Look To Current Needs, Future Opportunities
LodgeNet Customers Say HDTV Is Differentiating The Guest Experience;
Smooth Adoption Hinges On Integration Of Content, Displays
And Video-On-Demand System
|SIOUX FALLS SD, May 10, 2006 – LodgeNet
Entertainment Corporation (NASDAQ: LNET), the world’s largest provider
of interactive television and broadband solutions to hotels, today offered
insights into the accelerating deployment of high-definition TV (HDTV)
solutions across the hospitality industry.
“If what we’re seeing is any indication, 2006 will be the year HDTV accelerates toward critical mass in the lodging industry,” says Scott C. Petersen, President & CEO of LodgeNet, who notes that the company’s current and pending customer agreements contemplate HDTV for more than 160,000 guest rooms. Petersen credits three factors for driving the move to HDTV:
Hoteliers who have successfully migrated to HDTV have noticed positive results in terms of guest perception. “Since we upgraded to HDTV, nearly all of our guests have remarked how impressed they are with our in room entertainment,” says Paul Celnik, General Manager of The Iroquois New York, a LodgeNet customer. “It sets us apart from other properties on the street.” The Iroquois timed its HDTV upgrade to coincide with the renovation of its guest rooms – a strategy also employed by two more high-profile LodgeNet customers, The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California and the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona.
At The Iroquois and The Beverly Hilton, mounting HD flat panels on the walls also increased the usable floor space in the guest rooms – a bonus for these landmark properties where physically enlarging the rooms was not an option. “There were definitely challenges in attaching 80-pound plasma screens to walls that were built in the 1950s,” says The Beverly Hilton's Michael Robertson, who coordinated with LodgeNet on the property's HDTV upgrade. “But LodgeNet helped us work through them, as well as the cabling issues, so we could be the first hotel in our market to have flat panels in all of our guest rooms.”
Compatibility Crucial When Evaluating HD Solutions
Dave Bankers, LodgeNet’s Senior VP of Product & Technology Development, observes that TV manufacturers have ramped up their efforts to secure HD display orders that can represent hundreds of thousands of dollars. He points out that while more choices will eventually drive costs down, they cause confusion and frustration today. “There are plenty of HD models on the market, but not that many options as far as commercial grade displays that can interface with hotel video-on-demand (VOD) systems,” he says. TV manufacturers are also at various stages of implementing Pro:IdiomTM, the industry-standard content security solution that enables providers to deliver HD premium satellite programming and “still in theaters” HD VOD movies to guest rooms. According to Bankers, Pro:IdiomTM implementation runs the gamut from companies who “aren’t even thinking about it” to those whose Pro:IdiomTM enabled displays are already installed in guest rooms.
“What you have are a lot of HD displays, a lot of installed VOD systems, and a growing universe of HD content,” Bankers says. “But if those pieces aren’t all coordinated, switching to HDTV can be fraught with expensive pitfalls and may actually be a step backward in the in room entertainment experience.” He adds that LodgeNet has established a vendor certification program aimed at simplifying the HDTV selection process for hoteliers.
Regulatory activity, guest expectations, competitive pressures and the availability of HD content are pushing HDTV to the top of more hoteliers’ to-do lists. At the same time, early HDTV adoptions have underscored the importance of thinking beyond the TV to consider how an HDTV solution will impact the hotel’s existing in-room entertainment choices – and even the design of the room itself. “We’ve heard two major themes from hoteliers: they want an ‘easy’ HDTV solution, and they want to know their investment will pay off in a superior guest experience over the long term,” concludes Petersen. “We appreciate the opportunities our customers have given us to lead the guest room HDTV revolution, and we look forward to helping more of them make it happen.”
LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation (www.lodgenet.com) is the world’s largest provider of interactive television and broadband solutions to hotels throughout the United States and Canada as well as select international markets. These services include on-demand movies, music and music videos, on-demand videogames, Internet on television, and television on-demand programming, as well as high-speed Internet access, all designed to serve the needs of the lodging industry and the traveling public. LodgeNet provides service to more than one million interactive guest pay rooms and serves more than 6,000 hotel properties worldwide. LodgeNet estimates that during 2005 approximately 300 million travelers had access to LodgeNet’s interactive television systems. In addition, LodgeNet is a leading innovator in the delivery of on-demand patient education, information and entertainment to healthcare facilities. LodgeNet is listed on NASDAQ and trades under the symbol LNET.
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