Hyatt sees opportunity in ease of in-room streaming
 
Hyatt sees opportunity in ease of in-room streaming
02 MAY 2017 8:12 AM

Hyatt Hotels Corporation is rolling out a new in-room streaming option that integrates with the company’s World of Hyatt smartphone app. Jeff Bzdawka, the company’s SVP of global hotel technology, said the key is convenience. 

CHICAGO—Hyatt Hotels Corporation feels like it’s found the solution to in-room streaming.

The company recently announced a new in-room streaming system that integrates with guests’ smartphones via the World of Hyatt app (even if they aren’t World of Hyatt loyalty members). It also frees those guests from having to log in and out of their various accounts to view the same entertainment options they’d have at home.

Jeff Bzdawka, Hyatt’s SVP of global hotel technology, said this new system, built around Google Chromecast, is key both due to its convenience and because it unlocks thousands of streaming options to help guests tailor their entertainment exactly to their needs and desires. Hyatt currently has that system operating at 14 properties, with plans to expand it aggressively in the near future.

As more hotel companies are going all-in on the concept of in-room streaming, with various systems and degrees of success, Hotel News Now caught up with Bzdawka to discuss his company’s outlook on streaming and guests’ evolving entertainment desires.

What’s your timetable to roll out the new streaming system?

Bzdawka: (We’re going to play it by ear) “starting with the Park Hyatt and Hyatt Centric brands. That will take through 2018. (The focus on those brands) goes back to guest dynamics, requests and profiles. And frankly, those smaller brands have the ability to hit the entire brand in a focused manner.”

Why is in-room streaming a priority for Hyatt?

Bzdawka: “Streaming to a TV screen at home has become a very common experience. Sixty percent of homes have streaming subscriptions. Guests want to view their favorite content on a big screen at home as well as on the road. It also gets us out of being a curator of content. This allows them to stream whatever content they brand, and it’s really providing flexibility. … (Streaming via Chromecast) opens up thousands of apps, and while Netflix might be the largest and most popular, it still only accounts for about 40% of that traffic. There are many other channels, literally hundreds of other apps, and this helps us support entertainment or use it to connect business travelers.”

Can you expand a bit on how this specifically helps business travelers?

Bzdawka: “It enables the ease of pairing their devices to a nice device in room. They’re able to do that seamlessly, and whatever content they need to share, they can easily push from their device, whether it be a tablet, smartphone or laptop, and through that app use the TV in the guest room as their presentation channel.”

Are there plans to use this technology in meetings spaces?

Bzdawka: “Right now we’re focused on the guestroom, but we’re also looking at other ways to enhance and improve on meetings spaces.”

What sort of feedback have you received thus far?

Bzdawka: “So far it’s all been positive. Just last week, we introduced the ability to access streaming through the World of Hyatt app. Guests love that they don’t have to download yet another app. Having that allows them to connect seamlessly and effortlessly. They appreciate not being limited to a specific channel or series of channels and that we are open to multiple platforms.”

What drove you to integrate the service into the World of Hyatt app?

Bzdawka: “In our quest to find a good streaming solution, and there are many available in the marketplace, we found that many are difficult to use. The last thing a guest wants to do is spend a lot of time trying to figure out the technology. They want to be in a seamless environment. This provides that friction-free type of experience.”

World of Hyatt was launched recently as both the company’s new loyalty platform and an overall marketing effort. How does loyalty play into this?

Bzdawka: “Becoming a (World of Hyatt) member unlocks additional feature sets. Most of our app downloads are from members. That’s part of the platform. What we’ve also experienced is guests that have been exposed to our app (via the streaming system) or our complimentary internet access and guestroom content are enrolling (in the program).”

What functionality is unlocked to loyalty members?

Bzdawka: “There are broader feature sets, and it comes back to ease of use. They have profile information and have the ability to maintain and store that within the app. It helps reduce the number of steps guests have to take. Our casting solution removes the need to enter personal credentials. It’s managed on their mobile device and carried with them from property to property. We found guests have concerns about punching their credentials into systems and whether that’s truly purged or remains behind. That is all addressed as part of this solution, and I also think it will help us see an uptick in utilization.”

How does this fit into Hyatt’s overall strategy?

Bzdawka: “We’re always looking at ways to simplify guests’ lives and create better experiences. We’re in the process of deploying (a new) guest internet experience. That’s well underway, and that solution enables a guest to walk in with a device and only have to authenticate it once on the network anywhere in the Hyatt world. So you don’t have to authenticate and sign in every time you walk in. Many hotels require multiple authentications.”

Does holding an ownership stake in so many of Hyatt’s properties help the company sell these programs to franchisees?

Bzdawka: “It shows we have skin in the game. For us to make the investment and prove we’re investing our own money definitely helps sell to owners and franchisees.”

What feedback have you gotten from owners so far?

Bzdawka: “I met with multiple ownership groups (recently) in Orlando at HT-Next, and their feedback was extremely positive. They love the experience, and they love the price point associated with it. … Their biggest question is when can they move forward with it.”

Has the additional focus on in-room streaming led to any on-property bandwidth concerns?

Bzdawka: “That’s something we’re watching very closely, and we’re not seeing guests consuming more. They already were consuming data and streaming anyway, just on a smaller screen. This gives an opportunity to get a better experience on property. Our properties will continue to invest and support increasing Wi-Fi demands, but we haven’t seen this drive a significant increase in bandwidth required.”

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