Screen play

24 March 2003 by
Screen play

Just a few years ago, guests were content with a video player, a good selection of videos and the usual TV channels in their rooms. In 2003, things have moved on.

In-room entertainment marketing is becoming more important, with guests wanting hotel TVs to offer more services and more channels. For hotels, this brings the possibility of two sources of revenue - first, charging guests more for a room with better in-room entertainment; second, charging them for the use of these services.

Guests now expect better entertainment and they also want to be able to communicate using the internet, as Steven Morris, managing director of ETV Interactive, explains. "Hotels have lost revenues from guest-room telephones since mobile phones became more cost-effective," he says. "Hotels are also struggling to provide high-speed internet connections in-room, with many still relying on the guest travelling with a laptop and modem."

New in-room entertainment systems offer a combination of entertainment and communication, including broadband internet, pay TV, music, games and the latest films. Content can be offered in various languages for foreign guests, and foreign newspapers and TV channels are often available too. It's also possible for hotels to customise such services, so you can promote your hotel's facilities and special events.

So what does all this cost? As these systems are customised, costs will vary but, for example, ETV Interactive's service costs £1 to £1.50 per room per day with a five-year contract, while Quadriga's Genesis digital system costs between £15 and £22 per room per month. Installation is carried out by the supplier at no added cost.

Are they profitable? Ben Andradi, chief executive officer of Quadriga, explains the difference between the analogue system (currently being phased out) and the new Genesis digital system. "If we look at the economics of a room, typically an analogue room generates about £10-£12 per month," he says.

"Genesis has digital video-on-demand, pre-DVD release movies, plus laptop connectivity, which analogue doesn't, plus television and music, and typically generates two or three times the revenue per room of its analogue counterpart."

With investment on hold in the current economic climate, it may come as a surprise to learn that these in-room entertainment-communication systems can also help to encourage a guest to be loyal to your hotel. As Andradi explains: "Because hoteliers need to differentiate and have a competitive advantage, they need to offer something different. Second, hoteliers are trying to offer what guests now expect, or better than the guest has at home.

"The least people now expect to get is broadband. They expect digital video, when they have satellite or cable television at home, and so they expect this of a hotel, too."

Nearly three-quarters of UK businesses are within range (5.5km) of a broadband-enabled exchange. However, there are black spots, so these systems are really only of use to hotels with an enabled exchange. You can find out if your exchange is enabled at

And what of the future? In-room entertainment-communication is already important and likely to provide an increasingly large part of a hotel's revenue. Morris believes that more integration will lead to reduced expenses and increased profits. "These services will integrate much more with front and back office administration systems and automation systems," he predicts.

Andradi thinks that these systems will provide an avenue of direct revenue for hotels - "videoconferencing so the guest can stay in their room, for example, a whole variety of games, and gambling experiences in the room with payouts. With the right security, a lot becomes possible."

Whatever happens, in-room entertainment-communication systems have grown from your basic video player to hi-tech, high-speed means of generating more revenue.

Case study

The Crowne Plaza at London's Heathrow Airport is a four-star, 458-bedroom hotel. It had Quadriga's Genesis system installed 10 months ago in half of its rooms.

The Genesis system is an integrated entertainment and communications system, offering the latest pre-DVD films including children's films, high-speed broadband internet access, a digital music jukebox, and localised content using high-quality televisions equipped with plasma screens. Guests can also check out via the system from their room, and view their bill.

David Cohen, the hotel's general manager, has been particularly impressed by the television quality and by broadband. "I would say that guests would expect, first of all, to have the picture quality and picture capability they have at home," he says. "Genesis has fantastic picture quality, at the top end of guests' expectations. A guest who doesn't have that type of quality at home would be highly impressed."

Broadband has become an important part of the business market and, thanks to the broadband option in Genesis, the Crowne Plaza has noticed an increase in internet usage. "We had dial-up internet access before Genesis was installed," says Cohen, "and now, slowly but surely, we are phasing that out. Once we put Genesis into our 80 club rooms, we saw a lift of - I would say - around 35-40% in usage of broadband internet."

And guests are impressed, requesting rooms that have the Genesis broadband facility.

Another intriguing possibility for hotels with Genesis is the custom content. In the Crowne Plaza's case, it is looking at developing a "wellbeing" programme through the television screen, something that could prove a profitable addition. "You could do a yoga/Pilates workout of, say, 10 minutes," explains Cohen. "This way, they can have their class in the privacy of their own room, at a time that suits them."

Genesis can also help general managers with breakfast-ordering. If you have allocated 20 breakfasts for the 7-7.30am slot and order 21 comes in, Genesis can deal with it. The system suggests the guest books for the 6.30-7am or the 7.30-8am slot instead.

Cohen is impressed by this clever service. "You don't have a situation whereby the breakfast menu wasn't picked up, or the menu was taken by some kids running throughout the hotel late at night," he says.

From a guest's point of view, this system is a real attraction. It offers a good variety of films and music, with features such as being able to pause sessions while watching a film, for example, and being able to come back to it at any time within an allotted period, instantly. The guest can also carry on using other services on the system and can "pause" those as well.

It is interesting to note that Quadriga has the system in constant development, taking on board comments from both staff and guests.

ETV Interactive
Tel: 01259 720319

Tel: 01932 351571

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking