Hotel operators have long focused their technology efforts to improve certain touchpoints of the guest journey by providing innovative solutions such as mobile check-in and check-out, keyless entry and casting, among others.
But increasingly, in-room entertainment that is both personalized and innovative is becoming one of the most important aspects of the guest journey as consumers, particularly modern travelers, seek new technologies to further enhance their hotel stays. Today’s modern traveler expects the technological comforts of their own residence to follow them on their trips. When they walk into their hotel room, they anticipate instant, seamless connectivity from their personal devices to the in-room entertainment.
Interestingly, in-room entertainment is one area where hotels were early adopters and often provided better experiences than guests had at home. Hotels were the gold standard — the first to usher in a wave of in-room entertainment amenities such as satellite and cable television, on-demand movies and internet access. Travelers, guests, families and more looked forward to their hotel stays to experience the latest in entertainment amenities.
However, hotel operators cannot afford to remain stagnant with their in-room entertainment offerings, particularly when you consider industry trends and the expectations consumers bring. In 2019, more U.S. households subscribed to a streaming service (69%) than to a traditional satellite or cable TV provider (65%) for the first time. With the popularity of both smartphones and content streaming services at home, guests now want the same dynamic experience in their hotel room. Additionally, with consumers now having a much wider array of viewing options, each persons’ needs will be different from the next person when they’re staying at a hotel.
The Mobile Revolution
The mobile revolution has resulted in a huge opportunity for hotels to enhance the guest experience by personalizing in-room entertainment and returning to the gold standard. But the challenge hotel operators face now is bridging the disconnect between the in-room technology and the entertainment technology that guests bring with them.
The standard in-room TV experience is an HDTV with satellite/cable live TV, but no interactive guide, no streaming and no casting. Yet, guests bring their own smartphones, tablets, laptops and streaming subscriptions, giving them more flexibility and an array of content offerings. But the mobile playback experience isn’t ideal for everyone because of the devices’ smaller screens.
Hotel operators that can identify an integrated solution to combine casting technology, over-the-top streaming services and the in-room entertainment hardware onto one user-friendly platform will ultimately help to inspire guest loyalty toward the hotel brand because the hotel is meeting their needs. A guest’s stay will be enriched if they have the ability to personalize their in-room entertainment experience such as accessing their own Netflix accounts directly from the TV in their room or cast their favorite shows, movies and music from their smartphone.
Consumers live in an era of instant access. Accessible apps like Netflix have habituated consumers into expecting immediacy and flexibility. In terms of in-room hotel entertainment, this is redefining the behavior and preference of the modern-day hotel guest.
Moving forward, casting will become integral to this process, representing the ultimate way for guests to enjoy their favorite content through a simplified, secure and seamless form of connectivity.
Points of Consideration
As hotel operators seek technology solutions to elevate the in-room entertainment experience, there are three areas they need to consider:
- Installation and Networks: Hotels should consider the implications that advanced entertainment experiences will have on their existing networks, and the potential need to rewire and upgrade network equipment to support the increased connectivity demands of a new entertainment platform.
- Connecting In-Room Entertainment with a Property Management System (PMS): An in-room entertainment technology solution should be customizable as well as be able to connect and communicate directly with a hotel PMS where everything can be easily managed.
- Consistent Portfolio Experience: Many hotel operators own several properties. The technology solution that a hotel chooses should be a consistent experience across all properties to build brand loyalty from their guests. In fact, 72% of guests are likely to return to a hotel if their preferred in-room tech is available.
In this marketplace, I believe that hotel operators that are best able to reduce the technological friction and bridge the disconnect to make it easy for guests to access, personalize and control their favorite content will result in increased guest satisfaction, guest loyalty and hotel bookings.
About the Author
Josh Rowe serves as director of DISH Business, leading the product management and business development of DISH’s commercial businesses. Since joining in 2012, Josh has been instrumental in the development and expansion of DISH Business product offerings, including SMARTBOX®, DISH’s revolutionary headend video distribution platform for commercial applications, EVOLVE®, DISH’s television solution for hotels and DISH Fiber, the company’s bulk managed Wi-Fi and streaming TV solution.