Everyone likes to travel for pleasure. Some people have to travel a lot for work. Regardless of the purpose, everyone agrees that NOBODY likes unnecessary travel-related hassles that waste their time or make them less comfortable.
Travel-related service providers recognize the competitive nature of their field and are doing everything they can to improve the quality of your travel experience. One of those things is incorporating more and better technology, including The Internet of Things (IoT). By enhancing their services with modern technology, travel service providers will improve your traveling experience and make their services more reliable, while simultaneously reducing their costs,.
IoT enabled beacons have already begun to impact air travel by transmitting valuable information through messaging to travelers’ smartphones. By employing “smart” devices, airlines and airports send messages to travelers about gate locations, unexpected delays, potential upgrades, the tracking of luggage and the proximity of customers’ favorite services (especially food). In advance of beginning their journey, travelers can set their preferences to notify them of wait times, should something unexpected go wrong, and receive additional messages about potential alternatives that may save them time, which is really the most critical aspect of traveling for most people.
The Miami airport, for example, installed a network of 400 beacons in February, 2016 to help personalize directions for travelers in the airport, and to provide them with information regarding restaurants, services and the location of baggage carousels. These beacons can also be used to project wait times at security and check in counters, and alert customers to lengthy delays (“How the Internet of Things Improves Air Travel,” Bruce Harpham, CIO.com, May 24, 2016).
Previously, travelers may find out that a flight has been delayed only upon arriving at the gate. With improved technology, travelers can receive messages on their smartphones in advance and have greater opportunity to find alternatives. In many cases, they will receive messages about potential alternatives, reducing unnecessary stress for the traveler.
Airlines will benefit by having access to more information about maintenance, threatening weather conditions and energy consumption. With more and better information, airlines will improve safety, reduce unexpected maintenance issues, cut back on delays and make their customers’ experience more predictable. Airports will benefit, through improved energy management, better monitoring of maintenance issues and spreading out foot traffic within the airport by making it easier for travelers to find what they are looking for.
According to David Tossell, Vice President of DataArt, writing for The Hotel Business Review, IoT is a perfect match for the “big data” used by the hotel industry (“How 26 Billion ‘Internet of Things’ Devices Will Impact The Hotel Industry”). IoT enabled devices in hotels will continuously gather data and report on temperature, power consumption, the presence or absence of guests and maintenance-related matters. Beacons and sensors will monitor HVAC systems, elevators, water coolers, smoke detector and sprinkler systems, electrical outlets and light bulbs, reducing energy usage and lowering their costs, while simultaneously improving the user’s experience.
Sensors will also anticipate the arrival of guests and turn lights on in advance, or adjust heating/cooling systems, and then turn lights off after the guests have been gone for a given period of time. Likewise, monitors will be able to detect when guests exceed the power limit for outlets, and notify maintenance when elevators or other electronics require service.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to the hotel guests will be the implementation of systems that allow them to use smartphones for automated check-in, to trigger door locks, dim lights, raise or lower curtains, adjust the temperature in the room, order food, or request items like towels. Through a quick and simple message sent from their smartphone, hotel guests will have their requests fulfilled by hotel staff within a matter of minutes. All told, modern technology highlighted by IoT enabled sensors, will vastly improve the hotel experience for all types of traveler.
What Consumers Can and Should Do
Airlines, airports and hotels are hard at work upgrading their systems to improve services for travelers at all stages of their journey. Travelers should be on the lookout for service providers that incorporate IoT and other technical systems to improve their journey. As more customers demand such services, travel providers will continue to improve their services in order to stay competitive. In the end, everyone will benefit.
About the Author
Richard Meyers is a former high school teacher in the SF Bay Area who has studied business and technology at Stanford and UC-Berkeley. He has a single-digit handicap in golf and is passionate about cooking, wine and rock-n-roll.