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Australian hotels: Investing in integration

The hotel market in Australia is currently undergoing a period of significant growth. A weak Australian dollar has made Australia an increasingly attractive destination for overseas holidaymakers — especially from Asian countries — while simultaneously encouraging more Australians themselves to holiday domestically. Throughout 2016, inbound holiday travel increased by 22 per cent, with hotel room revenue averaging $27 million per night and totalling $9.8 billion for the year. Moreover, this is forecast to continue growing at a rate of 5.3 per cent per year for the next three years at least.

With hotel room demand outstripping supply—and average hotel occupancy rates in Melbourne and Sydney consistently over 80 per cent—it is little wonder that we are now seeing a spike in hotel projects that is unrivalled since the late 1990s. The total nationwide value for hotel developments for the financial year ending June 2016 was $2.7 billion, and this is forecast to increase by 19 per cent to an unprecedented $3.2 billion for year ending June 2017.

This positions hotel development as the fastest growing non-residential sector in Australia, and fourth overall behind retail, offices and education. Hotel projects in NSW are predicted to increase by 54 per cent for the current financial year, while Victoria expects a staggering growth of 131 per cent!

With the rapidly expanding hotel sector, there are also clear indicators that the very nature of hotels is changing. Through a combination of customer- and business-driven imperatives, we are seeing a greater emphasis on the building of ‘smart hotels’, where technology is being leveraged to simultaneously enhance the guest experience while optimising operational efficiency. Specifically, this is being accomplished through a heightened focus on integration.

Sophistication and savings

Guest room management systems are a good example of what integration can achieve. These target the enhancement of guest comfort, convenience and sense of luxury. Guest room management systems enable the hotel guest to intuitively adjust lighting, heating/cooling and entertainment within the room, either from a single control interface or through separate integrated panels. Guests can also use the technology to easily electronically post ‘make up room’ or ‘do not disturb’ requests, and even to complete automated checkout at the end of their stay.

Furthermore, guest room management solutions can allow room systems to be monitored and controlled centrally by the hotel operator in order to streamline operations and thereby lower costs. For example, cleaning and maintenance operations can be more efficiently scheduled when the room is unoccupied, and unoccupied rooms can be automatically set to an economy mode to reduce unnecessary heating, cooling or lighting.

With significant operational and energy savings to be made for any hotel with 150 or more rooms, Legrand is offering three added-value solutions to meet the varying integration needs of different levels within the hotel sector. Firstly, is our SCS option, which is aimed at boutique and medium sized hotels where ease of installation and price are primary factors. SCS is essentially a standalone guest room management solution based on Legrand’s own proprietary system. Suitable for new-build and retrofit projects alike, SCS features our premium Arteor range of switches and panels for a stylish and sophisticated finish.

While the SCS solution can utilise an IP module to send monitoring data through to central management software, our second option, KNX, takes this functionality further and is aimed squarely at the larger hotel market. As the name suggests, this solution utilises the KNX protocol, which not only allows full automation of a building or groups of buildings, but also facilitates the integration with other KNX certified systems for more tailored outcomes. For example, KNX supports expanded functionality of switches that deliver different results for short/long/double button presses.

However, the most sophisticated of Legrand’s hotel integration offering is its third option, BACnet/IP, also aimed at larger hotels. This has been designed to achieve enhanced levels of centralised communication and control. Essentially, the BACnet/IP solution incorporates the SCS room solution with an additional gateway to allow seamless integration with third-party systems — such as booking management software, for instance—that use the same worldwide BACnet/IP protocol. This option has been designed for integration with hotels’ management systems and their building controls.

Securing sustainability

Together, the SCS-, KNX- and BACnet/IP-based guest room management systems enable Legrand to offer bespoke packages—in terms of cost, complexity and capability—to meet the exact needs of hotel operators and their customers. Furthermore, the Legrand solution set can provide solutions for all zones within a hotel, from guest rooms to public spaces, from the restaurants and bars to health facilities, and from back-of-house to outdoor areas. Additionally, Legrand’s complete solution set also encompasses emergency lighting, cable/data management systems and electrical protection.

For specifiers, installers and contractors this means that Legrand provides a convenient one-stop shop for a broad spectrum of a hotel project’s electrical needs. Not only are the company’s solutions designed for intuitive use by the end-user, but they also incorporate the concept of ‘technology made easy’ for the installer. In practice, Legrand has spent many years developing partnerships with specifiers and installers, who have become familiar with the range of products and the best methodologies to install them. To further enhance this relationship, Legrand regularly runs SCS and BACnet training sessions for installers to ensure they can leverage the best from emerging and existing technology to deliver optimal results for the customer.

With tourism predicted to continue growing, and with the total value of hotel projects being ramped up to meet this demand, the Australian hotel industry is evolving at a remarkable rate. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to utilise the very latest technological advancements to deliver a world-class hotel experience for international and domestic visitors, while helping to secure the sustainability of our tourist industry for the future.

Tags: guest room management systems, hotels