Industry Update
Opinion Article28 April 2020

Hotel TV And The Future – Part Four

By James Harrison, Hospitality Technology Consultant at HotelTCS

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As I said before, the long agenda went out the window. So here's part four, all about content and channels in Hotel TV.

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The Future Of Content

Before we dive deeper into content delivery it's key to understand what is happening in the content provider landscape. One word you will hear in the video, and in many other places is unbundling. Unbundling is something that effects both On Demand content providers and Liner (Channel) providers.

Unbundling is the idea that some of the traditional players in the content delivery space will cease to be a one stop shop. This is most obvious with Netflix and Disney+. Upon the launch of Disney+, Disney pulled a huge amount of its content from Netflix, where it could traditionally be found, to launch it through its own streaming service.

We also see this with traditional liner content providers, especially those with movie channels. They still offer movie channels through traditional packages, supplied by companies called aggregators. Now however, they offer On Demand delivery via an app, often to subscribers for a fee, who DO NOT already have access to that same content elsewhere.

The result of this unbundling means the approach to offering both channels and apps now needs to be different. Not longer will offer access to Netflix be sufficient. Now you must allow access to an array of packages, apps and channels through an app store.

However we define the solution it is wrong to assume what the guest wants. Especially as not only the location of the hotel varies, but the home country of the guest. Understanding where the guests come from and what they want to consume is key.

What About Those Channels?

For a long time the mindset of people responsible for a TV system has been something along the lines of:

Dishes on the roof - Distribute 60 channels or so to the TV - Rolling news and local channels

One of the problems with much local terrestrial is it is just that. The content shown is designed for people within a short distance of that hotel. We can assume most guests are from a greater distance away that 20 or 30 miles. If we are talking about the upscale/luxury segment then probably long haul international guests. Thus that content has no relevance to them whatsoever.

They key here is to look at OTT and Internet providers that offer a much greater channel selection. These kind of solutions can allow hundreds, if not thousands of geographically disparate channels to be delivered to the hotel. The key here is not to send all those channels to each room. You can customise the delivery, via a channel guide or OTT apps depending on the type guest you have.

Simple PMS integration, providing guest location or language could allow you to tailor a channel list to them, meaning they get focussed, relevant content. Suddenly, a reason to turn on the TV!

What is clear, is investing in irrelevant, non-targeted content, is a waste of time, effort and money!

Key Take Aways

  • Be aware of unbundling. Just Netflix is not enough. You must offer a way for guests to access their apps
  • Consider an app store to allow guests to tailor their experience
  • Make sure you view your guests with a geographical eye. Not all guests want the same content as is popular in the USA
  • Local terrestrial content often provides very little value to your guests
  • High value long haul guests would like content that makes them feel at home
  • Use delivery mediums beyond satellite to receive rich content sources from different regions
  • Look to simple integration to create channels lists focussed at the type or home country of the guest
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