September 18 2021: Six months ago, we would have hesitated to make this suggestion: The government’s rules for the operation of drones in India, were extremely complex and overladen with regulation. Now things are different – drastically so.
The latest Drone Rules 2021, notified in August have eased most of the cumbersome procedures for nano and micro drones ( below 250 grams and up to 2 kg) which no longer require prior licensing. This would cover most recreational use cases and the hotel and tourism sectors can now do something their counterparts outside India have been doing for a few years now -- harness the ease and convenience of drones to market their properties in new and dramatic sways. Here’s how:
Stunning aerial views of your property
Using a drone to take aerial photography and video of your property -- or in the case of tourism departments, of your attractions and destinations --dramatically cuts costs that would be required to take a photographer up in a helicopter.
If you operate a large resort, golf course or similar property with a wide spread, aerial photography provides a sharp enhancement of what you can share by way of videos or still photos on your website or in your digital marketing collateral. The online consumption of travel videos is hugely increasing. Travel videos attract and engage consumers much more than text and still pictures.
There are cameras like GoPro which are ideally suited to be lofted by a drone – and alternately, many recreational drones come pre-fitted with a decent (full HD 1080p) video camera.
Room service via drone
Resorts with a large spread have also experimented with roomservice delivery via drone, obviating the necessity of a staff member making a long journey on foor or more usually, in an electric buggy. The Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa in San Francisco, is known to have delivered champagne to guests in their rooms using a drone. Using drones also meets guest expectations these days of contactless service.
Property monitoring and safety
Drones have proved to be very effective in surveying large properties like resorts – saving a lot of security manpower that such establishments use. On one hand, routine flights especially at night (infrared cameras with night vision will do the job) will ensure the integrity of perimeters and boundaries against encroachment. On the other hand, beach resorts which employ life guards can extend their view by flying over the water, further into the water to check if any swimmers are in distress.
Usage for surveillance, needs to be balanced by privacy considerations – and guests at no time should feel that they are being spied upon. This is a very new use case – and the hotel industry has yet to establish some standard practices and norms of usage.
Micro drones with 1080p 4K 120 degree cameras are available for around Rs 6000-1000 at Amazon.
GoPro rugged cameras start at around Rs 24,000.
Key details of new Drone policy here in our earlier report.
PDF of Drone Rules 2021 gazette notification here.
Dated but still relevant:3 Ways Hotels Are Creatively Using Drones - Prevue Meetings & Incentives