The next step for hotel TVs: Command of the guestroom

Soon, some guestrooms will be controlled entirely through the TV and associated mobile loyalty apps.

Because so many guests bring their own content with them on the road, hotels are seeing fewer and fewer uses for the guestroom in the traditional sense. Randy Gaines, SVP of operations & new openings, Americas at Hilton, has fond memories of loading VHS tapes into a larger system located behind the scenes, piping the video into guestrooms and charging guests $9.95 a pop—even making a profit in the process. “We aren’t making video on demand revenue anymore because you can pull something up that you downloaded at home wherever you are,” Gaines said.

Instead, Gaines envisions a hotel guestroom controlled by the TV. Lights, thermostats and more will all be controlled by an almost desktop-like interface built into the TV, and eventually Hilton wants to store guest preferences in its loyalty app to create consistency from stay to stay.

It’s all about doing more with less. Guests are already facing the TV throughout most of their stay, why not use it to control the room? Jonas Tanenbaum, VP of sales for Samsung Electronics’ hospitality TV division, agrees, particularly about providing hotels with a customizable welcome screen to draw in guests' attention and help them engage with the property.

“From there we get into concepts such as allowing the TV to connect to the [property-management] system, provide folio reviews or manage guest check-in/check-out,” Tanenbaum said.

Travelers want access to the same technology they have at home when on the road, which is growing to be a tall order.

Chris Barton, national account manager, head-end systems and SI partner management at LG Electronics, said hotels need to abandon the “one-size-fits-all” mentality when purchasing TVs because the volume of options available make it impossible to recommend a single model or functionality to even a single brand.

Above all, Barton said hotel guests are looking for amenities and technology that imitate what they have in their own homes, citing picture quality, entertainment options, electronic program guides, phone-pairing capabilities, embedded applications and viewing angles. The first step hoteliers can make to ensure they are buying a TV their guests will use is being honest with who their guests are and what they want out of a TV.

“In the same way that, as consumers, guests can choose from a wide variety of consumer-grade TVs to fit their precise viewing needs at home, hoteliers can elevate the in-room guest experience with a TV that fits the brand’s aesthetic, offerings and hospitality solutions as a whole,” he said.