Smart Hotels Are About to Make Your Trip More Personalized

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

In an age where everything is customized and set to just how you like it, smart devices are becoming commonplace. You might be thinking about installing a thermostat in your home that you can control from your phone — or you might already have a home system that connects not only to your thermostat but to your lights, your security system, and a video feed to keep an eye on your kids. Now, two businesses are partnering together to give you that same customized experience, but while you’re on the road and staying in a hotel. If the partnership works, the smart hotels of the (very near) future will automatically turn on lights in your room, set the temperature exactly how you like it, and even detect when you’re out of the room so housekeeping can do their job without disturbing you.

You might not have heard much about CentraLite or Leggett & Platt before, but you’ll likely hear their names more often as both companies provide smart devices to be used in residential and commercial spaces. CentraLite has been around since 1997 and works to create connected devices for smart homes, as well as platforms that can easily connect multiple smart devices on the cloud, even if they’re not from the same company. Recently, they announced a partnership with Lowe’s to supply some of the devices for the Iris home monitoring system. Leggett & Platt should at least ring a bell, as it’s been in operation for 130 years, is listed on the S&P 500, and is a manufacturer of numerous products including bedding, furniture, wireless charging devices, and more. Both companies have been involved in the hospitality and hotel industries for several years, and the two believe they’re set up well to offer hotels a level of customization not seen before.

Smart hotels are almost here

Leggett & Platt began a Smart Products division in January 2015, because “we see a lot of opportunity to make a lot of the products we already made, but to make them intelligent,” Jason Turner, Leggett’s general manager of the new division, told The Cheat Sheet. The company has worked with CentraLite before, and Tuner said the latest partnership capitalizes on each of the company’s strengths in the hotel industry. “It really has become a good mixture of their knowledge in these connected pieces that ties really nicely into our connected furniture,” Turner said.

CentraLite creates sensors, smart thermostats, and other devices that can be used to see if someone is in a room. They’ve also created the technology to allow hotel or property managers to control in-room thermostats remotely, so that they can save on energy bills when customers aren’t using their room. From that experience, CentraLite has been able to help hotels save about 30% of their in-room energy bills, because lights can be turned off and the thermostat reset automatically when a customer checks out. If a guest accidentally left the room with the air conditioner set at 65 degrees, CentraLite CEO Jimmy Busby explained, it can be reset to 72 degrees automatically until the next guest checks in. “Energy costs are typically one of the largest expenses that hotels have,” Busby explained. “By curbing a lot of that spin, that goes right to the bottom line.”

That’s a huge benefit to hotels, but CentraLite found that a key component was missing. “What we’ve found over the past five years, is that [energy savings] is great, but they also want it to tie into the guest experience,” said Sean Bryant, CentraLite’s vice president of sales and marketing.

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Source: Leggett & Platt

Leggett & Platt already makes connected furniture that can respond to certain actions. An anti-snore bed can detect respiration and automatically adjust when someone is snoring. It can also tell when you’ve gotten out of bed, which can turn on a soft light so you can see in the middle of the night without finding a light switch. The partnership with CentraLite allows for a more cohesive set of products, which can automatically turn on an entry light when guests swipe into their room, and allow them to control the room temperature and lighting from their smartphone.

“We give the customer and/or the hotel the ability to totally customize that experience,” Turner explained. “Everybody’s already got that smartphone in their pocket, we may as well use that.” This sort of set-up also allows hotels to create certain atmospheres for repeat, loyal customers. If those frequent travelers already have a certain app on their phone, they can preset how they want the room to look and feel, right as they’re checking in.

This concept is something Leggett & Platt is marketing “aggressively” toward some of its existing clients who already use the smart furniture in the U.S. and abroad, Turner said. CentraLite continues to update its technology so that when hotels decide to take advantage of the technology, it can be seamlessly installed for guest service.

No more awkward housecleaning intrusions

John Calagaz, CentraLite’s chief technology officer, said the partnership has implications for the hospitality industry that could drastically improve certain aspects of hotel service for the guests. The sensors the two companies offer have the capability to tell when the room is occupied, he explained. The technology could be integrated to show the hotel manager or housekeeping staff when the room is unoccupied, so the room can be cleaned without having to knock awkwardly or rely on the “Do Not Disturb” signs on the door. Plus, guests could leave worry-free. “You’ll really never have to worry about if your room’s going to be clean when you come back,” Calagaz said.

In a similar way, the technology can help hotel managers take a more proactive approach to room maintenance. Sensors in the mattress and air conditioning units are also able to signal when they’re not working properly, or when it’s time for them to be flipped or replaced. “Those types of things really help those maintenance issues, as opposed to just waiting until you get a customer complaint,” Turner said.

Now that the technology is evolving, it’s also easier to see where the future of hotel stays could go. Eventually, hotels could have guest profiles so that rooms are set to the right temperature and lighting before the guest even arrives. Guests could also earn rewards points if they keep their thermostats at environmentally friendly temperatures or turn the lights off when they leave, Bryant of CentraLite hypothesized. “Those are things in the future that can transform the ways that hotels interact with their guests,” he said.

It’s these types of services the two companies believe they have the technology to offer. For Leggett & Platt especially, it’s a promising sign of things to come in the future — for the company and for its clients. “We have to figure out the next thing,” Turner said, explaining how the 130-year-old company works to stay relevant in a digital world. “We certainly don’t want to be a typewriter company. Taking steps like this is the way that we see to be more competitive moving forward.”

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