OVERLAND PARK, KS—The adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming a game changer for the hospitality industry, and the innovations that are born from it will impact how hotels will be run in the near future. The benefits appear infinite, ranging from enhanced operations, to personalized guest experiences, to the potential for new services, and more.
Among the early adopters of this innovation are the major brands, with Marriott gearing up for what it believes will be the guestroom of the future; Hilton providing highly customizable guest spaces; AccorHotels introducing smart and accessible guestrooms; and there are others wanting in on the trend.
However, gaining access to useful IoT solutions for smaller brands and companies can be complex and, at times, unattainable for some. In an effort to widen access, Sprint has recently launched its own IoT Factory, an online marketplace where businesses can obtain complete, ready-made boxed solutions to take advantage of this forward-thinking technology.
“From family-owned restaurants and medical companies, to heavy equipment fleet operators and everything in between, the Sprint IoT Factory is giving business owners the power to easily enhance operations—using IoT technology to track assets and connect what’s most important to them,” said Ivo Rook, SVP, IoT at Sprint. “We’re excited about the effect this has on small and medium-sized businesses. They can now attain the latest in advanced and secure technology at reasonable costs—with the ease of being able to buy a complete solution from the digital store, having it shipped quickly and installing it themselves within a matter of minutes. That truly drives business forward in an unprecedented manner.”
The goal behind the Sprint IoT Factory is to make IoT more approachable and available to a broader audience, which has typically been limited to larger companies with the wherewithal to install, operate and maintain it.
“It’s not just about the factory offering packaged solutions; the Sprint IoT Factory has a complete developer side with more than 500 developers exchanging ideas, combined with an app and the ability to do good things for big and small companies,” said Rook. “We’re democratizing IoT and making it available to many different segments—hotels, restaurants, franchise owners, etc.”
For hoteliers with smaller budgets, Rook explained that the first step is to determine the basic needs of the operation and then branch out into the multifaceted areas of the business.
“I think that some of the low hanging fruit doesn’t need customization. There’s hardly a problem that a hotelier has that didn’t exist before. Look on the online marketplace and see if there’s something that can be used immediately. For example, there might be a refrigerator unit that needs surveillance. Click, then order and it’s done,” said Rook. “If on the first engagement with IoT Factory they don’t automatically see what they need, they can click on the website and say, ‘I’m interested in this technology but I’m not sure. Can you help?’ Immediately, they will be contacted by our team, a person who knows the technology inside out. In addition, the installation can be done in three minutes. In hotels, everything in their ecosystems can be digitized today.”
While these are ready-made IoT solutions, hoteliers are not left to their own devices. Sprint offers a video tutorial for the installation of the products on the online marketplace’s website. There’s a flash code on the package, a sensor will begin the installation and the solution uploads to a mobile device.
“Don’t be scared of technology. Have the confidence that it will stay. Ultimately, hoteliers know everything they need to know about hotels, but there still may be some level of inexperience to get into IoT,” he said. “As much as we can organize things to be plug-and-play, we are there for the client with a personal touch if they need help. We have 1,000 salespeople that support small and medium–sized enterprises on a daily basis.”