Executive Insight: In-Room Entertainment and Connectivity Drive Revenue
Robert Grosz, Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President, World Cinema
1. Please describe some of the ways that in-room entertainment can help drive customer satisfaction and hotel revenue?
Hospitality has always been about people. Our industry strives to make people feel taken care of and special by providing comfort, safety and entertainment, and this extends to their in-room experience. Guests crave choice for their in-room entertainment – they want to watch what they want when they want it. Through a well-executed and thoughtful technology strategy, hotels can give guests the choice to watch curated TV programming, streaming apps or even cast their own content. Offering content choice caters to the areas that are central to hospitality’s core and can lead to high levels of customer satisfaction, repeat business and positive word of mouth.
2. Is in-room entertainment also an opportunity for communicating with guests and providing retail/sales opportunities for hotels? What are some examples?
TVs have evolved into much more than just a physical standpoint in the room. Today’s TVs have become an entertainment hub that not only give guests access to their preferred content, but also serve as a platform for hotels to further market and communicate with guests. Hotels now have the ability to completely customize their TV interfaces to showcase hotel amenities and even promote brand consistency across multiple properties. In-room entertainment platforms also offer hotels a smarter way to communicate with guests through the ability to send property or event updates directly to guest room TVs. Beyond digital communication with guests, properties can showcase local attractions such as live events, local restaurants or linens, enabling the guest to click to purchase right from the TV.
3. Have you seen a shift in any consumer trends when it comes to in-room entertainment? How should hotels prepare as travelers return to hotels for summer vacations this year?
How people consume content has evolved dramatically over the past year. Guests have become accustom to how they access their favorite shows or streaming apps at home and now expect this same capability during their hotel stays. Information and entertainment must now be delivered to the guest on their schedule in a flawless, convenient and intuitive way. Gone are the days of offering 100 channels with nothing desirable to watch. It’s much more important deliver a core 40-channel lineup of the most popular content and give guests access to casting and popular streaming apps. In-room entertainment systems should integrate with guests’ personal devices to provide a touchless and familiar interface.
4. Connectivity is always desirable for hotel guests. Recent HT surveys suggest that robust, free WiFi is a top customer expectation. What are some critical considerations for hotels implementing and delivering connectivity to guests?
The term “robust WiFi” must be better defined. Robust WiFi used to mean “fast” or “available”, but in the networking world speed is really one of the least important key performance indicators (KPI), and availability is simply table stakes.
Technology, especially wireless networking technology, is constantly improving both from a features and value standpoint. Hotel stakeholders should have a roadmap as to what kind of guest or associate technology experience they wish to deliver over the next 10 years. This roadmap should be re-evaluated yearly. Capital plans for frequent upgrades and maintenance should be part of the annual hotel budgeting process. Hotels need a trusted partner with networking and technology expertise who has the best interest of the hotel and their guests in mind. How guests authenticate to a network is very important both to the guest experience and the security and management of all types of connected devices. Much of this magic is software driven using Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and improving authentication for both user and device management with tools like Passpoint. It’s also important to consider the impact of licensed Carrier networks which can deliver highly manageable reliability down to the device and application level.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all solution. That’s why is important to have a trusted advisor who continually focuses on the technology landscape related to hospitality.
5. Operational efficiency is always a top priority for hoteliers. Can you speak to the ways technology and connectivity can enhance operations and cut costs?
The global socioeconomic disruption from the past 12 months hotels have created even more operational challenges than in the past. Aging systems, issues that arise from low occupancy including operating with skeleton crew staff, challenges in hiring, training, and retaining good employees, and manageable and reliable video surveillance of common areas are top of mind today with hotel operators.
Deploying technology solutions to help address these challenges are highly effective, more predictable/manageable, and less expensive than hiring more people or fork-lift replacing major systems like HVAC, plumbing or electrical. For example, arming on-site engineers and centralized building monitoring teams with smartphones and retrofitting buildings with temperate, humidity, motion and leak sensors saves time and pinpoints the root cause of common building system issues. Payback on these investments can occur by diverting a single major issue related to the case of a major water leak. Using two-way video kiosks throughout the property could improve guest service levels and create a differentiated experience without the need to hire additional staff. And deploying more sophisticated video monitoring systems can protect both guests and associates while providing actionable intelligence to the hotel owner and operator.
As we’ve seen in the past, technology will continue to improve customer experience and provide true bottom line value to hotel owners. But with-out a plan, hotels who fail to understand the potential or under-estimate the value of exceptional technology management will become significantly less competitive in the future.