With its announcement this week that it will make a more than $40 million investment to install 50,000 Samsung flat-screen TVs in its properties, La Quinta is taking a different approach to the traditional setup of guestroom televisions. In fact, the brand’s chief information officer Vivek Shaiva sees the initiative as a way of looking beyond today and seeing into the future—or more precisely, being prepared for what we can’t see in the future.
I’ve long been frustrated with the limited amount of high-def channels in hotel rooms, and some of you who know me well have heard me lament the lack of viewing options—as well as an on-screen guide—for quite some time now. So naturally I found myself very intrigued by La Quinta’s announcement.
First, a little background about the announcement. La Quinta is planning on placing the flat screens in all 400-plus of its corporate-owned properties by this summer. Franchised properties that do not already have flat-screen TVs will also see installations as the company works to get some of them out of their contracts with local cable carriers.
Once installed, content will be provided by a set-top box from Guest Tek, which Shaiva describes as a “mini-computer that gives you more flexibility.” That means eventually every La Quinta will offer similar television content regardless of location.
La Quinta will begin offering 21 high-definition channels and an interactive program guide in the setup. And there will be no pay-per-view content. In fact, Shaiva says he wanted the TVs to be mainly just a user interface. “I wanted all of the technology extracted, because technology changes and people want to bring their own content. We’re happy to have guests connect their gaming or movies, or whatever.”
That’s why Shaiva and La Quinta made certain that the TVs have an easily accessible side panel with HDMI hookups. It will enable guests to easily view their own devices using the TV as a monitor. “They don’t want to be dependent on the small selection of programs a hotel systems offers,” Shaiva says.
Shaiva says using the set-top box keeps the company flexible when it comes to future technology. “It’s software–enabled content which is easier to change down the road, “ he says. “We don’t know what technology will be available in say four or five years.”