Ben Clifford, co-founder and CTO of streaming solutions firm Nevaya, discusses why technology is as important a brand standard as the neon sign, bed or cookie
Guest Post: Why hotels should be looking to use the TV as a marketing tool
Technology is expanding from operations to get more deeply into delivering service, and, as with your team members greeting guests at the front desk, it is a point of connection, the starting point for your hotel’s relationship with the guest. For this reason, it needs to be held to the same brand standards as the rest of the property.
Yet for many hotels, how they present their technology and how it functions is an afterthought, as though it was still invisible in a back room.
Hotels should be looking to use the TV as a marketing tool; it’s the best space that they can have to get in front of the guests. They can try apps, they can try pinging out emails. But in the end, in the room the guests are captive and hotels should be taking advantage of this.
It’s a key place for hotels to really engage with a guest, but the hotel brand is hardly ever reflected in what is offered on the TV. It is often hard to interact with, it looks like Teletext, it’s not attractive and there is no inducement to go through the suffering involved to try and work out what you can do with it.
I have seen hotel televisions in five-star hotels where every detail of the hotel has been through multiple committees, discussed and debated and yet you look at the televisions screen and there is no branding, but a horrible text screen with 40 littles boxes of options.
When you look at the effort hotels go to with their marketing emails, which are hurled out into the ether, frequently unread, missing the opportunity to create something useful, something which helps tells the brand story, just will be 10 feet away from the guest seems more than a little bizarre.
One of the reasons this very obvious method of communication is overlooked is because it is usually left down to someone in marketing as the 10th thing on their list to do that day. Because the fictionality of these products hasn’t been updated for a decade, they often don’t appreciate that there are other, simpler options. They might have to contact an outside vendor to change a screen and that’s neither simple nor responsive. It’s better to make it easy and achievable in house, then it will be used and kept fresh.
Historically these systems have been expensive, which has meant that the brands are reluctant to make them part of the brand standards, when they can’t make a case for the ROI. Televisions are seen as a point of information and entertainment, not as an opportunity for interaction, to create relationships, drive revenues and create memorable experiences and that potential value is lost.
Hotels are, rightly, looking forward with their technology and we have seen announcements this year from Marriott International, talking about its AI incubator and from other groups looking to drive personalisation and automation. But before you make that leap, don’t overlook the old technology.
Changes which used to represent a large capex investment are now much cheaper. The cloud means that any issues can be resolved remotely, there is no need to have a big room in your hotel devoted to wires and lights and someone who knows how to work them.
Hotels are eager to reinvent the wheel, without realising that the wheel was doing pretty well, actually and that it can take you a long way without much effort at all. It’s important to keep an eye on new developments and see what might work for your hotel in the future, but you can get a lot of momentum out of your TV, with just a little push.