Hotels, restaurants, and other consumer-focused hospitality businesses have been quick to adopt Internet of Things technology, according to the "2019 Internet of Things" survey from PwC. Seventy percent of hospitality executives report that they have active IoT projects—far ahead of the average (48 percent) for all others in the survey.
These executives are most focused on operating more efficiently (53 percent), compared with 33 percent who want to modernize their brand and add new capabilities. They indicated they most expect to improve the customer experience, security and asset management.
As with all the companies in the survey, trusted tech is a top concern for hospitality executives, who are most worried about cybersecurity (37 percent are extremely concerned) and the impact a trust issue might have on their brand or reputation (also 37 percent). However, they acknowledge that IoT has helped bolster trust among their stakeholders, especially their workforce, and half have seen increased trust.
For many businesses and consumers, IoT is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to the survey. While other essential technologies also are fundamental drivers of the 4IR, IoT is the nexus where analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain and other tech can deliver immediate advantages and generate extensive reinvention down the line, the survey points out.
The majority of executives in the PwC survey said their business already has one or more IoT projects in the works, but many admit that cybersecurity issues (48 percent), privacy concerns (46 percent) and an uncertain regulatory environment (45 percent) have slowed or thwarted their IoT progress. On the consumer side, the survey showed that IoT tops the list of 4IR technologies that consumers have embraced, yet they also say it creates new worries about data collection, security and privacy.
Building Trust with IoT
Based on the survey findings, PwC offered the following tips for hotels:
Anticipate guest needs: Almost all the hospitality executives said that equipping hotel rooms and other areas with IoT devices enhances the guest experience. More than half (53 percent) said they are already doing so, and another 33 percent plan to in the next two years. Occupancy sensors can alert housekeeping when a room is ready to be cleaned, smart luggage carts can share their precise location at any given moment and connected roomservice trays can notify staff when they need to be picked up.
Save energy and maintenance headaches: IoT can help manage energy use in several ways, and 43 percent already enjoy the benefits, while 27 percent expect to benefit in the next two years. Smart heating systems and occupancy sensors can maintain a consistent temperature and turn things off when no one is in the room. IoT can also help hotels and other facilities keep tabs on their energy use without having to integrate with utility companies’ meters.
Manage crowds and know who belongs: Biometric-based technologies that support facial recognition, queue management algorithms and predictive analytics can be used to streamline registration and entry into events. They also can help detect suspicious behavior and identify people who might cause problems. Half of the hospitality executives in the PwC survey said they are using IoT to improve security and 23 percent expect to do so.
Give workers added confidence: Nonintrusive IoT buttons give hospitality workers a way to request assistance. For privacy, these buttons do not track location until they are activated by the employee. This is just one way IoT can enhance employee safety—something 43 percent of hospitality executives are doing and another 33 percent are planning, according to the survey.