It isn’t surprising that consumers accustomed to large, high-resolution television displays are demanding more from their entertainment experiences when they are travelling.
The average traveller is now armed with a plethora of devices ranging from a smart phone, a tablet, and laptops to wearables and Wi-Fi-connected cameras, lowering overall customer satisfaction when hotel entertainment experiences can’t compete with what is in their bags, much less what they have at home.
For consumers, TV screen size is as much a status symbol as a classy car on the driveway. Premier League football, Movies, Soaps and 32” televisions don’t mix and the gradual march towards larger, thinner, higher resolution flat screens has raised the bar for what a television should be.
This same sentiment translates directly into a guest’s perception of the facilities and amenities provided by their hotelier. In- room televisions, like fast reliable Wi-Fi, are critical to guests’ first impressions. Not only do hotels need to provide entertainment options at least as compelling as those found in guests’ bags and pockets, but they must also be able to leverage co-opt guest devices. Hospitality TVs now come with the ability to plug into wired networks for content and management. This connectivity, along with the implementation of other media sharing technologies like DLNA and Wi-Di, mean that modern hospitality televisions can complement guest media devices rather than be marginalised by them. Being able to port small-screen media experiences to large in-room screens is a real value-add for guests, allowing them to view their pictures, watch their own movies, stream their presentations, and control the content on the TV with their personal devices.
Wall mounted TVs can save space and help with the overall design choices in a room, while unobtrusive stands showcase thin, sleek televisions. The combination of these factors can convert the TV from an amenity into an object of beauty.
Consumer demand for large screen TVs continues to grow as costs reduce. It is also worth noting that the number of large TV screens (i.e., those over 55 inches) shipping to consumers is increasing rapidly. Where even a few years ago, 55-inch televisions were rarely seen, they are now becoming the must-have, reinforcing the idea of a real disconnect between consumer expectations and their hotel in-room entertainment experiences.
Increasing screen sizes demand higher capabilities and content.Today, while some TV models in smaller sizes are still available in 720p, the demand standard for consumers is now considered 1080p. Referred to as full HD, 1080p, however, Ultra High Definition (UHD) or 4K TV’s as they are known, with resolutions up to 3840 × 2160, are beginning to take a significant share of the consumer market. Sales of UHD TVs are expected to grow rapidly as more content becomes available.
The bigger-is-better arguments aside, savvy hotel room designers and hospitality IT staff can leverage room size to ensure that optimum guest experiences are balanced with appropriate investments in equipment. With many organisations taking a one size fits all approach and can easily over- invest in screens that are too large for their economy rooms and too small for their premium rooms at the same time. In general, by opting for the largest affordable screen sizes will prevent guests from viewing in-room television as a downgrade from their own home entertainment setup. Placement of the television also has a significant impact on viewing experience. This is especially important in space- constrained environments or if hotels must choose smaller televisions to meet budgetary requirements.
The TV in a suite tends to attract the eye, and can make a strong first impression, and is often the centre-piece anchoring other features of the room. Strong industrial elements together with premium materials and quality workmanship can be just as important as the TV viewing experience in shaping guests’ initial impressions of the entertainment amenities offered by a hotel.
Aesthetics in an age of razor-thin tablets and smartphones with expansive glass touchscreens, customers closely identify thin screens and minimal bezels (the frame that surrounds a TV screen) with high end technology and luxury. Thinner bezels also have added benefits for hotels with pre-existing fixtures, as they can provide substantial up-grades to TV screen sizes over the older televisions they are replacing without increasing the overall dimensions of the device. The combination of an extremely thin bezel, paired with a thin TV profile creates the appearance of a “floating image.” paired with optimal screen placement and sizing, guests will experience near cinema quality media right in their rooms.
Wall mounts and well-designed stands are another area that can aid the aesthetic perception of a television. Wall mounted TVs can save space and help with the overall design choices in a room, while unobtrusive stands showcase thin, sleek televisions. The combination of these factors can convert the TV from an amenity into an object of beauty. One caveat, however, is that hospitality IT must choose hardware and accessories that minimise cable clutter and distractions from both the television and the media experience.
As with any commercial hardware, the overall reliability and quality of televisions are critical to hotels. Failure rates, and warranties are paramount in this type of environment where a large number of TVs will see heavy use. As the average lifespan of TVs increases and their energy consumption decreases, failure rates become an important differentiator when hospitality buyers are considering total cost of ownership. Leading manufacturers earn their reputation through high-quality components and solid reliability, which is why SCS Technologies have aligned themselves with Samsung, Philips and LG.
Hotel buyers should expect years of trouble-free service from the systems they deploy. A broken TV isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a room that can’t be booked. When failures do happen, however, the warranty and service networks that prospective vendors have at their disposal are critical to quickly returning rooms to service, which is why SCS provide guaranteed response times for Ad-Hoc and on-going service and maintenance as well as national support from our team of directly employed engineers.
The latest hospitality-centric devices come with Smart connectivity capabilities that can access and display content without adding additional hardware like a set-top box. This can reduce costs and give the hotelier more control over the offerings and user experience.
Traditionally, television content has been delivered over coaxial cable and many hotels have extensive legacy infrastructure. Coaxial connections are time- tested technology with functions seen as essentially a dumb pipe, delivering one-way radio frequency (RF) broadcast and very little capability for user interaction and IT management, however times have changed with IP over Coax now deliverable, meaning hotels with only a Coax infrastructure can now compete with more modern IP-based systems.
It can be hard to argue the business-case for purchasing new hospitality TVs but retaining a total focus on guest experience, as well as reduced TCO should provide the right incentives to invest in modern hospitality TVs.
Hotel IT staff need to ensure that hotel networks can handle not just internal transmission of HD TV content, but also guest Wi-Fi, VoIP, staff networking needs, point of sale and more. Upgrades to IP-based entertainment must include a full evaluation of network infrastructure to meet the entertainment and business needs of guests while also supporting hotel operations.
Purpose-built apps and widgets have redefined the capabilities of nearly every device in consumer electronics. This trend has also been applied to Smart hospitality TVs with apps and widgets that are built specifically for the platform. By adding a customisable Guest User Interface System (GUI) hotelscan add logo’s and branding, while also supporting advanced customisation features such as: Providing at-a-glance information or interactivity for guests that can include hotel facilities and menus, maps with local traffic data, weather conditions and entertainment events in the local area. GUI’s can actually help bolster in-room upsells while providing real value to guests. Checking-out on the TV, setting up wake-up calls, etc. The possibilities for hoteliers are limited only by their imagination and the potential for innovation and differentiation are endless.
Customised local information transforms in-room TVs from basic entertainment devices that can be ignored in favour of tablets and laptops to genuinely useful information portals for guests.
Centralised administration can also provide features that allow hotel staff to push out updates and content without having to clone or copy software preferences and physically install them on individual units, this capability is invaluable in larger establishments. The man-hours saved in setup for individual TVs can offset a significant portion of the capital expense associated with purchasing the units, particularly over the life of the TVs.A hotelier also needs to define how much bandwidth that they are willing to allocate to these extra services and understand the costs associated with increased in- room connectivity.
Privacy concerns become paramount when guests are logging into personal social media accounts or email services on the TV; hotels needs to have safeguards to reset or wipe app or widget information after a guest checks out. Hospitality TVs wipe this data when the TVs are switched off.
The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality is, quite reasonably, difficult to overcome when ‘functional’ TVs already exist in guest rooms. It can be hard to argue the business-case for purchasing new hospitality TVs but retaining a total focus on guest experience, as well as reduced TCO should provide the right incentives to invest in modern hospitality TVs.
TV technology has advanced rapidly and prices on larger, more efficient, highly connected televisions have also dropped, making up-grades a sensible investment. The focus for hospitality buyers and decision-makers needs to be enhancing the guest experience and ensuring that in-room entertainment can continue to be a valued amenity for guests. Failure to match consumer trends (or even exceed them) will mean lost potential revenue streams and lower satisfaction ratings. Conversely, a great in- room entertainment experience can make a lasting impression on guests who will become repeat customers and a hotel’s greatest marketers.
SCS Technologies together with Hospitality TV manufacturers such as Samsung, Philips and LG offer solutions at price points to suit every class of hotel and bed and breakfast guest house that can meet guests’ expectations and provide a competitive advantage for hospitality businesses ready to make the right investments.