It's Time To Let Guests Entertain Themselves
A few years ago, hotels could satisfy travelers by simply providing a flat-screen TV, Video-On-Demand (VOD), and a Wi-Fi connection. Guests now expect a variety of in-room technologies. However, just as expectations have ballooned, a growing crowd of streaming content providers on the Internet has nearly supplanted hotel-supplied entertainment entirely. The slow erosion of VOD, once a reliable source of profit, is turning into an extinction event.
Hotels hope to reclaim the revenue they’ve lost by replacing VOD services with new technologies that will better engage their guests. However, a survey by Hotel Internet Services (HIS) shows that 90% of guests would prefer to stream content from personal subscriptions. Perhaps hoteliers should skip the expensive content licensing and consider self-service options.
The availability of in-room video strongly influenced guest satisfaction for decades, but convenience has taken over. Guests would rather see smart speakers or tablets that will connect them to the hotel staff, amenities, and the Internet. They’d like to watch Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services on the TV in their room—or plug in a Roku and take care of it themselves.
It should alarm many hotel owners and managers to learn that guests would be happier to see USB ports in every outlet than a film that just left the movie theater.
Flexibility vs. control
Some hotels have already embraced choice by giving guests access to their personal subscriptions directly on the in-room TV. The self-service option may seem like a modest investment to make, but increased video streaming can require significant Wi-Fi upgrades. There are also security concerns when users forget to delete personal account information before checking out.
Smaller hotels don’t always have the means to invest in new technologies and must look for more creative solutions. Some owners and managers take the focus off of the room and generate memorable experiences through live concerts, plays, or outdoor movie nights.
Since many products will end up obsolete before achieving a return on the investment, it’s an understandable temptation to skip the next big thing in tech. But in the highly competitive hospitality industry, complacency is dangerous. Even if the tech ages quickly, it can still help win customers.
Loyalty through convenience and flexibility
Meeting guest demands often pays for itself—and guests are demanding technology updates. In a customer study from Hospitality Technology, hotel guests showed a willingness to pay a higher room rate if they would get free access to superior technology. But they would punish a less expensive hotel who didn’t offer the technology or only provided it through an up-charge. The actual cost to the guest may end up the same, but their perception of the hotel and their level of loyalty will dramatically change.
Upgrades that help guests entertain themselves
Perhaps the answer to in-room entertainment isn’t to fix the content on the television or focus on entertaining outside of the room. Guests still want to engage with content in their room, but they want to control what entertains them and how they consume it.
Flexible TV Options
In the past, guests would navigate the television through a branded portal with limited options. Today, smart TVs and streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, and Chromecast all come with apps that allow anyone to sign into their account and watch personalized content. Many apps provide easy fast and content options to guests who aren’t tech savvy, while others give guests the freedom to create their own experience.
The majority of family members have a smartphone connecting to the hotel Wi-Fi and devouring data. Add in a tablet or a laptop and one family of four today will use roughly the same bandwidth as an entire floor of guests just ten years ago. Hotels need more bandwidth, a lot of speed, and a vast array of access points to connect everyone reliably.
Most guests would love to turn off a light with their voice, or to play a song just by asking. These technologies already exist—and they can easily integrate into the hotel experience. Smart speakers may be more novelty than convenience, but it's technology that adds delight to the guest experience.
Room controls have often been absent or confusing. Many modern technologies have eliminated the learning curve by designing for ease-of-use. Any smart device can now control lights and temperature. Guests can connect to concierge services, book spa services, view interactive maps, order food, or even get help from a chatbot. Individual climate control is rapidly moving from a perk to a requirement in the hospitality business.
Many hotels allow guests to control conditions in the room using their smartphone, but a built-in tablet can do the same and serve as a command center for the entire in-room experience. Guests can control the room and access information both in and out of the hotel. Much like the VOD portals in the past, providing a tablet offers brand awareness while giving guests the independence they crave.
Today, it’s personal
Given the means to do it, guests will happily entertain themselves. If hotels relinquish control of TV entertainment, they can invest in creating a smart, customizable space. Hotel owners and managers who empower their guests will satisfy them—and win their loyalty today and tomorrow.