Over the past few years, Marriott Hotels has been closely studying how its guests, who are on average 35 years old, use technology during hotel stays.
Marriott discovered a few important facts: Guests are no longer keen on paying for the video-on-demand that comes loaded on the TVs in each room. Instead, they come equipped with their own lineup of devices–smartphones, laptops, tablets–that are chock-full of content, from video games to books to movies.
To keep up with changing consumer behavior, Marriott has just launched a partnership with Netflix that allows guests to stream Netflix on the hotel’s Internet-connected TVs. In the testing phase, Marriott incorporated several different Internet apps on TVs and found that over a quarter of guests logged on to them, with a significant majority using Netflix, which beat out other video streaming services like Hulu and YouTube.
Marriott has begun rolling out this service in hotels around the country, including its New York East Side and San Jose locations. But by 2016, Marriott expects all 300 U.S. properties to be equipped with Netflix-enabled TVs.
Marriott is currently the first hotel chain to offer Netflix on TVs, but Michael Dail, VP for global brand marketing for Marriott Hotels at Marriott International, expects that other hotels are likely to offer similar video streaming services in the near future. “We fully expect this to be standard in the hotel industry very soon, and we wanted to be ahead of the curve,” he says.
One caveat is that only Netflix subscribers can access this content. Scott Hansen, director of guest technology at Marriott International, explains that this is because Netflix has very specific royalty agreements based on its subscriber base. “New users can access a 30-day trial right on the hotel TV if they haven’t already done this,” Hansen says. “From Netflix’s perspective, this gives them a captive audience for customer acquisition.”
So what’s the advantage of having Netflix on the hotel TV, when guests already have Netflix on their laptops and iPads? Marriott’s research revealed that customers appreciate being able to use multiple screens, says Dail. During the week, many stay at the hotels on business and spend their leisure time multitasking. “They want to be able to work on a presentation on their computer with Netflix on TV in the background,” he says. “Our goal is to give guests as many choices as possible.”