Hotel TV via IP – but why?

As promised in our last post we will concentrate on the most important parts of guest facing technology. So let’s start with Hotel TV, or to be more precise with Hotel TV via IP or Hotel IPTV.

In this post we will do a few short chapters about why it is a good idea to marry TV with IP/Internet. If you are already sure about this, just skip those chapters. If you think this is a bad idea because it was announced at least hundred times and never happened, read them twice. And if you think a abandoned office PC in a dark corner of your lobby offering your guests Internet is enough for the years to come, ask your children for some help.

IPTV is ready for primetime

The marriage of TV and Internet was announced many times but has never gained any traction. So is it a bad idea? No. New technology is not just a good idea by some genius. It needs infrastructure to go along, to support it. We all know Internet on mobiles. Do you remember WAP? Slow connection, small monochrome displays, awful

user experience. Is the Internet on mobiles for this reasons a bad idea? Ask any smartphone user or have a look at any statistic about the exploding numbers of mobile internet usage if you don’t have the answer by yourself.

Even Steve Jobs had the great idea about the iPad long (now almost two decades) before. Anyone remembers the Newton? Just compare the commercials for the Newton launch and for the iPad launch and you will see very similar idea, but as we all know very different success.

Today IPTV is ready for primetime, at least in a hotel environment where you have full control over your network. But it isn’t the broadcasting technology where IPTV has it strengths – its advantages lay in the combination of TV broadcasting with additional functionality enabled through IP.

IPTV is more expensive – really?

Yeah it’s true. But sometimes you have to kiss the frog if you want a prince. And even more so, when the by far greatest part of the investment is already done for the frog. A headend to distribute the TV signal, some kind of network for distribution, the TV set in the room – everything is already needed for plain TV. And almost nobody nowadays denies the importance of Internet access in the room (be it wired and/or wireless is another discussion). So that is given too.


Why would someone invest 80 – 90 % and is satisfied with the frog “standard TV” who has only produced costs so far? Why don’t finish the investment in order to transform the frog into a revenue generating IPTV prince? All those wonderful advantages from branding over web integration to checkout and room control aside: one of the most important factors is additional revenue.

No one would build a top restaurant, with design furniture, beautiful china and Riedl glasses just to provide some place for guests to consume their own meals and drinks. Only high costs, no revenue so far. Solely because a restaurant with kitchen is more expensive? It’s time to change the way we think about hotel tv accordingly.

Sometimes, revenue missed is the biggest cost factor, however neglected during investment decisions. So let’s have a look what the prince IPTV has to offer.

IP functionality

First let’s have a look at those additional functionalities enabled through IP. Without any priority and not claiming completeness – just a few examples to stimulate imagination:

Bill/folio view and easy check out via TV, set a wake up call, channel list arranged according to the nationality of the guest, transmit the conference schedule to all attendees via group code, automatically adapt the design of the UI according to the brand of the conference host, provide room-control (aircondition, lighting, drapes etc.) via TV, make it easy for housekeeping to communicate room status, easy integration of guests own content, stream content to or from tablets, let guests use smartphones as remote controls…

That’s already much more than a standard hotel tv set is able to do today.

Wait there is more – the Internet

But there is far more to gain if you also put everything the Internet has to offer into the game.

You do have international guests? There is little which makes them more happy than to have access to their accustomed channels. And fortunately almost all important channels worldwide offer some kind of catch-up TV via Internet nowadays. You can’t compete with your more or less extensive channel list with the variety out there.

Or what about VOD content? More and more guests are used to the offerings of Netflix, Hulu, Lovefilm, Amazon instant Video, maxdome, iTunes and so on. Guests have their credentials so let them use them and enjoy. And – to be clear – it is not about long-form content only: Youtube counts 4 billion views (no, that’s not per year, that’s daily) – still growing strong.

Let’s just move on to all those new services out there, be it social media like facebook (with more than 700 million users already) or twitter, music streaming via spotify, video skype, access to own media stored in the cloud and whatever will come down the road.

Or provide easy access to relevant information like destination sites (eg, the nearby museums or cinemas, the airport for checking departure times and possible delays – you got the idea.

All of those sites and services are directly accessible via logo icons sorted in different categories to simplify handling. And since you can’t anticipate every long-tail site your guest may want to visit they are certainly supplemented by a full fledged browser to open up the whole web.

Until now we “just” talk about enhancing guest service and/or reducing costs – no direct additional revenue yet. So let’s have a more detailed look at using IPTV for marketing purposes in our next post..