Whether at home or on the road, it’s become increasingly clear that streaming is the king of content. Many guests now hold multiple streaming subscriptions and expect to be able to access the same content they enjoy at home while at a hotel.
“Hotels used to be a place you would escape to because it was something you couldn’t get at home,” says Joe King, vice-president, Commercial Display, North America, PPDS (Philips Professional Display Solutions). But, over time, he explains, “the hotel industry went from being at the forefront of things to really falling behind — especially from a technology standpoint.”
At minimum, guests expect to enjoy the technologies they’re accustomed to at home during a hotel stay. In fact, Hotel Internet Services’ 2020 Guestroom Entertainment Study of Guests & Hoteliers concluded: “By installing content streaming alone, a hotel can improve guest satisfaction and remain ahead of the curve.” Overall, the study identified surfing the Internet and wirelessly casting video from personal devices as the features guests are most interested in using guestroom TVs for, with demand for wireless casting increasing 13 per cent from 2018 to 2020.
While incorporating streaming options isn’t new, smarter, more streamlined technologies continue to be adapted for hospitality use. “There are certainly smart TVs out there, [but] the industry, in the past five to seven years, has preferred a ‘dumb TV,’ which then lets a set-top box be the smarts,” King explains.
To answer the need for “a smart TV that’s designed for hotels,” PPDS celebrated its return to the North-American market earlier this year with the launch of a new line of Philips MediaSuite Pro Android TVs with built-in Chromecast.
In 2021, LG Electronics also strengthened its partnership with Netflix to expand support for the streaming service on LG Smart Hotel TVs with webOS 5.0 and Pro:Centric Direct. While Netflix had been available on LG Hotel TVs since 2017, this was previously limited to a number of larger system integrators.
The latest solutions also put greater emphasis on streamlined service management. For example, automatic platform updates are a key highlight of the LG Hotel TVs with webOS 5.0 and Pro:Centric Direct. The MediaSuite Pro range is also designed to be future proof, allowing operators to install future versions of the Android OS at no additional cost.
King stresses that the MediaSuite Pro line has been designed for greater control and ease of use. “There’s a lot of strength in the software piece that comes [with] the system,” he explains. “The great thing about the software is that [updates and modifications] can all be done from a central location and then sent to the TVs themselves.” This, he adds, allows operators to easily take advantage of the TV’s extensive customization features and is a vast improvement over having to make changes on each individual in-room system.
On the guest front, a key focus is giving them greater control over their experience. And, in doing so, it’s important to remember that expectations of in-room entertainment go beyond streaming movies and TV shows. Wellness content is of growing importance to guests, including meditation, mindfulness and fitness.
This fact is not lost on Hyatt, as Asad Ahmed, Hyatt’s SVP of Commercial Services, Americas, notes its use of SONIFI’s STAYCAST platform supports streaming from more than 2,000 apps through integration with the World of Hyatt app.
“With STAYCAST, guests can stream their favourite entertainment or fitness workout right to the in-room TV,” shares Ahmed. “Additionally, through Hyatt’s collaboration with Headspace, guests can also access in-room guided meditations at more than 200 Hyatt properties and through the World of Hyatt mobile app.”
And, given that the number of streaming services available continues to grow, allowing guests to cast from their own devices and using the services they already have access to is a far simpler solution that trying to keep up with the most in-vogue offerings.
By allowing guests to use their own devices and streaming services, King adds, “that gives the guests a whole lot more control, which, as an operator, gives you better customer satisfaction.”
Written by Danielle Schalk