Will hotels just give up on TV and let you use Netflix instead?

Yeah, I get it, it’s hard running a hotel. It used to be easy. A clean bed, a color TV, maybe a pool. Now guests don’t just want a nice view and a continental breakfast, they want fast internet and streaming. Most folks still entertain themselves with a little bit of TV at night, and more than anything they’d like to be able stream Netflix or Hulu or whatever. The problem is, most hotels aren’t up to the challenge.

See, if you design your internet service to make sure every guest can stream Netflix in HD, you’ll be paying a lot of money for a huge amount of bandwidth, and it will really only be used for an hour or two a day. On the other hand, if you decide to provide reasonable bandwidth that serves everyone well most of the time, there will be huge problems with congestion during those peak hours when people want to stream. There’s no easy solution.

A lot of hotel managers just want to give up and give in. Creating and maintaining a hotel television system is expensive and if guests don’t use it, it seems like a waste of money. Some hotels have given up completely and put regular streaming devices in place so guests can log in with their own credentials. These boxes are then wiped clean when the guest leaves.

Let me go on record and say that’s a really wasteful and time-consuming way of doing things. First of all you have to make sure there’s enough bandwidth for everyone, which means most of that bandwidth is wasted during the day. Second, you have to train staff how to wipe and reinitialize that streaming stick, several times a week. That’s a big drag on productivity. It may seem to hotel managers like they’re saving money, but the truth is that this method is guaranteed to cost more in labor and internet service over the long run. It also may (or may not) be against the agreement that you have to click past in order to use these devices. So, there’s that.

There’s a better way. You can take away the incentive to use Netflix and Hulu by offering tens of thousands of free programs to your guests on demand. I’m talking of course about the DIRECTV Residential Experience. DRE (as they call it) gives each customer a real DIRECTV receiver in the room, with hundreds of channels of live TV. Each room gets a simple DVR solution that allows guests to pause live TV and record a few programs. The system is managed from the front desk so it’s easy to make sure that problems are fixed easily.

Here’s the best part — real on-demand programs that won’t suck up your internet during those peak times. The DRE On Demand server downloads programs off the internet in the middle of the night and stores them on your property. They’re available to guests all the time, and this isn’t just a few movies… depending on your choices you can get local programs, premium channels, movies before Netflix gets them, everything! For those guests who want a recent movie, it’s available at a very reasonable price as well.

Now here’s the part the hotel managers won’t want to hear. Yes, this system costs money. There are a lot of programs that can help with the upfront costs, but it does cost money to put a receiver in every room, to wire them properly, and to install the servers necessary to run the whole thing and interface with the property management system. But the cost is pretty minimal compared to adding all the extra internet capacity and keeping that capacity growing every month.

Of course some people are going to want to watch Netflix on their own devices and that’s fine, because when most guests are happily watching live TV that they can pause or on-demand programs that don’t suck your bandwidth dry, there will be plenty of capacity for the Netflix lovers. It’s a win-win.

If you’re interested in finding out how a solution like the DIRECTV Residential Experience can work for you, give our corporate arm Signal Connect a call at 888-233-7563. We’re ready to help you take the next steps!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.