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By Chris Dinallo

Hoteliers are knee deep in budget season, and according to a recent industry report, nearly 79 percent of hotels are – or will be – running some sort of cloud-based applications in the coming year, and 31 percent have made – or will be making – cloud migration for major property systems a top priority. So what’s running in the cloud today – or soon to be in the future?  It’s what you might expect: property-management systems, revenue-management systems, Email services, central-reservation systems, point-of-sale systems, customer-relationship management systems, sales and catering, event management and even accounting and financials.  What’s blatantly missing, however, is the In-Room Entertainment platform.

When you look at planned guestroom technology rollouts, the aforementioned report revealed that hoteliers are investing in flat screen TVs, HD TVs, video on demand programming, IPTV/smart TV and other related TV technologies. However, there is no talk about hosting the overall In-Room Entertainment (IRE) platform in the cloud. In serving this market for the past decade, I can tell you that managing these processes above property is the smart way to do business and drive revenues to the bottom line.

Here are 5 Top reasons why migrating a hotel’s IRE to the cloud is a smart investment:

  1. No Capital Expense. First and foremost, migrating IRE to the cloud removes the need to invest in capital equipment and servers that are located within the building and need to be maintained and upgraded regularly. By working with the major cable, satellite, and telco TV operators to drive content, hotels can simply pay a small monthly FTG fee and receive hundreds of full HD channels, Over the Top services like screencasting, thousands of free video-on-demand titles, and a host of other guest services all with no CapEx required. In addition, migrating IRE to the cloud frees-up physical space (no footprint) and consumes less power, making a hotel more environmentally friendly.
  2. Remote Management. If a hotel is part of a multi-property enterprise, local content and specific features can be managed simultaneously for each location from anywhere in the world. Features such as digital messaging via the in-room TV is becoming increasingly popular with guests. When IRE is managed in the cloud, owners or marketers can blast messages or special promotions to all rooms across all hotels. Perhaps management wants to promote the 5:00 p.m. Happy Hour to all guests at all locations – or, perhaps to a subset of guests across locations common when there is a large convention in town. A management company may want to welcome all guests attending that event at the multi-branded hotels they operate within the city. The same type of remote blanket messaging can be shared among each hotel’s digital signage in public areas. When IRE is managed in the cloud, it gives hoteliers flexibility of remote access to one or more properties.
  3. Flexible Interfaces. When IRE is managed in the cloud, hoteliers can more easily switch between content providers. For example, a hotel may be driving content from a satellite provider, but then determine – based on customer feedback – that switching to a cable provider would increase satisfaction and loyalty. In a cloud environment, the IRE infrastructure remains the same without any disruption. Once the IRE system is in the cloud, content can originate from virtually anywhere. The content provider is not tightly coupled to the IRE system.
  4. Better Guest Experience. Migrating IRE to the cloud actually can help a hotel become more competitive in its local market because it is offering a better guest experience. Not only can a cloud IRE provider deliver the same entertainment content that guests already receive at home, but they also can provide OTT services like Screencasting that enables guests to stream their own content from a mobile device to the guestroom TV. Services such as direct-to-guest messaging through the TV, local attractions map with QR scan codes for mobile directions, the ability to Pause/Rewind/Record/Fast-Forward LIVE TV are services over-and-above what most others hotels are able to provide today from their existing IRE partners. Managing local channel content for the hotel is also easier, more flexible, and requires no in-premise equipment when located in the cloud. Enabling meeting planners to re-broadcast session content to this local channel, for instance, can mean the difference between securing group business or losing it to the competition.
  5. Revenue Generation.  In-Room Entertainment isn’t just about delivering an exceptional guest experience; it’s also a way to drive revenues. For example, establishing advertising within the IRE system will enable hoteliers to capture revenues through ads sold locally – and even nationally. Hoteliers can structure their ad campaigns any way they want. A cloud system that facilitates remote content makes it easy for local businesses and hotels to upload content. Perhaps it’s a banner ad that pops up on the TV menu screen or on a specified channel change user action. A cloud solution will enable hotels to create and select which ad goes on which channel and for how long. It’s quick and easy for the hotelier to manage without the IRE provider or content provider having to get involved.

With cybersecurity top of mind for hoteliers across the globe, it’s important to mention that a cloud-based IRE platform is built to today’s security needs by utilizing encryption-based communication protocol to make the system highly secure. Yet, perhaps more to the point, because the solution does not store guest personal data or credentials nothing is stored in the cloud nor on the in-room equipment. All guest data continues to reside in the hotel’s property-management system (PMS). Therefore, there is no motivation for hackers to try to infiltrate the IRE system.

Migrating property systems to the cloud is a smart investment for the future. While preparing your 2017 budgets, add In-Room Entertainment to the list of property solutions that need to make the switch. Guests will thank you for providing them with the best in-room experience possible and owners will thank you for saving them money and driving revenues.

About Chris Dinallo

Chris Dinallo is the Chief Technology Officer for the Business TV division of ADB, a company delivering cloud-based iTV solutions for businesses across cable, satellite, IPTV and now over-the-top (OTT) services. ADB's hospitality solution is one of the top five most deployed hospitality interactive TV solutions globally and the second most deployed platform in the US. ADB  technologies power TV content and services delivery in more than 225,000 US guestrooms, across the industry’s leading brands.

Mr. Dinallo has been in the software industry for more than 32 years. Since 2001, he has specialized in hardware and software solutions within the PayTV industry - Cable, Satellite, and Telco providers around the globe as well as the global hospitality markets. He has applied this breadth of know-how towards international business development for numerous countries spanning the continents. Having a strong engineering background in the disciplines of Operating Systems, MPEG audio/video, telephony, silicon, Cable TV technologies, Internet and Cloud technologies enabled Chris to innovate create solutions that provide revenue-generating streams for both his employer and its customers. Within these solutions, Chris currently holds 5 US and European patents and has published numerous white papers, and articles. You can read many of Chris’s writings in pay–TV industry organizations and trade magazines such as SCTE, CED Magazine and Communications Technology.

Business Specialties: International business, SaaS business modeling, Operational efficiencies, Patent analysis, Government Mandates, and Competitive analysis.

Technical Specialties: MPEG Audio & Video, Set-top box technologies, Multimedia systems, Cable TV technologies, Video over IP, Voice over IP, Hospitality iTV solutions, Cloud technologies, Silicon and Software evaluation.

Contact: Barbara Worcester / (440) 930-5770

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