Hotel Guest Wants and Needs
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Monday 15th February 2010
Hotel Guest Wants and Needs
“Just what do they want?”
Analysis of Recent Surveys - by Richard Barnes, Editor in Chief – Cleverdis Hotel Technology SMARTreports, Member – In-Room Technology Workgroup & European Advisory Team – HTNG For In-Room Technology Workgroup HTNG Annual Meeting – Dallas Texas March 2009
OVERVIEW OF SURVEYS
In the past six months or so, several major reports have been published or tabled that will greatly enhance the ability of hoteliers to calculate whether an investment in in-room technologies is warranted or not.
The following pages give a summary of these surveys, followed by our analysis and comments.
The IPSOS / Accor Survey
This report, tabled in October 2008, covered guests in all categories of hotels: low cost, economy, midscale and upscale. In some regions, not all categories were covered, with France being the only country in which all categories were touched upon. This said, the number of interviews conducted in each category was largely sufficient to draw concrete conclusions. The survey covered such things as current usages and behaviours regarding TV in hotels, with a focus on Internet and telephone use. I spoke to David Esseryk, Innovations and Technology Manager, Innovations and Design Division, Accor Group, about the survey, and asked him for a general overview of the report:
The question regarding in-room entertainment is simply “do we have the right system or not”? But no-one was asking the right question. It’s not a question of the right system, it’s a question of guest needs and guest requests. We have systems, but they are not really appropriate for hospitality. This is the first key point.
There were several “key learnings” in the survey. Please tell us about this.
The first point is that all the systems we put in hotels right now are oversized. I mean oversized by the structure... more and more servers and cabling, and this is not at the guests’ request, because as we can see Pay TV and VoD are not successful in the hotel. Our job is not content and TV. Our job is hospitality. We used to simply rent TV from companies that are today offering all kinds of interactive services. Let’s face it, do we really need to sell content today? I don’t think so. I think people know where they want to buy their content. If you have a habit of going to iTunes every day why should I push you to go somewhere else.
So what will become of the interactive TV companies?`
I think their new business model will be more about content rights. How can I provide more and more content to my guests. I have to be sure that the rights for the channels is are taken care of by the integrator.
So what do people really want?
People want basic channels. They want news channels like CNN and Bloomberg, as well as local news and tourism channels, as well as sports channels. They also want local tourist information... When you look at the survey people want connectivity. They want to be able to connect their own device into the hotel environment. This is very important... bring your own device and you can connect.
In the light of this how is Accor changing tack?
The first step was the survey. The second step is that now we know our guests better we will redefine our policy and strategy on in-room entertainment, brand by brand. It’s not Accor, it’s a brand-by-brand strategy.
Summary of the Accor / Ipsos survey
The survey aimed to make it clear that in- room entertainment is not limited to TV content. Thus, the redefinition of content can go through the addition of services that are not offered yet:
• Educational / Self-improvement programs (language, cooking, fitness, etc)
• Connection points to connect an MP3 player
• Possibility of checking out via the TV screen by making an online payment
• Ordering of meals from places outside of the hotel (pizza delivery, etc) ...
It is now a question of designing a package, which is more:
• Economically viable.
This survey was carried out online (meaning auto-administrated), therefore the sample is more composed of technophiles with higher equipment rates in technology equipment (and in particular portable devices) than what is generally observed in the survey countries.
Television in hotels is a “ritual”...
• 90% of hotel guests, whatever the segment, turn the TV on in their hotel room
• But only around 50% really watch it
• TV is generally watched less than 3 hours per day
...But hotel guests are claiming for basic contents Overall, travellers require:
• Real-time weather reports,
• A local tourism channel (basic for hospitality),
• National radio stations,
• 30 international channels,
• Connection points ,
• An information channel on the services offered by the hotel (in the highest segments),
• Messages from reception (in the highest segments)
Thus, paying services are a dilemma:
• International channels are considered to be essential but most guests would not be ready to pay for watching them
• Video-on-demand (VOD) is not a must-have content, except in China
• Those who would be ready to pay for VOD know the market price
The fast-development of Internet entails new behaviours in hotels Hotel guests are over equipped: most of them bring 5 portable devices at the hotel:
• USB key
• Digital camera / Camcorder
• Portable music player
Over 2/3 of hotel guests use the Internet at the hotel:
• Mainly via Wi-Fi for over the half of guestsin Western countries
• Mainly via a cable for over 1/3 in China but Wi-fi catches up
• Even though 3G data cards are a very recent technology, it expanded a lot in France and in the UK (20% of users).
Will hotels have to keep on proposing Internet access?
• 90% wish to be able to connect in the bedroom
• 75% of professional travellers use their laptop on the desk
• 1/3 of all travellers use it on the bed in a situation other than for work
The hotel telephone is no longer used:
In Western countries, around 5% of guests use the hotel telephone for calls
ThE PHILIPS SURVEY
Mark Poldervaart from Philips recently gave a very interesting presentation at EHTEC in Amsterdam. The chart included here was part of a much broader presentation on HD TV and solutions offered by Philips in terms of Digital Rights Management (DRM).
This Synovate survey was based more on general technical wants and needs of customers – a kind of “technological comfort” survey. In this sense, such things as a broad offering of TV channels were evidently much less important than not being irritated by noisy air conditioning, and such obvious things as being able to turn lights on and off easily... something which
as we all know is sometimes a bother in hotel rooms (especially when one is jetlagged).
It was interesting to note that most people found that the Internet offering in the hotel room is often below standards of the real world. Low standard Pay TV offering comes third on the list.
Thus when cross referenced with the first chart, this can be taken to mean that AS Pay TV is sub standard (do they mean not good value for money?), it is low on the list of their priorities in the ideal guest room. Unfortunately their questions did not include one on the importance of HDTV.
HOTEL EXTRAS – SURVEY FOR FILMBANK
By Opinion Matters / Tickbox.net
The following pages contain some highlights from what was in fact a broader research project on guest viewing habits and general knowledge of guests of VOD and what this means, into more generalized questions, such as “what do you do in a hotel to unwind”, “What you do in a hotel that you don’t get to do at home”, “Things you do in the first ten minutes in a hotel room”, and interestingly, statistics on Pay TV viewing habits. Following are some of the key findings:
When respondents were asked the survey question, “Which of the following do you do when staying in a hotel to unwind?” 71.3% of those questioned said they watched TV, while 63.3% said they went to eat at the restaurant. 62.5% said they took a bath, while around 56% said they went to have a drink at the bar. The breakdown between business and leisure guests saw a marked preference of business travellers to watch TV. 77% of business vs. 68.3% leisure travellers. The propensity towards watching TV to relax was higher in budget/2 star establishments (74.4%) than in 4/5 star establishments (68.5%). In terms of demographics, the 25-34 year old age group had the highest propensity towards watching TV to relax.
When surveyed on what they do in the first ten minutes in the room, of course the first response was “unpack” (67%), 51% test the bed, while 42.2% turn on the television in the first ten minutes. The propensity towards watching Movies on Pay TV is greatly influenced by such things as age and socio-economic category.
What influences whether people will watch Pay TV in their room?
More than 20% of respondents said that the primary factor was whether the system had a film they wanted to see. 10.9% are most influenced by the price, while just under ten percent said it depended upon the free time they had. Over nine percent also claimed that it depended on how tired they were. When surveyed on “Did you know you can watch movies in hotels just after they have been shown in the cinema and before they are available on DVD (pre-DVD) and Pay TV (pre-Pay TV)?” - a surprising 72.4% said they did not.
Survey question: “Does the In-Room Entertainment System have an influence on the decision whether to book at a certain hotel?”
In 25.4% of cases, YES. This criterion comes after such things as pool and spa, but ahead of room service and gym. Only 12% said that being able to watch Pay TV would influence their decision. When it comes to impressions of a hotel, quality of bed linen, the range of toiletries and the range of food offered by room service were more important than flat screen TV or in-room entertainment system. Flat screen TV scored 30.2%, while In-Room Entertainment system scored 20.2% in this respect. However in younger travellers, Flat Screen TV is more important (40.7% in under 34-year-olds). The importance declines as age increases. It is also considered more important in 4 and 5 star establishments.
Survey Target: “What will you pay for?”
When asked, “Would you pay for any of the following during your hotel stay?” most people said they would not pay for this service. In second place, at 22.3%, were those who would pay for “pre-release” films – those that have not yet appeared on TV or DVD. Less than ten percent (8.3) said that they would pay to watch their favourite TV series.
Informing guests before their stay:
Interestingly, 35.2% of respondents said that hotels should do more to inform potential visitors about their in-room movies before bookings are made, and 34.8% said they should be better informed of this when they arrive at the hotel.
The research for Filmbank was carried out online by Opinion Matters / Tickbox.net between 30.09.08 and 16.10.08 amongst a nationally representative sample of 2920 UK adults aged 16+.
Opinion Matters / Tickbox.net is a leading market research organisation, carrying out consumer, corporate and niche market surveys online amongst a 50,000+ member panel.
Opinion Matters / Tickbox.net follow the codes of the MRS (Market Research Society) and are fully registered and compliant with the Data Protection Registrar.
Analysis and comments
The surveys cited here vary greatly in their aims and methods, however they may give some valuable information and / or tips to hoteliers as to how to implement new technologies in terms of in-room entertainment and connectivity, as well as content.
From the Accor survey, it was made evident that people surveyed want more channels and they want more of such things as news, weather and sport, along with an in-house channel. As we know already, people want connectivity.
Another major factor that has been highlighted in these surveys is the fact that many people are still not aware that they can have access to films that have not yet been released on normal Pay TV or DVD, and that if hotels indeed have this offering, they should make a greater effort to promote the fact.
So yes there is still a market there for VOD blockbusters, and they can even be a draw-card – but if we take comments of the Accor survey into account, they should possibly be included in a premium package and used as a real promotional point for the hotel (i.e. stay this month and watch the latest pre-release James Bond film as a bonus). This could thus be seen, not so much as a specific individual revenue generator, but more as a way of increasing bookings or Revpar through slightly higher rates.
By selecting an “optimum bundle” the hotelier thus gets around the increasingly irritating problem of “with all this new stuff, where should we invest first”... in other words, creating priorities in a world where this is now vital.
We found it useful to include (albeit very short) – the slides shown by Philips at the recent Vienna meeting of the HTNG In-Room Technology Workgroup. This is concordant with the other surveys, however was interesting in putting priorities on “all that techie stuff” in the room! According to the survey the most important technical aspect of the room is the noise and efficiency of the air conditioning – food for thought as the AC market develops also in leaps and bounds. Also here, many people found TV services in hotels sub-standard compared to back home.
The Filmbank survey evidently was angled towards their key interest area - Pay TV, and as mentioned above, one of the key findings was that people can still be drawn- inbyagreatfilm...butithastobegreat... and not overpriced.
We regret that none of the surveys really addressed the question of HDTV in Europe, nor went more into detail on specific programming. This, as discussed at the HTNG In-Room Technology Workgroup meeting in Vienna, should be the subject of a WIKI project, which will give hoteliers firm ground on which to stand when making decisions about content provision for guests.
All in all, I recommend going back over the statistics in the reports mentioned above several times. Each time you’ll discover something new and useful.