Building image with text reading enabling smart hotels

IoT Smart Hotels: Enabling Innovation in the Hospitality Industry

February 18, 2020

As professionals in the IoT (Internet of Things) field continue to innovate creative new smart building solutions, there will be more and more applications available across a variety of different industries. As it becomes easier and more cost-effective to install and operate IoT technology, smart buildings will be the norm.

Many industries have already adopted IoT solutions in order to enable robust smart building integration, including healthcare, real estate, education, retail and more. There are also many opportunities for IoT innovation in the hospitality industry. Smart hotels are on the rise, and the benefits of IoT solutions for hotels impact both hotel operators and guests alike. But before exploring IoT in the hotel industry, it’s necessary to understand the fundamentals of IoT technology.

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What is IoT?

IoT stands for Internet of Things. The word “things” seems vague, but it simply encompasses any device connected to the internet for the purpose of controlling a process, collecting data or exchanging information with another device.

Examples of IoT devices range from consumer devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home to Igor-enabled smart lighting installed in an automated office space. No matter the industry, smart buildings enabled with IoT solutions are known for providing greater efficiency, customization and comfort to occupants and guests.

What Are Smart Hotels?

In a smart hotel, IoT-connected devices are leveraged in order to create a better guest experience and a streamlined hotel management system for staff and administrators. The hospitality industry presents many opportunities to use automation solutions to enhance smart hotel rooms. Guests enjoy greater convenience and comfort, and hotel owners and operators benefit from increased efficiency, cost savings and guest satisfaction.

What Is Smart Room Technology?

The goal of an IoT hotel room is to provide guests with greater control over the environment. When visitors stay in a smart room, they have convenient options for controlling and automating various settings for lights, thermostats, door locks and more. Connected hotels with smart hotel rooms are popping up across the world, and innovators are continuously developing and improving IoT technology in the hospitality industry.

4 Benefits of Smart Hotel Rooms

1. Smart Rooms and Guest Comfort

One of the main benefits of smart hotel rooms is the opportunity to positively impact guest comfort and convenience. When visitors encounter IoT applications in what would typically be a standard hotel room, their overall experience is enhanced. Customized IoT solutions for hotels include devices such as smart lighting guests can control with an app on their phones or a smart thermostat guests can program for maximum comfort during the night or daytime.

2. Increased Safety and Security With Smart Rooms

Automated smart door locks are one great security feature possible with an IoT hotel room. Instead of using a key that could be lost or stolen, guests staying in smart rooms with IoT-enabled door locks can use a secure app on their phone to unlock their hotel room’s door.

Hotel safety isn’t just about guest rooms. When a smart hotel is equipped with IoT security solutions, the whole building can be protected using customized programs and protocol settings. IoT platforms, such as Nexos by Igor, enable users to create programs for connected devices. In the event of a security breach, programming is dispatched to devices instantaneously, triggering door locks, emergency lights and more.

3. Improved Maintenance Processes

Hotel owners and building maintenance staff benefit greatly from the data collection possible with IoT hotel rooms. For example, IoT-enabled sensors can provide real-time data about individual rooms — data such as occupancy information, lighting and energy consumption, plumbing systems and water usage.

Hotel housekeeping staff could utilize occupancy sensors to determine when a guest room or conference room has been vacated and is ready to be cleaned. Other sensors can monitor electricity usage and maintenance needs like burnt out lightbulbs or plumbing leaks.

4. Smart Room Sustainability Solutions

As mentioned above, IoT-enabled sensors can revolutionize smart hotel processes and systems. Connected hotels are unmatched in their potential for enhanced sustainability. When an occupancy sensor detects a vacant room, IoT-connected devices can automatically make energy-efficient adjustments such as dimming or turning off lights and changing the temperature.

Plumbing sensors can detect and report leaks quickly so maintenance staff can fix them as soon as possible, minimizing the cost to repair damages. The collective cost savings from IoT-enabled smart hotel rooms can add up and save hotel owners precious operating capital in the long term.

Weighing the Risks of IoT in the Hotel Industry

Although there are numerous perks and benefits to using IoT-enabled devices in smart hotels, there are also some risks associated with using technology in the hospitality industry.

First of all, it’s imperative to properly secure any connected hotel ecosystem. When IoT systems aren’t properly secured, they are vulnerable to security breaches and hacking. It’s important to consider this risk when developing IoT smart hotel systems. Following internet safety best practices eliminates some risk, so hotel operators need to ensure they have robust internet security protocols in place.

Eliminating Risks With PoE Solutions

One way to make IoT in the hotel industry safer is to utilize PoE (Power over Ethernet) technology. Because PoE devices rely on a wired connection, it is easier to keep networks private and secure. Wireless networks pose a greater security risk because they’re more accessible to malicious users and hackers.

Nexos by Igor is a PoE system proven to be safer than similar wireless networks. The Nexos IoT platform receives regular updates in order to maintain security and limit risk.

Examples of Nexos by Igor in Smart Hotels

Igor has been involved with smart building projects around the world, including a chain of smart hotels in Europe where it’s PoE lighting controls and software API played a critical role in making the smart hotel work seamlessly for guests. In one smart hotel case study, Igor helped power IoT lighting in hallways and stairwells. The Sinclair Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, has been called “the hotel of the future” because of its many IoT integrations, including smart thermostats and PoE lighting. Igor’s technology also played a role in powering PoE lighting and connecting with other technology in critical places of the hotel thanks to Nexos’ open API and software platform.

What are common technologies being used in the hospitality industry?

Automated Check-In

Many smart hotels are moving toward an IoT-enabled self-service kiosk to automate the guest check-in process. Much like the kiosks now standard at most airport check-in counters, these self-service stations allow guests to avoid lines at the reception desk and receive their room keys (or room codes) with ease.

Asset Tracking

In an IoT smart hotel equipped with asset tracking technology, guest services staff have the ability to track equipment such as luggage racks and cleaning carts. Real-time monitoring of key equipment can streamline housekeeping processes and keep smart hotels running efficiently.

Smart Room Customizations

Within IoT connected hotels, there’s a variety of smart hotel room solutions available to make rooms more comfortable and convenient for guests. With the right IoT devices installed and connected, smart room customization and control options can include:

  • Lighting Including options for dimming, changing colors and changing light temperature and hue.
  • Room Temperature Smart thermostats allow guests to make their room comfortable without the hassle of antiquated window A/C units.
  • Water Temperature Digital water temperature valves and sensors help control and maintain comfortable water temperatures for guests.
  • Curtains and Shades Motorized and automated window treatments give guests total control with the press of a button or the use of an app.
  • Smart TVs Many people are used to having smart TVs in their own homes, so it’s almost an essential amenity in a modern smart hotel.
  • Food Menus Digitized room service menus provide visitors with options available on a smart TV or phone app. Guest preferences could even be stored for future visits.

Smart Locks and Security Solutions

Hotel rooms with smart locks allow guests to use a phone app as a room key, replacing the need for a traditional room key or key card. Integrated IoT security devices can be connected to one another and programmed according to different protocols. For example, a security issue can trigger audio alerts, door locks, emergency lighting and on-screens alerts. IoT in the hospitality industry enables safer hotel stays and increased peace of mind for guests.

Key Card Integrations

IoT hotel rooms offer guests comfort and ease, key card integrations are a great example. Modern connected hotels are starting to use more advanced key card options such as room key apps and mobile keys. When these digitized keys are connected to other smart devices, guests can control door locks, temperature settings, window shades and more using only their smartphones.

Enhanced Event Rooms

Hotels can employ a number of different IoT solutions in order to streamline hotel conference rooms and event spaces. Customizable lighting can be adjusted to suit any type of event, and other elements, such as temperature controls and window treatments, can be scheduled and automated according to event hosts’ needs. Room scheduling and check-in/check-out can also be automated with the help of IoT connected devices, software and systems.

Mobile Phone and Tablet Integration

As mentioned previously with digital room keys and room service menus, smart hotels are beginning to offer many technology integrations with smartphones and other personal devices. Imagine an IoT connected hotel environment where guests submit room service and housekeeping requests through an app or online portal. This would enable hotel staff to quickly meet their guests’ needs while providing guests with convenience and user-friendly communication options.

What are the future digital technologies for hospitality?

Many new IoT trends in hospitality will be emerging in the coming years to further improve technology in the hospitality industry. IoT is growing quickly and with the fast pace of innovation and the increasing opportunities for smart hotel solutions, the hospitality industry is transforming. Because hotel owners want to offer the very best in guest services and modern amenities, smart hotels will soon become the standard.

Because of the many applications possible with IoT, it’s critical to have one solution to bring it all together or you risk adding more silos to your facility’s systems. The IoT hotel doesn’t just depend on one device to or one application. Because of that, there are many devices and different types of technology to make specific actions possible in different areas of the hotel. Nexos enables all of the separate pieces to be joined together on one central software platform, making it possible to control lighting, HVAC, shades, sensors and more from one device.

If you’re interested in learning more about smart hotel solutions or equipping a building with IoT technology, contact Igor to learn more.

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