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    Operational Ecosystems




    Hotels that adopt smart controls, connected with the Internet of Things (IoT), can enjoy significant benefits: enhanced guest experiences, reliable energy management, and real-time insights and data to help boost operational efficiency.

    Scalability, openness, and flexibility are key

    Hotels that adopt smart controls, connected with the Internet of Things (IoT), can enjoy significant benefits: enhanced guest experiences, reliable energy management, and real-time insights and data to help boost operational efficiency.

    Smart controls are at their most impactful when deployed across a property with deep integration into hotel operations, but for existing hotels it might not be possible to connect everything, or across all areas in one phase. So where can a hotel start, and which benefits do each part of the operational ecosystem bring to your team?


    Here are some qualities hotel managers should look for while creating IoT-powered connected systems for their hotels guestrooms, suites and public areas.


    For new-build properties, construction provides an ideal opportunity to get the infrastructure right up front. For existing properties, the best solutions make it easy to start in one area now and grow organically as areas are added or renovated in the future.

    Take lighting and smart controls: a system can start off in any area—a single restaurant, a certain wing, or even room by room as they are added or renovated. Systems can use the hotel’s existing IT infrastructure, making an end-to-end encrypted connection to synchronize its data and statuses from the space to a central server.

    To maximize the benefits and ease-of-use of a connected system, as well as to ensure future flexibility, consider scalability as standing for more than just the overall size of a property:


    • Connected services
      Systems that can control all the services in a space—lighting, HVAC, power, drapery, fans, and embedded services—maximize energy savings by using system context to impact an overall room state. They also remove duplicate or parallel infrastructures and bring remote visibility and reporting into a single, unified view.


    • Space types
      The necessity of searching multiple systems for data takes additional time for teams, so optimally a connected system should support a broad range of spaces in a single view. With permissions to ensure appropriate access, being able to monitor rooms, suites, food and beverage, common areas, leisure facilities, and even external and back-of-house together in a single view can be highly beneficial.


    • Property setup
      Hotels and especially resorts are often spread over multiple wings and buildings with options such as interconnecting rooms for larger groups and families travelling together. Some city-center hotels have two lobbies, offering rooms under an upscale and luxury brand, while sharing common back-of-house teams. In these examples and more, good systems offer intuitive, logical arrangements for easy use and flexibility to merge and separate rooms on demand, as required from one guest stay to the next.

    Empowering guest interaction

    In-room devices such as tablets and IPTV, or allowing guests to use their own devices with hotel apps, provide an increasingly flexible connection between guest and hotel.


    Rich user interfaces provide opportunities for so much more than traditional interactions. Digitally savvy guests love the simplicity of self check-in and digital keys, allowing them to skip the front desk entirely.


    Hotels can also leverage tablets and apps to digitize their room compendiums, moving hotel and local information and room service and spa menus online to save the cost and waste of regularly updating physical versions. Studies have shown that guests are not only more likely to order room service when they are empowered to do so themselves, but the average order value also increases with the ease and temptation to add extras such as drinks and desert.


    Room controls can also become seamlessly integrated, allowing a guest more granular control over their rooms locally or from a mobile device while out for the day. A guest who forgets to take DND off before they leave can now easily do so remotely, while a returning guest can pre-heat or pre-cool the room in readiness for their arrival.


    Using digital assistants like voice or chatbots also provides increased convenience for guests. Recent improvements in natural language processing now allow for requests to be made in many ways and using different languages. While previously a specific command would need to be learned, guests can now simply ask “Is it cold in here?” for the system to understand that they are referring to environmental conditions, automatically offering to increase the temperature set point on behalf of the guest.

    Openness and integration

    Crucial to an operational ecosystem’s workings is interoperability. In real time, an ecosystem’s components need to securely distribute data and insights through native integrations and APIs.

    Across an ecosystem, data-driven insights can translate swiftly into real-world benefits, empowering operators to deploy and prioritize teams in the most efficient way, and in turn helping to deliver a fantastic service for guests.

    Whether connected controls are consuming or contributing data, there are multiple areas where integration brings instant value:

    • Property management
      When the PMS shares check-in and check-out events, smart controls can automatically prepare room conditions for a guest’s arrival, or reset all personalization between stays. When preference is known, a thermostat and other display interfaces in a room can be set to a guest’s preferred language upon arrival.

    • Access control
      Where door locks are connected and sharing information about the keycard used, the system can optimize conditions for guests and staff. For example, a bright scene to help staff clean and inspect, or saving and resuming guest preferences as they leave and return to their room during a stay. To maximize savings, rooms can also be confidently stepped back to an energy-saving mode more quickly after staff occupancy.

    • Housekeeping
      By providing real-time data to online housekeeping systems, scheduled tasks can be automatically suppressed if a room has DND active, while rooms with a make-up request can be moved to the top of the queue to be attended to first. The balance of scheduled tasks can be dynamically prioritized, with unoccupied rooms higher, allowing housekeepers to get straight to work without disturbing guests or being asked to come back later.

    • Facility management
      Smart controls can continuously monitor usage and conditions against a defined “normal” range, creating a proactive alert when something exceeds limits for an elapsed time. High or low temperatures, elevated humidity levels, devices offline, and even water leaks can provide proactive notice. Many operational systems can capture these alerts, creating and assigning a task directly to an engineer with all the information they need to resolve the issue, protecting the asset and keeping rooms continuously available for guests.
    Like all technology, the ecosystem of hotel operational software will continue to evolve over the coming years. It’s key that smart control systems that serve as a foundation for this ecosystem are securely open for integration, providing comprehensive APIs to enable authorized parties access to control commands and real-time and historical data.

    About the author

    Stephen Craggs, Global Segment Lead for Hospitality & Malls, Signify
    Stephen Craggs is the Global Segment Lead for Hospitality & Malls at Signify. Together with our development and implementation teams, he works to deliver systems that empower incredible guest experiences, meaningful sustainability improvements, and operational efficiencies through data.

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