Why hotels should consider IAQ to enhance guest experience

By Bhavesh Gupta

The pandemic has changed the world’s perception on many things, including how people think about, interact with and what they expect from the buildings they visit. Humans spend 90% of their lives indoors; however, they don’t always think about the air they breathe inside. It might actually be surprising to some that indoor air can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air.

While COVID-19 shined a light on indoor air quality (IAQ)—91% of consumers believe that IAQ is important in the prevention of COVID-19—it’s also increased the conversation on why IAQ should have always been a priority before the pandemic. The pandemic aside, IAQ is critical as it can directly impact the well-being, comfort and productivity of occupants in all types of environments—including hotels.

Hotels are often looking for ways to enhance the guest experience, which should now include reconsidering their IAQ strategy. A recent survey says 77% of consumers would consider a hotel’s air quality in deciding where to stay and 52% would be willing to pay more to stay at a hotel with better air quality. Since there is no crystal ball for the future, hotels must continue to build on the current dynamics: people want to travel and hotels must adapt to travelers’ needs.

IAQ technologies and how hotels can implement them
By implementing IAQ measurement and management technologies, hotels can support guest and staff well-being, while improving the guest experience, increasing operational efficiency and bolstering staff productivity. IAQ sensors that determine a building’s environmental and air quality status can offer an effective, automated solution to monitor the presence of a range of pollutants as well as humidity and temperature. Integrating these sensors into an HVAC system allows the system to detect contaminants and then clean the air and adjust ventilation as needed. Analytics systems can be integrated into a Building Management System (BMS), allowing teams to monitor humidity, ventilation, temperature, pressure and pollutant levels through real-time data on dashboards. Facility managers can run reports to analyze historical data and spot trends.

A BMS also can be used to maximize energy efficiency by deploying AI/ML-based Intelligent Building Optimization that learns and manages HVAC control optimization based on load patterns, outdoor weather patterns and capacity of the equipment, as well as air conditioning based on occupancy levels of certain rooms or spaces, which can lower overall energy costs.

Even more, amenities like voice-controlled temperature and humidity solutions can be used to improve both IAQ and guest comfort. Implementing air purifiers in high-traffic areas of hotels may also help reduce airborne contaminants.

Guest experience
The guest experience is centered around comfort and safety—two things that can be impacted by IAQ. Dust, dirt, pollen and pungent smells are just a few potential contaminants that can contribute to respiratory issues, headaches and other discomforts. IAQ management technologies can be used to maintain ideal humidity and temperature levels and create cleaner spaces, helping create the ideal comfort level for guests and employees.

Operating efficiency
Hotels juggle many operational tasks like IAQ monitoring and optimization and look for ways to enhance and streamline them. Implementing a solution like Healthy Building Dashboard as a part of a BMS, for example, can help give hoteliers a birds-eye view into all the factors contributing to IAQ, like HVAC, lighting, temperature and humidity levels. Reviewing this data can help hoteliers recognize where their operations can improve operating efficiency.

Staff productivity
Hotel staff are just as impacted by IAQ as the guests who occupy the rooms. According to recent research, IAQ can lead to productivity improvements of up to 11%.[i] Poorly performing staff as a result of bad IAQ can cause immediate consequences for the business and negative interactions with hotel guests. By prioritizing IAQ, hotels are fostering a more productive and safer environment.

The bottom line is that hotels with better IAQ can create a better environment for employees and visitors. Upgrading buildings’ ventilation, filtration and other factors will improve guest experience, operating efficiency and staff productivity. Having IAQ measurement and management technologies in place can also “future-proof” hotels for what is to come, whether it’s the next pandemic or tomorrow’s travelers’ needs. As guests are becoming more and more conscious of IAQ, hotels must be too.

Bhavesh Gupta is director, engineering, at Honeywell Building Technologies.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.