by Paolo Jaucian –
It has been a couple of years since we started hearing about IoT, given the emergence of smart home devices, and at that time, it did not get any traction compared to what it is now. I did not mind it and thought it was just another random acronym like LOL. During these current times, consumers are more educated on what IoT is and how it affects their daily lives, with more and more consumer IoT applications being developed.
Looking back as to when IoT started, apparently contemporary visions of what is IoT started way back in the early ’90s with its concept stretching back into the ’80s with a report producing vending machine. It’s amazing how decades can evolve a concept and even more amazing how marketing can make it like it’s the new hot thing on the shelves.
Consumer applications are very important for a concept to be mainstream and widely accepted. It needs to positively affect our daily lives to get any traction, evolve, and be part of it. IoT has evolved and has been innovated enough that we’re starting to accept it as part of our lives. A lot of the current innovations have contributed a lot to the Entertainment and Hospitality industries. A common theme for both these industries is maximizing consumer experience. How do we make the experience amazing and how do we have them come back for more? These industries have long solved the basic needs of the consumers and to stay competitive, it needed to fill the next hierarchy level of need. It was a common trend to see the different brands in these industries competing to be bigger and better. Businesses were building on a reputation of scale, security, and stability. It’s providing 100 channels when the consumer really only wants to watch 5. This has transitioned over time from building product features that solely focused on options to features that started to listen to the consumer. Sometimes literally listening…Am I right Alexa? IoT personalization has done a lot to innovate and improve the consumer experience. Those that are able to get ahead are able to capitalize on the increase in consumer recognition, loyalty, and overall expansion in its base customer segment.
A couple of months back, the world was hit by the COVID19 pandemic. It has forced everyone to revisit their daily routines. It has been challenging to some and, at its height, felt like an episode of TWD. The new normal has forced us to be more mindful of our personal and environmental hygiene. The hospitality and entertainment industries have adapted well and have introduced a lot to tackle the challenges of the new normal. Some innovations are not entirely new and have been there for quite a while now but have increased its utility during these current times.
For example, one of the largest media conglomerates in the world gets a handful of their revenue from their entertainment and hospitality companies. Thanks to owning the moniker “the happiest place on earth”. They continually innovate to improve the guest experience and to tackle the new normal. Their cruise company has implemented a Virtual Queue system that is integrated with their mobile app for disembarkation and upper deck amenities like the pool. You no longer have to wait in line to disembark, stay in your room, and your smartphone or other IoT device would let you know when it’s your time. You also now have the ability to reserve time for yourself and your family to the upper deck amenities. You don’t have to squish into crowds anymore. The overall guest experience now is more automated and personalized which isn’t a new strategy for this giant. We all remember when their Parks division rolled out their personalized RFID wearable a few years ago. This opened up a number of features and innovations not only for guests but also for their cast member executives. The guests are able to have personalized experiences on park attractions, services accommodations, and retail purchases while the cast member executives get all of the reports stemming from these transactions to learn and provide more to guests. To further adapt to the new normal, their Parks division also developed a park queueing system where guests reserve their time in the parks. This allows guests to be sure that the park you have planned to visit is not shoulder to shoulder like it was in recent years. This concept although not new and was primarily intended to manage crowds for the opening a highly anticipated park experience that they knew was going to be sold out, it does magnify its usefulness and practicality in the new normal. All of these innovations are being done through the concept of IoT.
Hotels and vacation ownership companies have also innovated a lot through IoT. Through the recent years, a lot has been focused on the check-in and check-out experience. We use to stand in line to get checked-in, but now everything is automated and scheduled. Even your room keys are programmed to your smartphone. Check-out is the same experience as you have to do it through your smartphone or the TV in your room. These innovations allow us to adapt to the new normal, eliminating the need to queue up and unnecessarily expose ourselves. Even without the need to be overly cautious of the environment, the overall concept is impressive and just plain cool.
IoT had evolved considerably from when the concept started and is a part of the new normal, however, which way the new normal is defined. We, as individuals, are resilient and adapt. As our needs evolve, the industries that serve us, especially those in Entertainment and Hospitality, will need to evolve as well. These industries have shown though, that they’re most of the time ahead of the curve.