The Internet of Things is basically a connection of anything that has an on and off switch that is connected to the internet. This includes cell phones, coffee makers, headphones, lamps, etc. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be over 26 billions connected devices. These connections can improve the way we live and connect with each other. As the hospitality industry moves into digital transformation, IoT can provide mobility and connectivity.

IoT helps guests have an easier time navigating and personalizing their experience. A couple things that IoT can do for the guest include: hotel’s wifi network can recognize an arriving guest’s smartphone, IoT system can alert the management staff for quick and easy guest check-in, and can allow auto-unlocking of the door as guests stand at it.

As sensors become more prevalent so does the possibility of smarter buildings and maintenance. IoT enables the ability to keep track of when lights are about to go out, when pipes are weakening, and on. This can keep hotels in tip top condition for much longer than today when we are unaware of problems until they are just that: full-fledged problems.

A major problem that can come with IoT additions is the increased vulnerability to hackers because of the multitude of devices connected to the internet in one single space. Proper training for security purposes becomes necessary, in addition to training of general inconveniences that occur with technology. Educating and training employees may start with an expert team who can assist other staff members. Having a leader of the department is also critical; new hires may be obligatory. The most important thing to remember is preserving the quality of experience for guests. Problems must be mitigated relatively quickly after they arise.

Marriott is partnering with Samsung and Legrand to create its IoT Guestroom Innovation Lab. The lab was designed to help elevate the guest experience through technological innovations. Some concepts being tested include projecting a yoga routine on a full-length mirror, requesting additional housekeeping services, and starting the shower at a desired temperature all by voice or app. Says Gretchen Hartley, Senior Director of Global Design at Marriott, “We are looking at technology in whatever form as a tool that will help enable [personalization]. Whether that comes through conversation/voice, IoT, or other guest recognition technology, we are always looking at technology as a way to help further enhance the guest experience.”

A great example of IoT helping restaurants today is Swift Sensors sensor network and cloud-based updates. A restaurant can install sensors in walk-in coolers, freezers, prep lines and ovens. The sensors can monitor temperature, humidity, water presence, vibration, acceleration, motion, activity, electric voltage, electric current and resistance. Restaurant managers can set the temperatures they want; if there is a change suddenly, they will receive a notification via email, text or phone call through a computer, tablet or smartphone. “It’s difficult to imagine any restaurant that wouldn’t benefit from a low-cost, 24/7, real-time temperature monitoring and notification system,” says Ray Almgren, CMO at Swift Sensors. “The peace of mind of knowing the food is always kept at a safe temperature — even when the restaurant is closed — is difficult to calculate, but extremely important in ensuring the quality, reputation and brand of a restaurant.”

As the state of technological innovations advance, so does the industries looking to leverage it. Hotels and restaurants alike need to take advantage of technology to keep consumers interested. With the advancements being made through the Internet of Things, life can be made easier and more enjoyable for both guests and staff.