Whether ordering groceries or buying a car, today’s consumers demand products and services tailored to their personal preferences. This is also true in the travel and hospitality sector: Internet of Things (IoT) technology offers travel providers a host of opportunities to deliver a made-to-measure customer experience – adding significant value for travelers at every stage of their journey. The result? Greater brand loyalty, increased revenues, and sizeable cost savings.
IoT and the Travel Sector
The Internet of Things is a vast network of interconnected physical objects– from heavy machinery to smartphones – equipped with electronics, software, and sensors that can capture and exchange data in real time. Businesses can leverage IoT data to determine factors ranging from the current and predicted state of vehicle and building systems right through to customer behavior and preferences. And this network is growing fast: According to Gartner, there are likely to be some 26 billion IoT devices online by 2020What’re more, the travel industry is one of the biggest influencers in this area.
Adding Value for Travelers Every Step of the Way
Today’s travelers expect to use their Internet-capable devices to manage all aspects of their journey. From pre-trip planning and baggage check-in to in-flight services and hotel accommodation, IoT offers advantages for travel companies and customers alike – making life easier for people on the move and cutting operators’ overheads.
Most customers now plan their trips online from the comfort of their own home or on the move. Data gathered during previous trips via sources including social media, feedback, reviews, and IoT devices gives travel agents 306-degree visibility into travelers’ personal preferences, enabling them to offer flights and accommodation that perfectly match individual requirements. And that means faster booking, increased customer satisfaction, and less customer churn thanks to insight gained through analytics.
Breakfast in Berlin – Baggage in Bahrain?
Lost and misdirected baggage is a major headache for fliers. But thanks to IoT technology, that may soon be a thing of the past. Delta recently became the first airline to replace conventional baggage barcodes with RFID tags, providing passengers with real-time notifications on the location of their luggagevia smartphone app. What’s more, the solution can immediately detect baggage entering the wrong plane and prevent it from going astray.
Leveraging IoT tech in this way enables air carriers to stand out from the crowd. Small wonder, then, that Delta is investing USD 50min the technology. And the tracking technology is more than a competitive differentiator – it helps ensure compliance with IATA’s Resolution 753, which requires airlines to track baggage at specified points on its journey.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
If you read my blog for june, you may remember we looked into potential uses of biometric technologies in the travel sector– including systems that could detect airline passengers’ mood and well-being during flights. The “Happiness Blanket” tested by British Airways deploys IoT tech to do just that: Neuro-sensors in a headband provide data that determines passengers’ states of mind. The information is relayed via Bluetooth to the blanket, which turns red if someone is stressed or blue if they are calm. This shows cabin crew at a glance whether a passenger needs their attention, increasing customer comfort and possibly averting a medical emergency.
Made-to-Measure Digital Guest Experience
When travelers reach their destination, many already tap into IoT technology to check connections between the airport and their accommodation or to find local sights and amenities. Hoteliers can now also deploy the tech in a variety of ways – from granting access to rooms via electronic “key cards”sent to guests’ smartphones, to setting the lighting and heating just the way the customer likes it.
Data captured by IoT devices can be used to determine customers’ specific preferences and personalize their rooms accordingly – automatically setting temperature, lighting, and even TV channels. This digital guest experience can set “IoT-capable” hotels apart from the competition, making their brand more attractive, generating customer loyalty, and ultimately boosting revenues.
Gauging Satisfaction, Making the Next Trip Even Better
The benefits of IoT don’t stop when travelers get back to base. Travel operators can leverage the data gathered during the customer’s last journey to make sure the next trip lives up to or even exceeds expectations. In addition to data on past flight and accommodation preferences, operators can use online feedback and social media reviews to make booking future trips even easier and ensure everything is to the customer’s satisfaction.
Scope for Greater Collaboration Between Travel Players
But IoT not only offers opportunities for travel companies to set themselves apart from the crowd; it also allows them to hook up with other market players in new and potentially lucrative ways. For example, in addition to scoring plus points for itself, a hotel that offers its guests Alexa with an uber app also drives business to uber. In return, uber could advertise hotels offering this service in the app – delivering business benefits for both parties.
As customer expectations of personalization, innovation, and comfort continue to rise, IoT solutions are likely to play an increasingly important role. And this means travel providers will have to examine how they can deploy them for their business. As with many technologies we consider here, ignoring the trend is not a good idea. Instead, companies should start talking to solution providers to discover precisely what is on offer and how best to harness it for their business – whether that be to enhance the customer experience or to pave the way for profitable collaboration with travel players in other segments.