Today’s hotel guestrooms are loaded with electronics. Homestays, of course, work very well with no electronics at all, as the guest experience expectations are entirely different, but homestays in cities may want to provide the essentials if they want to target a higher ARR (average room revenue).
Electronics in guestrooms are usually categorised into entertainment, communications, guest services, systems and infrastructure. Over the next few stories, we’ll look at all these categories, and see what equipment might enrich your guests’ homestay experience.
Many homestays operate on, and often celebrate, the principle of simplicity – they offer a comfortable no-frills option to the opulence of luxury hotels. However, guests often spend a lot of time in the room – children need to be kept busy, adults need to recover after partying the previous evening, the weather may keep everyone in, and so on. So it does help to offer at least basic TV. What exactly you offer depends on your location, your guest profile and your room tariffs. City centre homestays can be oriented to the business traveler, as well, and they would certainly appreciate in-room entertainment.
For services like DVD movies, gaming consoles and movies-on-demand, you can charge extra. Guests will not mind nominal fees for additional entertainment, and those fees will help you pay for their costs.
- If you put TVs in your guestrooms, use, at the minimum, 32″ flat-screen TVs, and preferably 40″ TVs. The larger the TV, the better, but don’t go overboard – larger TVs need to be watched from further away, and if your rooms are small, there’s no point in going over 42″.
- There’s a further decision to make – plasma or LCD. As far as quality and durability go, both are pretty much the same nowadays, so you can pick up whichever your prefer.
- Picking a “Full HD” (1080p) TV is important – the price difference is not substantial, and the difference in quality is substantial.
- Your TVs will be used by many people, so expect rough handling – get a brand that offers a long warranty and has local service centres.
- Also check out the price for replacement remotes – as a homestay, you’ll go through a lot of remotes.
- Make sure your TV has enough inputs – at least 3 HDMI ports. If you expect business travelers, an easily accessible VGA or DVI (computer) port is a bonus. A TV that has good speakers also is essential, as you wouldn’t want to put external speakers in every room.
- If you get a TV that can connect to a local network and play movies, you’ll be able to add a movies on demand service fairly easily.
- For properties with more than ten rooms, negotiate with a TV company for hotel room TVs. They come with simpler (and cheaper) remotes, and have additional services that you may be able to use.
The TV Tuner:
- The TV tuner is what gets broadcast TV channels into your TV. These days, it’s either cable TV from your local cable guy or satellite TV. Unless your cable guy has gone fully digital and offers your a settop box for every room, I’d recommend going with a satellite TV provider.
- Most satellite TV providers, like Tata Sky, charge a nominal fee (around Rs 150) per additional room, so your only major cost is the initial set top box itself. If you have more than ten rooms, you may be able to negotiate special rates.
- If you do decide to go with cable, make sure that every channel is sharp and clear, and that you have the normal bouquet of HD channels in full HD.
- Again, check rates for replacement remotes and their availability.
The DVD Player:
- It may be a good idea to have a DVD player (and a collection of DVD movies) available on request for your guests.
- If you do this, remember to have an eclectic collection of movies, as your guests may have different tastes. Also, have movies suitable for all age groups, avoiding those that might offend anyone.
- It’s also important that you have only legal DVDs in your possession – as a business, you’ll get into more trouble for copyright violation than an individual. If you’re worried about DVDs getting scratched, you can have a copy to give to the guests, but keep the original in the homestay always.
- Get a DVD player with HDMI output – it’s simpler to connect than older players with composite or component outputs.
The Game Console:
A PlayStation 3 (PS3), an XBox or a Nintendo Wii, that you make available on demand to your guests, is a great alternative to a DVD player, as these can play regular DVDs (and Blu-rays, in some cases) as well as great games.
- You should obviously have a collection of games suitable for various age groups. As with movies, avoid violent games and games with adult themes. You can find a listing of such games to avoid at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banned_video_games
- Make sure you have extra remote controllers, as many of these games are multi-player. You’ll need to keep your controllers charged. Original controllers are expensive, so you can get third-party compatible controllers.
- If you use the game console to play DVDs or Blu-rays, get a AV remote – it’s difficult to use the game controller as a movie remote.
- As with the DVDs, buy only legal copies of the games. Keep the original game covers safely in the homestay.
Movies on demand:
- If you have a TV that plays movies over a network, you can offer movies on demand to your guests.
- You’ll need to have network cables running from your router to each TV for this. You’ll also need a computer with a shared folder containing the movies. Search for more information about how to do this on the internet, or ask your local IT service provider.
- Implementing a system where guests get billed automatically for viewing movies is not feasible for a homestay, but there are other ways to do the same. For example, if you carefully number each TV’s network cable at the router, you could plug in the TV into the router only after the guest requests movies-on-demand.
- As with DVDs – you should only have legal copies of the movies. One way to do this is to buy original DVDs and keep them in the homestay.
Cables, Remotes and Accessories:
- When you do any of these things, make sure you have extra cables for everything. Cables fail frequently, and having extras saves you embarrassment.
- Keep extra HDMI, VGA and DVI cables for connecting your guests’ equipment to the TV.
- Keep extra batteries for everything. Test your remotes before every guest check-in.
- You can issue room remotes with the keys on check-in and collect them at check-out.
- When you buy normal consumer TVs, you often get remotes with buttons for DVD/Blu-ray players. It’s a great idea to buy compatible equipment so that you can use one remote instead of two. However, if you’re not buying the same brand, try to get cheaper, simpler (TV-only) remotes.
That rounds up the entertainment electronics in the guestroom. Next week, we’ll check out guest services and amenities.