Rev Up Productivity: The Rise of IoT & Voice

By Paul van Meerendonk Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | March 04, 2018

Who didn't love the '90s? We had pagers, Spice Girls, video rental stores and paid for our internet connection by the minute. Two decades ago, a household would temporarily sacrifice their only phone line just to connect one stationary device to the World Wide Web. Today, it's difficult to count the number of devices simultaneously connected to the internet in a single home. From TVs, thermostats, doorbells, cameras, lighting, voice-controlled assistants, tablets and mobile devices, a family of four could easily have upward of 20 connected "things"-hence we now have the Internet of Things (IoT).

A study conducted by Statista estimates over the last four years, IoT-connected devices will have grown by over 33 percent by the end of 2018 for a total of 23.1 billion devices connected worldwide. And over the next four years that number is forecasted to nearly double and total over 42.6 billion by 2022. That would mean there will be over five connected devices for every human, and that average number gets much higher considering only half of the world's population has readily available internet access.

Technology continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, and as a result, more and more of it becomes a fixture in our daily lives. Four years is a short period of time for an install base to nearly double in size. It's why machine-to-machine communication will continue to exponentially grow, leading to more opportunities for efficiency in every industry.

IoT is Checking In

Travel and hospitality, specifically, are working on many different approaches to take advantage of this technology spike. Not only do hotels need to think about how they can invest in technology to elevate the guest experience, but they must also be cognizant of the need for seamless connection of guest devices to their technology. Most of the technology a guest uses will be brought into the hotel by the guest, not supplied by the hotel. So, the end goal for hotels needs to be ease of use, speed of access and monetization of the guest's digital journey from their own devices.

This has already manifested with tailored booking experiences, voice-controlled, in-room assistants, property-specific mobile apps and chatbot concierge services appearing at hotels, but technology also needs to enable efficiency on the business side as well as the consumer side. With better technology comes improved productivity and more hoteliers overseeing multiple properties, working remotely and automating mundane tasks to create more time for strategic activity. This means less time at a desk or a single property and more time on the go.

When it comes to revenue technology in the hospitality industry, the goal is still ease of use and speed of access, but more importantly, it is also the ease of access to vast amounts of consumable data. This makes revenue technology ripe for interfacing with IoT devices to effortlessly access more data insights.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.