Creating a Great Guest Experience with Casting

casting

Whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure, hotel guests are looking for more than just the basics –they’re seeking a guest experience that’s more like what they have at home. An important aspect of this is in-room entertainment, and specifically the ability to cast video content. Surveys show that well over three-quarters of US households now subscribe to at least one streaming video on-demand (SVOD) service (more than subscribe to traditional TV services!), and around 50% subscribe to three or more services.

As guests continue to travel with more personal electronic devices, they increasingly express a desire to cast their own choice of SVOD content to their guest room TV, with two-thirds saying that casting is a desirable feature and half noting that it might impact their future booking decisions. Yet only about a quarter of hoteliers now say they can offer that option to guests. Clearly, casting is becoming more than just a “nice-to-have” feature, and it can help set your hotel apart from your competitors – so what do you need to know to get ready?

First, surveys also show that guests greatly prefer the option to cast content from their own devices instead of logging into an app on the guest room TV. Guests find it much easier to log in on their own devices, and they’re much more wary of potential security risks when logging in via TV apps. So it’s preferable to offer the option for guests to connect their own devices to the TV.

One of the best ways to do that is for hotels to connect casting devices to their guest room TVs. There are several things to look for when evaluating casting solutions:

  • It is important to select an industry-standard solution. For example, Google and Apple casting devices are well-known, widely implemented, and include security and lifecycle management (so that, for example, the device will maintain updated versions of SVOD services as they are released).
  • The solution should be able to support different platforms and be ready for a wide variety of consumer BYOD content, since you won’t know what devices your guests will bring with them nor what apps they’ll be using.
  • For the greatest cost-effectiveness, the solution should be TV-agnostic so you can continue to use the guest room TVs you already have.
  • Avoid solutions that require complex and/or insecure network designs to function, as well as solutions that don’t offer lifecycle management.

In addition to choosing the right type of casting solution for your guest rooms, there are a couple of aspects you’ll need to prepare within your hotel:

  • For an experience that will delight guests, your guest network needs to be able to handle the increased traffic from casting. SVOD apps can be bandwidth-heavy; if your incoming bandwidth, your HSIA, or your gateway can’t accommodate that increased traffic, guests will be frustrated and annoyed instead of delighted, leading to increased complaints and lower ratings.
  • As noted earlier, a good casting solution should be TV-agnostic, but you’ll still need to be sure your TVs can work with the casting hardware – you’ll generally need an open HDMI input and (preferably) a powered USB port.
  • You may want to consider the physical security of the casting device. There are a number of anti-theft options available for casting hardware.

Finally, you’ll need to think about how your guests will connect to the in-room casting device. For a great guest experience, you need to make it easy for guests to connect and cast:

  • For security, you’ll need to ensure that guests can cast only to the TV in their own room, and that all devices are disconnected when a guest checks out. Thus, authentication is needed.
  • It is best practice to offer multiple authentication methods to pair guest devices with their in-room TV(s) and to provide clear instructions to guests of how to connect and cast using these methods. On-screen instructions can provide an easy way to help guests connect.
  • Where available, PMS integration can enable frictionless authorization; guests can simply connect to the hotel WiFi using their last name and room number, and they will automatically be authenticated to the casting device(s) in their own guest room.

The bottom line is that, with the right solution and a little bit of preparation, offering the ability to cast to guest room TVs can be a good way to set your hotel apart from the rest with a great guest experience. With our proven solutions and years of experience in HSIA for hotels, Hospitality WiFi can help you make sure your hotel is ready – just give us a call!

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