Unlocking the Connected Guest Experience

Antonio DiMilia, Industry Director, Cisco Hospitality and Travel
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The Ever-Changing Hotel Landscape

Some exciting things are beginning to take place in the hotel industry. Today’s guests are more technologically in-tune than ever before, often traveling with and using multiple mobile devices during their hotel stay. This increase of mobile connected devices on a hotel’s network is not only creating significant challenges for hoteliers, but also offers a unique opportunity for them to improve their business and create a more personalized experience for their guests.

Guests are now connecting an array of mobile devices to hotel networks and consuming massive amounts of data. Much of this increase in data consumption stems from how guests are using their mobile devices. Most guests today are no longer accessing a hotel’s network to simply check email or connect to the Internet, but are streaming video or using data intensive applications. According to Cisco’s VNI research, over two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2018, accounting for 69 percent of total mobile data traffic. So what does this mean for hoteliers?

It means that current hotel network designs will no longer support the changing needs of hotel guests and hoteliers must focus on new strategies to support this exponential increase in mobile data traffic as well as drive more value from the network. Most importantly, connectivity is becoming the most important differentiator for the hotel industry and it will continue to drive innovation and transform the industry for the next decade.

Hoteliers making smart investments on the right network platform today will have an opportunity to deliver a truly superior experience for their guests —while simultaneously driving excellence in hotel operations and capturing new monetization opportunities by participating in adjacent revenue growth opportunities.

Delivering a Superior Guest Experience

Most of the focus to date has been placed on ensuring that hotel networks will meet the connectivity needs of their guests, particularly as their mobile data consumption continues to increase. This will continue to be a major focus and a driver for technology investments in hotels.

However, the right network platform will also help hoteliers capture valuable guest behavioral data while they are on property, including hyper-location information, social activity, mobile preferences and other network-related activity. This data, along with guest data from other sources such as guest surveys, property management systems and loyalty programs, can be used by hoteliers to learn guest preferences and deliver superior personalized services and context-aware notifications.

"Ensure that hotel networks meet the connectivity needs of guests, particularly as their mobile data consumption continues to increase"

A Pew Research Internet Project found that 74 percent of smartphone owners use their phone to get real-time location-based information, and 18 percent use a geo-social service to “check in” to certain locations or share their location with friends. A smart Wi-Fi platform can detect the presence of the guests and capture critical insights on guests’ behavior as well as their precise location. Conversely, the same platform will allow hotels to provide guests with indoor way-finding, context-aware personalized information and will help hotels drive brand loyalty and deliver targeted promotions to the guests’ mobile devices.

Wi-Fi will also play a significant role in the introduction of the Internet of Everything (IoE) to hotels and will change the guest experience by connecting new devices, places, people and data throughout hotel properties. In other words, door locks, thermostats, set-top-boxes, mini-fridges, telephones, light switches, electric blinds and other IP-enabled devices are now being connected on a common network to enable the services that guests want. Here are a few hotel capabilities that will be part of our experience in the hotels of the near future.

• Online check in, upgrade and door lock automation—Before arriving, guests can select a preferred room or upgrade their stay the same way they would in selecting airline seats. On the day of arrival, the guest is able to remotely checkin using his/her mobile device. Once checkedin, their personal mobile device can serve as their room key, unlocking the guestroom door securely without the need of a keycard.

• Temperature/environmental sensors and controls—Temperature and room controls are automatically adjusted based on occupancy, time of day, outside temperature, guest preferences, number of people and their location within the property and data collected through the interaction of devices and people in the hotel.

• Hotel security—Sensors can detect physical threats to the hotel and notify property staff and guests automatically. In an emergency situation such as a fire, hotel sensors can detect the location of people within different areas of the hotel, automatically direct them to safety and alert security personnel to help people evacuate safely.

• Social Media—Hotel guests post complaints on social media without geo tagging their location. The system automatically detects the negative social media activity on property and notifies the appropriate staff, so that they can promptly addresses any issues and communicate back with the guests over the same social media outlet.

• Guest Preferences—The system automatically detects the arrival of a valued loyalty guest to a property and notifies appropriate staff to greet the guest. The system also determines that the guest prefers a healthy lifestyle and enjoys exercise based on social media profiles and historical guest data. The system automatically notifies the staff and sends personalized information about healthy restaurant choices, gyms and appropriate outdoor activities in the area, to the guest’s mobile device.

Now that both people and things are connected to the network, hoteliers can capture and understand guest data to drive the next level of intelligence and automation. This new infrastructure will serve as a different model than what hoteliers are used to, but will help hoteliers drive business and operate more efficiently, by better understanding guest behavior with onsite, online and social analytics. However, like any new technology, solutions must be cost-effective, self-configurable and remotely manageable in order to be widely adopted in the industry.

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