5 Reasons Hotels Should Invest in Beacon Geolocation Technology

By Scott Schaedle Founder, Quore | January 13, 2019

The digital era has ushered in a wave of innovations forever changing the way hotels do business, and technology is now of paramount importance to any forward-thinking hotel executive. Even the most reluctant of properties must confront how to make way for a more connected guest experience or risk getting left behind in the analog past. In fact, according to the 2018 Hotel Technology Study published by Fuel Travel, StayNTouch and Flip.to, 62.1 percent of hotels want to increase spending on mobility technology in the next two years. 

One such mobile technology generating buzz in recent years is beacon geolocation. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons were first introduced with Apple's launch of iBeacon for iOS 7 back in 2013. Though hype around beacons potential uses in the retail, entertainment, and hospitality sectors quickly spread, it would be a number of years before the potential of beacon technology gained ground in the hospitality industry. Today, beacon-based geolocation platforms have the capacity to improve hotel operations on every level, from property management and staffing through to the guest experience. 

Here are five reasons why hotels should invest in beacon geolocation technology:

1. Low Barriers to Entry

With so many new technologies flooding the market, hospitality sector CIOs are tasked with conducting careful cost-benefit analysis to determine which new products and platforms will achieve sufficient ROI. Beacons are battery powered, one-way transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to transmit signals to nearby Bluetooth enabled mobile devices. Beacon geolocation systems require minimal hardware and labor and are inexpensive both in regards to upfront costs and maintenance. Beacon devices are very small and can be placed unobtrusively on walls or objects making installation simple. They can cost as little as $5, but more typically cost between $15-$25. (For more information about how this technology works, beacon manufacturer Kontakt.io provides a very thorough explanation in their blog post "What is a beacon?". ) 

In the YouTube series Coffee with a Googler , Peter Lewis, a product manager in Google's Location Group, describes how beacons work: "All they [beacons] do is repeatedly broadcast an identifier. And that identifier marks an important place or an important object in a way that users' devices understand. So they give phones a good idea about what matters in their environment." In other words, individuals that opt-in to location services on their phones (or other smart devices) can scan beacon devices or receive push notifications to learn about nearby offerings, including available entertainment options, personal services, retail sales, food deals, and more, thus creating the Internet of Things (IoT). 

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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.