How high-definition services can help drive business in the hospitality industry

When people think of high-definition (HD) television, they usually think of the televisions in their homes.

However, HDTV services are being used more and more by businesses — especially the hospitality industry — to give their customers an even higher level of service and value.

Major hotel chains are upgrading their guest rooms with HD televisions and services, and more are expected to do so in the future, as today’s travelers want all of the comforts of home, no matter where they are.

By offering HDTV services to their guests, the hospitality industry is trying to meet those needs and provide their patrons with a high-quality experience.

“It’s all about content, and you have to be able to deliver the content that people want,” says Glen Hardin, senior director of video systems for Time Warner Cable. “We’re in the midst of a digital revolution, and customers want more services, in more ways and in more places.”

Smart Business spoke with Hardin, who is working with Time Warner Cable Business Class on HD solutions, about delivering HD services to businesses and why HD is becoming increasingly important for the hospitality industry and for business in general.

Why has HD become so important?

High-definition television has transformed the way people view movies, television programs, Web pages and any other kind of visible content.

Although HDTV uses approximately the same bandwidth as analog signals, HDTV transmits more than six times the information, leading to a significant improvement in sound and quality. Often, consumers visually see an improvement in the picture and sound, in addition to high-quality programming and the opportunity to watch their favorite programs in widescreen format, and never want to return to regular television again.

The hospitality industry is keeping up with this market for HD, but it is not the only business that can benefit from this high-quality experience. Businesses with a TV in a waiting room, or a bar or a restaurant that airs games or events, or even a lobby that shows entertainment or informative programming, can benefit from HD. With its high-quality content, outstanding technology and convenience, HDTV can make a big difference to a company’s clients.

HDTV’s premium quality and content add to the customer experience. According to the 2010 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study by the firm J.D. Powers and Associates, having intuitive, useful and recognizable in-room technology is one of the main amenities that business and luxury travelers are looking for in a hotel room, aside from the cleanliness of the room.

Why is cable leading the way in the HD revolution?

Cable is reliable and proven. Widely available, cable companies already provide HD content to all kinds of businesses. Field technicians, who specialize in the delivery and maintenance of cable service, are locally available to support immediate business needs.

In addition, cable offers another advantage in that the millions of cable subscribers who travel and frequent hotels and businesses are already familiar with cable TV’s services and growing HD programming, and they want the comforts of home when they travel.

Business requirements for HD service are often more complex than those of a home viewer and cable can use its flexibility to more than meet those needs.

A cable company can offer the most robust lineup a business owner can offer and it’s often of a higher quality than what’s available through any other means. With cable, a consumer gets local affiliates, regional sports channels and national cable television programs, delivering relevant community television.

In addition, cable’s flexibility and local account management system and support make HD the perfect solution for businesses such as those in the hospitality industry.

What other business benefits can HD bring to an organization?

Providing HD content to a business provides benefits on several levels. Guests, clients and employees will receive the highest quality viewing experience. In addition, depending on the line of business, this factor may drive repeat business and higher levels of satisfaction.

Patrons want to frequent establishments with HD televisions and programming, and travelers are looking for establishments that provide the comforts of home. Finally, employees can benefit from staying on top of news, current events and financial market information.

No matter how you evaluate your cable television needs, chances are that they would be better served in HD. As technology evolves and HD programming becomes the standard, businesses will undoubtedly need to migrate their services in order to continue meeting their clients’ expectations.

Glen Hardin is the senior director of video systems, advanced technology group, for Time Warner Cable. Reach him at [email protected].