In modern hotels, the television has evolved into much more than a passive entertainment system — and guests expect to have control.
Hotels are essential to the travel experience — as evidenced by the rapid growth of the industry (from $116 billion in 2009 to $185 billion in 2017). But the needs of guests are evolving rapidly, driven by the ecology of digital tools that are competing with traditional hotel services like ridesharing, food delivery apps, and now, entertainment.
Where once hotels could offer a superior experience to what people had in their homes, today’s guest very likely has a better entertainment experience in their residence. “There was a point where it was cool to come to hotels and the hotels had better technology than you had at home,” notes Michael Blake, CEO of Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG). “That’s not the case anymore.”
More importantly, guests can literally bring that entertainment experience with them. “Everybody these days has content sources that they carry with them on their mobile devices,” says Alistair Chatwin, vice president of DISH Business. “You’ve got to be able to let people watch the content they want to watch on that guest room TV.”
With so many consumer technology options, hotels are challenged in deciding which to integrate for their guests. “Comfort and amenities are two different things,” notes Anthony Melchiorri, host of “Hotel Impossible” on the Travel Channel. “Amenities are less important than comfort. For example, it’s a necessity for me to have an outlet next to my bed so that I can charge my phone. If I have a welcome bottle of champagne when I walk in, but I don’t have an outlet next to my bed, that’s what I’m going to remember. The difference between comfort and amenities really needs to be understood and appreciated.”
A great entertainment experience is an essential part of creating a comfortable and memorable guest experience. DISH’s EVOLVE platform was created to do exactly that, seamlessly offer guests control over their entertainment experience, featuring an easy-to-use, interactive, channel guide combined with integrated access to Netflix, a seamless casting experience with Chromecast, and access to the Google Play store.
“Allowing guests to watch their favorite content on the hotel TV — rather than being forced to use a smaller screen — is the better experience,” says Chatwin. “EVOLVE was conceived with this idea of converging ‛bring your own content’ or OTT services and available linear content. There is a button for Netflix right on the remote and applications are pre-positioned in the guide, so if you’ve got a Sling account, you easily can watch Sling TV.”
This means guests have the ultimate in flexibility. “Beyond that, the Google Play Store gives you access to not only renting or buying video content, but close to 1,400 applications designed for the TV experience.”
Emphasizing convenience and security, “You can rent a movie in the room, and finish the experience at home,” says Chatwin. “And when you check out, all that data is removed.”
The bottom line
The change in guest entertainment needs and expectations spans the range of hotels. “Brands like Marriott have rolled out proprietary concepts of OTT with linear TV. This is a good experience for their guests but not everyone has the means of developing their own platform. One of the reasons we developed EVOLVE was to make a great entertainment experience accessible for guests of any property.”
In the end, it’s the guest that matters. “We aren’t trying to replicate a residential experience. But we can make it easy for guests to watch the content that they’ve got at home on the hotel TV,” says Chatwin.
Jeff Somers, [email protected]