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Editorial: A Tale of Two TVs

In-Room Entertainment
(Image credit: Mark J. Pescatore)

Like some of you, my family and I have cautiously ventured back out into the world of travel, albeit equipped with enough hand wipes and sanitizer to disinfect a small college campus. Recently, we stayed in two hotels—both solid brands and well-maintained properties—that were equipped very differently for in-room entertainment and services.

During our stay at the first hotel, I had the rare opportunity to see my pro football team play on a Monday night. My plan was simple: Watch the first half in the hotel lobby with a raucous crowd of fans, allowing my family some time to relax without hearing me yell at the TV, then stream the second half to the TV in our hotel room and listen to the broadcast with my wireless headphones.

Let’s just say my plan … did not go according to plan.

First, there were no football fans in the lobby. It was just me and my Diet Pepsi, along with the guy at the front desk who was no doubt questioning my life choices. At halftime, I discovered the TV in the room had no streaming capabilities. Frankly, it didn’t have much of anything, maybe a few dozen channels and a very dated on-screen guide. I wound up watching the game on my phone.

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At our second hotel, things were different. The personalized welcome screen encouraged me to stream content. A QR code provided access to hotel information and services, including checkout and food delivery. There were even callout options for in-room fitness and family programming. In other words, the in-room TV was more than an outlet for the same handful of cable networks; it was a true gateway to entertainment and services.

In several cities, hotels are clustered in a general area, with competing properties often next door or across the street. When you can’t push the location advantage, amenities become more important. Are travelers going to avoid your hotel because you don’t have TV-based checkout? Probably not. But I’m betting better in-room TV services will tend to help savvy travelers become more brand loyal.

Mark J. Pescatore
Mark J. Pescatore

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 20 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book Working with HDV, and co-edited two editions of The Guide to Digital Television