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Before I get into this week’s topic, a quick reminder that I really need to hear about what YOU have seen that is new or innovative in hospitality tech. Readers often ping me AFTER I write about a topic to tell me about some product or company I should also have looked at. It’s much more useful if you tell me BEFORE I write about it! And indeed, cool new companies I hear about from readers are often my inspiration for a topic. My contact info is at the end of this section, so please reach out … I’m always happy to spend time learning about new companies or products.

The ubiquity of mobile devices for both guests and staff, together with continual improvements in location technologies, has created new possibilities for serving guests and upselling. Nowhere is this more evident than in food and beverage. For many hotels, F&B is a low-profit or loss-leader product that could be moved to profit if just a few more sales opportunities can be found.

Hotels always talk about how focused they are on guest satisfaction. But studies such as the ACSI Travel Report consistently show hotels coming in way below even banks and limited-service restaurants in guest satisfaction, and just barely above airlines and gas stations. And it’s getting worse: 2019 showed a 1.3% drop over 2018. Net promoter scores for most major hotel brands are lowest for millennials and Generation X, which does not bode well for the future. A 2016 study by Revenue Strategy Summit showed that poor service delivery accounted for 56% of negative trip reviews.

Could QR codes revolutionize the hospitality industry? While far from being mainstream in Australia, the use of QR codes is on the rise thanks to improved technology and innovations in consumer engagement.

From the company’s simple beginnings in a Beijing apartment to the global expansion and recent major technology acquisitions, over a short period of time Shiji Group has experienced fantastic growth to serve a fully worldwide customer base. Looking back over the previous decade, Kevin King, COO of Shiji Group, shares the company’s background and pathway moving forward mixed with a desire to push the boundaries of technology for the hospitality industry. Below are some key takeaways from Mr. King’s article:

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In-room Entertainment – Catering to the 21st Century Hotel Guest

by Brendon Granger
The expectations of hotel guests has changed radically in recent years. Having a comfortable place to stay is no longer enough. Today, the digitally connected traveller wants a hotel room that lets him stay connected from the moment he arrives, while also enjoying the same technology he uses at home. 
Even if your guests are just using your hotel room as a base to lay their heads, the time they spend relaxing will invariably involve watching TV, listening to music or browsing the internet. This reliance on personal technology and a surge in the popularity of on-demand entertainment are both transforming what guests want and what they expect from a hotel room. With that in mind, let’s explore where in-room hotel technology is going, and how it needs to evolve to meet changing expectations. 
The Boom in On-demand Entertainment 
Many guests arrive at a hotel with their own entertainment, often bringing multiple devices with them. Today’s guests are more likely to watch Netflix on their tablet than pay to watch a movie on the hotel TV. This trend is simply a sign of the times. A recent report by Nielsen found that nearly two-thirds (66%) of people around the globe watch some form of on-demand content. On-demand content allows you watch what you like, when you like over the internet. People are still watching traditional TV and cable services, but there’s a clear shift toward on-demand content and streaming services.
This means that today’s hotel guests have more content than ever at their fingertips. So while a large flat-screen TV is still a nice perk, it isn’t the be-all and end-all of in-room entertainment. Just as crucial, hotels need to provide support to allow guests to use the devices they bring with them.
Easy Access to Personal Devices
Seamless connectivity and a frictionless online experience are key to guest satisfaction. The modern-day traveller always wants to stay connected and most now expect a hotel to offer free, high-speed Wi-Fi.
Equally, guests don’t want the hassle of complicated log-in procedures or have their internet sessions time-out. These seemingly minor frustrations are a sure-fire way to aggravate your guests and send them straight to TripAdvisor to air grievances. 
Beyond free and fast internet access, it’s crucial that your hotel rooms have plenty of easy-to-access power outlets – especially since most people bring multiple devices with them. Even better, equip your hotel rooms with USB ports. This will also save your overseas guests the inconvenience of needing a travel adaptor.
Personal Content and Streaming Services 
In the survey by Nielson, over two-thirds of respondents said that watching video-on-demand on an online or mobile device is not as good as watching on a bigger screen. 
Moving forward, it seems in-room entertainment is almost certainly going to revolve around the hotel TV. As internet-enabled smart TVs become prevalent in the home, guests will arrive expecting to stream their favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime show on the hotel room TV. 
The way people listen to music has changed radically, too. The boom in internet-based music platforms like Spotify and Pandora mean that guests will appreciate the ability to play their music via Bluetooth through the in-room TV speakers, clock with Bluetooth or speaker.
As discussed in a previous article, casting services are set to play a leading role in this development. Services such as RoomCast (powered by Google’s Chromecast) now enable guests to easily and securely ‘cast’ their own content on the in-room TV. 
Of course, personal devices aren’t just used for entertainment. Travellers rely on them for a host of reasons, from checking the latest weather and researching trips, to checking out the local dining scene and uploading holiday photos to Facebook. Again, this is where the offer of streaming services can offer huge value. Rather than being restricted to a small screen, giving guests the ability to cast content from a personal device to the in-room TV makes for a far less restricted and much more enjoyable online experience. 
Yet despite these benefits, the current generation of streaming services still have limitations - namely, the lack of a universal system that works across all platforms. 
Limitations of Streaming
At present, consumers can stream and mirror content on Android devices, such as Samsung and LG.  Apple TV offers streaming and mirroring for iOS and Mac OS. But neither solution works with the other.
Chromecast bridges the gap to a certain extent (because it works on both Android and iOS), but you can’t play content from iTunes via Chromecast. So with the current technology, a guest that shows up at your hotel still might not be able to stream her own content on your hotel TV. As a possible solution, the future might involve a next-generation TV that combines streaming with app-based technology. 
How Streaming Services Could Evolve
So what might a new generation of app-based TVs look like? Having the apps on the TV itself wouldn’t be ideal. Guests would have to use the hotel remote to enter their login details which is cumbersome. Also, many guests would worry about entering their personal details into the TV to access these apps because the TV will store them unless it is able to be reset or wiped once the guest checks-out.
But here’s how it could work. Imagine a device (like an Apple TV) that lets you upload your own apps (such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) and profile to it at the push of a button via your smartphone. The apps then displayed on the TV would be yours with your credentials, reflecting the same kind of experience you have at home.
Voice control technology would make this interaction even easier. Products like Apple TV already have voice control built in. So this next-generation experience would allow guests to navigate and play personal content without touching a button. Instead, the guest would simply “ask” the TV to play the latest Stranger Things episode.
As for security concerns? The device would automatically clear itself of personal credentials, settings, content and any downloaded apps when a guest checked out. That is the device would be restored to a standardized per-property configuration – ready and waiting for the next guest to make it their own.
Redefining the In-room Experience
As access and dependence on personal devices grows, the future of in-room entertainment will be defined by what your guests bring with them and how well you can enhance the experience using these devices while staying with you.
Super-fast Wi-Fi, casting services and voice-activated devices such as Amazon Alexa will no longer be an appreciated luxury. They’ll become a hardwired expectation. This future isn’t far off, either. These technologies are already here – moving into the domestic setting and becoming seamlessly integrated into everyday life.
Entertainment autonomy and an office-away-from-the-office are what your future guests are going to be expecting. Understanding these changing trends and investing in the right technology is going to be crucial to remain relevant and gain a competitive edge in the coming years.
About The Author
Brendon Granger

With a great passion for all things hotels, but in particular technology and a desire to help others, his role as director at Technology4Hotels allows him to do both.

Brendon has worked with hundreds of hotels to help them with their in-room technology. In the last few years he has helped them to increase guest satisfaction, strengthen guest loyalty and encourage repeat bookings as well as win awards such as the best business hotel, best city hotel, best upscale hotel and best luxury hotel in Australasia.

Always going the extra mile, Brendon began his hospitality career over 25 years ago working in five-star hotels whilst completing his bachelor of business in hotel management. He has held various management positions within five-star hotels, worked as a consultant in both hotel feasibility and technology and has an extensive background in hotel technology.

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