The use of the internet of things (IoT) in travel can enhance every segment of the industry, from aviation and cruise to dining and hospitality.
The travel industry is constantly growing. A recent study by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) states that 2018 was the ninth consecutive year of sustained growth. The study reveals that the adoption of digital technologies like AI, AR, VR, and IoT is among the many factors that are contributing to this growth. While all the technologies are playing their part, IoT is playing a significant role in reshaping the travel industry. The travel industry is a sector where service providers have to gather real-time feedback and respond quickly, in the best way possible. Service providers can implement IoT in travel to gather real-time feedback. For instance, if a traveller’s hotel room is not cleaned properly, then managers can locate the nearest employees with the help of wearables and get the room cleaned. And that’s just the tip of an iceberg when it comes to the role of IoT in travel. IoT has many more applications in the travel industry, as follows
The Transformative Role of IoT in Travel
The travel industry is a collection of several services provided by various sub-sectors like aviation, cruises, hotels, and restaurants, where an even small bad experience can impact the entire journey. IoT can help connect all these sectors together to provide a satisfactory overall experience to travellers.
IoT in Aviation
Security checks at the airport take a lot of time. Hence, travellers have to reach the airport hours before their flight timings. With the help of biometrics, IoT can reduce the time consumed in airport security checks. Cameras at the airport can scan the faces of travellers at the airport and send the data to servers where deep learning algorithms can match the facial image to verify the identity of a person. Cameras at each checkpoint, such as the boarding gate, can reduce the total check-in time at the airport. San Jose Airport, California, is already using facial recognition technology for providing faster security, departure, and arrival services. The baggage report published by SITA reveals that the mishandled baggage rate in 2018 has dropped by more than 70% since 2007. The report mentions that although the mishandling rate has decreased steeply, millions of bags are still mishandled at airports every year. That’s where IoT beacons and RFID tags come into the picture. Beacons can automatically detect and track RFID tags attached to bags without any human intervention. Passengers and airport officers can get real-time notifications on their mobile devices about the location of bags to prevent mishandling.
IoT can also help to monitor travellers’ health in flights. For instance, seats with embedded sensors can monitor and keep track of travellers’ vitals. These sensors can send auto-alerts to the flight crew in case of unusual vital levels to avoid any medical casualties during flight. Aviation businesses can utilize IoT devices to frequently monitor internal systems or components of flights. For instance, IoT sensors can monitor engine functioning and send proactive alerts to administrators for maintenance. Pro-active maintenance helps to prevent system failures.
IoT in Cruises
Cruises are one of the most fascinating ways to travel where travellers are surrounded by water and no land. Cruise ships can carry thousands of people at a time, and providing services to such a big number is always a challenging task for the crew. With IoT, the cruise’s crew can easily provide services to thousands of travellers. For instance, Carnival cruise ships are already leveraging IoT to provide an enhanced experience to their customers. All the passengers are given a wireless Bluetooth and NFC-enabled medallion, which is basically an IoT wearable device that is connected to the cruise’s server. The crew members also wear the same device.
The wearable device activates when the travellers board the ship. It automates the opening and closing of cabin doors. When a passenger arrives in front of a closed-door, the wearable auto-connects with the sensors on the cabin doors via Bluetooth, and the door opens. Similarly, when the passenger enters through the door and moves far away, the door closes automatically.
The wearable is not just used for opening and closing cabin doors, but can also be used to order drinks and foods from anywhere on the cruise. They can order drinks and food even when they are not in their rooms or the canteen. IoT devices help crew members to track customers who have ordered food while delivering. There is no need to worry about the payment as well. The amount of food ordered is auto-calculated and added to customers’ accounts and can be paid during departure.
IoT in Hotels
Most travellers stay at hotels and during peak vacation seasons, the burden on hotel staff to provide the best customer service to their guests' increases. Utilizing IoT in hotels helps to provide personalized rooms to customers. Customers can connect their smartphones or tablets to sensors present in the hotel room. They can then control all the devices with the help of their smartphones. Adjusting the room temperature, lighting, and ordering food from their smartphones all become possible because of IoT. Integration with mobile devices also lets hotel managers save a customer’s preferences for future travels.
Hotel staff can also leverage IoT. Cameras installed can detect the presence of any individual in the hotel rooms and alert staff members whenever a room is empty. Staff members can clean rooms when they are empty to offer unobtrusive yet comfortable experiences to their guests.
IoT can also be used by hotel administrators to save costs. Sensors can auto-adjust rooms’ lights based on sunlight in the rooms. They can also detect occupancy in rooms to auto-adjust the air conditioner’s temperature without compromising on guests’ comfort.
IoT in Museums
Tourists can connect with the beacons installed in the museums they are visiting via Bluetooth. Connecting to museum beacons can give them a personalized experience. Firstly they can monitor crowds in the museum in real time. They can use this information to navigate to places that are less crowded where they can enjoy looking at cultural heritage. Another fascinating thing that can be made possible with IoT-enabled museums is an audio description of the art or monument. When a person is close to a monument, beacons can connect to his or her smartphone. The person can then hear an audio description of the monument. Often we come across news on cab drivers cheating tourists by taking extra charges or taking them on longer than necessary routes to increase the amount of fare. That can have an adverse impact on travelers’ overall experience, which, if seen as a consistent pattern, can reduce tourism in a country. Governments can play a vital role in eliminating such instances of exploitation by enhancing public transport services. Governments can leverage IoT in travel to reshape public transportation. Governments can implement a highly efficient and convenient transport system and play their part in growing the travel industry.