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10/11/2022

OTT in Hospitality: The Future of Streaming Distribution and Consumption for Hotels and their Guests

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man and woman watching tv in bed

The past few years have been challenging to those in the hospitality industry as the COVID-19 pandemic stalled travel and ongoing inflation inhibits vacations. However, a recent CBRE Hotel Research report shows a strong recovery for the hospitality industry throughout 2022 and beyond, meaning it is critical for hotels and resorts to do all they can to provide excellent guest services and make customers feel right at home.

This means, to a large extent, being able to bring home entertainment on the go, allowing guests to enjoy their favorite content from the convenience of their hotel rooms, whether it comes from a traditional network or is available only through an over-the-top (OTT) service. OTT services offer video content streamed directly from the Internet and bypassing traditional multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs). In recent years, it has become the predominant way for consumers to engage with content, with platforms like Netflix and Disney+ boasting incredible subscriber growth at a time where the traditional video package at home seems to be falling out of fashion.

Hoteliers are scrambling to integrate OTT content into their entertainment services. Here are some ways that hospitality providers can innovate in this space:

App Enabled In-Room Entertainment

Incorporating OTT services into the in-room entertainment systems will benefit hospitality organizations that aim to provide guests with access to their preferred platforms during their stay. This requires an evolution in their hospitality platforms to enable delivery of streaming services. Some hotels have implemented hybrid solutions, with systems that combine traditional television services delivered via existing coaxial cables, and OTT apps delivered either via Wifi or ethernet using a set top box in every room.

Alternatively, some hotels are choosing Internet-only deployments using Smart TVs (TVs that connect to the Internet via ethernet or Wifi) and either forgo the traditional TV package or offer it via an app.

In some cases, hotels offer guests a simpler option to stream content using their own devices: casting. This is allowing guests to pair their own devices with either the TV directly or a connected streaming device so that they can use their smartphone or tablet to access the apps and the TV to watch the content from the comfort of their rooms. This helps hospitality service providers hyper-personalize experiences to guests, but also requires investment in technology and equipment to enable device pairing and casting content from third-party apps.

Novel ways of transforming the in-room experience

These connected platforms also offer hoteliers the opportunity to transform the guestroom experience through content discovery and personalization. Hotels can offer entertainment with preinstalled OTT apps, making guests feel more at home by allowing them to use their own subscription to view their preferred OTT service, while also providing their own content, including concierge information and amenity details, unifying and streamlining the entertainment experience.

Furthermore, Smart TVs and streaming devices are revolutionizing the capabilities of guestroom management. Fully integrated and tailored hospitality management solutions are now offering guest control over room amenities like lights, air conditioning and thermostats directly from their TV. With the increased presence of voice-powered virtual assistants, investment in connected experiences can set hospitality providers up for future success as the industry progresses to voice-directed, hands-free control and entertainment.

Simplifying the User Experience

One of the obstacles to a simplified guest entertainment experience is having to log in to each of the OTT services from their hotel room. TV apps still require keying in a password with a remote control or some kind of two-factor authentication using a mobile device, which can be discouraging for some guests. Additionally, some guests may be concerned about entering their credentials into what is seen as a public device for fear of having their information stolen; however, most hotels clear user credentials upon check-out, mitigating any risks.

An area of consideration would be leveraging loyalty programs to connect to a guest’s OTT services. Hotel chains could work with major platforms, creating a linkage between their members and their favorite OTT services and reducing friction when attempting to watch content through their in-room entertainment system.

This new layer of customer data could be further leveraged by hotels in creating a hyper-personalized content experience in future visits. Their in-room entertainment system not only could automatically log in users, but also recommend favorite shows, next episodes, sporting events, and elevate the user experience to a whole new level.

Negotiating meaningful partnerships

OTT streaming offers many benefits to new-age consumers within the hospitality industry, but more importantly, it provides limitless integration opportunities for hotels once they commit to investing in the infrastructure. No forward-thinking organization should, however, undertake a digital transformation of this nature without a proper technology partner. Whether it be a complete OTT overhaul for global hotel chains or customized welcome screens and interactive program guides, experienced digital engineering companies can offer counsel and expertise to advise on which level of investment is best for a growing business.