The dictionary defines this week’s trend as a pilotless plane, helicopter or ship operated by radio. But those in the industry believe the word “drone” has a negative connotation since most people associate the term with military predators. It’s also why drone industry insiders prefer to use the acronym UAS — unmanned aerial systems.
Call them what you will, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll be using the word “drone” as I share the facts behind this delicate and controversial trend, which if it hasn’t already been deployed by hotels, after my research, I can confidently state it’s only a matter of time.
These remote-controlled devices dip, dive, circle and buzz around to shoot amazing high-resolution video and photos, and already, they are seeping into civilian life. Currently being used in public safety, search and rescue, oil and gas exploration, farming and — not surprisingly — Hollywood productions, drones are also hands down a natural for the hotel industry.
Having a remote-controlled aircraft take unique aerial views of hotel properties currently on the market or to create a marketing video that will produce breathtaking results unlike any and at a fraction of what it used to cost for aerial videography is just too tempting! Although drones can go where people can’t, and less expensively, proceed with caution if you’re in the States, because technically, drones are banned under federal aviation rules. In 2007, the FAA declared all unmanned flights be limited to recreational use of model aircrafts and specifically excluded drones for business use. However last year, Congress ordered the FAA to open the skies to commercial drones, giving the agency until September 2015 to draft a new set of rules. So, technically, until then, any commercial operation where money changes hands is prohibited, although according to the FAA, violators aren’t being prosecuted but they are politely asked to stop.
Some fascinating examples of how drones are being used range from a Colorado police department using them to document crime scenes or the beta tests currently underway in England and South Africa to have drones deliver pizza and beer.
Drones are also being used to monitor news and sports events in addition to applications in land surveys, roof inspections or using a drone to pitch the surroundings and amenities of a hotel location.
The projections for this trend are also impressive. The FAA predicts 7,500 small commercial drones will be operating in the United States over the next five years, and their estimated impact will reach US$82 billion annually by 2025. Once the ban is lifted, drones will take off and be deployed for endless uses.
So how about you? Have you or will you deploy a drone, and if so, would you be kind enough to share with the readers your experience or plans?