By Steve Truckenmiller
The quality and variety of in-room entertainment can significantly impact guests’ perceptions of a hotel’s overall value. With lodging occupancies on the rebound, hoteliers have the best chance in years to capture more in-room entertainment revenue and deliver greater guest satisfaction to build repeat business. LodgeNet has just completed guest entertainment-preference studies that are shedding light on what kinds of entertainment travelers want in their rooms. We uncovered some surprises - and also some opportunities for hotel owners and operators.
Blending Of Work and Leisure Expands “Traditional” Audience
Property operators have noticed that more guests are bringing partners or families on their business travel and are creating mini-vacations by extending their business stay over the weekend. This has caused many urban hoteliers to re-think their entertainment offerings, since guests in a “leisure” mindset expect more than business travelers in the way of children’s programming and services like Nintendo® video games. With the blurring of travel segments, hoteliers are recognizing the value of entertainment technology that is flexible enough to dynamically respond to these subtleties.
To encourage in-room entertainment purchases, LodgeNet has increased the size of its on-property digital content servers. More content means more variety - which for hoteliers means a greater likelihood of having entertainment options that will appeal to their demographics no matter how they may shift due to weekly or seasonal variation.
Branded Entertainment Overcomes Guest Hesitancy
LodgeNet studied why some guests buy entertainment and others do not. Our research confirmed other studies pinpointing “anticipated regret” as one of the key barriers to purchasing pay-per-view entertainment. In other words, guests feared that the entertainment they paid for would not live up to their expectations. The solution for overcoming this obstacle is to eliminate the risk factor by offering brand name entertainment that guests instantly recognize and feel confident ordering. Movie titles are brands; so are names like Disney, NASCAR and Nintendo. Our studies showed that guests in all segments are more willing to spend money on brand names they recognize. LodgeNet also provides free trailers for its on-demand movies to lessen anticipated regret and generate more program purchases.
“Guest-Targeting” = Aligning Programming And Promotion With Population
Branded entertainment is just part of the equation; how that entertainment is offered is equally influential on buying behavior. We have repeatedly seen a direct relationship between guests’ consumption of various types of in-room entertainment and variables like time of day and day of week. For example, family programming is very popular during weekends and holiday periods, while other content sells better on weeknights. That is one reason LodgeNet is testing new software and hardware that enables in-room content to be adjusted frequently to meet changing viewer demand.
Entertainment consumption is also affected by promotional efforts in the room. Take NASCAR auto racing, which has become the top spectator sport in the U.S. and which guests have shown they enjoy watching. LodgeNet research revealed that displaying a NASCAR promotion on a guest’s welcome screen boosted programming consumption. In another test we added a “View NASCAR” button to the welcome screen; this again drove guest demand higher. Advances in content management and satellite delivery also enable us to reconfigure the on-screen menus according to a pre-set schedule - so for example, family-friendly movies can be “pushed” to the front of the lineup from Friday night through Sunday afternoon, then give way to other titles during the work week.
Assessment And Adaptation Are Key
Using software that is part of LodgeNet’s proprietary media management system, we are monitoring entertainment consumption patterns in test properties. By tracking which movies and programs are (and aren’t) being ordered at a particular hotel, we can remove titles that aren’t selling and replace them with different ones. Since even the most advanced digital entertainment systems have a finite amount of “shelf space” (and guests have limited time to search for content of interest), this capability has proven invaluable in helping maximize revenue yield on a per-property basis.
Entertainment affects the quality of a person’s life, not only at home but on the road. Hoteliers whose in-room entertainment lineups are best aligned to their guests’ specific interests - and whose programming and promotions can adapt as those interests change - will have the inside track on maximizing revenue by providing their guests with more of the entertainment they recognize, trust and enjoy.
Steve Truckenmiller is Senior Vice President Content & Programming Management for LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation, one of the world’s largest providers of interactive television systems and broadband services to the lodging industry.
LodgeNet Entertainment Corp.
3900 W. Innovation St.
USA - Sioux Falls, SD 57107-7002
Tollfree: (888) 563-4363
Phone: (605) 988-1000
Fax: (605) 988-1506
Email: [email protected]