Saturday, June 17, 2006

Overview of HDTV into Hotels

[As digital manufacturers of broadcast equipment continue to focus on the mainstream digital broadcasters, the article below sets out a clear proposition for the new found positive attitude to introducing High Definition Television into hotel guest rooms. This will mean the hospitality industry having to install all of the associated equipment required to receive and carry signals on hotel properties but also any in-house production output. This is a confirmation for satellite broadcasters too, to be able to show growth figures for their hotel distribution. Mainland China comes to mind with the major decisions of which digital system to be adopted, cannot be far away. The PRC has pledged to cover the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in full HDTV. This report, while aimed at the Continental US, in my opinion resonates across Asia Pacific as well. - Ed]

Hotel HDTV: The Picture is Getting Clearer by Dave Bankers is Senior Vice President, Product & Technology Development for LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation .

In less than three years, hotel industry perception of high- definition television (HDTV) has shifted from a “maybe someday” proposition to a mainstream issue – and for more and more hoteliers, a mandated guest room requirement. One driver behind HDTV adoption is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate that by mid-2007, all newly built televisions must support ATSC-compliant digital television (DTV) video signals.

Another key factor is the increasing availability of high definition (HD), first-run, video-on-demand (VOD) Hollywood movies and premium satellite programming. In addition, a growing number of travelers with HDTV in their homes are beginning to expect it in their hotels. It all means that increasing numbers of hotel operators are preparing for HDTV – and they’re finding that their in-room entertainment provider holds the critical key to a successful HDTV migration.

When it comes to HDTV, operators are interested and engaged. LodgeNet saw high attendance at its HDTV seminars the past two HITEC shows, and HDTV resources are among the most downloaded documents from the LodgeNet Website. Those whose HD efforts had been focused on self- education are today moving into evaluation and implementation. From venerable luxury chains to landmark independent properties, from established focused service brands to new extended stay flags, hoteliers are specifying HDTV in their long-term agreements with in- room entertainment suppliers and TV manufacturers.

Emergence of Security Standard Driving Increased Availability of Premium HD Content

Quality HD content is critical to maximizing the ROI on HD displays. Initially, satellite programmers and movie studios were reluctant to license HD entertainment for hotel distribution due to concern that their DVD sales could be impacted by content pirated from digital in- room entertainment systems. That changed last year with the introduction of Pro:IdiomTM, a robust content security solution that protects satellite-delivered and VOD content adhering to the digital transport standards of the ATSC. Pro:IdiomTM has enabled industry- first, HD content licensing agreements with major Hollywood studios as well as premium HD satellite networks like HBO-HD, HDNet and ESPN- HD. With Pro:Idiom implementation growing among in-room entertainment providers and HD display manufacturers, hoteliers should consider it a “must-have” for their HDTV solution.

Making HD Easy

Early installations have proven that a successful HD migration entails much more than simply buying HD displays and connecting the cables. Hoteliers must consider every component that plays into the guest’s TV experience, right down to the remote control. There may be far-reaching implications for the hotel’s infrastructure, especially in older properties. And of course, any HD solution must be financed, installed and serviced.

Experienced in-room entertainment providers are helping hotel operators smoothly transition to HDTV with solutions that not only integrate a compatible HD television and HD content security, but also account for display furniture (or wall mounting hardware) and can even support the premium sound systems that create a true “home theater” environment.

To ensure the most cost effective and trouble-free HDTV conversion, hoteliers should work with an in-room entertainment partner that:

• Has adopted the Pro:IdiomTM standard for digital content security • Is delivering the full range of HD programming – broadcast, premium satellite and early release VOD – to meet the expectations and desires of today’s entertainment consumers • Is working with leading commercial HD television manufacturers to ensure compatibility of their displays with the provider’s in-room entertainment system; ideally this will take the form of a formal compatibility program to help hoteliers choose an HD display that not only can receive a broad range of HD content, but also delivers a superior guest experience in an economical fashion • Can produce customer references regarding the provider’s ability to install, service and support an HDTV solution • Offers consulting to help hoteliers make the right decisions ahead of their HD migration, and project management to keep all the stakeholders on the same page and ensure the right pieces get to the right place, at the right time

Hotel operators, management companies and chains are asking how to make the right HDTV decision for their guest rooms now – and with good reason. FCC deadlines are approaching; guest demand is growing; HD display costs are coming down; a content security standard is in place; and those who have waited until now to implement HDTV can draw on the knowledge gained through the successful (and not so successful) efforts of early HD adopters. Migrating to HDTV can still be expensive and frustrating, but happy hoteliers and “WOWed” guests are proving it doesn’t have to be. As the HDTV picture comes into focus, partnership with a proven in-room entertainment provider is still the essential key to a smooth implementation.

Author: Dave Bankers is Senior Vice President, Product & Technology Development for LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation

No comments: