Providing the best possible viewing experience is no longer a “perk”—it’s a necessity, one that can make an enormous difference in guest satisfaction, loyalty, and bookings. However, evolving expectations around guestroom entertainment viewing are challenging hoteliers to provide an experience closer to what guests enjoy at home, where they can easily access and view both live television and over-the-top (OTT) media services with their own equipment and technology.
Furthermore, hotels now live and die by guests’ reviews on social media. This is a lesson not lost on the big hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, and IHG, which have worked diligently to develop their own technologies that provide the type of entertainment experience that guests are looking for. While big brands are developing their own solutions to respond to this new competitive imperative, smaller brands and hotel groups are looking to find solutions of their own.
And, for all the benefits technology has delivered to owners of these properties in terms of operational efficiency and management of their businesses, it has generally not extended to the onscreen experience for guests, which puts owners at a serious competitive disadvantage with their better-equipped industry peers.
Entertainment is an essential element of the guests experience and satisfaction. Guests want to watch their favorite channels on the large HD TV on the wall of their hotel room, but they may find accessing it even to watch live television—much less their own content—to be more trouble than it’s worth after a long day of work or travel due to a complicated remote control and/or lack of integration with the technology in their pocket. So, rather than face the three-ring binder on the desk with its list of channels and instructions for using an unfamiliar remote control, they may forego that best viewing experience for the easiest one—watching on their laptop or even their phone.
To enable smaller brands to affordably bring in the entertainment viewing experience marketed by market leaders, DISH Business is offering solutions geared to hospitality. These solutions include EVOLVE, an Android TV-powered “set-back box” with built-in Chromecast and Netflix, as well as a SMARTBOX that provides access to DISH’s huge selection of HD TV channels.
Its simplified remote, with fewer, but essential, buttons, is designed to streamline access to: (1) live television—including an intuitive program guide, channel previews, and genre filters.; (2) their own content using built-in Chromecast to pair their device to the Evolve box via its Wi-Fi, or securely access their own apps on the in-room TVs (credentials can be cleared manually but are automatically cleared at checkout); (3) property information—a PMS-integrated solution that enables personalization, engagement, and increased customer loyalty.
Given the stakes, the need to provide guests with easy access to the best viewing experience in their hotel room is one that should be addressed as soon as possible, but with a solution designed for the long term. For that reason, it makes sense for each property to make a decision that considers both the short-term and long-term needs of the property and its guests—needs that are certain to change in response to technology and its avid users. Here are some of the top factors hoteliers should keep in mind:
Both the size of the property (number of guestrooms) and overall portfolio—today and in the future—may determine the type of service that is most suitable.
Existing Infrastructure & Equipment
Be aware of the impact a system may have on other infrastructure; a requirement like upgrading wiring or the need to immediately purchase new televisions that conform to a system should be considered.
Total Cost of Ownership
Seeing the whole picture requires an awareness of both upfront costs and monthly fees.
For an existing property, the ability to phase in the purchase of new televisions by using technology that works with a variety of them can buy an owner time.
Choice of Providers
There are numerous equipment and service providers to choose from all offering different products and programs. Given the need for tech support and customer service, it makes sense to choose a company with the reputation and stability to offer support through the many challenges posed by ever-changing technology.
There’s no getting around reality: Guests want an easier way to watch live programming and their own content, and the competition—the big brands—is already developing solutions. This is not a fad. It’s time to get onboard.