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What is Li-Fi, and what can it do for hospitality?

With the advent of 5G and Superfast Broadband, consumers expect an easier connection and ever faster internet speed. However, the newest innovation in this connectivity race might just surprise you. Li-Fi, much like Wi-Fi, supplies your internet, but unlike Wi-Fi, operates through your light bulb. More specifically it is a Visible Light Communications system that uses LED bulbs to transmit data at much higher speeds than Wi-Fi. In fact, Li-Fi is 100 times faster, as well as being more energy efficient and more secure.  Harold Haas, a professor at Edinburgh University, coined the term and is working to make the technology a consumer reality through his company pureLiFi.

While the advantages of Li-Fi’s high speeds are undeniable, Li-Fi will require new bulbs and a photosensor in your devices to pick up the information they transmit. Unlike Wi-Fi, it does not work in direct sunlight, and the necessity of light bulbs make it unsuitable for some public networks. The need to be in sight of an LED lightbulb seems to be both a blessing and a curse; while it limits where you can use it, it also makes it far more secure than traditional Wi-Fi as it remains contained where the light is visible.

How can it improve the guest experience?

In this day and age hotel guests prioritise Wi-Fi over physical amenities; in a survey by hotels.com, when choosing a hotel, 49 percent of business travellers prize it over other options, including a free breakfast (14%) and proximity to shops and transport (11%). With guests expecting connectivity during their stay, hotels are under more pressure than ever to offer a fast, reliable internet connection to a large number of people and devices.

For new hotels and renovations, Li-Fi might be an option to consider including. As mentioned before, it is more secure than traditional Wi-Fi and the speeds it could offer guests in their hotel rooms would make streaming their own entertainment a dream! Hotels could potentially ditch long secure passwords and some of the other nuisances to create a more seamless transition between their digital and physical offerings.

Table numbers and automatically opening doors?

In conjunction with other web innovations such as cloud-based mobile ordering, hotels could make use of the fact that users connect to Li-Fi via a light bulb in a very specific location. This could then be taken a step further, as explained by Nikolai Serafimovski of pureLiFi;

“As the user moves through the hotel, you get very precise location information. Things could activate when they need to, only for that user – doors might open automatically, relevant adverts might open...”

For example, the light bulb above a table in a restaurant. When a guest places and order at this table, and through this light bulb, the mobile ordering system in place could easily be configured to automatically assign a table number given the number of the light bulb used to process the order. The guests’ food would then be brought to their table without them ever needing to mention or input their table number.

With mobile ordering services and hospitality technology more generally gaining popularity, hotels need to arm up with flexible and powerful solutions that can not only evolve alongside emerging technologies, but actually facilitate the inclusion of them. Mi-Room, a cloud-based mobile ordering and digital experience platform is exactly this:

  • Instant access to mobile ordering and guest-centric features. There is no app download, login or registration required.
  • Guests can use it to order, communicate and pay for food, drink, spa and concierge services.
  • Automatic language translations – including languages such as Chinese and Arabic.
  • Support for a multitude of payment providers and methods: Cash, Charge to Room, Credit / Debit Card, PayPal and even cryptocurrency.
  • Integrates with common POS / PMS systems such as Oracle Hospitality Simphony.
  • Real-time, Back Office management system to monitor performance, export reports and update live menus.
  • Mi-Room operates on a low cost SaaS model, ensuring a speedy return on investment.
  • Mi-Room’s HTML functionality means that the interface can be tailored to show off hotel-specific branding and services.

For an online demo, pricing or more information about Mi-Room mobile ordering service, please email [email protected]

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