One of the really problematic “stuffs” that people bring is “content.” What’s content you ask? Good question. The answer is kind of interesting, because to date there’s only one type of content that really affects how hoteliers should think and plan. Certainly, guests can and do bring written word (books, Kindles), audio (iTunes, streaming services), but the killer content, the one that makes guest experience crumble and crushes hotel infrastructure is video.
Firstly, I’d like to direct you, gentle reader, to a great piece written by my friend and all around smart IT guy James Lingle for this season’s Hospitality Upgrade magazine. He covers a lot of ground that I was thinking about for this article, just probably better (sigh). In particular, James discusses the rapid increase in Netflix subscriber-ship, and what that means for hoteliers. Good read, highly recommended.
Secondly, in addition to streaming video services, another huge challenge to hoteliers on the customer experience and satisfaction side of things, is customer carried content.
Customer carried content is just what it sounds like; video file downloaded from iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and any number of other similar content stores and physically carried by the guest onto property. In our homes, it’s a trivial matter to fling this content from device to big screen, so naturally our guests want to do the same in-room
… but not so fast …
One of the key topics during Monday’s “Keeping Pace With In-Room Technology” session was this very problem. As was noted during the session, there have historically been a variety of hardware / direct connect options for getting video to the screen such as the functional, but ill fated and under-used jack pack. The general consensus of participants and panelists, however, was that streaming media to the “big screen” is the best solution, but that it’s hugely problematic with respect to execution.
And oh by the way? Streaming media from device to screen requires even more bandwidth, albeit local only… just sayin’.
In any case, as a follow up to the very fine work done by the panelists, I did a bit of homework on my own. During the session, there was robust discussion regarding the more technical aspects of streaming of customer carried content to the big screen with respect to the various proprietary formats and mobile operating systems. As mentioned during the session, the presenters (and I do concur) think there are some hardware solutions in active development to permit display of both Apple’s AirPlay and competing Samsung (Android) protocols.
There is, however, a much more pedestrian solution available using COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) Apple TV pucks and AirPlay. I’ll be testing this out in my own (mixed platform) home when I get home, but there are at least a couple apps in Google’s Play Store that portend to allow Android devices to stream content via Apple TV protocols. While in no way shape or form an endorsement (I haven’t tried it yet!), one such app can be found here.
Just briefly for those that were not able to attend some of the other big and general takeaways from that session where:
VOD (Video on Demand) is dead (dead, dead)
Bandwidth is critical path to guest satisfaction
The jury is still out on tiered bandwidth
Five year Internet infrastructure planning was a really bad idea
Hotel provided tablets, unless made available within very narrowly defined utilization constraints, is just a goofy idea.
There is, or should be, no doubt that the proliferation and diversification of BYOC technology and sources is becoming a very real issue, potentially leading to significant customer blowback and rejection for those hoteliers that don’t get on board. Conversely, there’s huge opportunity and cost saving available to those that can adapt to the paradigm of in room screens as just a piece of glass on which customers project their own content.
Brad More is a former Naval Aviator who stumbled into hospitality technology and found a home. He is co-founder and president of Atri Leo, a new company focused on the practical application of technology to hospitality. Follow Brad on Twitter@brmore or e-mail him for more information.
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