Application of IoT Solutions: As Analyzed by the HFTP Dubai Research Center

In its latest monthly news bulletin, the Dubai HFTP Research and Innovation Center at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management discussed the application of IoT as solutions for the hospitality industry. The research center hopes this topic sparks conversation amongst members of HFTP and the hospitality community.

The Dubai HFTP Research and Innovation Center at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management regularly publishes a news bulletin on the latest in hospitality trends. These bulletins can be found on PineappleSearch.

Internet of Things
Written by: Mercy Kiprotich
Editor’s note: The following has been edited for HFTP Connect from the original, published format.

Internet of Things (IoT) is integration of all mechanical and digital machines along with computing devices on the same network. IoT is gaining popularity, as it helps to make lives easier and more convenient with just a touch. There is an increased use of IoT-based services in homes to control temperature and lighting. It is estimated that by 2020, the number of connected devices will reach up to 50 billion. All these elements highlight the opportunity to adopt IoT technology within the hotel environment.

A number of hotels have started using IoT-based services to provide guests with enhanced and personalized experiences. Leading the way are the hotel brands Marriott and Hyatt, pioneering the use of this technology in the hotel environment. And going forward many operators are looking to incorporate IoT, with 18 percent of operators in 2018 noting they have plans to upgrade to this type of platform.

To better understand how this technology can be used, this article will highlight common applications of IoT and its problem-solving capabilities.

Energy Use
To save energy, hotels are trying to reduce HVAC run time, which can be done with an IoT-managed system. The data from heating, air-conditioning and ventilation devices can be controlled on a single network. This enables the hotel to track the usage in each room, as well as throughout the hotel. Alerts can even be sent to maintenance when issues are detected. This ability of IoT provides hoteliers with an opportunity to identify issues ahead of time, reduce replacement costs and save energy.

Use of energy-saving IoT solutions can reduce utility costs for hotels up to 25 percent. In addition, 87 percent of global travelers are seeking out sustainable practices in the services they use while traveling. With that added incentive, it would be good strategy to consider IoT-led systems.

Operational Efficiency
Restaurants have a prime opportunity to use IoT to reconcile operational inefficiencies. Diners expect seamless service and coordination between the back of house and front of house operations to ensure that they receive their meals on time. In the case of inefficiencies, IoT can be applied to alleviate the problem. Eatsa, a restaurant in San Francisco, applies IoT to track the cycle of an order. It tracks the entire process from order placement and preparation, all the way through to when the order is picked up by the customer.

Tracking this process at restaurants allows the establishment to analyze workflow inefficiencies, identify any weak points or bottlenecks, and expand production capacity. According to Tom Young, CEO of Eatsa, this model resulted in an improved throughput — up to 500 orders an hour at a labor cost of 20 percent of revenue.

Hotel Workforce Inefficiencies
Hotels battle a variety of workforce inefficiencies that include a lack of coordination among workers, use of unskilled labor and high labor costs. A lack of communication and inadequate training pose a risk to loss of revenue, especially when guest needs are not met on time or when complaints are not solved within a proper time frame.

Viceroy Hotels adopted the use of IoT to combat this problem. Their approach to IoT was to improve communication among staff members using wearable technology, particularly Samsung watches outfitted with the Alice platform. The smartwatches alert employees through the use of vibration whenever there is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention.

Once an employee responds and accepts the task, the watch alerts the other employees. With this function, the managers can easily follow the progress of the task to its completion and allows the employees to carry responsibility for the work that they do. According to Darren Clark, vice president of global technology for Viceroy Hotels, he said that with the use of the smartwatch, response time has gone down to 60 seconds compared to the three to four minutes it took beforehand — greatly increasing performance.

With the rise in connectivity and growing interest in IoT, hospitality professionals should think about how they can take advantage of the benefits that come with the application of IoT. It will soon become the standard in the hospitality business.

Mercy Kiprotich is a graduate student at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management and a research associate for the Dubai HFTP Research and Innovation Center.

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