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The availability of NFC contactless payment (Restaurant POS, Front Desk, Kiosk), and NFC contactless access control (guest room doors, parking garages, elevators, meeting rooms, gyms, spas, front doors etc.) in hotels to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces that allow the transmission of coronavirus is both an urgent need, and an intelligent response, to one of the most significant issues that the hospitality industry has ever faced: coronavirus transmission and COVID-19 . Importantly also, NFC contactless, if widely implemented, would demonstrate that the hospitality industry has the well-being of its guests and employees front of mind once hotels start to emerge from lock-down. 

As millions across America practice social distancing, hotels and Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) are faced with the overall challenge of supporting their community and planning for the post-COVID-19 rebound. In addition to working directly with meeting planners, CVBs often report and forecast tourism for the entire community. CVBs play an integral role in the education and knowledge of upcoming events and trends in their community.

Shine is that light within you. It motivates us and it brightens our path. When we are down, afraid or experiencing unknown territory, it is what you say to yourself (your beliefs and thoughts) that determines if your light will stay bright or fade. 

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) announced last Wednesday during a press conference to industry media that the organization will consolidate its three major annual events to one location over a four-day period in October, and will call it, “The Best of HFTP.” 

2020 is a year like no other — at least we hope so. At the end of 2019, who could have imagined what would happen to our industry. Smart hoteliers were planning for the possibility of a small downturn. Smarter hoteliers were considering how to steal share before a downturn took hold. Either way, a global pandemic was not in anyone’s plans.

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IoT is Coming, Jon Snow…

by Gary Hasty
Hospitality is prime for the coming advent of the various devices that make up the Internet of Things.  Estimates show the industry now represents 17.5 million rooms worldwide and savvy guests are demanding more personalization and an overall improved guest experience along their connected travel journey and belief is that IoT can bring this to reality.  Guests are looking to use that smarty device they keep in their pocket to control everything from the television (that rarely gets turned on, of course) to the water temperature of their morning shower.  With the desire to personalize the guest experience to the opportunity to make some sizable cost saving measures at the same time, it appears to be the perfect storm coming for the industry.  By monitoring, measuring and tracking various assets around the hotel in real-time, you can provide everything from shorter wait times at check-in, to cleaner, more energy-efficient environments for your guests.
I often evangelize that the most important part of “Internet of Things” is the “S” at the end of things.  The ability to have multiple “things” working together seamlessly is the true benefit of this IoT thing.  In the hospitality space I often look at IoT if used smartly is an excellent way to allow your front-line staff to spend more time guest facing as devices can help maintain and monitor tasks that would often take them away from being engaged with guests.  From monitoring for environmental concerns (leaks, HVAC, water temps) to working to fend off your top TripAdvisor complaints of noise, smells and anything else, IoT can be a powerful tool.
Why Now? 
The capability of connecting devices has been around for years, but the cost was prohibitive. We’re quickly approaching a time where this connectivity is no longer in the dollars but in pennies as well as the physical sensors and endpoints are dropping considerably in cost to deploy. The coming promises of 5G offer low-latency and edge computing power in the hotel, and network technology solely focused on connecting devices for cheap. It truly is coming soon.  The capabilities of LPWA (low-power wide-area wireless networks) being rolled out nationwide offer better building penetration as well as long battery-life which will ignite the sensor manufacturing world.
So, Jon Snow, will you take the knee? First, make sure you have a sound IoT strategy to build on rather than deploying one-trick-pony solutions for specific needs. Hospitality needs to adapt quickly to emerging technologies but it’s important to also make sure these new technologies play well with your existing environment and comply with data privacy requirements.  When speaking to an owner about the gee-whiz factor of a guest closing the room blinds from her cellphone and it will only cost $400 per room to implement, well, we all know what the answer from the owner will be. But if by using a sound approach we can also offer ROI in energy savings and the conversation is very different. Make sure your strategy starts with building a platform for other endpoint solutions as your IoT needs and desires grow with you. As an example, as you work to install a staff alert solution, does it also use the underlying platform for other device opportunities in the future?  
As we look forward to next month, I hope you enjoy your time at HITEC Minneapolis and regardless as to what house you hail from (except for those Greyjoy’s) keep an open eye out for the next “things” that are coming.
About The Author
Gary Hasty

Gary Hasty, is the director strategy and innovation with the House of AT&T, first of his name, father of sensors & actuators.

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