The Internet of Things is Changing the Hospitality Industry [Operations & Customer Experience Lead the IoT Charge]

In our last post, we discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the business world – connected devices offer a BIG impact on enterprise operations.

Related Post: The Internet of Things is Changing How We Work [Big Business Leads the IoT Charge]

It is great to see the amazing progress smart, connected devices offer the business world. But PointCentral has a keen focus on a couple specific industries – hospitality, specifically vacation rental management, being one of our main focal points.

It’s clear IoT is impacting the business world as a whole, but how about the hospitality industry specifically?

A list of related posts can be found below, but let’s start with a few recent articles from around the interwebs.

At the beginning of 2015, Hospitality Technology offered their Top 5 Trends in Hotels for 2015. Topping the list? Self-service and mobile check-ins. Smart technology will help you with that!

Top 5 Trends in Hotels for 2015

Potential advantages from these programs include more consistent upsell opportunities, labor savings, and, perhaps most importantly, alignment of the hotel experience with guests’ increasing preference for convenience.

Did the predictions for a “smarter” hotel experience withstand the rigors of 2015? You betcha.

Hotels add high-tech touches to enhance hospitality

On average, a typical hotel guest will spend about 12 minutes figuring out the thermostat, light switches, TV controls and how to find hotel amenities. The Connected Room is designed to streamline that process.

While the guest experience is the most visible element of the transformation in hospitality today, there is a lot going on to connect and empower the organization too, with mobile devices, the cloud and the Internet of Things.

How the Hospitality Industry is Embracing the Internet of Things

Because of the competitive dynamics, almost every kind of hospitality environment is looking at how deploying IoT systems can improve customer experience. IoT deployments can serve as an essential competitive differentiator[.]

There’s no question that the Internet of Things can make an enterprise more efficient.

A few more IoT and hospitality related links below.

But I wonder (he mused rhetorically :)) if the Internet of Things is being deployed on an enterprise level with professional vacation rental managers? Hmmmmm. Let’s see what the next post has to say.

The Internet of Things & the Hospitality Industry – related posts…

  1. Home Automation Bursts Onto the Travel Scene
  2. Your Guests Hate Your Check-in Process {Marriott Knows This…and So Do You}
  3. Smart Access Control & Keyless Locks Becoming Hotel Standards. Will Vacation Rentals Adopt the Trend?
  4. Hotels Race Towards Smart Technology. Will Vacation Rentals Keep Pace?
  5. Hotel Impossible Confronts Access Control
  6. Smart Access Control & Keyless Locks Becoming Hotel Standards. Will Vacation Rentals Adopt the Trend?
  7. Vacation Rental Smart Home Control: The Most Strategic Operations Decision You WILL Make
  8. Hotels Push Smart Technology to Improve Guest Experience, Operations & the Bottom Line
  9. Smart Home Lessons Hotels can Teach Vacation Rental Managers

Smart Home, Internet of Things Hit the Mainstream [Professional Sports, Pop Icon & the GIANT Economic Impact]

A few weeks ago I shared a post discussing the mass appeal of the Internet of Things (IoT):

I chatted about the NFL using “wearable” chips in equipment to offer real time stats from the field, and shared an “idea adoption” diagram from Seth Godin…

Idea Adoption - Seth Godin

As Seth explains…

[W]hen enough people with the mass worldview accept an idea, they begin to pressure the rest of the people around them, insisting that they accept the new idea as if it’s always been the right thing to do[.]

In that September 22, 2015 post, I estimated we were in the Hot section of Mr. Godin’s idea adoption diagram.

After a short 56 days, I’m pushing my prediction to the cusp of mainstream.

I don’t know that we are there yet, but it seems like we are awfully close to the mass assumption that the Internet of Things has “always been the right thing do .”

Here are three examples of the rapid progress of the IoT towards the mainstream:

  1. Utah Jazz Reach Naming Rights Deal with Smart Home Company: NBA basketball arena now named Vivint Smart Home Arena.
  2. How Taylor Swift is Using the Internet of Things in Her Concerts: LED bracelets use infrared communications to light up the crowd.
  3. Bigger than Apple, Amazon & Priceline Combined: Money & Markets recently conducted extensive research into the economic impact and potential of the Internet of Things. You can read an extensive interview here ($19 Trillion Internet Shockwave), and here are three highlights…

All over the world, enormous amounts of human resources, brainpower, technology and capital are moving into this new Super-Internet that connects people to devices and devices to each other.

The estimates regarding how dramatically the Internet of Things can grow – bigger than the sectors associated with Google, Apple, Facebook, Priceline and Amazon combined — may actually be understated.

The Internet of Things is not a single industry or sector. Rather, it’s a force that’s already sweeping across nearly all technologies and industries.

Welcome to the start of a world where the smart home and the Internet of Things is the assumed thread that connects us all.

Taylor Swift - 1989 LED bracelets

Taylor Swift – 1989 LED bracelets

 

Vivint Smart Home Arena

Vivint Smart Home Arena

Enterprises Move to Cellular for Smart Home & Internet of Things

wifi vs. cellular - needle pointBelow is a laundry list  of previous posts discussing the benefits of cellular smart home control vs. WiFi/internet systems. Especially for enterprises.

Today, we’ll take a look at the growing trend AT&T is seeing in enterprise smart home/internet of things (IoT) deployment.

Cellular-First for Enterprise Internet of Things

AT&T’s Vice President responsible for their industrial IoT organization recently offered an interview:

It’s worth a quick read, and offers some specific examples of WiFi falling short of reliability needs.

Here are a few quotes highlighting the growing cellular trend…

AT&T (NYSE: T) is starting to see a trend in its machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) business — one where enterprises are looking not for a Wi-Fi first service but cellular first.

[O]n the enterprise side in particular, ‘we’ve started to see an interesting trend’ where customers started off with Wi-Fi-only devices and, for a variety of reasons, they’re moving toward cellular-only[.]

[T]his particular vendor was getting frustrated with the hospital Wi-Fi and the cabinets losing connectivity as they were wheeled around the hospital. The company made a decision to put cellular in so that it could control the experience[.]

For a lot of companies that are looking at efficiency and trying to drive process re-engineering, they’re becoming much more comfortable with a cellular-only solution[,]

AT&T counted 25 million cellular-connected machines on its network as of the end of the third quarter.

WiFi-No-Icon-205Side note: PointCentral uses AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile cellular networks to build enterprise smart home control.

Enterprise smart home control is built on the reliable foundation of cellular networks.

WiFi does not offer the reliability needed to build an enterprise Internet of Things. Let me count the ways…

Related Posts: Cellular vs. WiFi

  1. Professional VS. Consumer Grade Smart Home Control: System Architecture
  2. The WiFi (Dis)Advantage: Why Managed Connectivity MUST be Priority No. 1 for VRM Smart Home Control
  3. Cellular vs. Internet Smart Home Control: “The Largest Problem is Keeping Wi-Fi Up”
  4. WiFi vs. Cellular = Home Automation vs. Property Automation
  5. 7 Hours Per Month with No WiFi. Not Bad? Unless Your Business Depends on It.
  6. WiFi Reset Instructions: A Great Reminder of the MAJOR Difference Between WiFi & Cellular Reliability
  7. WiFi vs. Cellular: Your WiFi Network is ALREADY Full
  8. WiFi vs. Cellular Smart Homes: Almost 98 Percent of Data Use in US Homes Will Be Over Wi-Fi by 2018
  9. WiFi vs. Cellular Smart Home Control: The Internet of Things Will Strangle Your Bandwidth
  10. Significant Challenges Confront WiFi in the Smart Home: Lockitron Dumps WiFi

The Smart Home Wave & Vacation Rental Management [Risks, Rewards & Action]

japanese-wavesSmart Tech Is In The House

There is a significant technology trend impacting the vacation rental market – the adoption of Smart Home technologies by homeowners and Vacation Rental Managers (VRMs).

This blog tends to focus on nuances of this trend, but let’s step back and take a high-level view of this fast-paced trend; growth in the sector, the benefits and risks to homeowners and VRMs, and the best course of action for all.

Smart Home stats to get us started:

  • 81% of home buyers prefer smart homes over non-smart homes.
  • More than 10% of U.S. broadband household are planning to buy a smart thermostat over the next 12 months.
  • Nearly 75% of current smart thermostat owners report reduced electric bills.
  • Global smart home connected appliances growing from fewer than 1 million units shipped in 2014 to more than 223 million units by 2020
  • Worldwide, there are 13.4 billion internet-connected devices in 2015, growing to 38.5 billion in 2020 – a 285% increase.
  • The home automation market in the U.S. is estimated at more than $5.5 billion in 2016.
Explosive Growth

Smart Home growth is expected to rival mobile phone growth. Let’s stop there for a second…smart home as big as mobile phones! That’s huge.

Fueling much of this is the growth in consumer awareness of the technology. Giants like Apple, Google, Samsung, LG and others are committing huge resources to the category and have invested hundreds of millions in marketing to shine a very bright light on Smart Home.

Google’s purchase of Nest, and Apple’s launch of HomeKit have brought more attention to the category and opened the eyes of many consumers to the advantages of Smart Home technology.

The Smart Home Pull

For the homeowner:

Smart Home provides piece of mind knowing they have more control over their property – from remotely controlling locks and thermostats to being alerted when someone enters their home. Plus, there are significant cost savings that come from automating energy usage and controlling min/max temperatures.

This is especially critical for vacation rental properties that often see guests leave the air conditioning on high after they check out.

Smart Home automation provides alerts when thresholds are exceeded so that temps can be remotely adjusted.

For Vacation Rental Managers:

VRMs are able to significantly reduce their risk and liability with Smart Home since they can eliminate hard keys, which are often lost, copied or stolen.

The news is filled with terrible stories of vacationers experiencing theft and violence during their stay because of so many keys unaccounted for.

Smart Home not only provides new lock codes for each guest, it provides the VRM with the visibility to monitor and remotely control access and temperature for ALL their properties.

Not having to send someone out to a property to let someone in or change the thermostat saves operational costs for VRMs.

The Market Push

In addition to Apple and Google bringing attention to the category, Samsung, LG and others are shifting their focus from mobile and TV to Smart Home devices. The result of all of this is that homeowners are increasingly eager for the added security and convenience, as well as the energy savings that Smart Home provides.

For Vacation Rental Managers, this has both good and bad ramifications.

On the bad side, the more control homeowners have over their locks and thermostats, the less control this gives the VRM. There have been many reports from VRMs of homeowners changing the temperature of their home while a guest was occupying their property. Yes, while the guest was there!

Of course, one of the positive aspects of the Smart Home wave is that homeowners are much more open to the technology and can thus be more easily convinced to go with a solution offered by the VRM.

Consumer vs Enterprise

It’s important to point out here that the market push by the major players is focused on the DIY/Consumer-Grade technologies.

These are self-contained solutions that give the homeowner control of access and temperature for just their property, usually from their smart phone or other mobile device.

VRMs, on the other hand, require an enterprise solution that provides centralized control of multiple properties, something a consumer-grade solution cannot provide.

It’s this enterprise class system that gives the VRM the type of property intelligence they need to see a complete picture of property status – across ALL properties.

This real-time information helps them to streamline turn days, improve operational efficiencies, and provide a better guest experience – things that every VRM wants.

Win-Win-Win

So what should a VRM do? What’s the best course of action?

As with any major trend, especially one that is changing the market in so many ways, VRMs need to get in front of the wave or they will find themselves struggling to catch up.

If homeowners adopt Smart Home, which we know is already happening, VRMs will be relinquishing control of access and temperature. Once a homeowner has installed Smart Home, they will be reluctant to uninstall it.

VRMs should talk to their homeowners now and show them the advantages of an enterprise system that provides centralized control of ALL their properties.

PointCentral, the leading provider of enterprise Smart Home solutions in the vacation rental market, has found that the large majority of homeowners are not only eager to adopt Smart Home, they are very open to covering the cost since they will be reaping many of the security and energy benefits.

The Smart Home wave is here and it is great for homeowners, VRMs and guests.

 

The Smart Move

VRMs have a remarkable opportunity to help their homeowners, their guests, and themselves – by implementing Smart Home technology.

The key to this opportunity is to implement it before your homeowners. VRMs across the U.S. report that many of their homeowners are installing Smart Home because it provides better security and saves on energy costs.

But homeowners are installing consumer-grade systems that will give control of access and temperature to the homeowner, not the VRM.

VRMs need to install a commercial-grade solution that provides centralized control of ALL their properties.

You can catch the VRM smart hoe wave at www.PointCentral.com.

VRM Emergency Preparation: Save Valuable Time & Resources with Smart Home Control

Emergency preparation is never easy. Tensions are high, and resources are low. Time is short, and the to-do list is long.

Whether it’s flooding out west, snow in the mountains, or hurricanes on the east coast, we can all relate to the threats Mother Nature can send our way.

Emergency prep takes center stage. Securing your home and making sure everyone is safe becomes priority numero uno.

As vacation rental managers know well, this prep is multiplied exponentially when you manage 10, 100 or 1,000+ homes covering vast distances.

The logistics are mind boggling for VRMs during emergencies. It’s an all-hands-on-deck excursion that must be executed as quickly a possible. Every home must be touched and the clock is ticking. Every minute counts.

Hurricane Joaquin has been splashing around in the Atlantic for a number of days. Late last week, the track placed its target on the Outer Banks with winds in excess of 100 mph.

Luckily, Joaquin stayed out to sea, but it was close enough that the experienced Outer Banks VRMs rallied their troops to cover 50+ miles of beach to secure ALL homes. A daunting task.

As smart home control becomes a standard in the vacation rental industry, PointCentral clients are realizing the far-reaching benefits…like efficient, secure storm prep.

Imagine collecting, sorting, handing out, tracking, and recollecting keys for 300+ homes…on top of your daily operations. Yikes!

  • That’s a long process.
  • And who is tracking all those keys?
  • Did you get them all back?
  • Any copies made?
  • How do you/homeowner know the home was actually checked?

Enter PointCentral.

When I arrived to work yesterday morning, I was greeted by a pleasant message from one of our Outer Banks clients sharing a storm prep team communication. They didn’t choose PointCentral to improve their storm prep, but they sure did reap some added benefits…

All,

Some of you have been running around for days now handling storm issues. Thank you everyone for your efforts.

We take it for granted now…….

But it would have been a MAJOR pain in the butt if we had to put together hurricane rings of keys for each route, and get them to correct people, and then split them up for those working after the first couple of days, and then get them back together for the post storm festivities.

We certainly reaped the benefits of the keyless locks over the past few days.

Thanks again to all who have worked tirelessly, in the pouring rain and monsoon winds, to keep the circus on the road.

Glad we could play a part in your storm prep Seaside Vacations!

Internet of Things (IoT) Racing Towards Mass Appeal [As Explained by Seth Godin & the NFL]

Do you know Seth Godin?

If not, here’s a treat for you. If you only read one blog, Mr. Godin is the one.

Short. To the point. Chock full of real-world experience and cutting-edge insights.

Subscribe. You’ll thank me.

How about the NFL (as in the National Football League)? Ever heard of those lads?

What do Seth, the NFL and the Internet of Things have in common?

Mass appeal.

I’ve discussed the topic of technology adoption a number of times (here’s the Technology Adoption category on the blog). In the past I’ve used a typical bell curve to depict the phases of adoption.

When we discuss technology adoption, we are discussing idea adoption as much as “technology.” How quickly can a new idea spread and be accepted?

Mr. Godin offers a great post on the topic: How idea adoption works–The Idea Progression

Rather than the typical bell curve, Seth shares a great visual of idea adoption…

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15090719/4c76784d-06e0-4b37-8cfb-87b96605127b.png

The post is well worth the full (quick) read, but here are a couple points I’ll pull out:

  • “Every important idea starts out on the fringe. It’s not obvious, proven or readily explained. And a tiny group of people, people who like the fringe, engage with it.”
  • “[W]hen enough people with the mass worldview accept an idea, they begin to pressure the rest of the people around them, insisting that they accept the new idea as if it’s always been the right thing to do[.]

The Internet of Things (IoT) is racing towards mass appeal at a rapid pace.

Google, Apple, IBM, Samsung, etc, etc. Big names and big money are chasing the IoT.

Fringe –> Risky –> New –> Hot…

It’s safe to say we’ve hit the Hot category in Seth’s visual.

To add fuel to the mass appeal flame, enter the NFL…

Starting in 2015, the NFL is equipping players with radio-frequency identification chips to offer real-time stats.

  • “Coaches and fans will, for the first time, be able to see hard stats with data like how far away a receiver is from his defender at any point during a play, or how fast a player is running and his total yardage covered.”

Hard to get more mainstream than the NFL. Football enthusiasts must be…enthused. 🙂

The “fringe” idea of smart technology is rapidly becoming the accepted new idea “as if it’s always been the right thing to do.”

How will smart technology impact your world; especially your business?

Smart Home Lessons Hotels can Teach Vacation Rental Managers

iotHotels and vacation rentals have shared a tenuous relationship over the years.

Like the big brother ignoring the little brother on the playground. “I know you’re there, but if I ignore you, maybe you’ll disappear.”

I’ve always relished the underdog role. It’s easier to outpace expectations when you’re underestimated, and there’s a lot to be learned by paying attention that “big brother.”

The vacation rental industry has seized this underdog opportunity and revolutionized the travel industry paradigm over the last 5-10 years. What was once a hotel-owned market, has burst into fragments vying for market share – hotels, VRMs, Airbnb, VRBOs, boutique hotels, etc.

And hotels are with-out a doubt taking notice. (You can find some previous hotel-related posts listed below.)

But I wonder if the vacation rental industry is learning all they can from the “big brother.”

The opportunity for vacation rental managers to learn from the hotel industry was recently discussed on the Vacation Futures blog…

  1. Give the market what it wants.
  2. Be flexible.
  3. Professionalism is key.

As you may guess, my focus within these three categories of learning opportunities is the smart home and the great benefits it offers to vacation rental managers…

  1. Homeowners want energy savings and improved security; guests want convenience and improved security.
  2. Change requires flexibility, but it offers great benefits.
  3. Real-time control/automation is the next evolution of vacation rental management.

But rather than hopping on my soap box to dig into these categories and preach the benefits of smart home, let’s take a look at the what the hotel industry can teach us.

Here’s a recent article, and selected quotes, on the smart home subject from Hotel News Resource: The Internet of Things: The Impact on the Travel & Hotel Industry

  • “Mobility and convenience are two shared critical components of travel and IoT, making them a natural fit.”
  • “By taking advantage of IoT solutions currently on the market, hotel and travel companies can realize increased operational efficiency and more personalized guest experience.”
  • “Lighting and temperature can be automatically adjusted based on sensor data from IoT devices, increasing efficiency and eliminating waste.”
  • “Travelers and guests can experience dramatic improvements in service with the latest ‘smart’ innovations. Hotels can automatically send electronic key cards to their guests’ mobile devices, providing a comprehensive self-check-in and room key service.”
  • “Hotels and airlines can also easily and more cost-effectively deploy security mechanisms in facilities and structures.”
  • “Companies should prepare by incorporating IoT into their current initiatives to take advantage of future innovations when they arrive.”
  • “The Internet of Things is here to stay, and this landscape will become even more interesting…and complex.”

The vacation rental industry is no longer the “little brother.” We don’t need to wait for the hotel industry to lead the way.

If the smart home can offer such great impacts on the hotel industry, the benefits loom even larger for a vacation rental industry managing a large number of roofs with operations and homes spread over miles rather than feet.

Take a look at these hotel-related links for examples of hotels already leveraging the smart home benefits…

Related Posts:

  1. Home Automation Burst Onto the Travel Scene
  2. Your Guests Hate Your Check-in Process {Marriott Knows This…and So Do You}
  3. Smart Access Control & Keyless Locks Becoming Hotel Standards. Will Vacation Rentals Adopt the Trend?
  4. Hotels Race Towards Smart Technology. Will Vacation Rentals Keep Pace?
  5. Hotel Impossible Confronts Access Control
  6. Smart Access Control & Keyless Locks Becoming Hotel Standards. Will Vacation Rentals Adopt the Trend?
  7. Vacation Rental Smart Home Control: The Most Strategic Operations Decision You WILL Make
  8. Hotels Push Smart Technology to Improve Guest Experience, Operations & the Bottom Line

The Smart Home Advantage: Keep Your Vacation Rental Homes with Smart Home Control

Baby boomers & computerI worked in the vacation rental trenches for almost five years.

During my VRM tenure, my focus was marketing. As every VRM knows, marketing means guests AND the elusive homeowners.

The marketing strategy for guests can be relatively straight-forward – blog, ads, Google adWords, etc.

The marketing strategy for homeowners is a completely different ball game. How do you reach all of the great homes/homeowners in your area? Homeowners live out of state, lists, and phone numbers are costly and hard to manage, word of mouth is great, but limited. In the end, most VRMs rely on costly (and ineffective) direct mail campaigns.

A bit counter-intuitive, but my experience demonstrates that the most effective method to grow is not to lose the great homes you have.

It is far less expensive to make your current homeowners happy than it is to go out and find new homes to replace the ones you lose.

The Smart Home Advantage

Smart home control gives VRMs a competitive edge to keep those homes.

I’ve mentioned homeowners and the smart home advantage a in a few previous posts. You can find a quick list below.

For now, I’ll demonstrate this competitive advantage through an example email we received this week.

Hi,

We have a vacation home in XXXXXXXX and we are looking to move management company but one thing we don’t want to lose is Point Central we already have.

Is it possible for us to take over the unit and control of our Door, AC and Pool Heating and pass this to our new manager?

Thanks,
XXXXXX

This homeowner is ready to leave their current VRM (for whatever reason), but is NOT ready to give up their smart home control!

Hard to argue with that stickiness. 🙂

In the end, we may or may not be able to help this homeowner. At this time, PointCentral is solely focused on professional vacation rental managers – IE we do not support VRBO. We’ll do our best to help this homeowner, but staying put may end up being their best option to maintain their services.

Use the smart home to set your VRM apart.

Related Posts

Smart Home as Competitive Differentiation for Vacation Rentals [Hobbs Realty Promotes Inventory-Wide Smart Home Installation with New Billboard]

Hobbs Realty BillboardIn a previous post, I discussed the value of innovation from the perspective of the Harvard Business Review.

Here’s a quick reminder…

By their nature, businesses tend to avoid risk. Once something “works,” we have a tendency stay the course. We stop looking for those awesome “hacks” because change implies risk.

Here’s how HBR puts it…

Businesses mostly seek to avoid risk. Leaders equate risk with potential failure, so organizations have morphed into hierarchical, fixed systems to constrain variability within an acceptable range that has become progressively narrower. As a result, in recent years, innovative ideas have been stifled

But the beauty of risk is that there is often reward! And if you skip the risk, you skip the reward.

Or as HBR says (my emphasis added)…

Instead of risk = bad, leaders need to understand that today, calculated risk = innovation, meeting marketplace demands, leapfrogging competition and creating true profit.

The HBR article is most definitely worth a full read.

I wrote that post almost two years ago! (August 2013)

During that time PointCentral has grown to 50+ VRM clients with 5,000+ smart home systems live each and every day.

It’s fantastic to see theory being put into practice.

Just as HBR recommends, smart home innovation is proving to be well worth the “risk” – happy guests, happy homeowners, improved operations, and an opportunity to leapfrog the competition.

Hobbs Realty in Holden Beach, NC is proof positive.

Hobbs completed their inventory-wide smart home installation with PointCentral a few weeks ago. A fantastic installation that saw the Hobbs team working side-by-side with the PointCentral install team to knockout the installation of 150+ homes in seven days!

To announce their innovation, and to let their guests and homeowners know one of the “key” 😉 reasons to work with Hobbs Realty, the Hobbs team made a big announcement – 14 feet high X 48 feet wide BIG!

Check out the new Hobbs Realty smart home billboard…

Hobbs Realty Billboard

Tough to miss that announcement as you head onto Holden Beach. 🙂

Anatomy of a Vacation Rental Smart Home: Automate Operations & Status Updates

Anatomy of a VRM Smart HomeI’ve chatted about the great benefits of enterprise smart home control for vacation rental operations a number of times. You can peruse a selection of posts below.

However, I understand some of y’all may be more visual. So rather than my eloquent prose, let’s take a look at a 1 minute video that sums up the tremendous operational value smart home offers VRMs on those crazy (and not so crazy) turn days.

PointCentral vacation rental smart home control gives you real-time understanding of the activity taking place across your ENTIRE inventory of homes.

Here’s how…

Anatomy of a Vacation Rental Smart Home: Automate Operations & Status Updates

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