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iBeacons find uses in the hotel industry

The new indoor positioning system, using Bluetooth technology, is gradually making the hotel experience evolve as international hotel groups adopt it. It is thus able to act on seven key areas for the stay: arrival, concierge services, room key, location in the hotel, the loyalty program, and the analysis of a property's occupancy.

iBeacons technology from Apple makes it possible to use the geographic location systems of smartphones, using Bluetooth 4.0. It thus enables internal positioning and programing of messages in function of the targeted person's location. Fairly widespread in the retail industry, it is gradually developing uses in tourism and the hotel industry, where it has remarkable potential.

The system can alter the hotel experience through the use of a dedicated mobile application. It initially makes it possible to facilitate check-in and check-out procedures, by sending to the hotel and the client as soon as he enters the property. The reservation file opens on the screen at reception and the information necessary for check-in opens on the clients' smartphone.

Technology is transforming the smartphone into a roomkey. It makes it possible to lock and unlock the door by detecting the guest's device. Moreover, Starwood Hotels & Resorts adopted this function by implementing SPG Keyless, for members of its SPG loyalty program. It is the result of an online process that allows remote check-in with the attribution of a room number that activates the system to open the door.

In addition to room access, the smartphone is also becoming a tool to for regulating the room's atmosphere (temperature, lighting...) depending on the guest's preferences. These preferences are identified by iBeacons, and then activated on devices in the room.

iBeacons can also act as a virtual concierge. They can give access to all the property's services (room service, laundry, general information...), by detecting the guest's room number and via an application. It also makes it possible to send invitations depending on the guest's location within the property.

Guests are also able to find their around a property using an indoor GPS system. Indoor mapping made possible by the iBeacon network is able to provide a virtual map of the property, and help guests find different places and equipment available, and even propose a room.

Moreover, with these new generation beacons, hoteliers are able to reward customer loyalty. The technology makes it possible to attribute points per night or per passage through the hotel's services,without requiring any further action, but also to send promotional offers depending on the guests location within the property. With LocalPerks, Marriott International was the first hotel group to make this technology a part of its loyalty program, Marriott Rewards. Participating hotels are thus able to send their customers notifications presenting offers available in the area they are located in.

Finally, iBeacons make it easier to work in teams, particularly as far as concerns observing presence at a hotel. The technology is able to measure it in terms of days, hours and specific locations.

The American group The James Hotels, which has addresses in New York, Chicago and Miami, decided to include several of these functions in a single application. Called James Pocket Assistant, it makes it possible to send guests suggestions for activities depending on where they are in the property, facilitate check-in and check-out, extend a stay, locate ones position on a hotel map, order room service, make an appointment at the spa, and communicate with reception.

With the development of this new technology, hotel concierges, and more services are increasingly finding their way into their guests pockets!

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