuing at the reception desk. Connected devices make sure that the temperature and lights in the room meet a guest’s requirements and that housekeeping visits the room when guests are out. An IoT-enhanced hotel room will remember a guest’s favorite TV channels, wake-up time, comfortable water temperature, and much more to create an outstanding experience — almost anticipating the guest’s preferences.

Resource consumption management

For years, hotels have been saving power with mechanisms blocking air conditioning from running with windows or balcony doors open. Implementation of IoT in hotels offers much wider opportunities for optimizing power consumption in rooms and buildings of any size.

Occupancy sensors help to save power by triggering smart thermostats to lower the temperature or switching off lights when nobody is in the room. Motion sensors control hallway lights, increasing their brightness when guests appear.

On top of optimizing energy use, IoT-powered data and analytics allow hotels to monitor water consumption as well as control waste generation.

Hundreds of connected devices across the building not only save a hotel’s budget but also help reduce waste, save resources, and contribute to greener and more sustainable operations.

Time and cost savings through task automation

With IoT devices taking care of mobile check-in and check-out for hotel guests, the workload of reception staff is lowered, allowing the hotel to optimize task distribution and achieve higher personnel efficiency, leaving employees more time to interact with guests. Despite technological advances, personal touches remain at the heart of the hospitality experience.

Using data from occupancy sensors, housekeeping can plan room cleaning more efficiently, saving workers’ time and raising the team’s productivity. At the same time, connected devices for equipment maintenance and monitoring can play a significant role in improving safety and sustainability while saving the hotel money. Sensors monitoring the equipment and detecting deviations from the norm (such as excessive temperature or pressure, gas or water leaks) can alert maintenance crews to perform preventive service, avoiding major failures.

Prioritized security and safety

Reasons for IoT Adoption for Hotel Operations

Security surveillance is one of the priority areas for using Internet of Things in hotels. IoT devices are integrated into security systems to boost the quality of surveillance and access control. Security cameras with face and motion recognition features can monitor public areas, analyzing people’s behavior, identifying potential threats, and spotting individuals who are not supposed to be in the hotel. Meanwhile, IoT-based keyless entry systems can ensure authorized access within the hotel, keeping both guests and staff safe.

Connected smoke alarms, temperature monitors, and gas leak detectors strategically installed across the hotel premises can alert staff about any hazards in time for emergency response crews to take action. Such proactive measures increase both the safety of people in the hotel and the operability of hotel property.

Data collection and analytics

Through connected devices, hotels gather their guests’ data (with consent), enhancing personalization opportunities and raising overall customer satisfaction. Using hotel IoT solutions, management can gain insights into guests’ preferences, routines, schedules, and other metrics that allow the hotel to offer highly personalized services.

In a hotel chain, using such data helps to create unified guest profiles, providing consistent, personalized services across all facilities, no matter where guests roam.

Transformative IoT solutions for hotels

Everything that can be automated will be automated.

Robert Cannon, Internet Policy Analyst

In the global smart hospitality market, connectivity and digital solutions are integral for optimizing guest experiences and operational effectiveness. The adoption of advanced technologies enables hotels to provide efficient services, personalized experiences, and streamlined operations, ensuring competitiveness in the digital era.

 

Hospitality Market Forecast

Source: Research and Markets

Just as there are dozens of connected solutions, there are dozens of IoT applications that can reshape hotel experiences for both guests and personnel. With each passing year, we see new cases of IoT in the hospitality industry aimed at creating an appealing, safe, and comfortable environment for guests and improving working conditions for hotel staff.

Digital twins

Digital twin solutions are not unique to the hotel industry. Manufacturing enterprises, logistics facilities, healthcare institutions, and construction companies are already creating digital twins of their infrastructure to increase the efficiency of monitoring and maintenance.

For hotels, having a digital replica of their infrastructure based on data obtained from sensors, cameras, and other connected devices opens a wealth of benefits for optimizing facility management and creating unique guest experiences. For example, Intellias proprietary IntelliTwin digital twin solution can be customized for use by hotels and hospitality facilities to attain a next-level method of hotel property management through:

  • Scenario simulations. From data collected in real time, a hotel digital twin can create realistic simulations of future hotel operations under certain conditions. Such predictive scenarios can span months or years, giving the business validated insights about management decisions.
  • Intelligent room use. Based on data gathered by occupancy and environmental condition sensors, a digital twin can automatically control lights, heating, and air conditioning in hotel rooms.
  • Dynamic staffing. Intelligent monitoring of hotel spaces yields data on total occupancy and traffic, allowing management to assign personnel accordingly.
  • Safety and security. Cameras and sensors integrated in digital twin solutions generate alerts of any unusual guest behavior or hazardous conditions so that responsible personnel can act in time.
  • Venue layout optimization. Traffic sensors within the digital twin gauge crowd sizes in public spaces, providing data for evaluating demand and allocating appropriate areas.
  • Energy savings. Smart management of lighting and HVAC systems allows for achieving significant power savings while maintaining the necessary level of comfort.
  • Operational efficiency. Thanks to smart monitoring and control of hotel systems and equipment, their uptime and productivity increase while maintenance costs decline.
  • Greater guest and staff comfort. Based on IntelliTwin data received from multiple connected devices, a hotel can control air quality and temperature, maintaining the optimal environment for both guests and personnel.
  • Sustainability. Reduced power and water consumption results in a considerable decrease in the hotel’s environmental footprint, contributing to global sustainability.

Embark on a journey of efficiency and environmental awareness with IntelliTwin.

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Hotel property management systems

IoT in Hospitality Benefits

A property management system (PMS) is software for managing availability and reservations. A cloud-based PMS enhanced with multiple connected devices becomes a fully featured control hub for all hotel administrative and management tasks: controlling availability, booking rooms, managing maintenance requests, and assigning duties.

Smart locks and sensors can inform operators of all changes in room availability with real-time updates to the reservation system, maximizing the hotel’s revenue. At the same time, a mobile app integrated with the PMS system can provide seamless and contactless experiences for guests, from check-in to check-out.

The Hilton chain offers its Hilton Honors app to support guests along their entire journey, from booking the reservation to unlocking the room, checking out, and even calling a taxi. The application allows guests to select a specific room and works as a contactless key for opening a smart lock.

24/7 secure guest service

Connected technologies allow hotels to provide the same high level of service while maintaining security of their premises even outside regular staffing hours. Contactless entry enabled by smart keys or codes gives guests the freedom to check in and enter the room at their convenience with no need to assign additional personnel for night shifts.

Colo Colo hostels are pursuing a smart hostel concept by implementing contactless access to their facilities. With Smartkey technology, guests can enter the hostel any time they choose, while access remains restricted to only authorized people. This solution allows the hostel to keep costs at a reasonable level by not expanding the staff necessary to handle check-ins and check-outs.

Voice technology

As voice assistants increase in popularity for home use, they are also being adopted in hotels. Guests want to have the same convenient experiences they have at home, and hotels deliver.

By equipping rooms with smart voice assistants, hotels achieve several goals at once. In addition to boosting guest satisfaction, the devices take over some of the tasks of hotel staff. For example, a voice assistant can provide information about things such as transport lines, taxi numbers, and nearby attractions that guests usually request at the reception. Besides, voice devices can provide information about and accept reservations for in-hotel services.

The Wynn Las Vegas hotel uses the Alexa voice assistant to provide information about the hotel and the chain in general, as well as to control room functions, including lights, heating, and drapes. Smart voice assistant devices are integrated in the hotel’s smart home network and enable voice control of basic settings.

Robots

IoT Solutions for Hotels

While not as widespread as other IoT applications, robotics is also gaining traction in the hospitality industry. Robots are becoming rightful members of service teams, greeting guests, showing them around, and delivering their baggage. Today, robots can be a part of the hotel’s cleaning service or food and beverage service, delivering food and drinks to guests. Like voice assistants, robots can reduce the workload for hotel staff while providing 24/7 service.

The YOTEL chain of smart hotels made robots a part of its service offering. In YOTEL hotels, robots do small service tasks, delivering fresh towels to guests and taking their bags to storage. The hotel chain claims that robots can even chat with guests whenever they run into them in the hotel’s premises.

Automated room function control

Many smart home solutions have found adoption in the hotel industry. Focused on providing maximum comfort and convenience to guests while maintaining high sustainability standards, hotels enable dynamic control of multiple room functions.

Through an app or a special control pad, guests can set the temperature of air and water and adjust lighting in their rooms according to their preferences. Smart devices store guests’ favorite settings and apply them automatically. When guests are away, room functions are minimized or turned off altogether to lower costs and reduce environmental impact.

The citizenM chain uses this approach to equipping rooms in its hotels. Leveraging IoT capabilities, citizenM hotels offer smart controls of room functions through a proprietary app or via a MoodPad available in the room. Through the app, guests can not only control the temperature but also use video streaming services and adjust room lighting (including the color).

How smart hotel components work

Depending on the particular application of Internet of Things technology in your hotel, you may want to consider different sets of components for your IoT solution. Let’s look at typical hardware and software components that can be part of a smart hotel system.

Sensors

Sensors are the foundation of an IoT system. Programmed to monitor a certain process or condition, they respond to changes and trigger alerts or predefined actions. In an IoT infrastructure, sensors can serve multiple purposes:

  • Digital twin data collection. A strategic arrangement of sensors and cameras can collect facility data to generate an exact digital replica in a virtual space. Sensor data is then used to recreate all processes in the digital twin for monitoring, maintenance, testing, and innovation purposes.
  • Smart room control. Each smart hotel room is equipped with sensors monitoring the temperature, humidity, lighting, and other conditions. Whenever there is a deviation from predefined levels, sensors trigger a corresponding adjustment.
  • Safety and security. Face recognition sensors can monitor public areas for unusual behavior and generate alerts for security crews. Devices of other types monitor spaces for signs of fire or smoke as well as water or gas leaks and trigger warnings in time for maintenance workers to take appropriate action.

Actuators

Actuators are hardware objects enhanced with technology that makes them smart. They receive triggers from the smart system and perform preprogrammed actions. Such flows can be either fully automated (for example, smart thermostats adjusting temperature in response to a sensor alert) or manually operated (when users change settings via an app).

You can find multiple actuators in a smart hotel: lights that change color and brightness, shades that open and close automatically, digital locks, coffee machines that start upon a signal from a mobile app. As IoT technology develops, more devices become smart for people’s convenience.

Communication methods

For an IoT system to work, its components need to communicate with the control hub or application. The two most commonly used communication methods are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth devices are slower than those communicating via Wi-Fi, have a somewhat short range, and can only transmit small amounts of data. However, Bluetooth requires little power to operate. The most typical use cases for Bluetooth devices are smart locks and utility controls.

Wi-Fi has a wider range and higher speed; however, its power consumption is higher, too. It can easily transmit large volumes of data, such as video streams or images, which makes it a go-to solution for indoor entertainment.

The recommended method is to use both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, choosing the more appropriate communication medium for each application.

Middleware

The core of all connected infrastructure is a cloud-based platform serving as a control hub. It ingests data gathered by IoT devices and communicates it to corresponding applications that initiate predefined actions.

For effective, robust, and reliable performance, middleware configuration requires professional IoT platform development services. Experienced cloud engineers can choose the best cloud provider for the solution (such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud) and set up all necessary components and integrations to ensure proper operation.

User interfaces

In an IoT-based hotel management system, guests are offered control over multiple features via a selection of interfaces. Depending on the controllable functions, the hotel may choose one or several interfaces to make available to its guests:

  • Web or mobile applications
  • In-room control pads
  • Voice assistants
  • On-premises self-service kiosks

How to implement an IoT system in your hotel

Transforming your hotel into a smart digital environment and opening new horizons of comfort and convenience for your guests is a complex project where every little thing matters. Here is a rough roadmap for approaching the digital transformation of your hotel business.

Define your goals Before launching your IoT project, develop a clear vision of what you plan to achieve. Think of the features you need to have in your connected environment and the purposes they are going to serve.
Choose the right tools and technologies With an abundance of ready-made solutions on the market, finding the tools for a specific IoT implementation may be a daunting task. For the best results, consult with a professional IoT developer that can suggest the best option for your needs.
Train AI models For an all-around intelligent experience, select the appropriate AI algorithms and feed them data from prepared data sets. Then verify the output and adjust the algorithms as necessary. To ensure correct performance of your AI models, work with AI experts who can consult you on the most effective approaches.
Design and develop system components Invest time and resources in planning the hardware and software components that will constitute your connected infrastructure. Select the devices and develop the software solutions enabling the required features.
Implement integrations Establish connectivity between the IoT system and your legacy networks to enable seamless communication and effective performance of connected devices within your ecosystem.
Ensure data security and privacy When choosing connected technologies, make sure to select those that include sufficient mechanisms for protecting sensitive data.
Train your personnel After the system is implemented, plan training sessions for hotel employees to make sure they are familiar with its features and can respond to IoT alerts.

 

Ready-made vs custom IoT solutions for the hospitality industry

As in any other industry, there is no cookie-cutter IoT solution that fits all hospitality businesses. At first, you may be overwhelmed with the number of available software products, each of which seems to be the one you need.

An out-of-the-box product may be advisable if you only plan to implement a single-use IoT solution, such as digital keys. In this case, however, you might face challenges in the future when you decide to extend and enhance your connected environment. Certain devices and applications may have poor compatibility with the solution you selected. You may also run into a vendor lock, resulting in a limited choice of IoT products that you can use with the installed infrastructure.

A custom solution designed specifically for your requirements by a professional IoT development company leaves a lot of room for growth. You can add features, functions, and devices, expanding the guest experience created by the connected network. The inherent scalability of a custom solution ensures that your IoT infrastructure is capable of handling much higher loads while providing the same excellent level of service.

Hospitality IoT solutions by Intellias

With hand-picked teams of highly experienced developers specializing in intelligent automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT technology, Intellias takes up ambitious projects reaching far into the future. In addition to outstanding user experiences and performance, our IoT solutions are focused on data security, resilience, and sustainability.

IoT for Sustainable Hospitality

Smart city ecosystem

This futuristic project is an innovative fusion of augmented reality and IoT technologies that create smart hiking experiences enhanced with connected devices and virtual content. Within the scope of our client’s smart city project, this application is an all-inclusive solution for tourists, providing a full range of services and opportunities with a single feature-rich app.

The digital tourism solution is the first step to convenient, digitalized, and environmentally aware urban ecosystems supporting technology-loaded but sustainable living, business, and tourism.

Cloud service for a digital twin modeling system

In the hospitality industry, digital twins can make a significant difference by giving a business next-level control over facility resources and enabling them to establish the required level of safety and security for guests. In digital twin projects, a scalable, efficient, and secure cloud environment is of major importance.

High-performance cloud infrastructure for digital twin creation enables generation of high-fidelity, low-latency digital replicas of buildings and facilities, allowing businesses to gain a 360-degree view of their indoor spaces and empowering them with complete control of all processes and events within.

Uncover how Intellias can revolutionize your travel business

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Connected hotels: when technology becomes an experience

The best customer-facing technology is inconspicuous. It is there but it is so unobtrusive and discreet that people don’t notice it: placing a smartphone in front of a door to open it or giving a voice command to lower the shades.

Convenience, speed, consistency, and a human touch are the cornerstones of a great experience for modern customers. The challenge lies in thoughtfully leveraging new technology to humanize the hotel experience without causing hassle for customers and while empowering employees. For hotel businesses, technology that helps to create such experiences is a leap into the future. Hotels and resorts strive to design environments that make people forget about everyday routines and chores and focus on business or pleasure. IoT makes it happen, and we are here to help you embrace it. Contact Intellias for unique connected hospitality solutions.

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