Is the Hotel Alarm Clock Dying? - Part 3
The Future of the Hotel Alarm Clock
In part 2 we learned that right now hoteliers should look for solutions that have charging ports and a differentiated design in addition to alarm and clock functions. But what does the future have in store for the Hotel Alarm Clock?
The Internet of Things
For some, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a mere buzzword they here around the water cooler. They don’t really understand it, but they nod and smile anyways so as not to look dumb in front of their techy friends.
The Internet of Things, in its simplest form, means taking all the things in the world and connecting them to the internet. Coffee Makers, Refrigerators, Lamps, Thermostats, Alarm Clocks, and pretty much anything else you can think of - can all be connected to the internet to send and receive information - making them smart. With 8.4 billion IoT devices in 2017, that number is expected to nearly triple to 20 billion devices by 2020.
Making a device smart is an amazing thing. When a device is “Smart” it can do one of three things:
Collect Information and Send it
Receive Information and Act on it
Simple in concept, having everyday household items connected to the internet can do wonders to make people's lives easier and more efficient. A common example that is relevant to the topic on hand is the “Smart Alarm Clock and Coffee Maker.” When both of these are connected to the internet, the alarm clock can let the coffee maker know what time it’s going off, so a fresh cup of coffee can be waiting once you muster up the energy to get out of bed.
Another common everyday example of IoT making our lives easier is smart thermostats - such as this option made by Nest. Nest allows you to control the temperature from your phone, and since it’s a smart device, it learns your habits overtime and automatically adjusts the temperature at certain times of the day to ensure you are always comfortable.
While certainly convenient, the examples mentioned above pale in comparison to what the future holds for IoT. Smart cities, smart homes, and smart cars look ready to take over within the next 5-10 years. The effect of IoT is being seen in the hospitality industry as well, with Hilton announcing late last year that they will be rolling out a fully connected “Smart-Room” in 2018. Needless to say the IoT is starting to have a serious impact in just about every industry.
Combine and Conquer
But where does the alarm clock fit in besides telling the coffee maker to start brewing once the alarm goes off? Surely there must be more compelling applications to take advantage of. You’d be correct - below we discuss several ways the alarm clock can be an essential piece to the IoT puzzle.
Voice Assistants are rapidly growing in popularity. In 2015 this market was only worth about 1.64 billion, fast-forward 3 years later, it’s worth 5.5 billion. By 2021 it’s expected to eclipse 15.5 billion. This opens an avenue for voice based products like Amazon's Alexa and Google’s Voice Assistant to make a major splash in the hospitality industry. Picture this - a guest just needs to say “Hey Alexa, play Game of Thrones” and boom! Jon Snow is on the big screen. Amazon sees tremendous value in this market - and they aim to drastically increase their presence in hotels.
Voice assistants’ microphones work best when they’re close to users, but hoteliers don’t want to add another product to the nightstand. See where I’m going with this yet? Yes, our old friend the alarm clock occupies prime real estate perfect for voice assistants. So keep an eye out, because products that incorporate the voice assistant into the alarm clock are right around the corner.
Generally speaking, sensors are devices in the IoT that are able to detect changes in the environment. For example, the company Chargifi builds sensors into wireless charging solutions to give hoteliers more insight into what their guests are doing.
If a guest goes to the bar and uses a wireless charger powered by Chargifi, hoteliers can see how long they charged their phone - which in turn tells them how long they stayed at their bar. This data allows them to push things like promotions and local advertisements to a guest’s phone based on its location; opening up the opportunity to further engage guests with relevant offers and deliver additional ROI.
As for the Guestroom, things like occupancy sensors built into the alarm clock can help hoteliers build a deeper understanding of guest habits. Knowing when guests are not in the room can enable the smart hotel to throttle down power and generate serious energy savings. Knowing when guests tend to hangout in the room leads to more informed decisions about when to have happy hours, events, or other things that draw guests from the room to the lobby, where they may spend more money.
The difficulty surrounding IoT in hotels is how to present it to guests in a way that is easy to use to understand. A technology this powerful doesn’t reach its maximum value until it provides a seamless guest experience. But how?
Digital Concierges have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Take Roxy for example. This product is described as a fully customizable in-room concierge “Curated by the hotel, personalized for the guest.” It allows guests to request for the valet to pull their car around, set dinner reservations, and a plethora of other things that makes lives easier for guests and improves efficiency for the hotel. Roxy also comes fully loaded with USB charging ports, alarm clock functions, and a built-in speakers.
It only makes sense that products like this could also serve as a hub to control various IoT functions. “Okay Roxy, turn off the lights” or “Okay Roxy, set my alarm and coffee brew time for 6:30 am.” It’s that simple. Everything the guest needs - alarm, clock, charging, voice assistant, and just about anything else you can think of - right on the nightstand.
The future of the hotel alarm clock looks bright indeed. It’s prime location on the nightstand makes it a perfect spot for guest engagement with new IoT technology such as voice assistants and occupancy sensors. But the major challenge, which we’ll discuss in a future blog post, is incorporating those features while keeping the device simple, approachable and stylish.