How over-the-top content has changed the guestroom TV

Without a doubt, the introduction of over-the-top content has changed the hospitality television environment. This surge of more interactive and content-based services goes way beyond the linear content once offered to guests.

“In an on-demand world, the importance of [internet protocol] infrastructures and IP-capable TVs is growing,” said Richard Lewis, SVP, research and technology for LG Electronics USA Business Solutions. “The traditional linear content still remains, but hoteliers and manufacturers alike are crafting solutions to build more connected OTT services.”

Guests want to use the guestroom TV the same way they use the television in their living room, said Jonas Tanenbaum, VP of Samsung’s hospitality TV division. “We are translating the consumer patterns into hospitality technology in the hotel,” he said. “The experience of the TV needs to be more now than it has before.”

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Tanenbaum points out that all of the on-demand services now offered require these televisions to connect to the internet. Some older hotels may not have the internet protocol infrastructure in place and it can be expensive to upgrade the infrastructure. But hotels can use DOCSIS— Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification—embedded service that allows two-way protocol to work over an existing coaxial cable. “This opens these capabilities up to a much larger universe of hotels,” he said.

Interestingly enough, the current generation of televisions is capable of delivering these services but business issues and licensing rights are blocking widescale deployment, Lewis said. But many televisions, like LG’s Pro:Centric hospitality televisions, can deliver a wide variety of OTT services even in the current challenging licensing environment. “They support IP- and [radio frequency]-delivered content, as well as OTT service, and can be paired with a Chromecast or other streaming device to provide even more content options,” he said.

The latest trend, casting, is the ability to pair a hospitality TV with a streaming device to allow the guest to navigate and authenticate his or her smartphone or tablet and stream the content to the in-room TV. “While the use of these devices makes it easier for the guest to watch their favorite shows, the fact that it’s based on consumer technology means it needs special network equipment to help simplify the in-room pairing process,” Lewis 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, Tanenbaum said.  

But sometimes, certain hotels don’t require something as high-tech as OTT services. Sometimes the transition to something like high-definition can be difficult for some entry-level brands.

“For some entry-level or select-service hotels, the ability to offer customized welcome screens, interactive program guide, [high-definition] services is a huge quantum leap forward,” Tanenbaum said. “Some hotels have some basic needs.”

TV options transform the guestroom environment

New technology in televisions and with television services is changing the guestroom environment, allowing the guestroom television to be transformed into a control hub for the entire guestroom.

With new technology, such as Samsung’s hospitality-management solution, the guestroom TV is capable of communicating with multiple integrated IT devices.

This integrated solution enables hotels to operate more efficiently and provide differentiated services to their guests through four core services. These services cover room management, energy management, in-room control service and content management.

“HMS is going to extend the control of the TV and guest experience like never before,” said Jonas Tanenbaum, VP of Samsung’s hospitality TV division. “It will allow the guest to control the other amenities in the room.”

For example, guests can turn the air conditioning up or down, control the door locks and do not disturb signs, and turn the lights on or off. The hotel staff also has greater control over the guestroom environment, ranging from energy use to workflow management.

Samsung smart televisions already have the software for the new hospitality-management solution built in, and it allows the televisions to connect not only with the HMS server but with the hotel’s existing property-management system, and the HMS’ embedded mobile app for the revenue-management system.

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