Executive Insight: How Tablets Can Revolutionize Hotel Guestroom Entertainment


This post provides insight directly from a member of our executive committee, CEO & President David Adelson.

In some ways, hotel rooms today look much the same as they did 50 years ago. The basics are all there: a bed, a TV, running water. Change has been slowly making its way through hotels, and the differences are not immediately obvious.

Still, if you look a little more closely (or have been paying attention to the recent hospitality industry headlines), you’ll notice that technology is making a big difference in the way hotels operate and interact with guests. Hotels have increased their technology budgets and explored ways to improve the guest experience in and out of the guest room.

Noticeable examples are guestroom tablets and other such devices put in rooms for guests to take advantage of during their stay. These can have a number of benefits for hotels. Most obvious is the impact on a hotel’s reputation. Hotels offering in-room tablets and improved tech features were rated more favorably by AAA when the organization was awarding diamond ratings this year.

And guests have made it clear that they want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the details of their stay.

In-room tablets, now provided as complimentary guestroom features by some of the leading hotels in the world, can be perfect tools to this end. Installed correctly, they offer a huge opportunity for hotels to give guests what they want most: options. It also allows hoteliers to go beyond the traditional in-room layout.

Let’s first consider standard in-room entertainment, such as a TV with cable/PPV or a bedside radio.

Reports show that the amount of time spent watching media content online or through streaming services as opposed to traditional cable services has increased, while viewership of traditional TV has declined. In fact, 40% of households subscribe to a VOD streaming service, like Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, and cable giants, such as HBO and CBS, are introducing similar services.

Ericsson predicts that streaming on-demand content will overtake broadcast TV for viewership this year. And Niklas Rönnblom, Ericsson ConsumerLab Senior Advisor, said: “Mobile devices are an important part of the TV experience, as 67% of consumers use smartphones, tablets, or laptops for TV and video viewing. Furthermore, 60% of consumers say they use on-demand services on a weekly basis. Watching TV on the move is growing in popularity, and 50% of the time spent watching TV and video on the smartphone, is done outside the home, where mobile broadband connections are facilitating the increase.”

Sunil Marolia, Vice President of Product Management at Smith Micro, said, “Mobile entertainment has rapidly displaced in-room entertainment for frequent travelers, and today’s hotel guest wants to access a variety of services via their mobile phones or tablets. This presents a huge opportunity for the hospitality industry, as more efficient services, customized promotions, and consumer analytics can be enabled through hotel loyalty applications, which are already popular with 54% of travelers we surveyed.”

TV is certainly not going anywhere, as it’s still the channel most often used by consumers, but hoteliers should be very interested in this shift in media consumption and the future of TV as a whole. Netflix has announced that it will be testing out placement of its service in hotel rooms. CuriousTV, an online education company that serves as a YouTube alternative, is also testing out placement in hotel rooms by offering videos about a number of educational topics, from business to DIY craft tutorials.

Mobile technology will be key to remaining relevant when it comes to the in-room entertainment that guests want. Nearly half of travelers polled in a recent survey said they were “very likely” to order in-room entertainment in a hotel room if it could also be accessed via mobile, a 10-percent increase from only two years ago. With tablets, hotels can offer access to streaming media content that guests choose for themselves.

This includes music and radio.

Studies show that Internet radio services, like Pandora and Spotify, are growing in popularity among 13-35-year-olds, while AM/FM radio listening time has decreased. In-room tablets are a great way to offer guests the ability to listen to music that they select rather than just offering a bedside clock-radio.

In-room tablets also offer other entertainment alternatives, such as the consolidation of printed materials such as magazines, newspapers, and books. In 2014, half of Americans owned a dedicated device, either an e-reader or tablet, for reading eBooks. It’s a great way to have a large quantity of reading material available to guests that can be quickly and immediately changed to keep offerings fresh.

All in all, tablets are a flexible in-room technology that can have a huge impact on the guest’s entertainment experience, allowing them to define exactly what they want rather than having a limited set of options that isn’t aligned with what they’ve grown accustomed to in their daily lives.

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