What to Expect From the In-Room Entertainment Industry in the Next Year

By Michael S. Wasik Chairman, CEO, Interim CFO, Roomlinx Inc. | September 04, 2011

In-Room Entertainment. It is becoming the focus for many hoteliers and I expect the attention and focus on this aspect of the guestroom to increase in the coming year. Technology continues to be developed at a rapid pace and it is tough to keep up with all the cool gadgets, software and online trends. With the proliferation of media now available online, the in-room entertainment options offered in hotels will need to shift in order to keep this amenity from becoming a cash drain. Here are some things that will be important to keep in mind in order to offer options that will adapt with future technology needs and changes, maximize utilization of in-room entertainment and, most importantly, attract guests.

Online Media and Entertainment Options Ever Present

With the growth of companies like Netflix, media and entertainment options online are expanding at a rapid pace. With the click of a mouse, you can watch movies, TV shows and shorter content like YouTube videos. News, sports and weather updates stream live and email and social accounts are continuing to take over as the preferred form of communication.

Five years ago, internet access was still a hot topic for the hospitality industry. Now, it’s a commodity and guests are not only expecting the access, but want it for free. This demand is causing hotels to try to find innovative ways to maintain margins and differentiate themselves with new Internet-based amenities. Tiered bandwidth options are one way to provide guests with what they want and still capture revenue to support the operating expenses of the network. This way, guests that simply want to check email and news updates can do so for little to no cost while those ‘power-user’ guests that want to stream video and play online games can opt to pay a bit more for higher quality.

TVs Are Becoming the Focus of all Integrated Technologies in the Guestroom

Flat screens are becoming a necessity; they open up possibilities to high-quality, HD images, IPTV and branding of the interface viewed by the guest. 90% of guests turn on the TV throughout their stay making it the most powerful in-room focal point. With control of the television, you can extend the guest’s positive experience with your hotel after they have left the front desk, reinforce the essence of your brand and provide a pleasant atmosphere to keep your guest in a good mood. And while yes, they may have internet access on their mobile device, most guests would prefer to watch movies, TV shows and YouTube videos on a larger screen and use a real keyboard.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.