STREAMING CONTENT VERSUS DIRECT INTEGRATION

In The Field with David Esseryk – Part 17: How Networking Technologies fit into the Hotel Environment

THE NEW ROLE OF THE SYSTEM INTEGRATOR AND THE TV MANUFACTURER

In this edition’s regular instalment from David Esseryk, the “in the field hotel tech expert” takes a closer look at the evolution of in-room entertainment taking into account the changing habits of millennials and business travellers.

In the past, the first thing a guest would typically do when he or she walked into a hotel room would be to turn on the TV. Now, people bring their entertainment with them: tablet-based devices, accounts and memberships like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus, and they want to be able to use them. All system integrators are developing systems that let travellers consume entertainment the way Millennials do – via the Internet, frequently through subscriptions they already have and use at home, either through Wi-Fi or a direct cable connection between their laptop or tablet and the guest-room television set.

Different types of hotels have different policies regarding Internet access. Many less expensive hotels offer it free, while more expensive ones still often charge for it. What’s expected to happen next, speaking broadly, is that using the Internet for e-mail will be free, while many hotels will charge for uses requiring a lot of bandwidth, like downloading or streaming videos, with the cost tied to the amount of bandwidth required. Hotels will have the opportunity to give customers more short-form content at very attractive prices, affinity packages of sports channels, just-missed TV, or video games. Systems integrators thus no longer simply provide television equipment in exchange for video- on-demand fees. Instead, they will increasingly offer hotel owners lease financing for TVs, freeing capital to invest in product and service improvements.

From providing new types of content to letting guests stream their own Netflix shows onto the TV, manufacturers at the recent HITEC hotel technology conference in Amsterdam said they were finding new ways to appeal to the modern-day traveller.

Samsung now has technology that allows the Smart TV to mirror exactly what’s on the guest’s Android device without downloading an app.

Guests can look at e-mails and photos. If they have Netflix, Hulu, or other subscriptions, they can watch that content. Guests can either push content from the mobile device to the TV or pull content from the TV. They can then watch that content anywhere on the property.

This “accessing my own content” is something that growing segments of travellers want, and it will continue to get both more pervasive and more elegant from a process standpoint. I think there are solutions now that make it easier. It’s getting there!