In-room entertainment options get smarter, more interactive

What does the future of in-room entertainment look like? It looks very much like the present of an-home entertainment. Basically, if guests can do something in their homes via their smart devices, they’re going to expect to be able to do the same things in their hotel rooms—especially at luxury properties.

Jelle Vandenbroucke, general manager at the 328-room JW Marriott Houston Downtown, said his property serves a large number of business travelers. 

“Business travelers bring with them a certain set of set of expectations from a technology point of view, and that’s not something that’s going to go away—it’s only going to increase,” Vandenbroucke said.

According to Vandenbroucke, these travel-savvy guests expect the entertainment options they have at home, such as streaming services.

“With the popularity of the Hulus and Netflixes of the world, there is very much the expectation of, ‘I need to be able to sign into my own account on a hotel TV,’” he said. “The guests don’t think about the logistical side of it, they just expect it. So, obviously we’ve jumped on that bandwagon to accommodate them.”

Vandenbroucke said guests at the hotel can now access streaming services through their phones, tablets or other smart devices, and can cast from their smart devices directly onto their TV screens. In addition, the hotel provides iPads in each room that allow guests to access hotel services, such as ordering roomservice, picking up their car from the valet and searching for restaurant recommendations. He expects the next iteration of that iPad service to include control of items such as lights and heating and cooling.

Brian McGuinness, SVP, global guest experience, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said IHG has invested heavily in transforming the guest experience by allowing guests to more effectively manage not only their hotel stay, but their entire travel journey. The IHG One Rewards loyalty program and mobile app creates a “rich technology ecosystem” that includes a secure, enterprisewide Wi-Fi platform that delivers free, fast Wi-Fi to members in thousands of hotels around the world.

“We’re also experimenting with in-room TV pilot programs such as IHG Studio to build on the foundation we’ve established with our Wi-Fi platform,” McGuinness said. “The IHG Studio pilot is part of our efforts to develop a next-gen guest entertainment solution that not only offers a truly interactive system to let guest stream their content from their own library (Netflix, Amazon Prime, NFL+ etc.) but also offers a myriad of guest experience capabilities.”

McGuinness noted that IHG’s guests are already using IHG One Rewards Wi-Fi to stream their own content on their personal devices, as indicated by the chain’s aggregated Wi-Fi network data. This trend has increased over the past few years.

He added that IHG continues to execute pilot programs to identify additional opportunities to enhance the in-room entertainment experience. In a recent pilot program on designing the guestroom of the future, IHG partnered with to create a voice-controlled smart room at the Kimpton Rowan hotel in Palm Springs, Calif. The pilot project explored the potential of guests’ interaction with their environment and employed connected devices such as those found in luxury smart homes.

“The future is smart and it’s only going to get smarter,” Vandenbroucke concluded.