What hoteliers should consider when upgrading in-room entertainment

Today there are more features available than ever when it comes to guestroom entertainment. From TV content to unique methods of accessing other content via the television set, hotels have countless options to offer their guests. What’s key, however, is the right mix of technology that truly delights guests while easing the work for hotels. 

“Guests should be able to familiarize themselves with the TV system in 10-20 seconds,” Enseo CEO Corey Rhodes said. “It is certainly possible to provide a robust experience with features such as casting and streaming, premium channels, hotel branding and even fun options like a personal device remote. However, all of this needs to be easily accessible and include intuitive navigation. No feature is appreciated if it’s difficult to find, or even worse, creates management challenges for the hotel.”

What hoteliers need to do is identify and adopt a streaming platform that allows each guest to access their content with the added benefit of using a guestroom TV’s larger screen. “Although to be truly successful, hotel businesses need to ensure that platform interaction is user-friendly and free of frustrating potential roadblocks, even for first-time users of the technology,” Hotel Internet Services CEO Gary Patrick said. “Few things can sink satisfaction rates more than providing a service that’s meant to enhance guest experiences, but which only results in having to perform troubleshooting and waiting on staff to provide assistance. 

Enseo guestroom entertainment
Due to the pandemic, there’s a higher acceptance of using tech in different ways to reach the entertainment and information guests are seeking. (Enseo)

“Sidestepping this risk are content casting solutions specifically designed for hotel environments and their guests. Recognizing that many guests will be first-time users, providers of these systems have strived to ensure a simplified device-pairing process that reduces the number of steps required before guests can stream their content.”

But the guest entertainment experience has moved beyond in-room only, said Josh Wade, director of product management and customer success at Dish TV. Hotel owners should be considering areas where multimedia can play a part in improving the guest experience. “We see the future of hospitality entertainment as a comprehensive experience, accessible on any device throughout the property, whether guests want to watch the big game at the pool or use a virtual reality headset for a workout session,” he said. “Guests are looking to access their favorite entertainment everywhere and we are providing exactly that."

However, connectivity is at the foundation of meeting guest needs—whether that’s for entertainment consumption or other purposes, Kim Twiggs, associate vice president of business development for DIRECTV. “Our research shows 79 percent of guests say in-room Wi-Fi speed meets their needs, but that means one-fifth of guests aren’t getting their Wi-Fi needs met,” she said. “App-based and on-demand content relies on strong broadband, so if this doesn’t operate seamlessly to allow guests to easily access content, it could significantly impact the guest experience."

Having a solid infrastructure is mission critical to setting the hotel up for success to support all other connected applications. Pre-authenication is becoming more popular, connecting the guest’s name, room number or even the property-management system, said World Cinema President Robert Grosz. This provides a seamless experience to cast or use their personal devices as a mobile remote. Hoteliers should seek to strategically use technology to personalize the guest journey instead of automating it, he said. Creating curated content by tapping into the PMS software is a great way for hoteliers to send personalized recommendations and promotions directly to a guest’s in-room entertainment center.

Hotel Internet Services guestroom entertainment
The widespread adoption and popularity of contactless-based services has meant that guests have become even more accustomed to gaining enhanced convenience with their personal devices. (Hotel Internet Services)

“Perhaps your property is organizing a meet and greet in the lobby,” Grosz said. “Past purchase information enables management to strategically advertise. For instance, promote a particular beverage special or remind guests that the happy hour deal includes their favorite drink. Personalized marketing is a great way to drive revenue and engage guests staying at your property. Providing the guest options on casting content, streaming from their devices or viewing a traditional TV guide is welcomed [as is] providing relevant material such as partnering with local attractions, local or onsite restaurants through Uber Eats, GrubHub and other delivery services.”

How Guestroom Entertainment Priorities Have Changed

Contactless and self-service experiences are more sought after and common coming out of the pandemic, said Richard Twilley, group vice president, vertical markets, for Spectrum Enterprise. Many hotel amenities can be accessed and promoted through interactive and immersive TV platforms, which reduces front desk calls. Increasingly guest-facing technology should demonstrate contributions to top-line revenue and efficiency goals.

"The in-room TV can become a hub for additional revenue generation when booking a reservation or driving more in-house restaurant orders," he continued. "Other opportunities exist for leveraging entertainment technology to identify new revenue streams, such as tying Wi-Fi to loyalty status or driving additional spend to hotel amenities—including valet, dry cleaning, tee times and more—with guest-facing technology experiences." 

During the past three years, we all spent more time at home than ever before, Rhodes said. It should be no surprise that guests want and expect the at-home entertainment experience. "Guests like choices in content, whether that’s bringing their own and watching it through casting or streaming, or enjoying access to a wide variety of high-quality, HD channels," he continued. "In-room, TV viewership skyrocketed during COVID, and we got more insight into viewing behavior. Content options are necessary and proven to be appreciated."

Spectrum Enterprise in-room entainment
Hotel operators should consider investing in technologies that deliver the content guests seek, from TV streaming options that deliver premium TV lineups to on-demand movies for guestroom entertainment.​​​​ (Spectrum Enterprise)

Rhodes said he is also seeing a higher demand for customization and convenience. Does the TV greet the guest by name upon check-in, providing that touch of personalization? Are features easily accessible? Can tasks be simplified, like on-screen checkout? Using technology to enhance not just entertainment, but various aspects of a hotel stay, is where it makes a difference.

Contactless experiences are about enhancing service, not replacing the personal connection that’s essential to the hospitality industry. Hoteliers are in luck as they already have the means to bring the contactless experiences their guests demand, Twiggs said. "For example, the in-room TV set is valuable not just for meeting guest entertainment needs, but also for supporting pandemic-inspired contactless services," she said. "Our latest research shows that nine out of 10 guests believe the in-room TV is suited to at least one contactless experience."