News for the Hospitality Executive
The Sleep Inn in Minot, ND offers something for everyone. Its proximity to Minot Air Force Base, Minot State University, and the airport makes it convenient for business travelers. With seven meeting rooms and 15,000 square feet of event space, it’s a popular facility for corporate and private functions. Attached to the largest shopping mall in the region, the hotel is also near museums, restaurants, theaters, golfing, hiking and biking areas, and features its own 3-story indoor water park, Splashdown Dakota Super Slides, which makes it an appealing leisure travel destination, as well.
But when the economy slumped into recession in 2008, the hospitality industry was hit hard. When competitive properties started slashing room rates in an effort to attract travelers, the Sleep Inn’s management faced a dilemma. How could they stay competitive -- without having to cut room rates?
Their creative solution? Add additional value to their rooms.
The Sleep Inn management team wanted to differentiate their property by providing guests with clear added value. During the week, the majority of the hotel’s clientele are corporate business travelers. On the weekends, the Sleep Inn accomodates more families. So management needed to find a way to add value that would appeal to both veteran business road warriors, family and leisure travelers.
“At a national hotel industry convention in early 2008, we saw a really impressive in-room media system from Roomlinx,” recalled Terry Alexander, general manager of the Sleep Inn. “We got to thinking that most people today probably have a wide array of entertainment options at home, but most hotels offer very limited choices. We decided that offering guests a rich in-room entertainment experience that equaled or exceeded what they’re used to at home was the perfect value-add solution for both our family and business guests.”
Roomlinx System Offers Everything Sleep Inn Wanted
The Sleep Inn team researched and evaluated several in-room media systems, and unanimously agreed that the Roomlinx system was by far the best. They felt that Roomlinx offered the most comprehensive set of options that would enable them to tailor an in-room media offering that would perfectly fit their hotel and mix of clientele – and set the property apart from the competition.
Management liked the Roomlinx system’s advanced technology, flexibility and classy look. Another key factor in choosing Roomlinx was that it gave Sleep Inn the ability to customize the system to portray the right image for their property’s brand, and choose the features they wanted to offer guests, from free video on demand to tools for the business traveler. They also found Roomlinx the easiest system to use and most intuitive to maneuver, so even less tech-savvy guests will be able to enjoy it.
There is one more thing about Roomlinx that really appealed to the Sleep Inn management team. The Roomlinx system includes a unique in-room advertising capability. This allows Sleep Inn to promote its own onsite facilities, and also presents the opportunity to generate an additional revenue stream -- and support the local business community at the same time -- by letting local businesses advertise directly to hotel guests.
Fast, Painless Implementation
For the initial phase of the implementation, the Roomlinx system was installed in 80 of the hotel’s 176 rooms in Feb. 2009. All 80 rooms were completed in just four days.
“The Roomlinx installation team was the nicest, most efficient and professional group of people, extremely responsive and great to work with,” Alexander said. “Not only were we pleasantly surprised when they finished the whole first phase in less than a week, we were thrilled that they accomplished it all with absolutely no disruption of our daily operations. If only everything were this easy!”
The Roomlinx converged in-room media platform now provides Sleep Inn guests in the 80 media-enhanced rooms with free in-room access to HD Hollywood and specialty movies, traditional free-to-guest television, high speed internet access, business tools, games, world radio and information about hotel facilities and local businesses, including restaurants, attractions, shopping, services and maps through a flat-panel HD LCD television.
Rave Reviews from Guests
The Roomlinx in-room media system gets rave reviews from the hotel’s guests, according to Alexander. “The most frequent question we get is: ‘are all these movies really included in the room rate?’ We have to assure guests there’s no catch, no gimmicks, no unpleasant surprises on their bills at check-out time. Now we’re finding that our guests spend more time on Roomlinx than watching regular TV.”
“We’re not far from the U.S.- Canada border here in Minot, so on average about 95% of our leisure travelers are Canadian,” added Alexander. “And the vast majority of our Canadian guests are die-hard football fans. They love that they can logon to local TV back home and never miss a big game.”
“Plus, every September, Minot is home to Norsk Høstfest, the largest Scandinavian festival in North America. Our property fills up with people who travel here from all over North America for this hugely popular cultural event. Our guests were thrilled to be able to logon and read their hometown newspapers to keep up with what’s happening back home.”
Tangible Business Results
Despite the challenging economy this year, the hotel’s monthly average occupancy rates are matching or exceeding last year’s numbers. Management expects total room revenue for the year will meet, and probably surpass, 2008 levels. Alexander attributes a significant portion of this success to Roomlinx.
“So many hotels are struggling, but we’re not. Our numbers are actually up. About 60% of our guests are repeat visitors, and most of them request the Roomlinx-equipped rooms when they book. Plus we find that word of mouth travels fast, especially among families. Almost half the guests who tell us they chose our property based on a recommendation also request the enhanced in-room media rooms. That can’t be a coincidence,” observed Alexander.
In addition to providing Sleep Inn’s guests with a rich, multi-faceted in-room entertainment and internet experience that inspires repeat visits and word of mouth recommendations, the hotel is also realizing significant incremental revenue from Roomlinx’ unique advertising capabilities.
Shortly after the initial installation was completed, management hosted a luncheon for 40 local businesses. They invited Roomlinx to make a presentation about the system and the in-room advertising feature. The response was overwhelmingly positive – by the end of the luncheon, 25% of the attendees had already signed contracts on the spot to buy ad space on the in-room system.
Businesses, from national restaurant and retail chains to the local diner and boutique shops, are taking advantage of the in-room advertising. For example, Ruby Tuesdays promotes its online reservations system. Guests see the ads, and simply click on it to go to the restaurant’s website and book their dinner reservation, all from their room. Many restaurants, stores and services offer discount coupons through the in-room ads. The guests print the coupon right from the Roomlinx system to take with them. Vendors code the coupons so they know it came from Sleep Inn, so they can instantly see the ROI on their in-room advertising.
As word of the in-room advertising opportunity spreads in the regional business community, Alexander says he’s constantly getting calls from eager prospective new advertisers.
An Innovative Added Benefit
Sleep Inn also found an ingenious, innovative way the hotel can derive an unexpected benefit from Roomlinx in-room advertising. Whenever the hotel signs up a new local store or restaurant to advertise, they generally ask for a percentage of the payment in trade, in the form of coupons for free goods, meals or services.
“We use the coupons for employee incentives, to reward excellent performance and recognize staff members who go the extra mile,” explained Alexander. “They’re also great for diffusing potentially sticky situations and smoothing over service hiccups. Say for example a guest arrives and for whatever reason, the room isn’t ready. We can give them a coupon to go enjoy a free meal at a local eatery while we get the room ready for check-in. It’s a terrific solution – not only do we avoid having disgruntled guests, but the guest actually feels pampered and well taken care of.”
“The free coupons help us keep our employees happy, keep our guests happy, and of course, it keeps our advertisers happy when people use the free coupons, because they not only discover a local business, they almost invariably spend extra money. And the best part is it doesn’t cost the hotel a penny.”
The Roomlinx system has so far had a demonstrably positive impact on Sleep Inn’s business -- increasing guest satisfaction, stimulating repeat business and recommendations, sustaining occupancy rates, and adding to the hotel’s bottom line through ad revenues. As a result, management is planning to upgrade the remaining 96 rooms with the Roomlinx in-room media system by year end.
“When we first saw the Roomlinx system, we thought it was too good to be true,” concluded Alexander. “And most of the time when something looks too good to be true, it is. But not in this case. Roomlinx played a significant part in helping us sustain and grow our business in a down economy. Roomlinx has lived up to everything we’d hoped for and more.”
Roomlinx is the
hospitality in-room expert providing in-room
Interactive TV products designed to increase revenues and brand loyalty
hotels, resorts, and other properties, utilizing premium content and
applications demanded by today's traveler. Please visit us as at www.roomlinx.com
for a demo.
Safe Harbor Cautionary Statement
RoomLinx Media Contact:
Names Renowned Media and Advertising Expert L. Marilyn Crawford to Its
Advisory Board; Crawford will offer Roomlinx management the benefit of
her extensive experience in strategic branding, advertising and
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Success Making Headlines; Hoteliers’ positive results with Roomlinx
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made a Part of IBM’s “Hotel-in-a-Box’ solution; Roomlinx is an approved
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Seeks Qualified Hotels to Install Interactive TV & VOD at no Cost
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