Remote access to, and control of, appliances. To a hotel property manager, the phrase immediately suggests ideal benefits: reduced time; reduced maintenance labor; reduced energy costs; improved service; increased net profit; and increased funds that can be allocated to upgrades, renovation, and bonuses. The property manager’s next thought might be, realistically, what is possible in remote appliance access and control, and what are the real benefits?
Realistically … remote access to appliances will quickly deliver more efficiency-based benefits than most property managers realize, and hotel properties are at the forefront of taking full advantage, as a matter of scale. More appliances mean faster ROI and profit from investments in smart appliances, property-management platforms, and appliance-maintenance software.
Before getting into examples of real benefits, let’s differentiate between remote access, remote control, and automation. The line becomes blurred between “remote access/control” and “automation” when it comes to smart appliances and appliance-management/maintenance software in the hospitality space. In short, the access and control functions are more numerous and powerful than property managers probably realize, but … why access when you can automate?
The answer is, automation is increasingly a larger aspect of remote control in hotel management, as more artificial intelligence (AI) is integrated into smart appliances and appliance-management software, and the best initial applications for the more advanced automation technology is in the high-volume and high-turnover environments of hotels. The greatest and fastest benefits of appliance-management software will come from automating as many labor-reducing tasks as possible, and then using remote-access functions to further reduce onsite visits or make them more efficient with remote controls and diagnostics.
AI-algorithms are included in smart appliances, such as smart thermostats and lighting panels, with motion and thermodynamic occupancy sensors that will automatically revert to off/on (for lighting) or an energy-saving temperature. Settings could be configured by time of vacancy, scheduled check-out, external temperature, time of next scheduled occupancy, historical weather and humidity, etc.
Nearly all smart appliances are now designed and programmed to send alerts to a property or maintenance manager through appliance-management software, and to enable remote control for testing and routine maintenance. A washing machine’s status of water left in the drum might trigger an automated test of the draining function, or send an alert so that the property manager can remotely run diagnostics (i.e., remote access) and/or run a test cycle (i.e., remote control). Either way, the initial on-site visit is avoided, and if physical maintenance is needed, the tech can come prepared with the right parts and tools.
The rapid advance of AI, Machine Learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly transitioning to automation. ‘Remote’ is the new ‘manual’. Tomorrow’s need of remote control and diagnostics for an individual appliance will be like yesterday’s need for an on-site visit. An alert could trigger the diagnostics, which could trigger the test operation, which could trigger a text to the maintenance staff and/or property management. The difference will come down to the smart appliances and software you choose for property management, appliance management and appliance diagnostics.
A hotel property manager's greatest, immediate benefits come from the energy-savings achieved by automations, then by remote-access and remote-control functions to eliminate or reduce on-site visits and return visits, then by improved customer service, and ultimately by predictive AI that optimizes efficiency and guest experience based on historical and personal data.
The “slam dunk” of energy savings for hotel property managers will come from sensor-based efficiency settings in lighting panels and thermostats. Specific savings are a matter of how much you automate or remotely control. For example, are the sensors and settings of the thermostats advanced enough to have them programmed based on motion or body temperature detection? Is the appliance-management software advanced enough to enable the smart-appliance capabilities? Or will the front desk clerk need to remotely control lighting and temperature when guests are checking in and out? You still need fewer labor hours for remote control, but maybe more than you would need with automation, and you still have the potential for human error with remote control.
Expect HVAC energy savings from 5% up to 20%, with a payback time frame between 12 and 24 months, depending on … many variables: Climate, turnover, automation vs. remote control, etc.
Expect greater and faster benefits from lighting retrofits, as on/off/dim are much easier to automate based on vacancy, and as motion sensors become more standardized at lower costs. As reported in this 2019 blog article from HotelManagement.net, the Chatwal Hotel in New York achieved more than 90% energy reduction of lighting load with its retrofit project, earning more than $120,000 cost savings in the first year, alone.
Especially in today’s market of maintenance labor shortages and skyrocketing service fees, reductions in maintenance tickets are a great relief to hotel owners and property managers. Hospitality industry clients of GE SmartHG Management see fast benefits of going smart with the combination of smart appliances, appliance diagnostics and remote control functions.
Hotel owners and managers know from experience that happier guests are less expensive guests, and revenue is increased from favorable referrals and reviews. Improvement of guest satisfaction with appliance management software is difficult to quantity, but there are proven areas of benefit from property managers in the hospitality industry who have implemented remote-access and automation technology.
“Predictive technology” sounds like the future, but it’s already included in today’s appliance-diagnostics software, and particularly valuable for hotel maintenance costs savings. But in addition to prediction and prevention of failure in hotel appliances, predictive software in the hospitality space is increasingly looking at improving the guest experience.
As futuristic as many smart-appliance, artificial-intelligence and machine-learning applications may sound, the future is now for hotel property managers who want to begin with immediate cost-reducing automations, remote-access and remote-control functions of appliance-management software. With all appliances ‘plugged in’ to your property-management network by WiFi, tomorrow’s more advanced applications, such as predictive guest experiences, are already enabled by historical data today.
Visit GE SmartHQ Management, request a demo, and look at your cost-benefits of reducing energy and maintenance costs with smart appliances and appliance-management software.