The Internet of Things and business travel

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the phrase on everyone’s lips when it comes to emerging technology. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the phrase on everyone’s lips when it comes to emerging technology. It might sound like an abstract concept, but a lot of the ideas that make up IoT have been around for a long time. Do you think of smoke alarms, wifi cameras or remote-controlled stereos as being brand new high-tech? Each of these objects is, in some way, ‘smart’ and interconnected with another thing or service. This is the basic principle of IoT: that objects are connected to one another via the internet. This isn’t in the future, either, it’s happening right now - we’re taking a look at what exactly IoT means and how it will affect business travelers.

One day in the future, your alarm clock might go off at 7 and send a signal to start brewing your coffee. Then, a signal might be triggered that will heat your towel rail ready for your shower. This will all be thanks to the Internet of Things - your home devices might be on one network that will allow them to communicate with one another. An early example of home assistant technology is Alexa, the Amazon assistant that allows you to order items, make to-do lists and play music with just voice command. This experience will extend further into the outside world: when you arrive at the airport for your business class flight, beacon technology will recognise that you’re there and inform you of the bag drop and boarding gate.

But it doesn’t stop there. Leaving pets at home? You’ll be able to monitor your pet, ensure they are cared for and even get them chasing a laser pointer around using an app like PetCube. The Disney theme park in Orlando is a perfect example of how the IoT can make our interactions with the world around us seamless. They have introduced ‘Magic Band’ wristbands that, for a start, allow guests to reserve their meals at restaurants in advance. The wristbands can transmit information 40 feet in every direction, so your waiter will be able to cheerily welcome you by name and bring your pre-ordered food to your table.

The wristband also helps with other reservations and itinerary planning. You don’t need to carry cash, the band is linked to your credit card and ‘express’ users will have their luggage sent directly to their room from their home airport - no time wasted at the luggage collection. Now, imagine how useful this kind of technology would be to business travelers visiting large conferences or events, or planning meetings and dinners on a tight schedule. It would remove so many of the classic points of friction that can make business travel a stressful experience.

There are lots of benefits for travel companies, too. Airports can use beacon technology to send relevant targeted advertising to customers - if they’re a frequent flyer from a particular airport, they might be offered their favourite coffee for free, for example. The data collected from beacon technology in airports, such as how customers respond to targeted ads, can help guide optimisation and boost revenue. Hotels can ensure their rooms are ready and prepared exactly to the tastes of their guests on time thanks to beacons and geofencing which will alert them when the guest is near the hotel.

A lot of this stuff sounds like pure comic book fantasy and many people rightly question the limitations of IoT. We all know how unreliable technology can be, so having everything connected via the internet creates a potential risk of things going wrong. Despite this, the possibilities for optimising everyday life seem endless, meaning that we will all have more time to spend doing the things we value most rather than wasting time waiting around. This is especially true in the case of business travel, where every hour counts. We are excited to see how IoT will develop in the future!