Guestroom televisions get personalized

A standard guestroom television isn’t enough anymore — guests want to watch what they want, whenever they want to, even if when traveling. It’s about personalization, said Brian McGuinness, global brand leader, Starwood’s specialty select brands. Hotels, television manufacturers and content providers want the hotel TV to remain relevant, even when guests can watch anything they want on their smartphones and iPads.

At the Aloft Cupertino in California, each room comes with a digital media hub. Because of the Cupertino location, of course, the rooms’ 42-inch LCD televisions include Apple TV, so that guests can choose from thousands of movies or TV shows. Guests can also connect to other services or stream their own media.

“As Starwood’s tech-forward innovation lab, we’ve been piloting in-room Apple TV that allows guests to access their personal accounts (i.e., Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.) simply by using their own login through the television,” McGuinness said. “And guests love it. We look at Aloft Cupertino, set in the heart of Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley, as a testing hub hub for the brand and often pilot a lot of these game-changing technologies there first.”

Fred Crespo, director of technology and business development in the hospitality sales and marketing group of Samsung Electronics America, agrees that guests want access to content the way they are consuming it at home — if they don’t get that from the guestroom TV, they will go to their own devices.
“The most tech-savvy travelers want the at-home experience while in the room, so there is a shift back to the television,” he said. “Guests want to watch TV on the big screen versus their phone — that is just a work-around when on the road with no better options.”

Smart TVs that have interactive guides, and can facilitate mobile device interaction, and bring in applications such as Netflix, Hulu and Pandora, are being installed in more and more hotels. “In hotels where guests don’t have the capability to stream from their devices to the TV, they are asking for it, which is why we’re constantly experimenting with various technologies to enhance the guest experience,” McGuinness said.

But beyond smart TVs, DirecTV also is gaining popularity since it can mimic the residential experience without impacting the hotel’s broadband capabilities, said Doug Eichler, VP of commercial sales for DirecTV.