By Natalia Shapkina, Strategic Accounts Sales Manager
As our habits increasingly go digital, hotels face new challenges to design rooms that serve hyper-connected guests.
There is one basic principle that has not changed in years in the hotel industry. When guests visit a hotel, whatever its price range, they must feel at home.
What home is, on the other hand, has changed considerably over the last few years, and continues to evolve at a fast pace. Hotels must constantly be on their toes just to keep up. Video streams – especially video on demand (VOD, sVOD, TVOD) – are a good example of this. Hotel guests increasingly subscribe to such services. And they wish to continue viewing their favourite series when they arrive at a hotel.
For guests, the experience must be simple, fluid, and completely transparent. For hotels, this means setting up the appropriate infrastructure. Hotels must scale up bandwidth to support these high-definition video streams; the WiFi network must be efficient and secure; the screens and the rooms must comply with guests’ devices so they can shift the display from their smartphone, tablet or PC from which they access their content.
And what’s true for video is also true for audio. Yesterday’s radio alarm-clock has become today’s connected loudspeaker. Guests want to stream their music or podcasts in the room, by connecting to a high-quality audio system. The connected room is a constant challenge.
Audiovisual challenges for the hotel industry – 1: Anticipating new technologies
Guests should experience their stay at a hotel as a continuation and not a disruption. For VIDELIO, an expert in audiovisual solutions that must imagine its hotel customers’ audiovisual devices up to 36 months in advance, the challenge is huge. In the digital world, 3 years is an eternity. By the time a hotel opens, no doubt fashions will have changed and technologies will be obsolete. So the challenge is to design a lasting infrastructure. This means properly sized wiring, accessible equipment, and free slots, so that the hotel can install new equipment later. In summary: be as close as possible to current guest requirements, but leave the door open for evolutions when the need arises.
At Fouquet’s Barrière, for example, VIDELIO took advantage of this year’s extensions to deploy Anevia’s IPTV head-ends, which are highly modular and scalable, allowing the hotel to add new VIP video services at any time, according to guests’ needs.
New Cisco switches were installed, to be ready for the renovation of the network infrastructure of the group’s eight hotels, which is scheduled for this year.
Audiovisual challenges for the hotel industry – 2: Combining architecture and technology
Modern audiovisual equipment must also meet architectural and aesthetic constraints. While an architect sees the beauty of a room, the technician thinks of its functionality. The former would like to see as few appliances as possible; the latter wants to deploy televisions, loudspeakers, and tablets. These are two worlds with sometimes diverging aims. They must nonetheless find common ground, focusing on the best interest of guests.
The good news is that appliance makers have grasped this problem and offer increasingly refined designs. In Fauchon hotel, a 5-star hotel in Place de la Madeleine, in Paris’s 8th district, VIDELIO and Anevia teams have deployed Samsung “The Frame” screens – TVs that could easily be mistaken for wall paintings. All you have to do is show a work of art on the screen to completely hide the technology. This hotel’s great novelty is the EONA – BOWO – SAMSUNG Frame, which enables a completely new user experience.
In the Southern French resort town of La Croix Valmer, this same triptych will be deployed by the VIDELIO – IEC teams as part of the Lilly Of the Valley (LOV) project, which is a future Starck 5-star hotel. This project will benefit from an additional technological touch with the use of a chromecast to enable distribution of Netflix – a software integration coupled with state-of-the-art audiovisual solutions to be delivered mid-June 2019.
Audiovisual challenges for the hotel industry – 3: Avoiding the pitfalls of consumer electronics
As mentioned earlier, during their stay, guests want to find the environment they are used to at home. The problem is, consumer goods are not always appropriate for professional use. Devices designed specifically for organisations that host guests dispose of specific functions that offer more control on the equipment. They also offer additional services. A TV for the consumer market, for example, will give users access to all the settings – which could lead to numerous interventions from hotel staff to reconfigure the devices each time a guest leaves.
Moreover, consumer products don’t always come with the long-term support guarantees that professional solutions have. In the mass market, if a product is not successful, it can easily be removed from the shelves – making it harder to maintain. This is why hotels prefer to look for dedicated products that can provide them with both a high quality of customer service and tools designed for administrators. Three Club Med resorts, for example (Grand Massif Samoëns and Les Arcs Panorama in France, and Cefalù in Sicily) have been equipped with Samsung “Hospitality” screens which, in addition to management capabilities, enable personalised welcome messages, promotional offers, and information on local attractions to be delivered to the rooms.
Conclusion: How to face the audiovisual challenges for the hotel industry
In the hotel industry, VIDELIO teams recently participated in making the IPTV network – using Cisco – for the Groupe Barrière, which has undertaken a standardisation process.
For the first time, Wexer’s virtual fitness solution was integrated in Melia Infit.
Today, technology is an integral part of the hotel business and imposes new constraints to industry professionals. But it is also a strong differentiator. With guests now able to compare hundreds of hotels in a few clicks on the Internet, access to modern digital services is becoming an increasingly important selection criterion. Those who will manage to exploit it wisely will end up winning.
This is the translation of an article by Videlio, with contributions from Anevia’s Natalia Shapkina. Read the original French version here.