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Purpose – Internet of Things (IoT) adoption is a differentiating factor in the hospitality industry which facilitates the integration of the digital and real world. This paper aims to explore academic research and practical applications of IoT in the hospitality domain to help identify opportunities and challenges with implementing the technology for creating competitive advantages and service operations process improvements. Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses previous works and exemplars to demonstrate the use of IoT in hospitality. Academic indexing websites such as Google Scholar and ScienceDirect are used to search for related terms. Whitepapers, IoT project websites of service providers and media coverage are accessed to collect information. Related work is investigated by classifying into major categories of hospitality. Findings – Hospitality is one of the leading industries that has adopted IoT to create innovative services, but this topic has not been investigated deeply. A comprehensive study is needed to give guidance to decisionmakers and helps to design better services by presenting practical and potential benefits. Practical implications – The IoT will usher in great opportunities in hospitality by enabling novel applications for customization and personalization of the services. Operational processes will be redefined for efficiency and speed. It will alter the expectations and servicescape; thus, its integration will be vital in terms of competitiveness and success Originality/value – This study provides a comprehensive overview of IoT research and applications in the hospitality domain. It contributes to better understanding of recent trends and potentials. A holistic approach was used instead of focusing on a single sector which enables the consideration of all aspects of the topic. Theoretical support in addition to technical aspects, challenges and concerns are offered to the reader.
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Improving the service industry
with hyper-connectivity:
IoT in hospitality
Suat Mercan
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
Lisa Cain
Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management,
Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
Kemal Akkaya,Mumin Cebe and Selcuk Uluagac
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
Miguel Alonso
Computer Science Department, Florida International University,
Miami, Florida, USA, and
Cihan Cobanoglu
Muma College of Business, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee,
Sarasota, Florida, USA and National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and
Tourism, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Abstract
Purpose Internet of Things (IoT) adoption is a differentiating factor in the hospitality industry which
facilitates the integration of the digital and real world. This paper aims to explore academic research and
practical applications of IoT in the hospitality domain to help identify opportunities and challenges with
implementing the technology for creating competitive advantages and service operations process
improvements.
Design/methodology/approach This paper uses previous works and exemplars to demonstrate the
use of IoT in hospitality. Academic indexing websites such as Google Scholar and ScienceDirect are used to
search for related terms. Whitepapers, IoT project websites of service providers and media coverage are
accessed to collect information. Related work is investigated by classifying into major categories of
hospitality.
Findings Hospitality is one of the leading industries that has adopted IoT to create innovative services,
but this topic has not been investigated deeply. A comprehensive study is needed to give guidance to decision-
makers and helps to design better services bypresenting practical and potential benets.
Practical implications The IoT will usher in great opportunities in hospitality by enabling novel
applications for customization and personalization of the services. Operational processes will be redened for
efciency and speed. It will alter the expectations and servicescape; thus, its integration will be vital in terms
of competitiveness and success.
This research is supported by Cisco Silicon Valley Foundation. However, there is no a fund number.
IoT in
hospitality
Received 27 June2020
Revised 15 September2020
29 October 2020
Accepted 29 October2020
International Journal of
Contemporary Hospitality
Management
© Emerald Publishing Limited
0959-6119
DOI 10.1108/IJCHM-06-2020-0621
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
https://www.emerald.com/insight/0959-6119.htm
Originality/value This study provides a comprehensive overview of IoT research and applications in
the hospitality domain. It contributes to better understanding of recent trends and potentials. A holistic
approach was used instead of focusing on a single sector which enables the consideration of all aspects of the
topic. Theoretical support in addition to technical aspects, challenges and concerns are offered to the reader.
Keywords Internet of Things, Hospitality, Sensors, Data acquisition, Smartness
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
We are witnessing the fourth industrial revolution where smartness is embedded in all
applications. It is dened as enhancing the quality of life (customer satisfaction in hospitality
context) intelligently, automatically and collaboratively (Alsamhi et al.,2019). Context-
awareness and hyper-personalization are among the key characteristics of this trend, which are
made possible through intensive and continuous data collection (hyper-connectivity) and real-
time processing. The primary source of this data that is derived from internet-connected objects
and used to make informed decisions is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). Specically,
IoT plays a signicant role in the conceptualization and implementation of smart environments
by lling the gap between physical and mobile engagement (Gretzel et al.,2018). It provides
interconnectivity among people, systems and products (Porter and Heppelmann, 2014)by
integrating the digital world with physical infrastructure (cyber-physical systems). IoT enables
computers to observe, identify and understand the world without the limitations of human-
entered data(Ashton, 2009). In fact, IoT should be perceived as an ecosystem, rather than a
discrete idea, where objects are interacting, using machine learning (ML) and articial
intelligence (AI) techniques, resulting in meaningful actions and collaboratively creating value.
IoT devices have been adapted rapidly by all domains of industry in the past decade to
improve business operational efciency and reduce costs (Breidbach et al., 2018;Jones,
2008). It is expected that the number of IoT devices connected to the Internet will reach 22.3
billion by 2024 (Cerwall, 2019) and penetrate into all sectors. The hospitality industry
possesses the potential to benet from this trend in numerous ways. Customer satisfaction is
the primary focus of the service industry which can be improved with more efcient and
personalized service enabled by this emerging technology. Service innovation is the most
effective way to attract more customers and increase the market share (Hoffman and
Bateson, 2001). The fact that new hospitality customers are demanding highly personalized
experiences is shifting the focus to experience-oriented, co-created and demand-based
consumption from an always-on service typology (Gretzel et al.,2015).
In this context, IoT can help in many ways. First, understanding the guests context and
predicting his needs is the primary challenge that can be achieved via embedded sensors
and intelligence (Xiang and Fesenmaier, 2017). The ability to learn a persons physical
location which is possible through IoT wearables and actuators is unique to creating
personal and real-time content. Intellectualization describes the smartness in content
generation by accounting historical data, preferences, time and context. Second, the
existence of pervasive connected devices redenes the interaction with guests and the way
services are provided. Third, back of house management can leverage IoT technology to
improve business operation efciency, prevent failures, reduce costs and better use the
existing capacity. For instance, because of enabling accessibility anytime and anywhere,
remote control and process automation can be easily realized, which can increase the safety,
sustain the quality and relieve the employees from routine duties and let them focus on high-
value tasks such as unstructured decision-making. Consequently, business analytical
applications will work effectively when provided with accurate data collected from devices
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and the surrounding environment. In addition, monitoring critical systems using
appropriate IoT sensing equipment will enable the opportunity to detect problems before it
causes catastrophic failures.
Despite various existing challenges, IoT is becoming an indispensable component of
future business in all domains from agriculture to manufacturing (Gardaševi
cet al.,2017)
and hospitality is not an exception. IoT integration will be pivotal in terms of customer
satisfaction enhancement, gaining competitive advantage and operational efciency
improvement (Breidbach et al., 2018). Thus, we believe that it is important to bring this
emerging topic to the attention of practitioners and researchers in hospitality sectors with a
comprehensive review including some technical aspects. This paper explores and analyzes
IoT applications in the hospitality domain by examining various sectors within it and
discussing the opportunities and challenges inherent in the use of IoT. The paper rst
provides an introduction to IoT in technical terms. It then reviews theoretical support for the
use of these devices. Next, existing studies and potential applications by sector are eshed
out followed by the opportunities for using IoT in general. Finally, the paper discusses the
challenges that arise with the use of IoT and areas for future research.
2. Methodology
This section explains the method followed while performing the literature review on
existing applications and articles. Five subdomains under hospitality were identied
including hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, theme parks and event management. Next, the
keywords pertaining to the IoT were identied. Hospitality and Computer Science experts in
the team corroborated the appropriateness of the selected keywords. A systematic search
was conducted using the identied keywords (e.g. iot þhospitality,internet of things þ
hotel) in title, abstract and keywords of peer-reviewed articles. The searches were
conducted through two platforms: the academic search engine Google Scholar and the online
database ScienceDirect. Full-length journal papers and conference proceedings were
included. Articles that were cited in and by the publications identied in the search were
also scanned for relevance and inclusion, if deemed appropriate. The authors reviewed all
the articles gleaned from the search to validate the reliability.
After a rigorous search for peer-reviewed articles on the topic of IoT applications in
hospitality, the researchers discussed and veried the importance of including appropriate trade
articles that exemplied pioneer applications in the eld that integrates IoT in hospitality and
settings. Without including those, this general review would be incomplete. For example, without
the use of these supplementary articles, information on the way that Marriott International, the
largest hotel brand in the world, currently uses IoT in their properties would not appear in this
overview. Accordingly, information regarding the adoptions of IoT and their use in the
hospitality industry were collected from e-news coverage and project websites. This paper not
only covers the existing work but discusses the potential applications of IoT in all domains.
Finally, Gartner was used to collect statistics about the IoT. This article distinguishes itself by
giving some background knowledge and implementation challenges. Therefore, some references
to other survey papers in this area are provided to offer general information to the reader.
3. Background on Internet of Things
An IoT device consists of mainly three components: processing and storage unit,
appropriate sensors and communication interface (Patel and Patel, 2016). However, they
are assumed to be resource-constrained in terms of computation capacity. An IoT
ecosystem can be described as a network of things which comprises the following three
major layers:
IoT in
hospitality
(1) data collection (i.e. sensing);
(2) network and technologies (i.e. transport and platforms); and
(3) data processing and applications, as depicted in Figure 1.
Detailed descriptions of these layers are offered:
Domain and Sensing: The primary mission of the sensing layer is to recognize any
events in the IoT devicesperipheral environment and collect data from the real
world. This layer contains different kinds of IoT devices that use various sensors
for IoT applications and solutions (Patel and Patel, 2016). Sensors in IoT devices can
be numerous. Some examples are Motion Sensors to measure the change in motion
together with the orientation of the devices; Environmental Sensors to collect
different environmental conditions such as light, pressure, temperature, etc.; and
Position sensors to handle the global position and location-related information such
as magnetic sensors and global positioning system (GPS) sensors.
Transport and Platforms: The IoT devices work with special operating systems or
platforms which require lower resources than regular operating systems. The
integrated network layer uses different types of communication channels and
associated transport protocols to transfer data collected at the sensing layer. The
physical channel is implemented using diverse communication technologies (e.g.
Wi-Fi, cellular network, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc.) to allow data ow. In the meantime,
IoT devices use ecosystem-specic transport or messaging protocols such as
Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, Message Queuing Telemetry
Transport, or Advanced Message Queuing Protocol to format and send the data to
the application layer.
Figure 1.
General view of the
IoT ecosystem Health
Services Tourism Hospitality
Services
Domain
&
Sensing
Transport
&
Platforms
Transport 6LOWPAN, RPL, IPv6, XMPP, COAP, MQTT, DDS, AMQP
Communication Ethernet, Bluetooth, WiFi, 802.15.4 LPWAN (SigFox, RPMA), Cellular
2G-5G, Powerline, Modbus, RS-232, Enocean
Data
&
Applications
Operating
Systems TinyOS, Contiki, Mantis, Nano-RK, LiteOS, FreeRTOS
Cloud
Services
Commerical:
AWS-IoT, Google Cloud IoT, Azure IoT Suite,
IBM IoT, Salesforce IoT,
OpenSource:
ThingSpeak, Macchina, Kaa, SiteWhere
Applications
&
Business
IoT Edge Intelligence, IoT Machine
Learning, IoT Data Analytics,
Customer Service, Customer
Relationship Management, Enterprise
Resource Planning, Billing &
Payment Services
Industry &
Infrastructure
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Data and Applications: As the IoT devices are resource constrained, data processing
is performed generally in the cloud (e.g. AWS IoT, Google IoT, etc.). The aim is
making informed decision using ML algorithms based on real and historical data
collected from these devices. The results are presented to application layer to
produce valuable services. The applications perform various tasks for users,
customer relations, etc.
4. Theoretical support for Internet of Things adoption
The hospitality industry relies on service operations or behind the scenes procedures and
processes that support and orchestrate the front of house services that are delivered to the
customer (Lefngwell, 1917). The service industry is unique in that their offerings are at
once tangible and intangible (e.g. food and foodservice), perishable (e.g. hotel room, booking
reservation at a restaurant), simultaneously delivered and consumed and distinct in terms of
expectations from customer to customer. More recent literature has demonstrated the merits
of technology-facilitated value co-creation in these service industries as a way to
accommodate these nuances (Breidbach and Maglio, 2016;Huang and Rust, 2018). For
example, the IoT leverages big data to assist service providers with anticipating customer
wants and needs, personalizing the service experience and executing faster service recovery
to provide a holistically better customer experience (Peters et al., 2016;Antons and
Breidbach, 2018). This will ultimately lead to the customer being, at least partly, in control of
the technologies that will be used to create the service encounter (Jones, 2008). Because
future service will be co-created through the IoT and similar innovations, scholars have
identied service operations (Jones, 2008) and technological competitive advantage
(Bilgihan et al., 2011) process theories to support and explain the phenomenon and its impact
on the hospitality industry.
The challenge afforded the hospitality industry is that creating a competitive
advantage through innovation management requires the rm to provide a service that is
unique, difcult to copy or adopt, value adding and more innovative than competitors
service offerings (Cooper and de Brentani, 1991). Human operations services are typically
easy to adopt and copy and are not protected by any legal recourse (Atuahene-Gima,
1996), while technologically supported services (e.g. Kiosks, computers, robots) are often
expensive to adopt, typically obsolete in a two-year timeframe and the Return on
Investment (ROI) may be difcult to measure. However, operations management theory
serves to explain the unique lenses through which innovative technologies may be
leveraged to support the hospitality rm.
Jones (2008) identied ve primary operation management theories that underpin
hospitality IT adoption and implementation. They are as follows:
(1) Theory of Process Choice.
(2) Theory of Swift and Even Flow.
(3) Theory of Lean Manufacturing.
(4) Theory of Performance Frontiers.
(5) Theory of Service Experience.
The Theory of Process Choice discusses the independent and unique processes that are best
suited to produce the desired product or service for a specic market based on the
capabilities of the rm. According to Jones, this theory is characterized by production lining
and decoupling. Production line connotes the process by which operations are reduced to the
IoT in
hospitality
sum of their parts and the various tasks that comprise the whole service are outlined step by
step. Decoupling connotes the separation of front of house and back of house activities by
both physical space and time. The IoT will serve to reduce steps in the process sequence and
time it takes for these processes to be complete, as well as recouple some of the activities that
have previously been separated because of human limitations.
The Theory of Swift and Even Flow maintains that the faster and more smoothly the
service may ow through the process, the more efcient and productive that process is
(Schmenner and Swink, 1998). Schmenner and Swink proposed three rules to govern this
theory. First, the more randomness a process has, the lower the productivity of the process.
Second, the more variability required to execute the process, the lower the productivity.
Third, the more opportunities for bottlenecks (or changes in the rate of a process ow), the
lower the productivity. Jones (2008) proposed a fourth rule that suggests that for operations
with a great deal of instability (like the service industry) the greater the need for
prioritization of tasks within the processes (Westbrook, 1994). The IoT and hyper-
connectivity will answer the call for a reduction in bottlenecks, instability and variability in
service processes as many operations (e.g. order taking in a restaurant, directions in a resort
hotel) will be leveraging technological instead of human capital.
The Theory of Lean Manufacturing explains that eliminating waste increases
productivity. According to W. Edwards Deming waste may fall into one of seven categories:
(1) inventory;
(2) motion;
(3) over-processing;
(4) overproduction;
(5) waiting;
(6) transport; and
(7) defects.
The application of scientic management principles and quality improvements coupled
with the reduction of tasks being performed and elimination of tasks that do not add value
all increase productivity according to this theory. The implementation of IoT and
interconnected devices has already demonstrated efcacy in the airline and fast-food
industries with regard to in-ight meal production and order taking, respectively.
The Theory of Performance Frontiers is used to assess the cumulative capabilities of
processes and products to identify peak performance output (Schmenner and Swink, 1998).
The rst tenet of the theory asserts that improvements to one area lead to improvements
across other areas of the process. It also purports that there is a diminishing return on
improvement in that the closer the rm gets to its peak asset performance; the more
resources must be devoted to create incremental improvements. It also suggests there is a
diminishing synergy between assets and operations, the closer the rm gets to its
performance frontier, Leveraging the IoT technology to help support the synergy between
assets, performance and productivity by means of data mining for areas of improvement
will continue to be rened now and in the future.
The Theory of Service Experience describes how service customers are interactive
players that respond and react to the service experience. Thus, the theory proposes that a
customer service process will be more productive if customer expectations are met or
exceeded; if the customer has multiple previous experiences to inform the service encounter;
and if customer feedback is applied in real-time and after the fact to improve the process.
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Building on this, a co-creative experience whereby the customer helps to craft and
personalize the experience helps to satisfy these criteria.
Finally, it is important to understand the opportunities and strengths created through the
myriad operation management theories. Accordingly, the way in which these management
principles can facilitate a competitive advantage is important to assess. Scholars on
competitive advantages generated by IT decisions created a model to explain the process
and outcomes. The process begins with the rm making IT decisions (e.g. synergy between
the product and the service desired, cost and anticipated benets) that lead to IT
implementation and integration of the system(s). This leads to an evaluation of the
capabilities and competencies by which the technology is bound, which then offers the rm
a competitive advantage by creating dynamic capabilities. These ultimately result in lower
cost, speed, value added, agility, innovation and/or customer service (Bilgihan et al.,2011).
The rapid pace at which technologies are innovated and modied indicates that IoT will
provide numerous opportunities and as well as present challenges and risks for the
hospitality industry (Jones, 2008). These opportunities, challenges and risks are further
discussed.
5. Application of Internet of Things in hospitality sectors
IoT devices are used across myriad applications in the hospitality industry. The
proliferation in adoption and implementation of this technology is in large part because of
the acknowledgement that it offers benets in terms of improved customer insights and
experiences (Bilgihan et al., 2011), asset and facility management (Sklyar and Kharchenko,
2018), safety and security (Rigoli, 2017) and decision-making through data analytics (Aluri,
2015), all of which lead to increased revenue and cost reduction offering an IT competitive
advantage (Bilgihan et al.,2011). As strategic management through innovation serves as the
foundation for IoT adoption (Bilgihan et al.,2011), this section identies the applicable areas
of utilization of IoT devices and their applications according to the specic segment of the
hospitality industry in which they are mostuseful.
5.1 Hotels
Hotels, a cornerstone of the hospitality industry, rely on information communication
technologies as their customers are demanding more technology to keep up with a busy
lifestyle and to mimic home comforts. Hotels are well positioned to harvest the benets of
IoT adoption to remediate various issues and propose novel services. Smart rooms are the
pioneer examples with advanced features such as automated controls and personalized
services. Self-check-in, with the help of a smart lock, is a common application for many
hotels now. Bluetooth-only smartlocks can be opened with an app on the phone but cannot
be controlled remotely. When a smart room supports Z-wave or Zigbee, it can connect to a
network hub, along with any item in the room, such as a TV, curtains, thermostat, phone,
light and coffee maker, and can be controlled on a smart tablet by the guest.
The following are some specic examples of IoT in the hotel accommodation sector.
Marriott and Samsung are working on IoT hotel rooms to deepen personalized room
experiences by leveraging mobile and voice-enabled technology (Grass, 2017). Users
can communicate with virtual assistants to request services and control the room.
Smart mirrors facilitate in-room workouts and are connected to a cloud server with
Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection using end-to-end encryption.
Hilton, on the other hand, developed an application, Fun Finder, that eases the
indoor and outdoor navigation through the facilities in the resort and delivers
IoT in
hospitality
targeted messages relying on Wi-Fi, beacon and GPS data (Ting, 2016). It sends
notications to guests about the events and special offers suited to his/her
preferences by taking into account his/her time and location. The user needs to
download the app and answers a pre-arrival survey.
Employees at the Viceroy Lermitage hotel are outtted with Samsung Gear S3
smartwatches installed with a tailored application integrated with hotel
management systems to improve communication among staff (Terry, 2018). When a
guest requests a service, the appropriate employee is alerted with vibration alert by
the task management platform. It allows a manager to assign and track tasks real-
time (Draper, 2018).
Hotels also benet from IoT devices to reduce operational costs and save energy. The Crown
Plaza Times Square reduced energy consumption by 24% by using an energy management
system (Curcio, 2011). Preventive maintenance is another opportunity that can benetthis
industry. Monitoring the system based on real data from actual devices using appropriate
sensors such as temperature will prevent unexpected failures (Sklyar and Kharchenko, 2018).
Problematic devices can notify the technical team by instant notication: an undetected broken
fridge in the kitchen may cause service interruption or food safety problems, smart power
outlets with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communication capability report high electricity usage,
humidity sensor detects overowing bathtub, pressure sensor monitors heating ventilation and
air conditioning unit, etc. Assets can also be tracked down by the staff (Liang and Zhang, 2012).
For instance, a room service tray left in the hallway can send a signal via a beacon using low-
power Bluetooth signal to alert the hotel worker to be picked. Determining minibars that need
relling via barcode and Radio-Frequency Identication (RFID) scanner is another good
example to save time. Vacation rentals under the accommodation category are gaining traction
with cheaper accommodation offers. They have been adapting technology faster than
traditional hotels for booking and communicating with customers. This specic domain would
better t for innovative IoT applications. For instance, the lack of central management is a
disadvantage for the property owner to handle the rental process, but a smart lock can help
them to overcome this problem, and an occupation sensor is used to understand if the guest is
in the house (Huckle et al., 2016).
5.2 Restaurants and cafes
The restaurant industry can benet from IoT in many ways depending on the business
model, location, size and turnover (Sharma, 2019). An integrated restaurant management
system that has interfaces for customers, servers, chefs and managers in addition to
hardware end-points can collect real-time information and inform efcient sequences of
service. Dedicated applications help guests for easy menu selections and remote ordering.
Table-side beacons allow servers to pinpoint tables that need assistance, which improves
order accuracy and reduces wait times. Managers are empowered to monitor workow from
order placement to kitchen preparation to service. Saeed et al. (2016) designed a smart
restaurant management system that allows the customer to nd an available parking space
through infrared proximity sensors in the parking lot, book a table, order a meal using an
interactive menu and make payment. It streamlines communication with customers by
enabling them to lter meals based on total calorie count or ingredients that may be high in
cholesterol or to which they may be allergic. These types of improvements have been shown
to increase sales, amount of food ordered and guest satisfaction (Rigling, 2019).
Another crucial opportunity that restaurants can implement in this context is real-time
remote measurement and control. First, proactive and preventive maintenance with
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continuous control of appliances using sensing devices will prevent disastrous failures at
unexpected times. Second, a safer cooking environment that requires constant vigilance is
created by automating the regular checks such as food warming stations or freezers which
might compromise the food safety (Jamieson, 2019). For example, Taco Johns is partnering
with SmartSense company to implement automated food temperature monitoring using
wireless sensors (Rigoli, 2017). Third, the ability to remotely control the appliances such as
measuring warmer temperature or cooking time guarantees quality assurance and
consistency especially for chain restaurants. Fourth, it is possible to monitor conditions of
the cold supply chain and track delivery status (Lee, 2019). Automated supply chain
management is useful for monitoring inventory like the level of drinks consumed in a bar so
they can be controlled and relled.
5.3 Theme parks
Theme parks present exciting opportunities for innovative IoT projects to elevate customer
satisfaction (Lai et al.,2016). The challenge lies in the handling of large crowds in a restricted
area while meeting their demands satisfactorily. Effective queue management allows
visitors to maximize their experience by visiting most of the available attractions. This
challenging but crucial task can be achieved by dispersing visitors evenly around the park
using customer-worn RFID tags (e.g. Disneys MagicBands) which record their location
information and entry time to the park. The operators can also use real-time data from the
sensors to improve the efciency in the park by creating a smart ow. Solmaz et al. (2015)
has modeled the movement of visitors which can help to manage resources and predict
future visitor behavior. This requires the collection of visitor data that is possible by placing
sensors in designated areas. It allows park operators to make calculated decisions to create
better trafcow, identify bottlenecks and remove invisible obstacles by analyzing speed
patterns of visitors. Safety of children is also a concern in theme parks for which Kim et al.
(2011) suggested using RFID tags. A wristband on a child sends the location to the parents
mobile application and to park ofcials.
Disneyland is one of the worlds top hospitality providers with almost 100 million
visitors each year. Managing the crowd and long waiting times for attractions are the main
challenges and concerns. Disney has successfully developed a wearable wristband called
MagicBand (Kuang, 2015) in 2014 that interacts with surrounding objects using RFID with a
40-feet communication range. The MagicBand is mailed to people if they register online
which streamlines many processes; the arrival to the hotel with shuttle, sending luggage
directly from the airport to the accommodation, entrance to the park, hotel check in,
payment in stores, etc. (Borkowski et al., 2016). Disney develops a customer-centric business
model by offering customized service to visitors. The aim is to create immersive, seamless
and personal service for guests. Moreover, they have the chance to collect customer data
such as attraction preferences, purchase history, location, etc. which helps to customize
marketing messages and to improve operational efciency such as scheduling 80,000
employees every week.
5.4 Cruise ships
Cruising is a giant industry with millions of travelers every year. Cruise ships can use IoT to
streamline their operations. Although the cruise environment is unique, it can inherit some
IoT applications from other hospitality domains. For instance, embarking is a check-in
process that can be automated using electronic identication devices as the long
embarkation process is considered stolen time from the cruiser. Indoor localization
techniques may aid visitors in navigating large ships. Room smartization including locks,
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hospitality
televisions, and so on can also be implemented in the same manners as hotels use them.
These ships are lled with many attractions so queue management strategies used by theme
parks can be applied in this context. Quick payment methods and easy access to attractions
using wearable devices will improve their overall success. IoT deployment on the ship will
transform the cruise ecosystem from a static to a dynamic environment with smart ships
that can create exclusive experiences and attract more people. Smart interactions among
stakeholders lead to efciency and improved protability by creating exclusive experience
and attracting more people (Vafeidou, 2019;Dias et al.,2016).
Carnival, one of the leading companies in the cruise industry, uses IoT in their cruise
ships to give a unique experience to its customers (Frizzell, 2019). A quarter-size disc called
the OceanMedallion is shipped to guests once they book a trip. This device is used to check
in upon embarkation, which takes around 20s. The same medallion is used to access the
cabin, navigate the ship and pay for anything on the cruise. The ship is converted to a smart
city that has thousands of interaction points provided by more than 7,000 sensors. It offers
numerous functionalities on board such that recommendations are shown on the screen
when a visitor passes by any activity, the room is unlocked when the guest approaches the
room, food and drink preferences are remembered in restaurants, people can track their
children and other members of their groups, and drinks are delivered regardless of location
and paid for with the medallion. Crew members are equipped with the required information
to deliver the best service.
5.5 Event management
Conferences, fairs, weddings, conventions and any other events require managing large
numbers of people quickly, through registration, meal serving with different preferences,
effective movement and easy navigation. Attendees, exhibitors and organizers can use IoT
to maximize the benet from their own perspectives. The organizer can send wearable
devices such as lanyard and wristband to the registrants in advance to streamline the
registration and session check-in process. The same devices can be used to create a venue
heatmap by tracking the attendees, which also help with analytics of the event such as
popular sections, busy times, average time spent, etc. For a convention, an attendee can
perform an effective visit to the trade by only visiting the related stalls. Notications can be
received from the device when the patron is in the proximity of a person that they want to
meet or an exhibit they wish to view. The exhibitorscan observe the trafc around the booth
and identify people with specic or related interests and send them promotions (Yang, 2015).
Across all segments of the hospitality industry, IoT has begun to transform the
processes and procedures used to collect data, manage the properties, facilities, human
resources and guests, increase safety and security, as well as provide meaningful, targeted
information in a timely manner. These functions all aid in lowering costs, increasing speed,
adding value, enhanced agility, greater innovation and/or better customer service (Bilgihan
et al.,2011). The next section explores how these functions are supported by theory and used
to create opportunities for the hospitality organization.
6. Opportunities
The opportunities created by IoT and technology are manifold. Driven by a younger
generation of millennial customers who are more tech-savvy and are more apt to using
touch-free applications that facilitate co-creation and more personalized services, IoT offers
hospitality companies a means by which to accommodate and respond to this growing
customer demand (Gretzel et al.,2015). IoT has the potential to create a breakthrough in the
hospitality sector by fostering a new wave of service provision (Car et al.,2019;Pelet et al.,
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2019) that addresses and satises the ve extant theories that support the creation of a
competitive advantage through innovation (Bilgihan et al.,2011;Jones, 2008). In this section,
we provide a brief description of opportunities in the hospitality sector that come with the
integration of IoT technology.
6.1 Automation
Automation is the ability to fulll a task without human intervention. It minimizes errors,
improves safety, increases productivity and reduces cost (Rigoli, 2017;Borkowski et al.,
2016) and is thus supported by the ve operation management theories (Jones, 2008). The
hospitality sector benets greatly from automation such as self-check-in and temperature
control with the help available IoT devices such as smart locks and thermostats, thereby
reducing waste and cost (Sklyar and Kharchenko, 2018) and streamlining processes that
alleviate service failures through wasted or extraneous efforts (Jones, 2008). Automation
leaves more time for the staff to take care of guests by delegating some tasks to machines
and enhancing the service experience through co-creative activities (Bilgihan et al.,2011).
6.2 Hyper-personalization
Personalization is dened by the following characteristics; learning, interaction,
empowering, feedback and delight (Langford, 2018). There is a shift from product
consumption to service consumption. Customers are looking for and willing to pay more for
self-designed products, which add higher value than standardized products (Bitner, 1992).
Tailored services can help the provider to increase the revenue and create profound
relationships (loyalty) with customers, thus creating a competitive advantage (Bilgihan
et al.,2011). These types of services, normally an advantage of small businesses, are now
possible for large organizations with the help of IoT devices. The analysis of users personal
data is conducive to providing personalized services in hospitality (Massimo et al., 2017).
6.3 Queue management
Electronic tags and wearable devices can be used to expedite the execution of a process such
as embarking to a cruise ship, thus streamlining process choice and ensuring swift and even
ow (Jones, 2008). It will both please the customer and increase the total number of guests
served in a period (Solmaz et al., 2015), increasing efciency and reducing costs (Bilgihan
et al.,2011). Long lines may result in guests having to wait in line to check in for a
conference, get served the food, park your car or use the treadmill, which may result in
dissatisfaction (Bilgihan et al.,2011). Reducing waiting time for services and facilities will
increase the customer satisfaction (Jones, 2008;Schmenner and Swink, 1998). People can
schedule a service and get notication when their turn is approaching (Ghazal et al.,2015).
They may also be directed, while waiting for one service, to a queue that has fewer waiting
times and may offer a different one. This strategy may be used to add value and customer
satisfaction through redirection via the IT (Bilgihan et al.,2011).
6.4 Location-aware services
It is possible to track objects and people using indoor wireless localization, GPS or infrared
tags, which enables the interaction with a customer using his location information, to make
suggestions to improve the users experience (Ting, 2016). Detecting the location of
customers and crew members helps manage the operations more effectively, streamlining
processes through choice, creating a swift and even ow and getting the operation closer to
its service frontier (Jones, 2008). Real-time information can be used to assign additional staff
IoT in
hospitality
to serve the crowd, employees are directed to the area where people are gathering, and
analytics from collected data can help to do better design and staff scheduling (Terry, 2018),
all of which serve to create a competitive IT advantage (Bilgihan et al., 2011).
6.5 Asset management and energy savings
Smart lights and temperature control mechanisms can help manage the energy consumption
with real-time monitoring, improving the prot margin by reducing dominant factors in cost
calculation (Bilgihan et al., 2011;Eskerod et al.,2019;Narraidoo, 2020). The prominent
example is adjusting room temperature in hotel rooms using heat and occupancy sensors
when the room is empty to save energy (Curcio, 2011) in addition to costs (Bilgihan et al.,
2011). Preference of the guest can be incorporated into the equation while he/she is in the
room, increasing personalization and adding to the service experience (Jones, 2008). Remote
monitoring of amenities and management of inventory including valuable items is also
possible through connectivity (Sklyar and Kharchenko, 2018) and remote housekeeping
services may be accommodated (Liang and Zhang, 2012), thus ensuring swift and even ow
(Jones, 2008). Green hospitality, which aims using less energy, and water is also important
for creating a sustainable environment (Lee and Cheng, 2018), which builds on the perceived
benets the hotel provides to the environment, the employees and the guests, resulting in a
competitive advantage (Bilgihan et al.,2011).
6.6 Data-driven decision-making
IoT is the key enabler for scientic management (Aluri, 2015) through informed decision-
making using the data collected from IoT devices. Collected data is used to take meaningful
actions with the interpretation by human or AI applications (Pavlou, 2018). It is easy to
collect useful information once the IoT devices are deployed. For instance, it is possible to
spot idle facilities or overcrowded areas, and data may be leveraged in real time to alleviate
these issues of waiting (Jones, 2008) and bottlenecks (Jones, 2008;Schmenner and Swink,
1998) and increase the swift and even ow of the processes (Jones, 2008).
6.7 Resource and stascheduling
Efcient task assignments are possible through processing location and availability
information of staff and resources (Terry, 2018). The result is efcient utilization of
employees and fast service through IT-driven decision-making (Bilgihan et al.,2011). For
example, the closest housekeeping members could be notied whenever a guest checks out
to prepare the room ready for the next visitor (Draper, 2018), thus bringing the rm closer to
their peak performance frontier (Schmenner and Swink, 1998).
6.8 Supply chain management
IoT provides visibility in inventory and supply chain management with precise information
(Lee, 2019;Turton, 2019), which speaks directly to the importance and benets of lean
manufacturing, as well as performance frontiers (Jones, 2008). It is valuable to be able to
monitor the stock levels dynamically with uctuating demand to pinpoint optimal levels for
operation, reduce costs and deliver more consistent and quality offerings (Bilgihan et al.,
2011). Delivery status along with the conditions such as temperature, humidity in a
container can be controlled via smart IoT sensors to ensure timely and hassle-free service,
thus improving process choice and delivering service through a swift and even ow
(Schmenner and Swink, 1998). This information is ideal for any foodservice venue with
perishable food and an inventory of beverage, and the data may be used to identify the
IJCHM
optimal, lean manufacturing procedures to reduce excessive or loss of inventory (Jones,
2008).
6.9 Preventive maintenance
As a cost-saving strategy, preventative maintenance aligns seamlessly with creating
competitive advantage through innovation (Bilgihan et al., 2011;Jones, 2008). Problems can
be detected and solved before they escalate using various sensors and watching for specic
symptoms (Sklyar and Kharchenko, 2018), ensuring even ow of processes. Smart outlets
can help identify malfunctioning appliances if they drain unusual power, saving costs and
preventing the interruption of services, as well as helping scheduling the maintenance team
(Jamieson, 2019). Unexpected failures of equipment cause catastrophic shutdown and
revenue loss. Timely repair prevents against this and also maximizes the lifetime of assets
and saving costs (Bilgihan et al., 2011).
6.10 Marketing
IoT facilitates proactive marketing by using personal information provided by the customer
(Ting, 2016). This allows for targeted promotions using push notications via wireless-
enabled beacons to guest devices. These efforts can increase revenue through the synergy
created between the customer, the end product and the technology that brings the two
together creating personalized customer service (Bilgihan et al., 2011).
6.11 Safety
IoT offers numerous layers of security. It is possible to track valuable items, even children,
within a facility using wearable IoT devices (e.g. Disneys MagicBand). Sensors can provide
advanced monitoring capability to prevent accidents. Safety of the environment can
signicantly be increased with sensor deployment (Rigoli, 2017). Security management
which is performed by humans most of the time can also be automated to streamlines
processes, making them faster and closer to the performance frontier, making the
environment safer (Jones, 2008). For instance, the maximum number of people allowed for a
specic region can be enforced through automatic counting, allowing a more swift and even
ow (Jones, 2008) and preventing fatal errors that often result from human subjective
perception.
The opportunities that are afforded from IoT adoption and implementation must be
considered on a rm by rm basis, including its infrastructure, its human resources and its
nancial abilities to support these technologies, as not all rms have the physical
infrastructure, technical support staff or cash ow to use these devices and applications
(Bilgihan et al., 2011). Ensuring that the benets afforded by the technology will outweigh
the costs in adopting, and installing the technology is paramount for creating a competitive
advantage. Careful consideration of the opportunities, as well as the challenges and risks
associated with IoT technology adoption are important to consider to identify if the
technology with being value adding or a nancial burden to the rm (Bilgihan et al.,2011;
Jones, 2008). Accordingly, the challenges and risks presented by this technology will be
addressed.
7. Adoption challenges and risks
7.1 Privacy and security
Privacy and security are singled out as the most important hurdle preventing the wide
adoption of IoT by industry. Attacks on IoT have tripled in 2019 (F-Secure, 2019).
IoT in
hospitality
Large numbers of devices deployed exponentially increased the surface of attacks. Face
recognition systems and sale terminals are targeted points to receive more attacks
(Kansakar et al.,2019). A compromised device could be exploited to access to private guest
information and damage the whole system. These devices can be used to establish
distributed denial of service attacks and insert ransomware. Hackers attacked the central
key management system a hotel in Austria and locked the electronic doors in the entire hotel
(Ghoshal, 2017). The hotel had to pay ransom to hackers to resolve the issue.
Considering the severely resource-limited nature of IoT devices, the protection of these
devices is challenging to achieve by executing conventional security mechanisms (Usman
et al.,2017). For instance, encryption consumes high energy, and most of the devices do not
support any encryption scheme at all. Because of the diversity of IoT devices and the
associated inner complexities of each device, the conventional security countermeasures (i.e.
intrusion detection systems, rewalls, anti-virus software, etc.) are not reliable solutions.
Thus, a complete and comprehensive solution for IoT access policy, full protection from
vulnerabilities of sensors through side-channels and efcient encryption that considers
power-performance is yet to be designed.
Privacy is the biggest concern from the user perspective and is one of the most difcult
tasks to achieve when using IoT devices, as personal information is collected to provide
personalized service (Sicari et al., 2015). Continuous data collection about a person through
location-aware applications may leak information about daily activities, thus collection,
communication and storage of this data must be handled with ultimate care. Collected data,
if leaked, may be merged with other databases by attackers to gain further information
about customers. Only necessary information should be gathered and anonymization
techniques should be used when storing to reduce the threat. The service provider should
apply strict access control to allow only the authorized people.
7.2 Data management
Data collection and analysis are key to the successful utilization of IoT devices. Hundreds of
sensors and devices generate a huge volume of data. Some data requires prompt response
while some needs to be analyzed and compared with historical data (Wang and Ranjan,
2015). Velocity and variety of data generation make it harder to process correctly and in a
timely manner because of device nature, communication standards and deployed
applications. Processing and managing such data to produce valuable services is a
challenging task.
Figure 1 offers a brief overview of the services provided by IoT and the used standards
and platforms related to data management. It also implicitly represents potential challenges
related to data heterogeneity, data management and analysis. The rst challenge arises
from data heterogeneity, as current IoT infrastructure still lacks the ability to dictate the
standards for generated data. For instance, the collected data may have various formats and
semantics for different domains. Thus, without proper standardization, interoperability and
scalability of IoT applications suffer severely (Razzaque et al., 2015). Setting standards for
IoT plays a crucial role and key organizations such as Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers, American National Standards Institute and European Committee for Electro-
Technical Standardization are actively working to set up global standards for IoT data. The
second challenge is the storage of vast amounts of IoT data for later analysis. To overcome
this challenge, IoT adapters must use non-traditional data management mechanisms.
Moreover, they need to develop particular data mining and ML techniques for more effective
data analysis and autonomous decisions in the IoT domain (de Carvalho Silva et al., 2017).
IJCHM
7.3 Adoption
Integration of IoT system requires careful planning for a seamless deployment. There are
different phases and aspects of implementation from planning to installation (Ancarani
et al.,2019). It is crucial to choose compatible platforms to reduce the integration issues. In
some cases, such as cruise ships, it is required to have service interruption for installation. In
terms of cost, although device prices are reasonable, downtime, retrotting, maintenance
and personnel training are some additional cost. It is difcult to measure the ROI especially
for large-scale deployments. It may be reasonable to observe specic areas to see the
improvement. Even though some implementations fail for various reasons such as lack of
expertise in the area, a substantial amount of companies who successfully implement the
IoT have already seen a return on their investment (Anurag, 2018). The communication of
things to the Internet and the cloud services is another point to consider in IoT
implementation. Available connectivity options show an enormous variety according to the
application environment and the type of IoT infrastructure. For example, for smart room
applications, such as a smart appliance, the device may access a Wi-Fi router or a ZigBee
router which has various communication range, bandwidth and security features (Naik,
2017). Therefore, IoT adopters in hospitality should decide on communication technology
based on availability and expenses. For example, it may be costly to transmit data through a
cellular network, and it may also need a constant power supply because of the required
transmission power and energy. Thus, without a proper power supply, connectivity is
provided with different communication technologies that demand low energy consumption
while transmitting data such as LoRA, Sigfox, etc. (de Carvalho Silva et al.,2017).
8. Discussions and conclusion
8.1 Conclusions
IoT is becoming the de facto technology in all areas, as it offers many opportunities for
customized and personalized service. This article presented recent developments, ideas and
potential applications of IoT in different sectors of hospitality. Across all the segments of
hospitality including hotels, theme parks, cruise ship industry has begun to benet from this
trend. Even though there are sample cases and implementations around the world, there is
still signicant room for growth and implementation of this technology. With its continued
incorporation into all aspects of the hospitality industry, the ways in which services are
provided in terms of standard operating procedures as well as the way in which experiences
are facilitated (e.g. co-creation) will continue to alter the servicescape in terms of customer
expectations and satisfaction.
8.2 Theoretical implications
As service operations (Jones, 2008) and technological competitive advantage (Bilgihan et al.,
2011), process theories were used to support and explain IoTs impact on the hospitality
industry, the theoretical and practical implications are nearly inextricably linked. However,
this study does demonstrate how the ve operation management theories are leveraged to
streamline processes (Theory of Process Choice), making them faster and smoother (Theory
of Swift and Even Flow), while simultaneously eliminating unnecessary, extraneous or
gratuitous steps in the processes (Theory of Lean Manufacturing), ultimately bringing the
rm closer and closer to peak performance (Theory of Performance Frontiers), while
increasing the experience for the guest through co-creative and personalized processes
(Theory of Service Experience) (Jones, 2008;Schmenner and Swink, 1998). All of these
operational process improvement measures must be considered and weighed against the
IoT in
hospitality
current state of the rm to identify whether or not IoT adoption and implementation would
create a strategic advantage for the rm (Bilgihan et al.,2011).
Ultimately, this paper extends the extant theory by highlighting which IoT opportunities
(automation, hyper-personalization, queue management, location-aware services, asset
management and energy savings, data-driven decision-making, resource and staff
scheduling, supply chain management, preventive maintenance, marketing, safety and data
sharing) leverage specic operational process theories and increase the likelihood of a
competitive advantage through innovation across the various sectors of the hospitality
industry. The challenges and risks provide the foundation for evaluating where processes
might be hindered, fragmented or interrupted by adopting and implementing the IoT, which
may ultimately result in a disadvantage for the rm (Bilgihan et al.,2011). These theories,
when evaluated holistically and in tandem, facilitate a comprehensive understanding of how
IoT adoption and implementation may or may not create dynamic capabilities and a
competitive advantage for the rm.
8.3 Practical implications
The IoT will continue to usher in greater opportunities for customization and
personalization of the service experience. Operational processes will continue to be rened
and even rewritten for efciency and speed. For owners, operators and customers, it will
alter expectations for costs of goods and services, the speed and agility at which services are
expected to be delivered, the value added from the service encounter, the innovative nature
of the services and the overall customer services provided (Bilgihan et al., 2011). The IoT will
be used for enhancing the customer experience through gained customer insight, improved
asset and facility management, innovative product offerings, enhanced safety and security,
all of which will increase revenue and decrease costs through streamlined processes and
more accurate, timely data (Bilgihan et al., 2011;Jones, 2008). Integration will be pivotal for
success in terms of operability and creating a competitive advantage, and co-creative
experiences will foster the personalization that will come to be expected of the experience.
While the Corona Virus Disease 2019 pandemic transpired after the review of literature, it
would be remiss not to mention its impact on the industry and the subsequent proliferation of
use for IoT in the industry. In many ways, the pandemic served as a catalyst for innovation and
disruption to standard service processes. For example, the IoT is being used to identify areas of
major outbreak to facilitate real-time decision-making with regard to hotel occupancies, dining
options (e.g. outdoor dining), special and mega-events (e.g. the Olympics) and cruise line
schedules (e.g. No Sail Orders) to name a few. Wearable devices and smartphones are aiding
facilities in identifying whether or not social distancing standards are being followed (Chen,
2020). The pandemic has also impelled the use of distance working platforms and chatbots,
while information technology and hospitality rms are working conjointly to quickly create
emerging technologies including IoT to respond to the changing servicescape and customers
desire for social distance (Panigutti et al.,2020).
8.4 Future research
The use of IoT in Hospitality poses research opportunities and challenges that could be of
interest to the research community. The hospitality industry needs to identify safe, effective
and integrative ways to create smart ecosystems to help to improve business operations and
customer satisfaction. Upcoming technologies such as 5G and blockchain, combined with
IoT, may inspire and enable new ideas. Implementation of 5G will improve the connectivity
by addressing delay and bandwidth problems and introduce new connected devices such
that IoT technologies will be used more in the hospitality industry. While developing
IJCHM
applications and realizing ideas; security, privacy and ethical concerns are important points
to consider. Blockchain can bring solutions to existing security problems in IoT
communication and provide secure payment methods. Social aspects of IoT implementation
such as unemployment and education need further exploration.
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Corresponding author
Suat Mercan can be contacted at: suatmercan@gmail.com
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... In the hospitality industry, IoT integrates the real and digital world which is useful for consumers to imitative home comforts (Mercan et al., 2020). In addition, Shoukry and Aldeek (2020) exhibited that IoT has a significant role in enhancing customer satisfaction and maximizing profits in hotels. ...
... In the restaurant context, IoT is vital in reducing food waste (Aytaç and Korçak, 2021) and enhancing food quality (Bhatia and Ahanger, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic motivates enterprises to be innovative (Castañeda-García et al., 2022;Gaur et al., 2021;Salem et al., 2022) and adopt IoT technologies, such as platforms for remote working and chatbots (Mercan et al., 2020). Besides, indoor air quality which is an important issue in restaurants during COVID-19 could be ensured by adopting IoT technologies (Mumtaz et al., 2021). ...
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... Internet of Things aims to take this connectivity to the next level by connecting multiple devices to the internet at the same time, facilitating man-machine and machinemachine interactions [45]. In India, an IoT-based consumer feedback system has been deployed across public platforms, such as petrol pumps, to collect input on the customer experience for the cleanliness and sanitation quotient maintained on the premises [46]. ...
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... The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase that refers to the inclusion of internet connectivity in everyday devices and appliances that do not usually have such functionality. Examples of these devices may range from thermostats and energy meters to vehicles and large machines (Mercan, S. et al. 2021). In essence, the IoT is able to turn these devices or appliances into 'smart' objects that can send and receive data and communicate with each other. ...
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