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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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.