IPTV changes everything

Guests expect at the very least, sophisticated entertainment facilities equal to what they enjoy at home when they relax in their hotel rooms – if not better.

Just when you thought all your guests’ in-room desires had been catered for, along comes Internet protocol television, easier remembered as ‘smart TVs’. Another technology to fund and grasp the intricacies of is the common reaction, yet in many ways, this new technological evolution actually simplifies in-room connectivity and entertainment. Guests can use their televisions to do virtually anything they want – browse the Internet quickly and securely; access social media to keep abreast of family and friends; use WebMail services; contact work or home through VoIP or Skype; and, of course, embrace a movie or two. And not just watch a movie but enjoy high definition viewing of movies-on-demand, free-to-air channels, subscriber TV and hotel specific content such as a compendium, promotion of on-site facilities and local information – no queuing or waiting for rotation of titles. And with full ‘trick play’ facilities. Guests can also access a wide variety of web based apps and multi-lingual functions are also available.

Especially important for corporate travellers, guests can use their own laptops or other devices without altering their own setups – the can use their own POP or SMPT settings or corporate VPNs.
All from one user-friendly remote.

For now the landscape of what guests want to consume and how they want to consume it changes rapidly and according to Jamie Hind, managing director of Tripleplay Australasia, “Properties must be able to keep up and must have the capability to manage the guest experience – get this and the network right and you have a platform and a solution that will serve you well now and allow you to add features and functionality as and when the need arises.”

This is good advice indeed but it is difficult for the accommodation managers to navigate the myriad of guest demands and product options that need to be considered.

When Mr Hind says, “One size does not fit all” he hits the nail on the head. Every accommodation is different and each guest’s needs and expectations are too. In addition each provider of in-room entertainment has a strong belief that they offer the solution.

In a society both obsessed and as reliant on its gadgets as ours is, we know that a large number of guests bring their own devices with them and like to watch their own movies and  programs in the comfort of their room. We asked Brendon Granger from Technology 4 Hotels, why do guests want to use their own devices? His theory is, “Because they have spent time and money loading their ‘life’ onto their devices and they know how they work.”

Mr Granger points out that guests arrive at their accommodation with their own devices; their own content and they want to use these devices during their stay. The key is to provide them with infrastructure to allow them to use their gadgets just like they do at home.

“A media hub is a panel that is permanently connected to the TV and is generally mounted into the furniture,” explains Mr Granger. “It allows guests to quickly and easily plug their device into the in room TV so that they can watch their own movies or play their own games or music on the in-room TV.”

This option has the benefit of easy connectivity, meaning that the guest doesn’t have to fiddle with wires behind the TV to connect their device that could impact the next guest or cause damage the TV.

A media hub offers plug and play compatibility meaning that when the guest plugs in their device, it auto detects this and switches the TV to play the content automatically without the need for the guest to pick up the remote control or do anything further. Likewise once the guest has finished playing their content they simply remove the cable and the media hub returns the TV to where it was before it took control of the TV.
Ross Coldwell, managing director of Lifestylepanel P/L, suggests that he can deliver all the key elements to meet the expectations of guests for quality information, communication and entertainment into one single easy to use appliance and interface.

The second generation of the Lifestlyepanel meets the challenge that accommodation providers often have – the frustration of guests who are unable to work or be informed/entertained by their in room entertainment.

Movies-on-demand, free-to-air and cable TV, Internet and wifi can all be accessed by the remote control or wireless keyboard, along with hotel and local information. These Lifestylepanel TVs can be purchased or rent-to-own complimented by a revenue share, making them possibly even more cost effective.

Importantly, with IPTV accommodation managers can manage content. By selecting easy-to-use templates the accommodation provider can edit and import text, images and video clips to compose promotional material on the property itself to inform guests in a very exciting and visual way what facilities your complex offers such as dining, bars, spas, gyms and children’s offerings.

These have the facility of being able to be personalised with guest name and, if available, their photo. It can also allow you to promote other businesses in your locale (for a cost) such as restaurants, shops, salons, theatre and tourist attractions – flexibly: easily added to or deleted from.

This adds a new dimension to upselling guests rather than just tent cards on mini bars and ads in lifts.

You can simulcast movies to any number of rooms, allow your guests to select from a library of titles or the usual free-to-air and Foxtel solutions.

Add to this the freedom to add a guest welcome message, account review facility, room maintenance notice and a lot more extras.

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