Guestroom entertainment goals for 2017

(What entertainment options would you put in your hotel guestroom if cost wasn't an object? Here are four guestroom entertainment options on operator wish lists for this year.)

Over time, the hotel guestroom has evolved to amplify the importance of the TV. Seeing as hotels follow and strive to improve on trends in the residential market, it only makes sense that the guestroom would mimic what guests have at home. Today’s new technology is seeing more advancements in handheld devices that carry and deliver content, and hotels are keen on capitalizing on that in 2017.

Hotels are often stuck chasing the residential market when it comes to technology due to costs, but if money wasn’t an object what would operators want in their guestrooms? HOTEL MANAGEMENT spoke with four entertainment professionals to see what their wish lists for 2017 would look like if they could break the bank, and some of it isn’t as impossible as one might think.

1. Universal 4K Content

According to Gary Wicka, B2B senior director of marketing at LG One, 4K displays took off in the residential market throughout 2016 and 2017 is expecting even bigger numbers. While 4K displays can be found in many hotels, rarely is 4K-quality content available in guestrooms — something that could turn the tide to grow viewership.

“These displays have hit mainstream, and hoteliers are thinking about it over the next five years but that may be too long,” Wicka said. “From a display perspective and a streaming content perspective, we’d want to make sure it’s enabled all the way through the guestroom experience before going live.”

“It’s becoming the standard to propose a good high-definition lineup, but there is still a significant part of the lineup that doesn’t have high-definition quality video at all,” said Craig Snelgrove, VP, business development at Bulk TV & Internet. “It’s table stakes at this point.”

2. Personal Area Networks in all Guestrooms

Hotels struggle with the data dilemma, mainly that exceeding expectations with regard to bandwidth speeds is difficult in hospitality due to a variety of factors, including the number of devices in use on property, the size of a property and the cost associated with frequent upgrades. Vanessa Ogle, CEO at Enseo, said she would like to see personal area networks in every hotel guestroom to assist the process and elevate guests' experiences as they interact with the internet.

“You would be future proofing the room for every technology that is coming later,” Ogle said. “We believe each guest knows what is the most important technology and content to them, and we want to give them a way to easily access whatever they want to bring to the guestroom, and PAN is the way to do that.”

3. Ultimate Room Control

What if your TV was a gateway to command the guestroom? Because the TV already serves as a gateway for information about a hotel and the surrounding area, Jonas Tanenbaum, VP sales and marketing — hospitality TV division at Samsung Electronics America, said in the near future the TV could be used as a console to command guestroom amenities electronically. Though some of these services, such as controlling heating, lighting and cooling, the in-room HVAC, window drapes, do-not-disturb signage and door locks are being considered for mobile apps, the TV is also an eligible source for this technology because of its ubiquitous nature and the fact that not every traveler has property- or brand-specific mobile applications while on the road.

“The property will be given a back-of-house window to monitor energy usage and provide cost of ownership savings not just for the room but the entire property,” Tanenbaum said.

“The idea is to have a TV in the room that is a control center,” Snelgrove said. “Automated environmental controls have a clear return on investment, and once you have a good platform there you don’t need extra moving parts. It’s a logical step.”

4. On-Property Interactivity

The success of independent and boutique hotels shows operators that guests want unique experiences while traveling, which is why Wicka said the next step for differentiation in hotels is through technology. Wicka theorizes about guestroom entertainment becoming more interactive with a given property in mind, using a fitness hotel as an example to provide fitness-on-demand. This particular offering has already been deployed in a Marriott property in Charlotte, N.C., and is designed to help guests keep up with their fitness regimen when on the road.

“If a traveler does a regular yoga or spin class throughout the week, I want to be able to uphold that on the road,” Wicka said. “It’s not just about in-room content anymore, but everything a guest is doing in their normal life. We want to provide access to all the different things that make guests go on a daily basis.”