When I was first asked about my professional thoughts on the IoT I wrote back and said I don’t watch it… assuming they meant Game of Thrones (GoT).

Once they got over the shock of discovering a single being who doesn’t watch GoT, they explained it was ‘the Internet of things’.

I’m a technical and a travel geek and always fascinated by how technology affects travel.

So what is the IoT? As always, Wikipedia gives us a great start:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data,” the definition reads.

“The IoT allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.”

Technology and business travel

Your phone connected to your car connected to your home connected to your kids phone connected to your computer connected to your tablet connected to the weather station and connected to your heart rate monitor and your fridge on and on and on it goes.

Each time the new device is added it increases the complexity of the information the Internet of things can record and generate grows exponentially. Small-scale it might automatically start watering your garden and large-scale, expand to drive smart cities. In 2013 there was one connected ‘thing”’ per person; that’s expected to hit nine by 2020.

So how does this affect travel? He are our top five IoT impacts on travel:

 

1. Travel should get safer

young travellers with phone

All of those sensors monitoring all of those engines on all those airplanes and cruise ships, identifying problems potentially before they happen, lowering maintenance costs by being proactive rather than reactive and improving uptime. Weather permitting, it should get more effective.

 

2.Users are generating data while they travel

tablet phone

Roaming data is occasionally affordable on today smart phones. So whilst someone might appear as a black spot during flights, as soon as they land and connect they are online and generating data. If they have enabled location services, Google will quickly pick up they are no longer at home and likely to be on holiday. That data goes back to Google and is powerful for them, but not for you as a travel agent.

So how can you access that?

 

3. Hotels can improve service customisation, whilst accessing data

hotels.com

So for example someone joins a loyalty scheme, download the app when they make bookings, a digital room key can be sent automatically to their phone that unlocks the door through NFC (near field communications). The App runs in the background the whole time harvesting data for hotels in turnthey can make razor sharp customised offers to suit each and every hotel guest.

They use the freebie, generate more data for the hotel chain. Rinse, repeat.

 

4. The travel industry is one of the biggest spenders on the Internet things

Image: 3DDock/Shutterstock

Whether it be the expense in hotels or a plane engine, the travel industry is leading the spend. This will create competition, which will in turn lead to greater spend for ascendancy on thinner margins.

 

5. The IoT is B2C – that aint good for TA’s

samsung-phone-catches-fire-under-pillow

IoT is all about machine thinking versus people thinking. It’s all about gathering data, analysing and machines “thinking” for people. It’s not about emotion (unless we can create it by AI) but statistical analysis.

Computers do that better than people…

Does that mean the IoT > Travel Agents?