In-room hotel entertainment used to be remarkably simple. A TV with access to terrestrial channels and pay-per-view movies was about as far as it stretched until tablets, streaming and a desire to link home devices to in-room tech began to emerge.
The Caterer recently published a round-up of what it expects to be the in-room entertainment of choice for hotel guests during 2019, and it caught our eye. If you haven’t read it yet or would like it summarising, we’ve done just that (you can thank us later).
“Casting” will be the new buzzword
If you’ve invested in a Google Chromecast for home entertainment purposes, you’ll be acutely aware of how wonderfully convenient it can be to beam video content from your smartphone or tablet to the TV.
If ‘Chromecast’ means nothing to you, think about the number of times you’ve found a YouTube video on your phone but have become frustrated by the small screen’s inability to immerse you in the content when you have a perfectly good (and big) TV sitting opposite you.
Devices like Google’s Chromecast enable users to transfer video content from a handheld device to the television, and with more hotel guests wanting to watch their Netflix accounts while staying away from home, offering them the ability to do that at your property could result in plenty of favourable reviews.
WiFi: as essential as hot water
Just as they’d expect running water from taps upon entering the bathroom, modern hotel guests expect WiFi to be available immediately and for free. What’s more, they won’t stand for a weak, slow connection - much like they wouldn’t stand for a lukewarm shower.
In the Caterer article, marketing manager of Airwave, James Grant, explains that “WiFi is at the bottom of it all”. He also points out that, beyond WiFi, guests are increasingly expecting the same level of tech comforts at hotels as they enjoy at home.
Thankfully, rather than a complete overhaul of your in-room systems, this might simply mean implementing stronger, free WiFi and the ability to ‘cast’ (see above) content from personal devices to the TVs you provide in each room.
How many times have you checked into a hotel room only to be frustrated by the infinitely-confusing TV menu system? Imagine, instead, turning on the box to find the familiar sight of Sky’s EPG.
Sky Select is Sky’s centralised HD distribution system for hotels, and it’s starting to make its presence felt in rooms across the UK.
But that’s not all. Savvy hoteliers are beginning to use management software than enables TVs in public areas such as the bar to display special offers and hotel-specific advertising. Imagine being able to signal the start of happy hour during the half time of a big game!
It’s not all about visual stimulation when it comes to the modern hotel guest. With more and more bringing colossal music collections on their smartphones thanks to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, the ability to play their favourite tracks on decent hotel room speakers will go down very well indeed.
Thankfully, speaker technology has accelerated to the point where a great sound can be produced from a particularly diminutive device, with some - such as Amazon’s Alexa - even incorporating speech recognition and digital assistant capabilities.
Perhaps the best news about in-room tech expectations in 2019 is, as we’ve alluded to above, the fact that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune for the hotelier to implement.
Technology is reaching the point where services, hardware and software platforms that were once only available to those with deep pockets is now democratised. Guest expectations might be on the rise, but exceeding them won’t break the bank.
What in-room hotel tech are you most looking forward to implementing this year?