Five years of low prices and almost no activity in the hotel industry in the countries most affected by the global financial crisis have depleted maintenance budgets, undermining the resistance of hoteliers and bed-and-breakfast business owners, as well as destroying the mood to continue investing, working and innovating. The alerts have been activated on all fronts.
We recognize that a high percentage of the hotel business of today is outdated in its facilities and paralyzed in a segment of customers that is focused on their pension rather than on a vacation. New travelers will arrive with different customs, wanting different services and looking for different facilities. Thus, the viability of the tourism business lies on understanding the changes that are taking place.
A redefinition of the industry is critical, as well as a professional service update, and a gradual renewal of existing infrastructures. These suggestions are clearly similar to what happened years ago, centuries ago, with the preservation and enhancement of the architectural heritage. When they wanted to undertake the rehabilitation of quite a few churches, convents, palaces and historical facades, the required budgets were endless due to the destruction caused by the abandonment. Only the technology and the political awareness of the problem was such that in just half a century, Spain got to the top of the list on the world heritage of humanity published by UNESCO.
One of the key players in this achievement has been the Santa María La Real Foundation, based in Aguilar de Campoo (Palencia), which today enjoys a worldwide recognition in this area, with conservation projects in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. It is important to learn, therefore, from its actions, as well as from the management model and the technology used. This is because, among other reasons, any example applied to heritage shall be very useful for the tourism industry.
This foundation has recently overturned to a technological development produced by that great undergoing revolution known as “the Internet of things.” Through the MHS monitoring system (Monitoring Heritage System) adapted to historical and artistic heritage, developed in 2005 by the Department of Heritage Conservation and directed by the architect Jesús Castillo Oli, it is possible to determine exactly when to intervene in heritage buildings, or when said buildings are in a dire state of conservation. Logically, such intervention requires enormous amounts of resources, which are not always available for such a laudable task. It seems more sensible, especially in these times, to maintain periodic control of buildings, performing small necessary interventions in order to avoid the problems with exponential growth in the necessary budgets for restoration.
From the outset, the MHS system was developed to record, quantify, assess and monitor various critical parameters in the conservation of immovable heritage, with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of its management as well as the optimum maintenance of the same and the goods that could be found in the interior. The MHS system was thus conceived as a tool for monitoring the variables involved in the degradation of the national heritage, in order to provide a continuous assessment and real-time state of conservation, facilitating access to such information, filling the gaps in data management, helping decision-making, promoting the use of new technologies in the heritage, optimizing the access to resources and reducing the costs and investment in restoration and maintenance.
Gradually, taking into account other variables inherent to the heritage good has been considered essential, such as energy management, the safety of the building and its contents, and management of people who use it, so that the MHS has become a tool for integral management of the heritage building.
Currently, the MHS is a tool that efficiently assesses in real time the conservation of historic heritage and improves the management of such buildings. All this is possible thanks to a new technology for sensing and wireless transmission of data and an intelligent and dynamic management of the results.
MHS intelligence can detect and predict risk situations or accelerated deterioration by developing an algorithm that connects the relation between the degree and type of damage of relevant parameters in the degradation of heritage goods. Thus, in addition to the real-time tracking of the physical, chemical and mechanical variables related to the conservation of the heritage, the system will be able to recognize patterns of deterioration based on historical data that will prevent potential risk situations, all done in an automated manner.
Could this represent a revolution for the tourism industry?
Fernando Gallardo |