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Live from HITEC – BYOC and the Future of In-Room Technology

We’ve had a great time at HITEC so far!  One of the common themes we’ve seen throughout the conference is the importance of an end-to-end connected hotel and the emergence of BYOC.  What’s BYOC?  It’s the result of BYOD.

Today, one quarter of mobile users own more than one mobile device, with an expectation of being constantly connected.  And with their own devices, they bring their own content (BYOC).  In the past few years, as mobile devices and content have flooded the market, hotels have seen revenues from content services such as pay-per-view drop significantly, as guests connect to their own content instead. Whether it’s already downloaded or streaming through Netflix, they want to be able to easily access their content when they want it.

Embracing BYOC

Make it easy for guests to BYOC and enjoy their own content to enhance the guest experience. This is an opportunity to create a new revenue stream with tiered access to wifi.  By offering basic, low bandwidth wifi for free and streaming, high bandwidth wifi for a premium (or as a perk for elite members), hotels can provide guests the option to easily access their own content while creating a revenue source.  In some cases, the model for BYOC is already there, it just needs to be presented to the guest in a different way: Do you want to just check your email and social sites?  Or do you want to stream videos on Hulu?

Connecting BYOC to In-Room Tech

With guests bringing their own devices and content, we also need to make it easy for them to connect to in-room technology, such as televisions.  Currently, there are a few smart TVs on the market that have apps, such as Hulu and Netflix, but there are legal limitations on what streaming content hotels can provide. And not every mobile device can easily connect. In addition, most products are also intended for the consumer market, so there’s no co-branding, no way to wipe guest data, and no way to easily manage from a corporate perspective. Yet.

A Look to the Future

This is where consumers want the hospitality industry to go.  They’re already bringing their own content, and the opportunity is there for hotels to monetize through tiered wifi access.  A few things that need to happen for the success of BYOC implementation through in-room smart TVs:

  1. Device-agnostic, enabling any mobile device to connect
  2. White-label options, or at least co-branding
  3. Back-end management, both for overall controls and to easily wipe guest data
  4. Simple user experience, single-button connection

The last one may be the most important.  Some hotels have implemented so much tech that it ends up confusing customers and creating frustration over the simplest task, such as turning off the lights.  Any new technology needs to be as easy as pressing the popcorn button on the microwave.  One button to connect, one button to access their content in your hotel.

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