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The ‘Internet of Things’ is easily dismissible as just another buzz-phrase. However, as any travel professional with their finger on the pulse should recognise, Internet of Things technology will impact every corner of the industry.

In fact, it already is.

The Internet of Things is currently shaping the way travellers navigate their way through airports, and enriching their in-flight experiences. But for travellers, some of the most exciting innovations in IoT technology are being seen in the hotel room. 

Below we examine the current state of play in Internet of Things technology, and outline what travellers and travel managers can expect to see in the near future.

 

The Internet of Things: What is It and Why Should I Care? 

The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects that ‘speak’ to each other through electronics. Think of your GPS sending you live traffic updates, or switching on your living room lights from an app on your phone. People are often surprised to learn that Internet of Things technologies have been around for years, and more surprised to realise that they’ve been using them themselves. 

Why is the Internet of Things important for travel industry professionals? Because there are few other industries that see the limitless potential that IoT innovations offer. This is reflected by the fact that the travel industry leads investment in the technology, with a reported $128.9 million spent on Internet of Things projects in 2015.

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An article published in eMarketer, titled “How the Internet of Things is Transforming Travel”, outlines why travel companies have been so enthusiastic to embrace Internet of Things innovations:

“Travel and hospitality companies are under constant pressure to provide better service at the lowest possible cost. For this reason, they have been early movers with the IoT,” it reads.

Simply put, business travel in a lot of ways it all about the customer experience, and travel companies are scrambling to differentiate the experiences they can offer from their competitors. Which is why a hotel that can offer the convenience of a keyless, smartphone-driven entry to a hotel room may just get the edge.

 

The Internet of Things in Your Hotel Room

Much like the Internet of Things is being used by airports to update passengers on terminal changes and flight delays, hotel providers are looking to IoT technology to enrich the accommodation experiences of their guests. 

According to Skift, business travellers can expect a world where “your TV, the temperature, the lighting, the curtains, will all be connected via the Internet, and controlled by the guest.” 

Amazon’s home assistant device, Amazon Echo, paints a compelling picture of what may be in store for the hotel guests of the future. Voice-controlled hotel rooms, from air-conditioning and lighting to room service and shower temperature, have the potential to offer the kind of ultra-personalised experience that regular business travellers dream of.

  

The Internet of Things and Risk Management

However exciting the Internet of Things tech innovations may be for the traveller, they present a suite of challenges for travel managers. Data security is a commonly cited concern in Internet of Things discussions, and for good reason. 

After all, a world where your personal device is in constant communication with almost everything around it is a world with far more risk to data than an unsecured WiFi connection. Especially considering people are two to four times more likely to fall victim to identity crimes while in transit. 

The current application of Internet of Things technology is only a shadow of what we can expect to see in the not-too-distant future, and travel managers need to arm themselves with sophisticated risk management tools to meet the new challenges it presents.

For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below:

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