Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Technology Everywhere

What Mobile and Millennial Travelers
Want From the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming integral to daily life. Think smart wearables, smart home, smart enterprise, smart environment, smart community. Your car and your phone or device…your home and your phone…your air travel and your phone (see the August issue of MeetingMentor Online)…and your hotel stay and your phone.

The IoT works by embedding automation, communication and measurement into items and products whose data can be tracked, networked and shared through the Internet to mobile devices of all types, and particularly phones. Perfect for the Millennial generation of meeting attendees (more on this below).

An Intelity white paper highlights the impact of travelers wanting the IoT to control the guest experience and guest room environment:
• Hoteliers need more digital investment, stronger Wi-Fi networks, and strategic planning around guests’ “insatiable demand” for digital.
• The quality of a hotel’s digital tools, including its mobile app and its Wi-Fi access, will impact booking decisions for more and more guests.
• Smart devices throughout a hotel’s structure can help detect mechanical or technical failures before they even become an issue.
• Room control systems and sensors are already beginning to manage the guest room environment and monitor energy consumption, for the benefit of guest and hotel.
• As IoT gains ground, security and privacy measures will be required to protect the integrity of the digital guest experience.
• Analysis of the data will enable hoteliers to improve the level of service and personalization, and fine-tune the guest experience.

To take advantage of the Internet of Things, the hotel chains are falling over themselves to debut digital features. With Hilton’s Digital Key via the Hilton Honors app, frequent guests can use smartphones to bypass the hotel check-in counter and access their room and other hotel areas. Beta testing at select U.S. properties across four brands will continue through 2015, on the iOS platform first and Android later this year.

InterContinental Hotels Group is running technology pilots to provide a “more personalized and interactive experience for guests.” Mobile room key technology —  linked to IHG Rewards Club elite members in the Americas region — is in test mode, as is IHG Guest Request through the IHG app. Mobile Folio lets guests view their hotel bill in real time on their mobile devices before final check-out via the IHG app.

It’s not surprising, then, that business travelers are excited by seamless online check-in and room entry; text or app-based concierge services; and integrating e-folios into expense reporting software, according to a GBTA Foundation white paper, Harnessing Technology to Improve Business Traveler Hotel Experiences, sponsored by AccorHotels.

U.S. smartphones are now so important to consumers that losing their devices for a day would be a real issue, Gallup reported in mid-July. The numbers were telling:
• 58% of females aged 18-29 and 54% aged 30-49 can’t imagine their lives without their smartphones.
• 45% of males aged 18-29 and 43% aged 30-49 felt the same.
• iPhone users are more bonded to their phones (52%) than Android users (43%).
• Four in 10 would be anxious if they lost their smartphone for a day.

Finally, Millennials are seeking more interactive face-to-face meetings with more digital connectivity and more effective meeting design, concluded a report from Meetings Mean Business and Skift, What Millennials Want in Meetings. This is important because Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers in the American workforce population in 1Q 2015.

Here are five key strategies to engage Millennial attendees. All suggest rethinking traditional rules of engagement for this generation of digital natives:
• Customize event education and develop more casual and spontaneous formats.
• Create hybrid meetings with exclusive virtual content.
• Involve Millennials in social media and web site development.
• Rethink the traditional cocktail reception by, for example, matching people with similar interests.
• Create young professional special interest groups. — Maxine Golding

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 2,500 corporations and associations through our 325 Associates globally. www.conferencedirect.com

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, the leading publication for senior meeting planners, is circulated to the clients, prospects and sales associates of ConferenceDirect, which books more than 3.87 million room nights. www.meetingmentormag.com

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