Hotels use audiovisual technology in new, novel ways

teamDigital elevator
Events or meal specials can be broadcast throughout a hotel using digital signage, such as LCD screens in the lobby. Photo credit: teamDigital

As hotels continue to strive to offer the latest innovations in technology for their guests, they are turning more and more to new and more advanced uses of audiovisual equipment. This includes the use of video walls, wireless communications and larger screens for relaying hotel information in lobbies and other public spaces, providing food-and-beverage options and especially delivering enhanced presentations during meetings and conventions. 

"You are now seeing a generation of people who have grown up accustomed to big screens," said Gene Tiernan, managing director for teamDigital, a Bethel, Conn.-based digital marketing agency that does work in the hospitality industry. "[AV equipment is] no longer a one-way messaging device; hotels are now using AV to interact with attendees in meeting rooms during events."

For instance, you can have a Q&A panel going on at a large meeting, and audience members can send a question from a mobile device that would appear on a large screen.

"This enhanced AV capability is now becoming more common, and meetings can have more one-to-one communications—even in a room of 500 people," Tiernan said.

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There also is a greater use of video walls and light-emitting diode panels at meetings in hotels, said Steve Goodman, founder and managing partner at MeetingAdvice, a meetings and event-management company based in Atlanta. Growing in popularity as well is the use of split screens during PowerPoint presentations.

"You can make presentations with these larger images that have become more vivid and clearer," he said. "AV is now becoming more high-tech, interactive and allowing for more flexibility to accommodate more types of program presentations in hotels.” 

Beyond Meetings

There is a growth in the industry in wireless AV, where you don't have to connect to anything to send a message from a wireless device and have it appear on a screen. This technology can be used beyond meetings, said Leo Garrison, senior designer at Metro Sounds Pros, a Monroe, N.Y., company that designs and installs sound, lighting and video systems for all kinds of applications. For instance, a montage at a wedding or other large gathering can be projected via a wireless device, such as a cell phone. According to Garrison, this technology started popping up about two years ago and is being used by a very small amount of properties. 

Also, events or meal specials can be broadcast on screens in elevator banks and other parts of hotels through digital signage. About 40-50 percent of hotels are now using this digital signage, Garrison estimated. 

"The hotel industry still has a long way to go in terms of AV use, but we do see this growing," Garrison said. 

Making Inroads

There also is an increased use of AV for digital art in hotel lobbies, as well as broadcasting sporting events on large video walls in restaurants and bars, said Michelle Guss, Los Angeles-based senior manager of business development for Crestron, a global company that provides smart home and office solutions. 

"Instead of traditional televisions, you are seeing more broadcasting of numerous games going on at once in hotel bars," Guss said.

AV equipment also can be used in other areas of properties. For instance, if a guest wants to schedule time at a hotel spa, that guest can make a reservation from a mobile device and have his or her name appear on a screen at the spa, Tiernan added.  

Hotels use audiovisual technology in new, novel ways
Events or meal specials can be broadcast throughout a hotel using digital signage, such as LCD
screens in the lobby. Photo credit: teamDigital

In addition, AV is being made a major part of more and more hotel renovations these days. The Garland in North Hollywood, Calif., in March completed a renovation of its 5,100-square-foot Garland Ballroom, adding enhanced lighting and audiovisual capabilities, said GM Scott Mills. The ballroom now is equipped with 11 rigging points (specific places in the ceiling from which you’re able to hang things within a venue) that feature a LiteLab Busport System, allowing for theatrical lighting and projector installation without a ground footprint. There are five different locations for presentation screens in this ballroom of the 257-room property. 

Hotels also need to make sure they have an adequate set-up for new AV technology because it requires a lot of bandwidth. 

"There is a learning curve when it comes to AV equipment; some hotels are up to the challenge and some are not," Goodman said.