How to Improve Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality in Any Building
Health, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality are topics of concern for facilities...
The travel industry lost an estimated $880 billion during 2020 due to the global pandemic, causing dramatic effects throughout the hospitality industry. Hotel occupancy rates in the U.S. reflect this; falling to 38% in 2020, down from 66% in 2019. Yet this crisis also helped drive digital transformation in the industry to meet new demands, such as contactless check-in. In a very real sense, the pandemic has forced the hospitality industry to evolve.
The Leading Hospitality Through Turbulent Times webinar series, hosted in the midst of the pandemic, outlined how technological development affected the industry, particularly focusing on big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT). During the online seminar, Sanjay Nadkarni, Director of Research & Innovation at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management noted how the pandemic has forced the industry to embrace digital technology:
How do we do this using 19th century protocols, with 20th century technology, living in this 21st century context? Basically, we were getting nowhere and now comes Covid. The legacy hospitality systems just aren’t up to the mark. What’s holding us back from using agile and contemporary digital tools that some other sectors have so successfully adopted? Can the hospitality industry continue to afford being a laggard in embracing digital transformation? There’s going to be a massive and explosive growth of IoT, particularly post-Covid.
In the long run, the coronavirus pandemic may be a boon that leads to transformation in the sector and will spur facilities management in the hospitality industry to resolve longstanding inefficiencies. It’s likely the changes the coronavirus pandemic has driven will ultimately benefit the industry, with the introduction of smart technology into hotels and other businesses catering to leisure travel.
Customer experience is the essence of the hospitality industry, and smart building systems only enhance it. While smart technology in built environments is instrumental in improving energy and operational performance, deploying these technologies to improve facilities management in the hospitality industry will also lead to happier guests.
Enabling hotels to make strategic real-time changes and employ advanced automation allows them to become more energy efficient. By installing IoT devices, such as occupancy, temperature, and air quality sensors, and integrating smart analytics, building systems like lighting and HVAC can adjust to changing conditions, room by room. This automatic responsiveness allows hotels to offer greater comfort.
Smart technology can also go beyond lighting and climate control. Advanced systems can integrate apps that allow guests to see when fitness centers, spas, and other recreational areas are less busy, receive notifications of availability in hotel restaurants, and make personal adjustments to lighting and temperature if automated settings don’t meet the mark. Additionally, continuous monitoring of building data means maintenance can be streamlined to resolve issues as rapidly as possible, well before they impact guests.
Security is not only about entry into the building, but protecting data and the well-being of guests. As building systems become increasingly network-connected and new cybersecurity risks emerge, these concerns grow.
Smart technology with analytics can help hotels systems and data become more secure by:
Safety and security can only be achieved when robust security protocols are followed throughout the building system integration process and in everyday operations. As such, working with a master systems integrator (MSI) who prioritizes security, builds security measures into the system, and trains staff on security best practices and protocols is invaluable.
Health and safety must always be top priorities in the hospitality industry. The pandemic, however, has fundamentally changed what health and safety mean, and hotels must align their practices with new guest needs. This means deploying low or no-touch technologies.
A 2020 survey of hotel guests found that 62% would prefer checking in and out via hotel app, and 73% would download and use an app that enabled them to open their room’s door without touching it; 47% would more likely order room service via an app. Integrating technologies like keyless entry and mobile payments will only help the industry rebound after Covid. Additionally:
75% of respondents said that the hotel should have clearly defined cleaning standards to fight against COVID-19; with 67% of travelers saying that they would only consider staying in a hotel where the staff disinfected everything that people might touch in the guestroom.
These expectations have only increased with each wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and new strategies have emerged to meet them.
One of the most innovative ways to ensure healthy buildings is BuiltSpace, an integrated platform for maintenance, janitorial, and, when paired with onPoint, air quality tracking. QR codes are placed in critical areas of a hotel and on operational equipment—then scanned by cleaning crews and maintenance teams when they complete cleaning or maintenance tasks. Data is then automatically tracked by BuiltSpace and can be viewed by hotel staff and guests via mobile app. With access to objective, real-time data, guests can feel confident in your health and safety practices.
As one of the worst-hit industries by the coronavirus pandemic, hospitality will need to innovate, using technology to win back business. In this environment, building management systems that integrate advanced IoT devices and analytics are essential.
Smart technologies and analytics give facilities management in the hospitality industry the ability to provide outstanding guest experiences and proactively meet changing needs. At the same time, it can have significant benefits for eliminating waste and reducing costs at a time when margins are tight. For example, by continuously analyzing energy demand, advanced analytics not only allows for efficiency-enhancing automation, but allows hotels to optimize energy consumption manually. Assessing consumption patterns, identifying areas of high consumption, and correlating consumption to a range of variables allows you to make effective changes, whether that means upgrading equipment, adjusting schedules, or reassessing setpoints.
The hospitality industry will undoubtedly continue to evolve as new guest priorities, economic conditions, and industry trends emerge. With the right technologies, you can be ready.
Natalie writes about trends in commercial real estate technology, building data analytics, master systems integration and controls for building systems.