Today’s guestroom televisions use technology to make it easier for guests to watch everything from live TV, video on demand, pay per view and searchable interactive program guides to streaming content from guests’ mobile devices to the TV. We checked in with the hospitality TV experts on what trends hoteliers should be following when it comes to the guestroom television.
1. Display Technology
Display technology continues to evolve with OLED and LED 4K display screens now becoming more available and affordable as a result of the proliferation of 4K display panels in both the consumer market and the commercial market. In the commercial market, manufacturers such as LG offer multiple product offerings of high-performance 4K hotel TVs, said Chris Barton, national account manager, head-end systems and SI partner management at LG Electronics. As of this year, all of LG's hotel TVs 49 inches and larger now offer 4K resolution.
When hoteliers are considering purchasing hospitality TVs, they are planning on a five- to seven-year lifespan and planning ahead for 4K content, said Fred Crespo, director of technology and business development at Samsung Electronics. “More and more hoteliers are adopting 4K panels, not so much because of availability of content today, but because the transition to 4K is happening at a faster rate than expected for TVs,” he said.
2. TV Design
As a result of these higher-end televisions, hotels are seeing that TV design within the guestroom is as important as the visual display on the TV, according to Barton. “TVs are becoming thinner and sleeker every year,” he said. “Recently, LG debuted the world’s first Wallpaper OLED hotel TV, which is just two-tenths of an inch thick, giving it an aesthetic accent that is as sleek as the picture quality.”
Casting options in conjunction with hospitality TVs allow hoteliers to let guests cast content from their mobile device on any mobile device platform (Android/ IoS/ Windows). “The content casting trend is really catching on,” Crespo said. “Guests expect to watch the on-demand content they are used to no matter where they go.”
4. Smart Technology
The integration of energy management and automation into the guestroom user interface has had a huge impact on hospitality TVs, Crespo said. “I call this the smart-home effect on hospitality,” he continued. “More and more consumers have brought automation into their at-home experience with smart home devices, automated lighting, smart TVs, smart thermostats, etc.”
Consumers also are used to managing the room from a mobile device experience. There is a baseline of expectation for what to expect in a living space or bedroom and that baseline travels with consumers whether they are traveling for business or leisure, Crespo said. Hoteliers are embracing this change and investing more in this automated and smart technology for hotel guestrooms. This automated experience allows them to personalize the in-room experience and bring it in line with residential experience.
The internal processing power and “the brains” behind the display continue to expand in capabilities, so users are seeing higher performance all around, Barton said. Applications built on TV platforms allow guests to benefit from enhanced offerings, such as ordering roomservice, requesting a car or checking out directly through the TV, and snappy user interface performance, while hoteliers benefit as these powerful TVs become more easily customized to their guests needs—a win-win situation.
“In the same way that consumers 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,” Barton said.
OTT just got easier for guests
The latest trend in the hotel television industry is the ability to pair a hospitality TV with a streaming device to allow the guest to navigate and authenticate their smartphone or tablet and stream the content to the in-room TV. This over-the-top content is provided via a high-speed internet connection rather than a cable or satellite provider.
“We know that guests look for qualities in a hotel TV that imitate those in their own homes,” Barton said. “Features including picture quality, a selection of entertainment options, electronic program guides, viewing angles, phone or tablet pairing and casting capabilities, and the availability of embedded applications are just a few of the qualities guests are looking for.”
Crespo said more hospitality TVs have developed the interface to make OTT casting as easy as possible. “The interfaces allow for easy access to the casting solution as well as using the TV’s remote control to enable and disable the casting session seamlessly,” he said.
In an on-demand world, the importance of internet protocol infrastructures and IP-capable TVs is growing. “The traditional linear content still remains, but hoteliers and manufacturers alike are crafting solutions to build more connected OTT services," Barton said. "Guests also want lots of entertainment options to be able to use their own phones to pair with the TVs and access embedded applications and personalized content.”
Hospitality TVs now can deliver a wide variety of OTT services even in the current challenging licensing environment. Televisions now support IP- and radio-frequency-delivered content as well as OTT services, and they can be paired with Chromecast or other streaming devices to provide even more content options to hotel guests.
While the use of smart devices makes it easier for guests to watch their favorite shows, it needs special network equipment to help simplify the in-room pairing process, Barton said.
In order to provide casting options, hotels must invest in a dongle for each guestroom. A dongle is a small device able to be connected to and used with a computer, especially to allow access to wireless broadband or use of protected software. Several companies offer them, and they typically work seamlessly with many brands of televisions.
How Hilton partnered to recycle its old televisions
Guestroom TVs typically are retired every five to seven years. But what do you do with your old TVs? To kick off its nationwide corporate recycling program, Hilton launched a pilot program at its 378-room Newark Airport property in 2017 to recycle old guestroom televisions.
TVs represent one of the largest contributors to electronic waste, which is the fastest growing solid waste stream in the world. Many states, including the Hilton Newark Airport property’s home state of New Jersey, mandate e-waste recycling programs through legislation that outlaws landfilling televisions. Hilton needed to find partners that would help facilitate the recycling of the existing sets and retrofit new sets of a high quality and caliber.
This large project was the result of successful collaboration among multiple stakeholders from the lodging, manufacturing, electronics and recycling industries. Together, the team needed to follow a strict timeline and stay in constant communication to achieve project goals and minimize disruption to the hotel’s day-to-day activities and guests.
To do so, Hilton and LG engaged Global Sustainability Solutions in Manassas, Va., to oversee the recycling of the old TVs and installation of the new TVs. “Partnering with diverse businesses to further support local job creation and improve the environment is of the utmost importance at Hilton, where we hold sustainability in the highest regard,” said Judy Pines, director of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Hilton, which has reduced its waste output by nearly 30 percent and reduced carbon emissions by 24 percent since 2009.
After the team worked together to remove the units to be recycled, they were staged in one area of the hotel and Global Sustainability Solutions was able to easily load the TVs for transportation to the offsite recycling facility.
“The preplanning was very easy and all parties involved were very thorough with the planning and execution,” said Hilton Newark Airport GM Paul Grande. “Each group had a set role, which is what made this project so seamless and such a huge success.”
The Hilton Newark Airport property chose LG 43-inch flat-screen TVs to replace 32-inch guestroom sets. GSS also installed 49-inch LG hotel TVs in the Hilton’s suites.
The project was completed in just four days’ time—two days less than anticipated, minimizing impact on guests. Due to the pilot’s success, LG and Hilton are extending the program into 2018 with plans to replace old sets with LG 4K Ultra HD hotel TVs.