Whether it’s monitoring the performance of airline engines, enabling keyless entry to hotel rooms or helping tourists find their way around Disney World, the internet of things (IoT) is creating exciting opportunities for the travel and hospitality industry. By connecting smart devices, systems, processes and people in new ways, it is streamlining the back-end operations of airlines, hotels, resorts, cruise lines and rental car fleets.
At the same time, data from these connections is helping marketers deliver more personalized campaigns and enhanced traveler experiences. Simply put, the IoT is helping this highly competitive and schedule-driven industry turn information into action, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “The Internet of Things: What Travel and Hospitality Marketers Need to Know Now.”
As technology becomes cheaper and more powerful, much of the innovation has shifted toward enabling these smart devices and systems to communicate with each other and with larger systems. Many travel and hospitality brands already have some IoT functionality in their back-end operations and are experimenting with ways to put the technology to work for customers. With potential to transform nearly all aspects of the travel experience, the IoT will enable these companies to collect and integrate large data sets from different sources and instantly personalize traveler experiences.
Travel and hospitality companies are under constant pressure to provide better service at the lowest possible cost. For this reason, they have been early movers with the IoT, at least by some accounts.
According to an April 2015 study by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the industry topped the list with regard to current IoT spending per company. The firm reported that industry executives worldwide expected their organizations to spend an average of $128.9 million each on IoT initiatives in 2015, or 0.60% of revenues.
While nearly all types of travel businesses are likely to benefit from the IoT to some degree, larger hotel chains and airlines are leading the charge out of the gate. On the enterprise side, many have IoT systems already in place to boost efficiency and streamline operations. Hotels manage use and maintenance of their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), security, plumbing, elevator and other facilities-related systems. Airlines employ sensors to gather real-time information from aircraft parts and systems that are then used to track flight data, optimize fuel consumption and anticipate maintenance issues.
In a March 2015 survey of 200 airline IT executives worldwide conducted by Airline Business for IT company RSW/US SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques), 86% of respondents believed that the IoT would deliver clear benefits in the next three years, and 37% had already allocated budget.