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January 26, 2015

IoT To Enhance Customer Experience in Hospitality and Travel

Posted by Kumar Paramasivam (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:47 AM

The Internet of Things explained [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_LT_ZKlVQw]

If ever there were industries ready for the Internet of Things - or, as I prefer to call it, the Internet of Everything - it's the transportation and hospitality sectors. Hotel chains have long focused on improving their customer experience and IoT is there to help! There is a continuous feed of news from Consumer Electronics Show that focuses on the fact that the connected theme pervades all industries. The Internet of Things and automation in all walks of life - be it self-driving cars or self-curing machines - is center-stage. There's so much hype. But how much of this hoopla will the companies behind it all deliver to us, the consumers?

Intel has come out with a genie device that you can pop in to just about anything and voila - it turns into a connected device. It is increasingly becoming clear that soon we will have such devices in all walks of life. Beyond connected toaster ovens, I want to know how the hospitality and transportation industries can really leverage the IoT in smart and savvy ways. As I was getting ready for my upcoming travel to another conference I began contemplating what would be the impact of this theme. Here are a few scenarios:


  • When checking in to your hotel you don't stop by at the reception; your electronic key is dispatched to your smart device of choice on the day of arrival
  • The door to your hotel room opens automatically once it recognizes you by your smart device (phone or wearable)
  • Based on your past stays the hotel recognizes that you like the room temperature to be at 70 degrees and adjusts it in such a way that based on your check in time the change in temperature is effected with minimal use of energy
  • Forgot your toothbrush? Press a button and the robotic bellhop glides its way up (or down) to your room
  • The pantry in the room recognizes you and the coffee maker brews the flavor of your liking at your command
  • The connected mirror in your room displays the temperature outside and provides a view of the weather for the day. Swipe it further see your calendar for the day. (Just make sure you're wearing your bathrobe if it's a two-way device!)
  • As you get to the breakfast bar, the connected menu offers you a few choices and cooks your order to your calorie limit and preference. Or you go one from one bay to another until your plate tells you it is time to stop adding more food to your plate! (No cheating if you're on a diet...)
  • As you get to your table to enjoy the smartly assembled breakfast plate, an even smarter display slides out and plays your preferred TV show or digital publication. The smart display also lets you know that your colleague is just a few tables away and offers you to join the person
  • That same display also tells you that you are to leave in the next few minutes as your car is approaching to take you to your business destination

Airline Travel:

  • Packing your luggage - the built in suitcase display tells you automatically how much does it weigh
  • As you bring your luggage over to the check-in counter and swipe your ticket the receptacle auto-accepts and codes the luggage sensor with your destination details
  • The automated iris scanners let you through the security gate bypassing the need to have a security agent verify your travel documents
  • The electronic ticket flashes up automatically to the front of your device as you pass through the Robot Gate Agent
  • A seat lights up as you approach indicating that it is yours
  • In mid-flight the robot steward brings your snacks and drinks
  • At arrival your luggage finds you rather than you looking for it

True, the scenarios I've just described are not being played out at the moment. But I am sure some of it is going to become reality in the near future. What does this mean for hotels and airlines? It's a wake-up call. Industry leaders need to begin focusing on how to leverage the power of connected devices to improve the overall customer experience.


Very nice... We are not very far away to witness these wonders of IoT.

Hi Kumar,

Let me thank you for the great write up on IoT.

However, I beg to differ for the hospitality bit of automation.
It would be great, if this automation can be implemented in small hotels with limited services like Ginger hotels. Some how Hotel management companies are not keen in having limited service hotels as the major revenue churner in there portfolio. Secondly, the cost of implementing such technology is not a profitable venture (ROI) for small hotels.

Now if I were to adopt the above wish list for large hotels, probably the hotel chain can afford to implement such technology as most of the management chains have deep pockets and are always in the hunt to maximize revenue. You also need to consider that Hotels are highly labor intensive, service based organizations.

People/Guests pay a premium to experience service (Human touch) and there is absolutely no substitute for a warm welcome with a great smile.

Coming to think of it, how would it be to stay in one such hotel where everything is automated? May be great initially, as there is a wow factor that everything is automated. How different would it be from that of a car or any other manufacturing unit?

Information technology is a great enabler for all industries but somehow Hotels will loose the charm and the so called Hospitality tag. It would be mechanical.

There are lot many areas in the Hospitality sector where technology is critical to its success and probably its existence.

For Airlines:

I certainly agree and would love to have all the points implemented in the near future for Airlines.


Hi Sandip! I concur with your observation that we cannot lose the “Human touch” in the hospitality sector. IoT enabled services are not meant to replace the human touch but to complement and enhance and be available as an option that guests can choose to use .

In complete agreement, Pradeep.

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