Guest Expectations: The Only Thing That Counts

We have all contemplated purchase of a new high-definition display. High definition is one of the hottest topics in our industry today. With a seemingly endless selection to choose from, it is important to understand what drives our decisions. In the lodging industry, the only driving force should be guest expectations.

The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that by the end of 2005, high-definition displays had penetrated nearly 20 percent of all U.S. households and 49 percent of all householders were considering a flat panel display for their next television purchase. It is estimated that by 2010, annual sales of flat panel displays will near $72 billion.

Generally, guests don't care which brand of TV you have in your property, whether content is delivered to the room over IP or RF or whether you have cable or satellite. No one has ever received a call from a guest asking if they have X brand TV or if their content provider is brand D.


But guests do ask whether you have high-speed Internet access, high-definition TVs and comfortable beds. They assume that you, as a general manager, IT professional or owner, have already made the right technology decision. The first step in any technology implement ation is to find out what your guests want today and what they will want in the future. Additionally, evaluate what your competition is doing. Will they win that customer because you delayed your implementation or will you continue to satisfy your guests and enhance your customer base?

The next step is to make a technology plan. The entire team should be involved. General managers, owners, IP professionals, engineering staff and designers are all stakeholders in the technology decision. Don't expect them to be experts. In fact, it is probably better if they are not experts because they will more likely be able to empathize with the guest. And all the guest wants is user-friendly technology.


Almost. A Federal Communications Commission mandate intends to promote over-the-air high-definition delivery to the average U.S. household. The mandate requires that every television sold in the U.S. that has a National Television System Committee (NTSC) tuner must include an Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) tuner, even though the televisions may not be able to display the HDTV resolutions. These tuners are used to receive over-the-air broadcast of your local channels. (HD-ready sets, usually sold as monitors, are not required to include ATSC tuners.) The ATSC tuner mandate has three key dates:

  • As of this March 1, all TVs 25 inches or larger must include an ATSC tuner

  • As of March 1, 2007, all TVs must include an ATSC tuner

  • As of Feb. 17, 2009, the mandate says analog broadcasts, NTSC over the air, will be turned off.

This mandate has had an adverse financial impact on the lodging industry. The 27-inch analog TVs purchased just a few months ago now cost $70-$100 more, and can't deliver a beneficial return on the increased investment. At the same time, several major in-room entertainment providers are using the ATSC tuners in high-definition plasma and LCD displays to enable delivery of encrypted high-definition satellite and video-on-demand (VOD) content to the guestroom.


Standards are starting to solidify. Most major stakeholders in the industry have set their technology- and product-migration paths to support HDTV and digital rights management. Content providers are offering HD solutions. In-room entertainment companies will feature IP and RF delivery systems for high-definition VOD. Plasma and LCD display manufacturers offer lodging industry-specific models.

Many industry resources can help you find solutions that are right for your guest. Attending trade shows like HITEC or the HOT-Hospitality Operations and Technology conference can help you grasp the technology migration paths.

At the end of the day, what matters most is that your guests are impressed with in-room televisions that display vivid content and offer more movie choices than ever. Those will keep them coming back.

Randy S. Moore is a founder and principal of Guestroom Solutions, a provider of project management, integration and installation services and product solutions for in-room technologies to the lodging industry. Call him at 847-748-2565 or e-mail

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