A room to play with

11/01/2016

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When you consider that there are hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms within the UK, it’s not surprising that room entry and broader management systems differ from hotel to hotel. Here Richard Hayward, lead marketing manager for Legrand’s wiring devices business, comments on the benefits of room entry systems and how hotels can use these automated systems to enhance the customer experience.

Long gone are the days where hotel rooms were accessed using a simple key turning in a lock. From a quick swipe of a card, hotels have the potential to offer so much more than door entry, enabling guests to enjoy a more personalised hotel experience.

While guest experience tops the list of specification decisions, other factors such as usability remain incredibly important. For the hospitality industry in particular, the advent of automation technologies provides those added extras for guests to ensure their stay is memorable and that ultimately they want to go back.

In reality hotel automation can mean many things which is partly the beauty of it, as no hotel need be the same in terms of lighting or experience. In fact some hotels utilise lighting control solutions to add to the overall brand effect. One customer for example utilises bespoke champagne coloured wiring accessories as standard, in its luxury hotels around the world. This addition provides an element of uniformity between the hotels while retaining the prestige of the hotel brand through all areas of the hotel including bars, restaurants and other communal spaces.

Of course the overarching hotel look and feel is important, much of the guest’s focus will be on the room itself which is where automation can really come into its own. In advance of the guest’s arrival, hotels can use booking information and the estimated time of arrival to ensure rooms are made up and that the heating or cooling system has been set via a centrally automated computer system.

As guests swipe into their room a Guest Room Management System (GRMS) can automate the whole process, so that as soon as the guest inserts their room card into the wall mounted key card switch, a welcome scenario will commence – adjusting curtains, depending on the time of day, turning on the lighting and adjusting the thermostat to comfort mode.

Once inside, the guest has the autonomy to choose from a variety of in-room scenarios depending on mood and those determined by the hotel themselves. These scenarios can range from ‘relaxation’ with dimmed lighting effects, to a work setting whereby the desk and surrounding area is well lit. Guests can also have the freedom to make their own adjustments outside of these settings with the ability to select the ‘do not disturb’ setting or ‘make-up my room’ via a remote control panel. This information will automatically update the central system enabling the hotel to quickly identify and respond to customer requests.

Wider control solutions within the room, enable bedside control of the lighting, media and AV solutions and can also include a master light switch enabling touch of a button control from the bedside. During the night, hotels can also select low-level automated lighting between the sleeping area, bathroom and entrance area so that guests can move around the room safely without turning on the main light switch. Hotels can also set some configurations to enhance guest comfort and provide energy savings such as a night ambience setting, which lowers the light intensity between 10pm and 6am. 

Furthermore as sustainability continues to rise up the corporate agenda, integrated solutions throughout the hotel can ensure energy savings. One example of this is when the guest leaves the room and returns the key to reception, all electrical points, lighting and HVAC can be automatically switched to off. In addition this one act could signal to house-keeping that the room is now vacant and ready to be made-up - building in efficiencies is in integral part of the automation process.

The hotel industry has long understood the importance of a good guest experience, from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. GRMS and wider building management systems enable hotels to have much greater control of this. Through carefully selected controls in guest bedrooms usability, and ultimately comfort, can be assured.

GRMS utilises standard protocols such as BACnet, KNX and ZigBee, and for this reason can easily link to the wider Building Management System for the hotel. Linking a GRMS system opens up a wealth of other opportunities in terms of lighting management, intruder alarms, video monitoring and even fire safety.