How guests feel when they stay in a hotel is a direct reflection on the hotel Brand and what it stands for. Getting the technology right will help to deliver the right Brand experience and guest’s technology expectations are increasing; they often have LCD or plasma screen televisions with surround sound as standard in their living rooms at home and as such expect good quality accessible technology when they are travelling for business or pleasure. By 2012, all TV and radio services will be available in a different format as analogue is phased out and replaced with digital. This will mean that either adaptations will need to be made to existing hardware or it will need to be replaced with models which can receive and display the new digital signals. Many people are using this as an opportunity to embrace the new technology of IP (Internet Protocol).
IPTV is a way for guest to view all previous forms of television and radio through one coherent TV channel list, (analogue, digital, free view, satellite, international, FM DAB & internet), whilst still supporting on demand films to your guests. The system CGA Integration deliver also has a PVR (personal video recorder) which allows guests to record, pause and rewind television in a similar manner to Sky + and EPG (electronic programme guide) facilities meaning that one menu displays all media available from one screen. IP technology also enables the hotelier to market to the guests through the television and can be linked to a hotel’s website, PMS and booking facilities.
IPTV is delivered to guests rooms via a single cable and a small set top box. It can also be integrated into existing screens; LCD flat screens, old CRT screens and bathroom TV’s. If new televisions are being purchased, those with a Hotel / Hospitality mode and high definition screens are recommended to deliver maximum control and image clarity. Hotel / Hospitality mode on the display enables the set up menu to be ‘locked out’ which ensures a consistent delivery across all rooms every time the television is accessed by a guest. Factors such as maximum volume available can be controlled to guard against inter room noise problems and these sets can also deliver a ‘start up channel’ to welcome guests every time they turn on the TV.
Integrating IPTV and in room technology
It is possible to deliver the controls for the IPTV system and the non-media aspects of a room; lights, air conditioning & curtains etc through one hand held remote with LCD screens which can in turn be appropriately branded. For example the ‘watch TV in bed’ button may turn on the television, raise it on a lift, dim the lights a little and pull across a curtain, whereas another button may provide a link to Reception to call for a service or to a hotel web page to display the hotel wine list or spa prices. CGA Integration have done this for previous clients while others have preferred to keep IPTV controls separate from these other aspects of the guest rooms.
CGA Integration work to minimise disruption, installing cabling between guest check out and check in and during routine room closures. The IPTV system CGA deliver is fully adaptable and modular, so functionality or roll out can be phased as required. If the new system is installed in parallel with the old, the switch over can be seamless ensuring no disruption for guests and no loss of revenue to the hotelier. For some hotels CGA have deployed IPTV across existing RF cabling systems where surveys have proved successful. This has therefore eliminated the need to re-cable or rewire the hotel. If you think that IPTV maybe something you wish to install at a later time, laying Cat 5 cabling as part of a refurbishment cycle will help when you do decide to make the switch over.
Benefits to Hoteliers
The benefits of installing IPTV can really be summarised into three main areas, improved guest room quality, services and integrated Marketing opportunities. The television experience in the guest’s room can be customised, branded and is of a higher quality (up to full HD), enforcing the excellence of a hotel brand. The integrated media system is easier to use resulting in improved guest satisfaction and less complaints. The links to the PMS and booking systems provide improved guest information and services increasing selling opportunities and negating the need for paper folders in guest rooms which need to be regularly replaced and refreshed. The system even provides an opportunity for increasing external revenue streams through offering advertising to local business which complement the services offered by your hotel.
Benefits to Guests
Whether a guest is visiting a hotel for business or pleasure, IPTV can make their stay more pleasurable. It offers high quality, extensive TV channels, e mail, internet access and a virtual iPOD all via one screen and remote control. The PVR enables guests to record a programme and watch it at their convenience and EPG makes navigating across media easy using a one screen menu. Links directly to the hotel’s PMS and booking facilities enable guests to reserve tables in the restaurants or book treatments in the Spa at a press of a button and business delegates can view meeting timetables and venues on a hotel web page from the comfort of their room.
Chris Gunton MD of CGA Integration summarises “A good integrated IPTV system and quality guestroom sound not only enforces the excellence of a hotel brand, it can be used as a revenue stream to sell other services provided by your hotel. As guests become more technologically savvy, having the right quality technology in both guests room and in public spaces becomes paramount. CGA’s experience in creative, holistic approaches to lighting, audio and video makes us best placed to maximise the opportunities IPTV can deliver to maximise the guest room experience.”