How to choose the right TVs for guest rooms


In a hotel setting, a TV isn’t just a TV anymore. It’s a marketing tool. A guest satisfier. A revenue driver. A time saver for your staff.

But only if you choose the right televisions for your needs.

If you don’t, it can cause headaches for your staff, cost you more money, and become a guest dissatisfier.

Having guided thousands of hotels on TV decisions, SONIFI’s Senior Director of Sales Engineering Todd Frankenhoff has 6 tips for helping you choose the right TVs for your guest rooms.

1. Figure out your goals before buying.

What do you want guests to experience when they turn on the TV in their rooms?

“This is more than looking for the best picture quality,” Frankenhoff says. “You want the best content behind the picture, and the most user-friendly experience for guests.”

What features will be needed to provide that?

Are there digital touchpoints you want to incorporate onto TVs for guests, like promoting your amenities, offering contactless communication, enabling mobile transactions, or highlighting on-prem specials and services?

How long do you want the equipment to last?

Are you planning on adding services or integrations in that time that your TVs would need to accommodate?

Are there brand standards you have to meet? Make sure you’ll be able to be in brand compliance when it comes to things like the size of the TV, the customizations required, and the types of entertainment available.

“When it comes to both short-term and long-term goals, these factors will affect the type of TV you need to purchase,” says Frankenhoff. “If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, you’re going to buy the wrong thing.”

2. Go commercial—and don’t choose based solely on price.

No matter what brand, size, or capabilities you need, “commercial-grade TVs are the way to go,” Frankenhoff says, “because consumer-grade TVs just won’t work the way you need them to in hospitality. Especially when it comes to this, the cheaper you go, the more you’ll find that you’re getting what you pay for.”

Consumer sets require a channel scan to identify channels available on the cable plant, and to create the channel lineup, which has to be completed one room at a time. And maintained and reset one room at a time if issues come up.

Most commercial TVs, on the other hand, can be configured and upgraded remotely, easily fixing bugs, updating firmware, and adding new features.

When it comes to serviceability, parts are usually available for commercial TVs for a few years after the sets go out of warranty, which is typically not the case for consumer TVs.

Consumer-grade TVs also don’t have enterprise settings to prevent hacking and security risks for your guests and your property.

“The extra time and effort for manual daily processes, plus the devastating effects of possible security breaches, with consumer sets make them a bad option for hotels,” Frankenhoff says. “Commercial sets are specifically made for these types of environments and will end up saving you in the long run.”

3. Configure settings for the best experience.

Commercial TVs can be controlled by third-party devices like system integrator boxes or terminals.

“This means you can configure all the TVs in your hotel from a central location,” Frankenhoff says. “And defining the settings for features on your commercial TVs lets you provide a consistent experience from room to room and guest to guest.”

Configurations you can set up with commercial TVs in your guest rooms could include:

  • Turning on to a designated channel, volume & input
  • Displaying to a default picture setting & aspect ratio
  • Restricting settings like maximum volume & brightness controls
  • Creating, modifying & distributing channel lineups remotely
  • Resetting user accessible settings (closed captioning, parental controls, etc.) at turn on, at a specific time of day, or at room checkout

“Once you configure settings the way you want them to appear,” Frankenhoff says, “most commercial sets allow you to remotely clone the settings onto other TVs throughout your property, simplifying the placement of new sets and the replacement of sets in existing rooms.”

4. Think about what else will be connected.

Depending on the features you want in guest rooms, the televisions you choose will need to have specific capabilities, or at least compatibilities.

“We often see hotels choose the wrong TVs for the setups they need, and then they have to buy extra equipment to make things work the way they want,” Frankenhoff says.

To avoid additional costs, first consider things like:

  • Does the TV work with the interactive system or cable setup you already have installed?
  • Does the TV need to accommodate a set-top box (STB) or set-back box (SBB)?
  • Does the TV’s native controls for power, volume, and other settings sync with the same remote used for the STB/SBB?
  • Does the TV require an external IR receiver?
  • Does the TV include embedded apps for streaming, or do you need an external device like STAYCAST?
  • Does the TV have a connectivity panel to provide enough input ports for guests to plug in gaming systems or other personal devices without unplugging your interactive and entertainment equipment?

A managed service provider can advise on the best options help with sourcing, installation, firmware management, and input switching, among other technical needs.


5. Don’t forget infrastructure and hardware.

The wiring available in your guest rooms may affect how your new TVs are installed. Make sure you know if the TVs you choose need IP-based distribution, and if coax or ethernet cabling can be used.

To prevent accidents and theft, most hotels wall-mount the TVs in guest rooms. But even that requires decisions.

“Consider if you need a flat mount or an articulating mount, based on where the TV is going to be in the room, where the bed is, and where the desk is,” Frankenhoff says. “Also look at if your TVs comply with the VESA mounting interface standards, and if those VESA-compliant mounts can also be used to fasten STBs or TV control equipment.”

And when it comes to remotes, Frankenhoff recommends keeping the manufacturer remotes even if you use a different remote for an interactive or entertainment system with the TVs. “That way, in case your system or vendor changes,” he says, “you and your guests can still use the TVs at a basic functional level.”

6. Ask the experts at SONIFI.

Hoteliers don’t need to make TV purchasing decisions by themselves.

“Any good vendor partner shouldn’t care about which TVs you buy, but that you buy the one that works for your needs,” Frankenhoff says. “That’s what we do at SONIFI, providing that consultative perspective. We dig in to what you’re using the TVs for, where they’re going to be, and any other considerations you have to factor in, and recommend the best options for you.”

SONIFI has been working with hotels since 1980 and has ongoing collaborative partnerships with leading commercial TV providers like LG and Samsung.

“Our experience in this area makes us a unique authority on the subject of TV setups for hospitality,” Frankenhoff says. “We’ve been doing this for so many years, for so many hotels, we can help guide you toward the best decision based on the services you need and the features you want guests to enjoy at your hotel.”

The leader in in-room guest experiences

Learn more about how SONIFI can help your property & your guests