Considering BYOD and future tech after HITECNews / Technology | OnlineBy Nick Vivion | July 3, 2014Share This article was originally published on HITEC brings together leaders in the hospitality technology industry to showcase current solutions while considering how the future of hospitality tech may unfold.Two of the more well-attended panels throughout were on managing Bring Your Own Device with guests, and on futuristic technology. Together, these two panels left a lot to think about related to the future of hospitality technology; less so about what was available on the show floor and more about what will be - or should be - soon.The impact of IoT and full room/hotel automationThe Internet of Things (IoT) has been a trending buzzword for many years now, after being originally coined by MIT's Kevin Ashton in 1999. The concept is only just now beginning to permeate into the hotel space, and has enormous implications on the kinds of technologies used in hotels.As mentioned in our HITEC roundup last week, mobile check-in and automated room locks are receiving huge marketing bucks - but with soft demand from hotels, given the expense. However, as capital expenditure cycles play out alongside the growth in new hotel builds, these sorts of technologies will see a huge installation spike in the coming years.At the "Futuristic Technology" panel, there was some discussion related to the "smart room," or a room that is able to sense and react to the guest's presence. For example, a hotel could be alerted to a guest that has an irregular heart rhythm. Of course, as one of the panelists pointed out, this can be seen as creepy and invasive - especially if the guest is simply enjoying themselves and not actually in distress.The Smart Room could even begin to understand emotions (check out the Happiness Blanket from British Airways) and deliver offers and specific service styles to address different states of mind. The ability for hospitality to become more cerebral is a very real possibility, basically eliminating much of the need for interpersonal empathy and replacing that with concrete emotional data that drives hospitality interactions.The full automation of hotels also means that, like a car, rooms could be customized for individual guests. Prior to arrival, the temperature could be dropped to a pre-set level. The blinds could be set as desired. The TV put on a specific channel. For morning times, the coffee pot could automatically brew.One only has to take a look at this diagram from last year laying out the complexity of the constantly-evolving and increasingly-frenzied Internet of Things space:Each of the elements in the moving machine that is a hotel can be tied into this overall puzzle: tracking room-service on its way up, spa bookings based on state of mind, food chosen and delivered related to a guest's specific emotional need. The creep factor is definitely on high alert, but could also be appealing to some who seek a fully optimized life experience not just at home but also while on the road.For hotels, beyond the expected increase in guest satisfaction, there are labor advantage to having a minibar that automatically tracks what's needed for refills, when a guest is in the room or not for housekeeping, and using location tracking for operational efficiency gains. The possibilities are endless, and interpersonal communication oversights are potentially eliminated once the various inanimate objects are able to interface.BYOD means Big Data In the example above, hotels will also have a huge amount of available data as guests use their own devices to move throughout the hotel and open doors.The advantages of BYOD for customers extend beyond simply the convenience of being able to unlock the door without worrying about losing the magstripe functionality. In fact, the ability to opt-in to the Big Data picture is a very real and exciting reality of this intersection of BYOD and Big Data.Guests who want a more personalized experience will be (*should be*) able to opt-in to this functionality, allowing more personalized and directed offers and assistance to be delivered to the guest's smartphone.Tracking when and where an offer is successfully redeemed allows the hotel to tweak and constantly improve the targeting. In ideal circumstances, this is a virtuous circle that improves the guest experience - and the bottom line.For larger resorts, such as in Las Vegas, the liberation of access to the guest's device is pure gold. The information on guest flows and attention spans can also be used to tweak layouts and offers, in addition to informing wholesale renovations and new builds for these sorts of sprawling resorts.iBeacon delivers - soonIn order to deliver the full promise of the automated hotel, and the BYOD/Big Data confluence, new technologies that allow micro-tracking are necessary. That's where the slow roar that is iBeacon comes in.A relatively quiet piece of Apple's recent iOS rollout, the iBeacon technology has seen a huge spike in buzz and demand as retail and hospitality realize the potential for more customized experiences indoors, where GPS is limited.The iBeacon, and similar concepts, are what truly allow for location-based, proximity-aware marketing and merchandising. This allows the venue to deliver real-time marketing messages in a means that customers accept and in a place where they are most likely to be interested in the deal.In addition, for the example of room customization above, hotels could smartly turn on the AC and get the room customized right when the guest walks through the lobby door. This means that energy management can still be a priority - for example, keeping off the AC when the guest is off property - and have the bite taking out of the room temperature in the 5 or so minutes that the guest takes to get to the room.Concluding with the creep factorFor many, this whole package of goods and technologies is quite creepy. So the key is to offer control to guests for any venue that wants to take advantage of the technologically enabled marketing future. By allowing guests to define their marketing reality, venues increase trust, loyalty and guest satisfaction - and send a strong signal that the venue cares about the guest. This signal is often enough to allow the guest the confidence to opt into the overall experience, and thus give the venue a chance to market responsibly.Overdoing it, or making errors in judgement on the targeting, will cause guests to immediately opt out. This trust must not be abused, and marketing must be a consistent, gentle, and wholly appropriate pull for the guest. This avoids the creepy factor while bringing out the magical promise of technology and enhancing hospitality. This next wave of Millennial guests want less interaction overall without sacrificing knowledge and information - and these future technologies are ways to do that effectively.NB: The crystal ball image courtesy Shutterstock.