What benefits do wearables have for the hospitality industry?
You’d be surprised.
When you think of wearable tech, it’s easy to imagine Apple Watches or fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone. But did you know that wearables can do more than just count steps and send text messages?
Of course there are technological benefits, but the convenience alone is satisfying. No more having to dig around in your purse for that elusive keycard. Or that awkward moment when you can’t quite wiggle a card out of your pants pocket.
Just having to brush your wrist up against a door is the kind of lazy action I adore as a Millennial.
Plus, just looking like a tech-savvy hotel makes your already tech-savvy guests at home with their world of smartphones, tablets, and other consumer gadgets. (And don’t forget about the importance of hotel management software!)
Still, what exactly can this trendy technology do for hotels and how do they even use it?
Below, I’ve outlined three ways major players in hospitality use wearable tech to enhance their guest experiences, along with practical examples you can use at your own hotel.
1. Hotel Wearable Tech Can Replace Keycards
So how bad is it across the industry?
Turns out the answer is hard to find.
According to USA Today, “The fact is nobody knows how much crime is committed in hotels vs. elsewhere. Police don’t keep statistics on that… However, hotel security experts… estimate that at least one crime may occur daily in a big-city hotel. And, they say, most are thefts.”
That was back in 2009. Imagine the increases since then.
In 2012, Andy Greenberg of Forbes reported that a flaw found in locks made by Onity, locks “that [appear] in at least four million hotel rooms worldwide.” The flaw was first exposed by software developer Cody Brocious in earlier that year.
After Brocious’ demonstration, a slew of YouTube videos demonstrating and refining his technology took to the web, bringing this flaw into an even larger spotlight. Some burglars later caught on.
Of course, the problem was only fixed after numerous strings of break-ins. So much for security.
To combat what could be a problematic issue across the hospitality world, Starwood Resorts and Hilton Worldwide went away with keycards altogether and implemented a wearable tech system that enables guests to access their rooms with a swipe of their wrists.
Using Apple Watches (and even iPhones and Android handsets), guests “can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room,” says 9to5.
No communication with the frontdesk required. Perfect for guests worn out from traveling or who arrive late.
But the best part, aside from increased security, is that guests can use devices they already own and use, giving this tech an air of convenience that a hotel provided wearable may not offer. Fewer lockouts and more time front desk employees can spend on other hotel needs.
Because if guests are already wearing their watch, chances are they won’t leave the room without it. No fiddling in purses or pockets.
2. Replace Payment Processors
Building on the importance of hotel security, one of the ways that hackers weasel their way into your guest data is through payment processors, mostly at accompanying restaurants or bars on your property.
Infected sale systems at hotel gift shops, restaurants, bars, spas, front desks, and other point of sale systems (POS) are vulnerable to these attacks since hotels tend to be not as tech-savvy as other industries.
So just about anytime you use your card. Scary stuff.
Because not only does this make your guests’ bank accounts vulnerable, but this depressing experience can affect your guest experience, not to mention reviews.
It begs the question: how can you combat this rising threat on debit and credit cards?
Cut out the middleman and rid yourself of them altogether. Even at the front desk.
If you decide on a bring your own wearable strategy (BYOW), guest can check-in without using a hotel card through a native app or self-service kiosk. However, if you want to provide your own wearables to your guests, they can still function as a way for users to pay at your bar or your restaurant with convenience.
3. Harness Big Data
Big data is a big tech buzzword right now, but buzzwords mean nothing if they aren’t applicable to your industry.
So what does big data have to do with hotels?
Big data has the ability to record guest data, from website metrics to tracking the success of hotel marketing campaigns. You can even collect data from guest profiles to see which demographics gravitate towards your property.
With wearable tech, hotels have the opportunity to track guest use of amenities and even hot spots your guests explore, like your lobby or business center.
If you have a spa, a pool, or any other services for your guests, you can track how often they use them and which guests like certain amenities.
Disney Theme Parks already make use of this technology at both their parks and hotels. For hotels specifically, Disney’s wearables can track how guests “purchase food and gifts [and] use fast-track services,” reports ComputerWeekly.
With this data, Disney can analyze which foods and gifts guests tend to prefer, which can help the theme park keep extra stock of favorite gifts and meals.
By analyzing these buying patterns, you can prevent overbuying and eliminate waste, which means more money you can use to direct into other services and amenities.
Do you know of any other ways hotels are making use of wearable tech? Have some creative uses at your own property? Let me know in the comments below.
*If you’re interested in learning more about hotel tech possibilities, don’t forget to check out our list of TED Talks on technology.