— 6 min read —
One of the most exciting developments in retail technology in recent years, the iBeacon is Apple’s take on the widespread BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacon present in Android 4.3 which introduced the Low Energy Bluetooth APIs and has also been integrated into all iPhone models since the 4S. Essentially, the iBeacon is an indoor tracking device, capable of locating and interacting in-destination with customers via a downloadable app. If and when effectively applied to the hospitality industry, this exciting technology will undoubtedly revolutionize the world of travel.
Here are the 5 reasons why we’re so excited:
1. A streamlined experience
It doesn’t matter who you are, your age, gender, social background or even your preferred Greek Island, as travelers in the 21st Century we all fundamentally desire a hassle free holiday or business trip. We don’t want to have to wait to check in or to trawl round a large hotel or a resort, reading endless room numbers trying to find the right one and we’re used to being provided with the information we need instead of having to look for it.
Simplicity always wins where the modern traveler is concerned
With an iBeacon-supported app in place, rooms could be unlockable at simply the push of a button on a smartphone or tablet, a concept currently being trialed by Hilton (Apple Insider) and it may even be possible to eventually bypass the check-in process entirely upon entry of which 73% of travelers stated would be an attractive feature when choosing a place to stay (MCD). Therefore, statistically speaking the majority of travelers would like this sort of technology implemented (of whom 87% already actively use a smartphone on holiday (Trip Advisor) and the information that iBeacons have the capacity to provide for hotels certainly has the potential to transform the modern mobile device into a personal concierge for their guests.
The concept of personalisation is by its very definition linked to data collection. Whilst hotels must be careful to avoid appearing invasive and
“not cross the creepy line”
As Robert Cole, founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting firm affirms (USA Today), iBeacons necessarily give the hospitality industry the opportunity to get to know their guests. If you’ve ever walked into a hotel and been asked “is this your first time here?” you’ll know that there without a doubt needs to be a greater proximity between hotelier and guest. The 21st Century human inherently wants to be treated as an individual and the modern traveler is no different. iBeacons have the potential to allow hotel staff to make guests feel like VIPs, greeting them by name, surprising and delighting them and overall creating a unique guest profile for each person staying in the hotel. Although data collection must be done so responsibly, if the modern traveler wants to be treated as an individual guest with individual needs and not simply as an anonymous client as is currently the case, then hotels will have to start anticipating them. The iBeacon, when backed by a mobile CRM platform, fundamentally provides the perfect technological means to do so.
3. Communication is key
The need to communicate with hotel guests to a greater extent is underlined by the rise of the 21st Century silent traveler; essentially those who seek a streamlined service that involves as little or no direct communication with the hotelier, turning instead to a mobile device to overcome in trip-challenges.
On the one hand yes – but the iBeacon solves this apparent conflict of interest. When implemented with an in-destination app, the iBeacon can collect information through geolocalisation such as how often a guest visits the spa, allowing the hotel to then create a unique guest profile. Building upon this, the hotel can then promote their services to suit each individual guests’ wants and needs, such as a scenario function built into an app, pushing reductions and promotion offers on spa treatment specifically to those who have previously visited and primarily, this is achieved via a downloadable mobile app that links the customer to the hotel. The potential to market in such a way allows the hotel to effectively and efficiently communicate with its guests and in theory the iBeacon avoids the issue of guest harassment by targeting and offering specific services to those who would like to see them. As a result, by implementing a guest engagement platform such as LoungeUp, it becomes possible for the hospitality industry to push past the current lack of communication between hotel and guest, creating an improved, streamlined and profitable experience for both parties.
An inevitable consequence and benefit that arises from this new and improved dialogue is undoubtedly that regarding guest loyalty.
“Loyal guests are the most profitable ones to a hotel”
– Jack Tan
Jack Tan states, Mahana advisor, hotel industry executive, and consultant to leading hotel brands globally (Mahana). By personalising guest experience through data collection and thus treating travelers as individuals, customer loyalty will return to the sector and hotels will be able to take back control of their client base from the current OTA stronghold that exists in the 21st Century by giving guests 24/7 access to their establishment, services and staff through a mobile application.
5. Realistic revolution
It is clear that the iBeacon has the potential to benefit both hotels and guests, but one question remains: is it a realistic solution? Simply put – yes. Despite the name the iBeacon, is available on both iOS and Android thus has an invaluable universal quality. Furthermore it is affordable, each beacon costing around 30 dollars and lasting for 4 years (Estimote). They even have the potential to save energy, automatically turning off lights in hotel rooms once a guest has left. Smart homes seem to have become commonplace in today’s handsfree world… so why not smart hotels?
What have we learnt?
In essence, it cannot be denied that, if correctly integrated with an in-destination application such as LoungeUp that can collect and analyse information, the iBeacon will revolutionise the industry, turning guest data into revenue for hoteliers around the world whilst creating an overall better experience for guests through their capacity to personalise experience. We share this vision of just how important the iBeacon will become and as the most innovative guest engagement hospitality application currently on the market, we have successfully integrated the technology into our product. Although we’re still not sure exactly where this new technology will take us, it’s fair to say that here at LoungeUp we’re extremely excited and it’s not a question of ‘if’ the iBeacon will take over the world… more a question of ‘when’.