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Multimedia : content is king

The supply of television networks and pay per film listings is exploding. High definition television is preparing to make its way into the hotel room. As a result, multimedia platforms must be increasingly interactive and intuitive in order to make them easier for the zapping guest to use.

Contents, contents, and more contents. The multimedia specialists are preparing to fill their catalogues with films and television networks. The democratization of Triple Play offers for the general public has caused suppliers to boost their offer. Today, informed clients may have hundreds of television networks, video on demand, VoIP (Voice over IP) at home. In order for the hotel room to maintain its “Home away from Home” aura, hoteliers must adapt to this new order of things. As must professionals. At Locatel –distributor of clusters of satellite networks such as Canalsat throughout France– the goal is now to be able to meet the needs of clientele at each hotel. “In Paris, the clientele at Novotel (ex-Nikko) has a substantial Japanese minority. At Novotel Halles, guests are mostly from southern Europe,” observes David Chevènement, marketing director for Locatel.There is no need to say it… adult films represent a large majority of pay per video sales at hotels. This won’t change from one day to the next. Gay films and more erotic than frankly pornographic films: here too the contents of the offer is changing. The very serious New York Times and Herald Tribune recently asked if “live sex” wasn’t knocking at hotel room doors. With the convergence of the systems, online chats or live sex on demand with online payments are technically possible. That’s just one step further into a realm that hoteliers won’t dare venture too soon.Among the major evolutions of multimedia offers, the a ray of television stations continues to grow. One such solution is Satellite on Demand by Acentic, which has several hundred networks worldwide, promising the client the contents of up to 4 satellites at one time. Technological advancement makes such an offer available today. Analog distribution limited hotels to offering fifty or so networks. Today, five to six digital networks have replaced one single station. With Digital TV, Quadriga thus adds all digital to its Genesis platform. “The client could already see their digital films on fine flat screens. It would have been unfortunate to have analog networks of a lesser quality,” congratulates Sylvie Flamand, Marketing director of Quadriga.There is a plethora of programs available on television. And the hotelier must choose from among these. “Five networks may be on the same satellite, but not on the same transponder. If the hotelier wants to receive these five networks, he would thus have to have five different modules.” Inversely, several networks on a single transponder require installing only a single module. Which obviously has a financial impact for the hotelier. “Quadriga acts as advisor in order to optimize its network package,” explains Sylvie Flamand.This world that is perpetually evolving will soon enter a new acceleration phase. Analog television is now living its final hours. And 2007 will be the year high definition takes off. “High definition was launched with the FIFA World Cup. In 2012, High Definition will be the standard across Europe,” forecasts Alistair Forbes, president of Acentic. “Pay per films and increasing numbers of network packages are high definition,” adds David Chevènement to explain the beginning of the HD era. Most of the solutions provided by the sector’s leaders are now “HD Ready”, such as Fusion, the new product launched by the Norwegian supplier Otrum available on co axial and category 5 cable for new buildings. A new offer that will allow a larger catalogue of films with a hundred or so films versus today’s thirty.“High definition is not a revolution. It is a facilitator,” explains David Chevènement. The perspectives opened by the new HD-compatible modems are enormous. The goal? Ultra-targeting clientele. During check-in or thanks to their loyalty card number, the hotelier will be able to recognize guest preferences and he may offer a menu in his language upon arrival in his room. Television networks or films in his language will thus be highlighted. But this can even go further, depending on whether the room has double or single occupancy. “It is necessary to be able to present the most interesting services in the first pages of the site to show the property’s ability to satisfy its guests. Guest consumption is also improved in this way, and the result is a better return on investment for the hotelier. For a single room, we offer a tailored list of films. In particular, adult films for men (see box) or very feminine contents for women. For double rooms, the list will include comedies or mood music.”“Television becomes the room’s hub,” declares Alistair Forbes. “The time has come for functionality.” Systems offer much greater functionality such as the managing of conferences, advertising and hotel promotions (bar, restaurant, spa) are increasingly widespread. Interactive platforms Vision 400 with Satellite on Demand by Acentic, Genesis by Quadriga, Fusion by Otrum or Eclipse MMC by Locatel – are increasingly interactive. “Alarm clocks, radios: these are basic offers. The solutions must bring many more possibilities such as taxi reservations to avoid queuing at reception,” encourages Bruno Plaza, the general manager of Otrum France. Services that are useful for the hotelier and guest alike are being developed such as air conditioning at Otrum, the minibar or check out express at Acentic – “it is a classic, but useful, offer since it frees up the hotel’s reception desk. With direct email confirmation it is gaining ground as guests have developed more confidence in Internet,” observes Alistair Forbes. Quadriga, meanwhile, is currently in a contemplation period to develop a new optimized version of these “Guest Services”.But interactive platform, also means an intuitive platform. Guests must be able to easily find their way around an increasingly vast contents. “Cut & slice”, segmenting the contents: this is the key to greater flexibility in use. Digital TV by Quadriga and Vision 100 with the Satellite on Demand offer by Acentic thus integrates small search engines that make it possible to sort television networks by language or theme (information, sports, documentaries, children...). Quadriga has also adapted a new navigation principal for its Genesis platform. Using a new interface, the guest will be able to navigate more easily thanks to arrows or colored buttons. Such shortcuts may also come in the form of buying inducement. “While zapping from channel to channel, the client will stumble upon advertisements for pay per view between stations. With a click of the red button he finds himself on the purchase page of the last blockbuster in his own language,” explains Sylvie Flamand who expects a great deal from the implementation of the “stumble across” approach.The next phase is making these technologies converge. Locatel, which has the exclusivity for the distribution of Liberty TV a television networks that is half-way to the travel agency as it offers tourism contents with a goal to stimulating online reservations – plans on taking full advantage of the notion of Triple Play. Thanks to a partnership with 3Com, Locatel will deploy VOIP starting in the next quarter. This is a first step before offering “click to call”. While watching Liberty TV, the guest will be able to use his remote control to contact the travel agency. Multimedia solutions have not stopped surprising us.For consenting adults only:There is no need to say it… adult films represent a large majority of pay per video sales at hotels. This won’t change from one day to the next. Gay films and more erotic than frankly pornographic films: here too the contents of the offer is changing. The very serious New York Times and Herald Tribune recently asked if “live sex” wasn’t knocking at hotel room doors. With the convergence of the systems, online chats or live sex on demand with online payments are technically possible. That’s just one step further into a realm that hoteliers won’t dare venture too soon.

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