Public spaces change the channel on TV use

The days of being alone in a hotel room are gone, according to Amaury Piedra, GM of the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Hotel guests have completed their shift from privacy to public areas, and in the process, public spaces have transformed into neutral areas where guests can be “alone together” and TVs are used for background news as opposed to attention getters, he said.

“People want to watch sports, conventions like the recent Democratic National Convention,” Piedra said. “We put on the big events of the time, not shows.” But hotels must be prepared for demand. Piedra said that events like the Olympics draw guests to hotel public areas, which prompted him to add two additional TVs to the existing four in the hotel’s lobby in order to follow each of the individual events taking place.

One thing that Fred Crespo, director of technology & business development at Samsung Electronics, wants to make clear is that TVs and digital displays are not the same thing. While they both share information, digital displays are designed to be on 24 hours per day, every day of the week, a use level that the average TV is not built to keep pace with. Deciding the place of either in your property is an increasingly important decision hotels are forced to make. Thus, while digital displays are growing in utility, TVs have been expanded to include larger, wider footprints, curved layouts and higher-resolution opportunities such as 4K.

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“Video walls, retail displays, outdoor displays and more are all much more affordable, and hotels are looking for ways to use them,” Crespo said. “Think about what the lobby represents to a hotel: the first point of contact for the guest and the opportunity to create a sense of wow.”

Hotels also have to wow with TVs in the guestroom, which is a challenge because of traditional TV’s shrinking user base. Garry Wicka, senior director of marketing for LG One, said guests want to stream their personal content to guestroom TVs, something that is just now becoming a reality.

“Casting to the TV was one of the biggest hiccups a few years ago,” Wicka said. “It didn’t work right, was difficult to use and hotels had to step back and get it right. We need to give guests the platform that allows them to stream to the TV at all levels, from economy to luxury. The goal of the industry right now is to enable, not make decisions for them.”

 

Much of the challenge comes from the formats of the devices guests are bringing with them. Google, Apple and Microsoft are the three primary developers for mobile technology, and according to Crespo they rarely cooperate behind the scenes.

“You have to think guest first,” Crespo said. “We try to accommodate different formats, but it’s difficult for a TV manufacturer like Samsung to solve issues like these behind the scenes. Casting helps solve that problem in some ways; it’s as close to a universal protocol for mobile content streaming as we will get right now.”

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