FM Articles

Smart Restroom Data and Venue Efficiency

Smart Restroom

It’s a universal human experience.

You’re at the airport, a ball game, or maybe you’re in a municipal building to challenge a parking ticket or renew your government ID.

Inevitably, you experience doubt, trepidation, a little confusion or embarrassment, and often a sense of dread. Why? Because you have to commit one of the most private and personal acts in a public place.

You have to use the restroom.

You don’t know where it is located. You don’t know what condition it will be in. Experience has taught you that the surprises in these situations are often bad or worse, starting with locating the restroom and getting to it, since public restrooms are often tucked away.

The mind ponders. Where is the restroom? Will there be lines? Will there be sanitary tissue in the stalls? Will it be clean? Will there be backed-up toilets? Stall doors that don’t close? Limited or no means of cleaning up?

Often, the mystery continues even when you arrive at the restroom. Which stall is available? Are there feet under that stall…?

Facility managers today are challenged with providing a seamless guest experience and ensuring that pedestrian traffic is efficient throughout a venue. According to a 2018 report from the Airports Council International, “Airport Service Quality: Airport Cleanliness,” washroom cleanliness, combined with terminal cleanliness, affects overall passenger satisfaction more than any other infrastructure factor. Combine that finding with International Air Travel Association’s prediction that there will be 8.2 billion air travelers in 2037 and it’s clear the challenge to deliver a great customer experience at airport washrooms is about to become significantly greater.

Like so much else in today’s world, advances in data gathering and business intelligence software offer significant opportunities to improve the public washroom guest experience. Smart Restroom solutions built on a foundation of sensor-based data collection and analytics software is vaulting the public washroom experience from the Dark Ages to the 21st Century – and the change is as dramatic and welcome to guests and facility managers around the world.

Today’s Smart Restroom solutions include features such as customer throughput counting that allows facility managers to track bathroom usage volume in real-time. Ensuring restroom supplies are always available becomes easier when the data is available to inform the facilities manager about how often restrooms are being used and how many users are passing through them. Over time, this type of data can help make the case for restroom changes that may be necessary to accommodate guests, this includes adding or removing toilets and stalls or creating additional restroom space. The data also helps facilities managers make informed and improve decisions when it comes to supply procurement and storage which can lead to opportunities for cost savings.

Passive janitorial staff monitoring helps keep facility managers informed about basic bathroom maintenance requirements. This feature, complemented by automatic cleaning alerts, provides facilities managers with precision data that can help them more efficiently schedule and deploy cleaning personnel while also ensuring the bathroom experience is always optimized for guests

Today’s Smart Restroom solutions offer more features designed specifically to improve the customer experience. Digital signage can be deployed to direct guests to the facilities and digital occupancy displays can visually signal to guests which stalls are available for them to use. No more guessing games. Further Smart Restroom features include smart locks and lights to help improve privacy and safety while curbing energy use. No more checking for feet!

In addition to these features, tablets mounted near washroom exits allow facility guests to rate their experience. As patrons exit, the screens prompt them to take a moment and provide their feedback. With the touch of a button, their response is sent to a dashboard for real-time use by facility managers to assist in making the necessary improvements to better guest experience.

The Smart Restroom solutions available today easily and readily integrate and complement existing digital signage solutions already deployed and being used in a variety of venues from airports and sports arenas to courthouses and municipal buildings.

Moreover, commercially available facilities management solutions offer airport facilities managers an even broader range of data to better inform their mission. They allow them to understand how many passengers are arriving at various gates throughout their airport in real-time. They can identify when passengers are arriving, at which gates they are arriving and, yes, which restrooms are about to experience an onslaught of users. Tying this dataset to stats collected at restrooms throughout the airport enables facilities managers to be fully prepared and able to deliver an optimized guest experience.

Are your customers navigating a mystery when nature calls or moving effortlessly and pleasantly through their restroom experience? Smart Restroom solutions allow facilities to transform the guest experience while achieving operational and cost efficiencies.

And, someday soon, counting feet under stalls will be a behavior as antiquated as the outhouse.

Tracy Davis is Vice President at Infax, a leading, privately held provider of information technology (IT) solutions to the transportation, judicial and public venue markets.