Guestroom TV positioning is equal parts art and science

Photo credit: rilueda//iStock

Hilton knows a thing or two about TV presentation in hotel guestrooms. The Roosevelt Hilton in New York City was the first hotel in the industry to install TVs in guestrooms, beginning in 1947. A luxury novelty at that time, eventually the TV evolved to become an expected fixture within the guestroom, something that was hidden in cabinets and revealed as guests explored their accommodations. The TV naturally graduated to become the focal point of many guestrooms, and hence the positioning of the TV has become an art as well as a science.

Randy Gaines, SVP of operations & new openings, Americas at Hilton, said the gradually increasing size of TVs has contributed to their changing positions. With the average hotel TV now 42 inches in size, these devices are best mounted on a central wall near the bed, but they should also be viewable from the guestroom’s work desk.

“It’s all about design intent,” Gaines said. “Mounting a TV on a clunky piece of marble where you can see the wires is aesthetically unpleasing. You can free up the box if you mount it, and because guestrooms are usually 400-500 square feet in size, any free space gained from mounting is desirable real estate.”

Sound is always a concern in an environment where multiple individuals are sleeping or living in close proximity, and Gaines said Hilton employs insulating material inside the wall where TVs are mounted or positioned. Because sound can be carried easily through walls, under doors and through windows, the position of the guestroom TV must be considered carefully.

If a guestroom has a TV, it often is the focal point of the room.

Chris Barton, national account manager, head-end systems and SI partner management at LG Electronics, said hoteliers need to take into account factors such as noise, glare, viewing angles, picture quality and the design of a device when purchasing TVs because it is often a significant investment. In particular, Barton said viewing angles are a major component of guestroom design since wall mounts capable of articulation are also more expensive than swivel-mounted options.

“From a design, safety and potential theft perspective, hoteliers must decide whether they want to wall-mount a TV or place it on a piece of furniture, use a lock-in stand to keep the display intact within its environment, or use an articulating arm to mount the TV in a way that it can be positioned with more flexibility than a swivel stand,” Barton said.

Jonas Tanenbaum, VP of sales for Samsung Electronics’ hospitality TV division, said the industry’s gradual shift toward smart TVs comes with certain design and operational caveats. These devices require a persistent internet connection, and Tanenbaum said hoteliers interested in smart TVs are discovering the limitations of their existing infrastructure.

Most hotels are outfitted with coaxial cables, which send information on a one-way trip from a property’s head end (a telecommunications or cable gateway for signals) to guestroom TVs. This technology, which saw its heyday from the 1980s until the early 2000s, is not very effective at sending information from the TV back to the head end. There are multiple solutions to this connectivity quandary, but all of them are costly.

“Ethernet cable connectivity is common in new-build hotels or significant renovation projects, but they are expensive,” Tanenbaum said. “Doxis, CAT-5 and wireless are all options, but wireless requires a robust infrastructure of its own as well as a great deal of bandwidth. It’s a problem all hotels are facing, but it’s a major consideration for existing hotels.”