Streaming services shift in-room entertainment demand


HOTEL MANAGEMENT (February 2, 2021) – As social distancing increasingly limits how many hotel guests can be in public spaces at once, travelers are spending more time in their guestrooms—and more time taking advantage of in-room entertainment options. New technology has made it easier for guests to have more control over what they see on their hotel room TVs.

“Compared to pre-pandemic data, guests are casting more than double the amount of time during their stay,” said Kara Heermans, VP of user experience & product management at SONIFI, estimating in-room video on demand viewings are about 10 percent higher than they were before the pandemic, and traditional TV consumption has remained virtually the same.

Guest use of other in-room technology is shifting as well, said Heermans. “Bandwidth consumption typically follows occupancy trends. But looking at the data over the past year, a fewer number of devices are using more bandwidth.”

The total number of users is still only about half of what it was pre-COVID, Heermans said, but the total download traffic has climbed back close to what it was before the pandemic. “This suggests that guests are increasingly using Wi-Fi for streaming and video calls rather than just for routine tasks that require less bandwidth, like sending emails and accessing documents,” she said.

Additional in-room technology features that are more popular than ever include mobile TV controls and using the interactive TV for requests (like ordering room service or declining housekeeping), hotel directories, account review and checking out. “These usage trends correlate to the higher adoption of contactless technology we’ve seen since COVID-19,” Heermans said.

The pandemic fast-tracked some shifts in hotel technology, Heermans said, including the priority of guest internet, “smarter” in-room experiences, the “surge” of mobile preferences and the need to communicate “openly and frequently” with guests. “Right now, guests are eager for more choice—choice in how they interact with staff, what in-room technology and services are available, and what alternatives there may be for on-site amenities like restaurants or gyms that may be closed or limited,” she said

Heermans expects that as guests become more comfortable with controlling the TV through their phone and using smart, contactless features, these methods will become a baseline expectation going forward.

Read more about the shifts for in-room entertainment demand here.