Comment: Technology plays a key role in the guest experience

TV is becoming the hub for guests to access amenities, especially in hotels that pride themselves on efficiency

Colin Farquhar, founder and CEO, Exterity
Colin farquhar
Colin Farquhar, founder and CEO, Exterity

Providing a ‘better than home’ experience for guests is something most hotels aspire to achieve. From the most comfortable beds to fine dining, ensuring that a hotel experience exceeds expectations is vital in generating great reviews, brand loyalty and higher revenues.

Different types of hotels cater for a varying type of guests. Yet, from high-end luxury for travellers at leisure to impeccable efficiency aimed at the busy executive, technology plays a key role in the guest experience.

For the world’s 185,000 hotels, the quest to be ‘better than home’ starts from the moment the guest first walks in one of the 17 million rooms in the market today. To offer a comfortable, user-friendly experience that marries information and entertainment, many operators have invested in integrating Hotel Management System into the infotainment systems within each room.

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This includes personalised welcome messages in the guest’s native language to the ability to check accounts and order services via a click of the TV remote. But innovators are taking this a step further.

Take the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa in South Africa. Voted the ‘World’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ since 2001, the Saxon takes pride in offering impeccable quality and service at every level, leaving guests with a lasting impression of outstanding excellence and a longing to return to the property.

Yet the cultured opulence also includes modernity, highlighted by a recent room redesign that uses a per-room control processor for lighting, audio and video, all of which is linked to a central processor. The IPTV solution offers live TV and VoD entertainment content, multiroom audio and lighting with a SmartTV setup that allows guests to quickly access their own personal devices, such as games consoles or OTT services like Netflix without fuss.

The entertainment hub

Increasingly, the TV is becoming the hub for guests to access amenities, especially in hotels that pride themselves on efficiency, and many travellers prefer self-service options. The ability to order room service, book spa treatments, excursions, taxis or restaurant tables all from the comfort of a TV screen – with charges added to an account – enables hoteliers to combine this quest for effective service with a simple and comfortable system.

Some hoteliers are moving beyond this to offer guests personalised experiences that adapt to a guest’s needs. Six Senses’ award-winning Zighy Bay Resort, located on the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman, achieved just this by deploying an interactive guest portal that delivers a seamless and interactive TV and video experience to each of its villas’ TV screens, accompanied by complimentary Chromecast capabilities. The system is also integrated with the Opera Property Management System (PMS) to automatically set up individual welcome messages and to enable each guest to see current billing information.

To achieve this high level of media and service integration and interactivity, hoteliers are increasingly standardising on IP based technologies. This move to IP has several benefits that extend past the guest room to the wider resort. With IP, ‘better- than-home’ experiences allow family resorts to entertain children around the pool or in the bar with films and cartoons, providing parents with the opportunity to relax. Incorporating video within digital signage also offer hoteliers the opportunity to capitalise on the promotion of restaurants and amenities while streaming live TV and ensures guests remain informed and entertained wherever they are in the hotel.

Hotel guests are more tech savvy than ever before. This is paving the way for more widespread usage of IP video technologies within hotels, empowering hoteliers to offer guests an authentically ‘better than home’ tech experience to complement the outstanding experience travellers benefit from today.

About the Author: Colin Farquhar, Founder and CEO, Exterity  Widely regarded as one of the leading authorities in enterprise scale IP video, Farquhar’s leadership is crucial to Exterity maintaining its position as the recognised leader in end-to-end IPTV solutions. With more than twenty years at the forefront of the ongoing convergence of AV and IT, Colin has unrivalled experience across software engineering, technical and commercial product management, marketing and sales. Exterity has a global presence and in 2018 celebrated its 10th anniversary of doing business in the Middle East.

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