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Television: A winning trio

News, sports, cinema: that’s the winning trio for the hotel television offer. Far from home, international clientele expect it to be there to relax and reconnect with their personal universe.

Television, a necessary link for long-term travelers? Offering a connection to the traveler’s homeland and a bit of “home” at the other end of the world, are the non-negligible duties of the television. Today, the increasingly stylish screens equip hotels and teletransport their clients into their familiar world. “Whether the traveler is French, Swiss, Belgian or Canadian, TV5 allows them to watch their national news. It is a “travel accessory” that is just as important as a toothbrush for French travelers,” explains Ingrid Gressier, Hotels Distribution manager at TV5 Monde.This phenomenon has not yet reached the French hotel industry. Accor and Louvre Hotels properties have neither an “Equipe sports bar” nor a “Canal+ Zone”, although the television group commercializes the Barsat offer for public spaces. Nonetheless, there are more and more LCD screens in France’s hotel bars, whether they are tuned to music or news channels during slow hours, or to the day’s match in the evening. What the space may lose in intimacy, the bar will probably recapture in additional revenues…A study realized in 2008 by Ipsos for Accor hotels shows that, regardless of hotel category, whether it is in France, the United States or England, whether the travel is business or pleasure, more than 90% of clientele turn on the television upon entering the room to generally watch for 1 to 3 hours. In China this figure brushes with 100%. Clients sometimes switch it on almost mechanically, for reassurance, like background noise to feel less alone… because in reality only 50 to 65% really watch. Business clients, in particular, are more likely to watch a program while doing other things.These businessmen, and more generally two-thirds of clientele, are looking for the news. Thus it is logical to see partnerships develop between television stations, hotel groups and integrators – strategic intermediaries such as Quadriga, Locatel, Acentic as well as Gen in Russia and Cox Hospitality Network in the United States – in order to offer a wider choice. “We are already partners with major groups such as Accor, Marriott, Starwood Hotels and NH Hoteles, and our solutions are seducing others. In three years of existence, France 24 has raised its presence to the level of BBC World News in the EMEA zone and we have set a goal for a million rooms by the end of the year 2010 through negotiations that are well under way,” explains Odile Franc, managing Distribution directorfor France 24. The channel’s spontaneous notoriety is under full growth, which should make it exportable to American and Asian continents in the near future. Its originality and primary argument in negotiation: offer a CSP + audience a French perspective of the news in several languages – France 24 is available 24 hours a day in French and English and 10 hours a day in Arab – in a news world dominated by the major Anglo-Saxon networks.But travelers are not just looking to keep abreast of the news. Leisure clientele also want to see a weather channel, children’s programming and local tourist news. And businessmen would truly like to be able to relax after a long day of work while watching documentaries, recent films and sports. TV5 Monde plays on this diversity with over 3.5 million rooms connected worldwide. “More than a news-only channel, our programming also includes culture, cinema and magazines. Our offer is “all-in-one” with news and relaxation on a single francophone channel,” insists Ingrid Gressier.In France, Canal + has gradually imposed itself with two strong arguments vis-à-vis hotel guests, particularly business clientele: thirty exclusive films per month and Premium sports with rights to French, English, Italian and Spanish football championships, national and international rugby, major tennis and golf competitions. The group’s offer grew at the beginning of the last decade with “The channels Canal +”, and Canal + Cinéma and Canal + Sport in addition to the original pay channel. Nearly three channels for the price of one since the subscription is just 5 to 7% more expensive than the primary chain alone. “At first we had an elitist image. Today, we are almost as much of a prerequisite as the bed. The economy chain B&B Hotels readily highlights the presence of Canal in its hotels,” rejoices Thierry Mazoyer, sales manager Professional Markets for Canal + Distribution.Established in nearly half of France’s hotel market, Canal + is now addressing small independent structures to broaden its reach. But the chain is not just a player with regard to television programming. Like integrators, Canal + is also present in television distribution via satellite through the channel pack CanalSat. This offers a choice from among 125 thematic channels so the hotelier may compose his own offer. CanalSat also offers more than twenty news and international channels. Thierry Mazoyer sees a major interest in it, particularly in the economy hotel segment: “international clientele may stay at Ibis or in an independent hotel and enjoy watching the news from home in their own language.” Available channels include: CNN, CNBC, RAI, TVE, Russia TV, CCTV as well as France 24 and TV5 Monde… To satisfy hotel guests, there is strength in numbers.Sport: strengthening the television offerWhat do JW Marriott in Dubai, the Millenium Hotel in Stuttgart and the Holiday Inn in Arlington, Texas all have in common? All these properties have dedicated their relaxation spaces to a passion for sports. This has become a veritable social phenomenon that affects all the professional classes across all continents. Also, for a hotel, enabling clients passing through to catch the FiFA World Cup or local fans and expatriates to keep up with their favorite championships has become commonplace. Now it comes as no surprise to see several friendly and “brawny” restaurant concepts within hotel groups, particularly Anglo-Saxon ones since the British and Americans are particularly fond of balls in all shapes and sizes.In its homeland, Holiday Inn opened several Sporting News Grills resulting from a partnership with the famous American sports magazine. Marriott, over ten years ago, acquired rights from Champions Sports Bar, since which it has launched 31 hotels in the United States and worldwide, in Warsaw, Shanghai, Amman and Frankfurt. In Asia, the group just opened Velocity Bar in its recent hotel in Manila. This copy-paste of an offer that is also in Hong Kong is an upscale version of the classic Sports Bar. The most recent development to date: the opening at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles of an ESPN Zone with the specialized television channel.

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