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Does smart lighting enhance guest experience?

Few things can be more frustrating to hotel guests than lighting. It’s either too bright or too dim, too complicated or too basic. Smart lighting aims to fix this problem. Click. finds out more

With central systems that operate a network of multi-function lights, smart lighting allows more flexibility and ease of use for guests.

“We like it to be intuitive and to have that ‘wow’ effect when guests realise what it does,” says Jella Segers, Global Lead of Hospitality for Signify (formerly called Philips Lighting). “Plus we look to maximise energy savings and staff efficiencies, which helps reduce running costs.” Signify has recently installed its Interact Hospitality System, which works with lighting such as Philips Expert Color lamps, in the 1,261-room Swissotel The Stamford in Singapore.

How smart lighting works

It uses hubs to connect multi-function LED light sources that are controlled from a panel, remote control, app or keypad. Dimming options come as standard, and colour-changing bulbs are quite common. Many hubs can operate more than just lighting, from air conditioning to guest service communications.

“Where smart lighting gets interesting is when lights change based on different events, such as the time of day, or when the guest selects a ‘scene’. The hotel creates these scenes, with multiple lights at pre-set levels,” says David Phillips of Control4, a smart-technology system that has been installed in thousands of hotel rooms around the world, including Adare Manor, a stately house hotel in Ireland.

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Amazon Echo
Photo: credit to Control4

 

Some common scenes created with smart lighting include ‘relax’, ‘work’, ‘evening’ or ‘energise’. You can even devise scenes for staff use only. “We’ve created a turn-down scene that only staff can access,” says Phillips. When housekeeping hits the button, all the light settings adjust automatically to this scene, saving them time and ensuring consistency of guest experience.

‘All On’ and ‘All Off’ are both also always options, allowing full light or full darkness in an instant. And for guests who are technophobes? “They can still just hit a simple on-off switch as they normally would,” explains Phillips.

What it costs

Installing these systems isn’t cheap. Fitting out a single room with a smart lighting system will typically set you back a few thousand euros. But when incorporated with other ‘smart’ elements, such as air conditioning and guest services, it can lead to a faster return on investment.

“We installed smart lighting and thermostats in a 200-room California luxury hotel, and they’re saving $20,000 a month on their energy bill,” says Phillips. “At this rate, in less than two years, their system will pay for itself.” But he points out that the ROI will be different for every hotel, depending on location, size, energy usage and other factors.

For smaller B&Bs, hotels and guesthouses, new ‘off the shelf’ solutions are starting to appear. Amazon has developed Alexa for Hospitality, which it is trialling in rooms at hotels at the Wynn Las Vegas and selected Marriott Hotels, but should become more widely available in the near future.

Happier guests

Most people know that the type of light emitted from mobile devices can disrupt sleep. But lighting can affect so much more, from our mood to our energy levels. That’s why Signify has created ‘bio-adaptive lighting’ to bring the wellness benefits into the hotel room.

The company has been doing research in conjunction with the University of Basel. Segers says: “If lighting wakes you up rather than an alarm, you feel more energised, are in a better mood and your cognitive performance is better.” In the Vitality rooms of the Swissotel Stamford, a simulated dawn light in the morning mimics the sunrise to help guests wake up naturally.

Bright light in the daytime stimulates cortisol, which keeps you awake – a helpful tool if you’re jet-lagged. “And in the evening, it’s important that you don’t get too much light,” adds Segers. That’s because softer lighting helps your body produce the sleep hormone, melatonin.

...research from Signify found that 32% of people leave a light on in their hotel room at night...

If you want to stay asleep, you need total darkness. Yet research from Signify found that 32% of people leave a light on in their hotel room at night so that if they wake up, they can find their way to the bathroom. The company has therefore created a solution to solve this need.

“Once your feet come out of the bed, the motion sensors pick this up, and dimmed lighting around the bed and in the bathroom turns on to help you find your way. This is much better than the bright lighting you get in most bathrooms, which just wakes you up,” explains Segers.

Lighting that helps guests sleep better, wake up more easily and feel better throughout the day – that does seem smart.

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Hero image: credit to Control4 

Takeaway
  • Intuitive smart-lighting systems remove a key guest frustration
  • The wide variety of functionality built into bulbs means a single room can have a variety of different looks at the press of a button
  • Systems can integrate with your other functions, such as air condition, to create smart operations that leads to faster ROI
  • Smart lighting used in the right way has been proven to make guests feel better, from helping them wake up and get to sleep more easily, to giving them more energy and focus

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