HOTEL IPTV - True Unified Communications For Hotels
IPTV is the new buzz word in the hospitality sector and with good reason as it opens up a whole new world of interactivity and endless possibilities, which ultimately increases guest satisfaction and if designed correctly, will increase hotel revenue. However IP unified communications systems can provide much more than just TV to hotels. In this article we shall explore some critical elements that can dramatically benefit hotel operators by implementing an IP unified communications system.
Lets take a look at some of the key points regarding the current conventional technology used in vast majority of hotels today. Conventional TV systems (Hotel MATV) consist of 2 main features:
- A limited number of Live TV channels due to the coaxial cable networks installed
- NVOD or Near Video On Demand
RF technology falls short of providing any additional information and interactive services that may provide any real benefit to the guest and hotel at the same time. NVOD in itself is quite limited and is more than an inconvenience to guests as it requires them to wait for the movie to start, rather than immediately viewing the movie once the movie purchase has been made.
Standard MATV Technology
The overwhelming majority of hotels currently use standard MATV systems to provide TV to their guests via RF (radio frequency) equipment and cable called 'coaxial cable' which was invented by Oliver Heaviside way back in 1929. Although the cable is widely used in most hotels and is a legacy technology, it is utilized to provide TV channels, NVOD movies and some promotional media. However MATV systems fall short of giving any real interactivity or depth to the hotel's communications network. What most people don't realise with current hotel MATV systems is that even though the channels come from a digital source, in 99% of cases the channels are actually converted and broadcast in analogue, thus greatly reducing picture quality, adding probability of interference which most of the time results in 'snow', thus, amongst so many other factors, basically resulting in a sub-standard service compared to today's high standards. Whereas IP Unified communications systems work on full digital IP technology.
Conventional TV system shortcomings:
- Channels are broadcast in Analogue and in standard definition
- No High Definition Channels are possible using analogue
- Poor picture quality TV channels
- Susceptibility to Interference
- Lack of personalization for guests
- Limitation of the number of TV channels offered
- Incapacity to provide interactive features to guests
- No capacity to provide interactive e-commerce or marketing
Why use IPTV over the current analogue Hotel MATV Systems?
IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a system which Television Channels and Movie content is converted into data and transported through an IP network (a LAN) using either the hotel's existing standard copper telephone cables thus eliminating the need for re-cabling or with Fibre Optic or Category 6 cables in new hotels. The digital data is then transported through the IP infrastructure, directly to each room via an IP Set Top Box or IP Television Set and guests can simply access the TV channels and other content using a standard TV remote control. For more advanced usage such as writing documents, emails etc... a wireless keyboard can be used.
What this means is that not only can the hotel now provide 1080p high definition Television and real Video On Demand (VOD), but other technologies such as IP Telephony, Internet and fully interactive promotional services can now be provided to each guest using the same single I.P. network infrastructure thus resulting in reduced cabling and labour costs whilst significantly adding value to the hotel's communications system.
What are the highlights of a good IP Unified Communications System?
- No limitations on the number of TV channels that can be provided to guests
- Provide a comprehensive local and international TV and radio channel line up
- True Video On Demand (VOD) with full Play/Pause/Rewind/Fast Forward capabilities
- On Demand free movie trailers to encourage movie purchase
- Additional local and international Radio Channels (Via satellite and Internet)
- Music On Demand (Inc. Music Video) with literally thousands of music titles
- Fully customized guest interface and Middleware
- Private messaging from front desk to guest
- E-commerce and in-house shopping from TV screen
- Targeted Direct marketing and Promotions
- Full Interactive capability
- Personalization services
- Online bookings via the TV screen/remote control
- Real time weather reports, flight information and other information services
- Guests can view their bill before checkout
- Full PMS integration for single billing solutions on guest checkout
What are some other services that can be added to IP Unified communications systems?
- Real time automated IP Security and Monitoring
- Hacker detection, Anti-Hacker response and guest protection
- 24/7 Quality control
- IP Telephony and VoIP Communications (including Skype Connectivity)
- IP CCTV Security Video Cameras (Including PTZ)
- IP Public Address (for security and mood creation requirements)
- IP Access Control
- IP Intercom
- Secure and Encrypted Remote Access
- Business applications and Video Games
What are the main benefits for Hotels?
- Additional and Increased Revenue Generation
- Improved Customer Satisfaction
- Immediate Customer Service Response
- Interactive Advertising and Promotional Vehicles
- Better Market and Hotel Performance Intelligence
- Greatly Reduce Printing, Stationary and Operational costs.
Andrew Spence is a hotel specialist communications consultant and freelance journalist, with over 35 years experience providing sound advice to the global hospitality / lodging industry.
Andrew's blog [http://www.hotelconsultancy.org] a website that provides free and realistic consulting services to the hospitality / lodging industry. Each page has easy to understand advice that specifically target the communications and entertainment areas.
Wowtel [http://www.wowtel-dreamwise.com] are a manufacturer and provider of full turn-key unified IP communications to hotels, resorts, mining villages, hospitals, retirement villages, serviced apartments, ocean liners, housing estates, government and most major projects. Wowtel operate in the Asian, European and Oceania markets. The Wowtel Dreamwise communications system provides all the positive features mentioned in this article.
Remember in the discussion above that your IPTV will run over your existing LAN? Here's a tip....before jumping head first into impementing IPTV in your property, make sure that your existing LAN set-up is capable of running the system. If you have ANY doubts you should strongly consider an upgrade (especially to fiber if not already present) or possibly an entire LAN replacement. Now the design and sourcing of a LAN system can be quite complicated and frustrating....but it doesn't have to be. There's a FREE resource that will do ALL the work for you. All you have to do is ask at the link below...easy as 1, 2, 3!!