August 25 2014

iBeacons…A New Technology for Hotels to Embrace

Knowing who your guests are has been part of the fabric of hotel service since the beginning. Knowing exactly where your guests are is something new and something that presents fantastic opportunities…for service, for a guest to personalize their experience or even for marketing, enabling guests to receive relevant promotions based on their specific location on the property.

iBeacon is the trademark for an indoor proximity system that Apple Inc. calls “a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby mobile devices of their presence. The technology enables a smartphone or other device to perform actions when in close proximity to an iBeacon. iBeacon technology works using the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, also known as Bluetooth Smart.

  • The hotel can offer guests self-guided tours with information about a piece of art or about the particular room the guest happens to be standing nearby.

  • How about having guest rooms automatically adjust the temperature and lighting upon entry?

  • Guests could have a map of the hotel and always know where they are and how to get anywhere…think of GoogleMaps for inside the hotel.

  • As guests are departing the hotel on day of departure, a notification can pop up on the guest’s mobile device asking if they’re checking out and if so, would they like their bill emailed.

  • Guests can receive promotions based upon where they are on the property. If walking by the restaurant or the spa, specific notifications can pop up on the guest’s phone with an offer for a two-for-one appetizers during happy hour or for a discounted massage during a slow period in the spa.

  • Leveraging BLE, the guest’s smartphone can become the room key

When thinking of casinos, resorts and large convention hotels, the possibilities are dramatic. But what if the guests is not comfortable having their location known…regarding any concerns about privacy, the guest can turn off Bluetooth or choose to disable the location based services or the push notifications.

While this sounds far off, it isn’t. Marriott announced in July the deployment of iBeacons technology in a hand full of hotels. Hilton and Starwood have announced plans to leverage BLE. Virgin Atlantic announced in May’14 their plans to deploy iBeacon in their airport terminals to offer all kinds of perks for their travelers.

Finding the right balance between improving the guest’s experience, choice of service and privacy concerns will be the real trick in leveraging these emerging technologies. What are your thoughts? Please comment.