Hospitality is about superb guest experiences. Lighting control is a key part of making superb guest experiences happen.
With today’s smart technology, lighting can be operated remotely or automatically. Rooms can be coordinated with building management systems. Even the lights themselves have changed, from incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes to robust, yet economical, LEDs. Integrated with other hotel systems, lighting control enables seamless communication between departments, empowers hotel staff, saves hotel operators money, and simplifies aspects of the guest experience.
Indeed, lighting control technology is about more than just lights. It can add value—for the guest and the hotel itself.
After all, technology has long played a leading role in raising a hotel’s profile. Decades ago, hotels trumpeted their color TVs and air-conditioning to attract visitors; now, there’s wi-fi and online coordination, where you can watch your Netflix subscription on the hotel’s giant flat-screen TV. It’s part of a trend that is breaking down some of the divisions between home, work, and hotel.
Lighting control is part of that trend. As people add smart devices to their homes—whether it’s voice-operated devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, or smartphone-operated controls like Nest thermostats or Lutron Caséta—they come to expect the same amenities in their homes away from home, especially in today’s global industries where travelers can spend just as much time in hotel rooms as at home.
Not only do such devices make life easier by adding convenience for the guest, they add simplicity and style, elevating the overall guest experience—and helping drive return business. Gone are the days of fumbling for key cards and getting out of bed to guess which switch turns off all the lights.
Upgrading the Guest Experience
It wasn’t always this way. Lighting control in hotels used to be rather basic.
Rooms featured a switch by the door, lamps by the bed, blackout shades for the windows. Common areas featured a bank of dimmers. Everything was manually operated.
Times, obviously, have changed—for the better.
For example, solutions such as Lutron’s myRoom eliminate a host of guestroom issues, from the elementary—figuring out which guestroom light switch controls which outlet—to the more elaborate—alerting the hotel staff to clean the room when the guest is away. Keypads can be labeled with icons instead of text to enable international travelers to achieve quick room mastery. On the higher end, some systems include a master “all-off” switch next to the bed so guests don’t have to shut off every light individually (even plug-in lamps).
Lutron’s myRoom solutions also include temperature control that, in the higher-end myRoom plus version, coordinate with property and building management systems. These upgrades can set a property apart.
Lighting control technology can also be used to create an upscale ambiance. With myRoom, for example, the guest is greeted by a welcome scene upon opening the guestroom door: the lights go on, the shades open to wow the guest with that million-dollar view, and the TV turns on. Essentially, the room is giving the guest a big, smiling “Welcome!” It turns what is often a wary experience—entering a dark, forbidding room in a place far from home—into one of happiness and good cheer.
Accessories accentuate the look. Keypads such as Lutron’s Palladiom collection, which comes in a variety of finishes, offer a sleek, minimalist aesthetic that can be customized to the property and brand.
Together, these details not only impress guests, but make their lives easier. The keypads are logical, and the best ones dim their backlighting based on the room’s ambient light. Soft lighting can lead the way to the bathroom and provide a “nightlight” for guests who awaken in the dark. When a guest returns after many hours away, the room remembers its settings and re-creates the guest’s preferred environment, right down to thermostat settings.
Similarly, lighting controls can create an inviting environment in public areas. For example, restaurants and bars are a big part of a property’s bottom line. With proper lighting control—accenting artwork and fittings, de-emphasizing aspects that detract from the overall look—they’ll deliver an appealing retreat for guests and visitors. The same goes for lobbies and conference rooms, where lighting can dazzle newcomers and—not coincidentally—provide a better atmosphere for speakers, festive events, and other gatherings. Often the difference between a bar you pass by on the way out the door, and one where you stay for a drink (or two), can be attributed to the atmosphere that is controlled by the lighting.
Service & Smiles
It’s not just guests who find lighting control convenient. With systems such as myRoom—which is aimed at luxury hotels—hotel staff can have access to system alerts, detailed reports, and shared information to help streamline workflow and simplify hotel operations.
Has a guest just vacated the room? No need to wonder—the system can automatically alert housekeeping to clean up, and turndown services to visit. That means fewer complaints and more efficiency.
In fact, other aspects of automation can also improve outcomes. Guestroom control systems can use algorithms to manage costs by reducing lighting/HVAC energy use. Shading solutions—which can be programmed to open and close based on guestroom status—help reduce glare and minimize wear and tear on fabrics to support a more comfortable, longer-lasting, energy-efficient space. There’s no waste when a room is vacant, as the control system automatically turns off lights and adjusts the thermostat—and brings them back up when the guest returns.
In addition, by layering energy-saving strategies, the property can realize substantial lighting energy savings in offices, meeting rooms, and back-of-house areas.
All this isn’t just good for guests. It’s good for the long-term health of the hotel, helping to save on renovation expenses and power bills.
A Good Value
These systems offer a range of capabilities and price points and can be incorporated into both new construction and retrofit projects. Indeed, wireless lighting control systems—which are easily scalable—can be incorporated into a hotel’s regular renovation schedule, keeping both back-of-house and guest-facing areas up to date.
The innovations also complement trends in business and residential environments. In the last few years, architects and designers have put great emphasis on what’s known as “human centric lighting,” broadly defined as lighting that’s attuned to our activities, whether it’s working in an open-office environment or getting ready for a social occasion in a hotel ballroom. It puts the emphasis on people.
Hospitality professionals already know about human-centric environments; after all, they’re ready to cater to customer needs even before being asked. There are hotels dedicated to well-being; others focus on accommodating discerning business travelers. Regardless of their focus, trends in lighting control fit perfectly with these goals. With the use and continual improvement of lighting controls, a better human experience will be that much more attainable. They’re worth checking into.
Olivier Perrigueur is the Vice President of Global Specifications and Business Development at Lutron Electronics, and is responsible for developing Lutron’s Global Hospitality Business. Founded in 1961, Lutron Electronics, headquartered in Coopersburg, Penn., is the world’s leading provider of smart lighting and shading control systems.