Giving Guests the Technology They Want

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That's an obvious statement, and not nearly as easy as it sounds, but that was my takeaway from last week's fourth annual LodgeNet Customer Technology Symposium in Chicago.

And what do guests most want? High-definition TV was the resounding answer from speakers and attendees. Keynote speaker Scott Brown, a senior vice president of global communications for The Nielsen Company, said 61% of homes in the U.S. have HD TVs. Brown admitted he was an “HD stalker” and several attendees and speakers agreed, saying they chose hotels based on whether hotels offered HD programming. Having HD is becoming almost mandatory, but maybe more importantly, if you've got it, flaunt it. Make sure travel shoppers know it's available at your property.

Beyond HD, mobile applications and the proliferation of smart phones and tablet devices were the hot topics during several panel discussions in Chicago.

Studies from LodgeNet revealed “a traveling media consumer whose expectations center on enjoying the content of their choice anytime, anywhere and on whatever device they have at hand,” said Scott Peterson, LodgeNet's chairman and CEO.

Simply put, Nielsen's Brown said, “consumers want access on their terms.” The challenge for hotels is finding a way to do that in a cost-effective way.

One interesting example was LodgeNet's announcement last week it joined 75 other companies in the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem to offer UltraViolet, an open cloud-based system allowing consumers a new way to collect and enjoy video entertainment. Consumers can create a cloud-based digital library with movies and TV shows they've purchased and access them at home and on the go across multiple platforms.

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