Guestroom TVs invite new content streaming options for guests

Multiple electronic devices packed with personal media: that’s what travelers come armed with when they check into a hotel today. And it used to be that they could only watch their content on the device it was loaded on—whether a phone, tablet or laptop. This all happening while the guestroom TV sat there, power off, like a White Elephant. No more. Hotels now are moving quickly to allow guests to watch their content on that once-idle guestroom TV.

One such is the Hotel Vintage in Seattle, which added this capability during an April renovation. A smartphone dock in the hotel’s guestrooms sits at a bedside table that wirelessly streams data to the TV via a Bluetooth signal. Amanda Parsons, GM of the hotel, said the main benefit of the system is the flexibility it gives guests. To remove frustration from the excitement of discovering new guestroom options, the hotel trained its front desk staff and bellmen in the operation of the new hardware so they can assist guests if problems arise.

“Wherever people are traveling, they are always watching movies or TV on their devices,” Parsons said. “Hotels must remain flexible and explore these new options to make things easier and more intuitive for the guest.”

According to Jonas Tanenbaum, VP of hospitality for Samsung’s Enterprise Business Division, consumers have been able to stream video from their portable devices to their TVs for some time now, and hotels have been making an effort to match the experience. 

“The goal on the design side is to try and shorten the difference between the living room and hotel room experiences,” Tanenbaum said. “We want to provide the same options on the road that a traveler has at home, backed up by video on demand and the library of media options available in a guestroom smart TV.”

One question that arises is: Should hotels pause to provide these options in fear of cutting into the already-diminishing-market of video on demand? Richard Lewis, VP of B2B research and technology for LG Electronics USA, said that VOD still has a value proposition for hotels that allow guests to use their own media on the TV thanks to VOD’s early release windows and convenience.

“People have been saying video on demand is dead for a long time, but it will co-exist with these new options,” Lewis said. “This just provides guests with more options; it’s not a death blow.”