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Guide to In-Room Entertainment Options for Hotels and Resorts

Guide to In-Room Entertainment Options for Hotels and Resorts

Hotels have long been known as early technology adopters in their efforts to provide a competitive experience for their guests—especially when it comes to in-room entertainment. Fueled by the impact of the pandemic, which has accelerated the demand for new technologies, hotel operators are now compelled to take their guest room entertainment to the next level with increasingly personalized and innovative options that cater to today’s modern guests.

Keep reading to explore some of the latest trends and technological advancements in in-room entertainment.

Post-Pandemic Guest Expectations

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the demand for streaming services surged dramatically as people were confined to their homes. According to a recent survey by Forbes, 99% of all U.S. households now subscribe to at least one or more streaming services—an uptick of 7% since 2020.

Consequently, as we emerge from the pandemic, personalized entertainment experiences are quickly becoming not just a nice-to-have but the expectation of hotel guests.

Joe King, vice president of hospitality for Philips TV, says, “There was a time when people could get an entertainment experience at hotels that they couldn’t get at home, like free HBO and dozens of cable channels. But from an entertainment standpoint, today you’re almost taking a step backwards.”

This underscores the importance for hoteliers to modernize their hotel guest room entertainment options as swiftly as possible in order to remain ahead of the curve in the coming years.

Hotel Guest Room Entertainment System Options

Offering a variety of in-room entertainment choices can ensure hotels and resorts cater to the diverse preferences of their guests. The ideal mix will depend on factors, such as the establishment’s target demographic, location, and amenities budget. Here are some of the latest emerging hotel guest room entertainment systems available.

Robust WiFi

Hotel guests are increasingly bringing multiple devices of their own for entertainment, communication, work, and information purposes. Business travelers in particular require a reliable WiFi connection for virtual meetings and other data-intensive activities. With this rise in BYOD (bring your own devices), guests expect seamless and high-speed internet access with adequate bandwidth for their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets throughout their stay.

As reported by Lodging Magazine, in a recent survey commissioned by DirecTV of 1,200 U.S. consumers staying in hotels three or more nights every year, only 20% of respondents said their in-room WiFi speed was inadequate for their needs or desires. By providing strong, reliable WiFi, hotel operators can boost overall guest experience, enhance their online reputation, and drive more return visits, thereby gaining the competitive edge.

Cable Television

Television has long been a cornerstone of in-room entertainment and a standard offering in most hotel rooms, providing guests with access to popular cable channels, including news, sports, movies, and local programming. In the DirecTV survey referenced above, it was revealed that 88% of respondents watch live TV while traveling, and 75% expressed a preference for hotels offering easy access to local, live, and on-demand TV.

While traditional TV has the advantages of familiarity and ease of use, a limited content selection can be a drawback for guests who are accustomed to premium channels and streaming services at home.

“Guests crave the choice of either watching live TV or having the option to stream their own content, because it allows them to conduct their stay on their terms,” says Kimberly Twiggs, assistant vice president of business development for DirecTV.


Regarding the television devices themselves, guest expectations have also evolved in recent years. The current standard is high definition, ranging from 720 to 1080 pixels. 4K, which offers four times the resolution of high definition, is also increasingly offered as an amenity, especially for viewing special content such as sporting events.

Smart TVs with Streaming Apps

Today’s guests demand more than just basic cable channels. In response to current trends, more and more hotels and resorts are equipping rooms with smart TVs offering a variety of popular streaming options, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.

While such streaming services allow guests to access a wide range of movies, TV shows, and other content by logging into their own accounts, hotel guests commonly report user experience issues such as lack of reliable internet connection as well as security issues.

Many guests are also reluctant to input their personal information into streaming apps due to uncertainties about what will happen with the data after their hotel stay. According to a 2022 Guestroom Casting Survey by Hotel Internet Services, 54% of hoteliers said guests are “highly concerned” about entering their login credentials on guestroom TVs, and 34% are “somewhat concerned.”

Content Streaming

For hoteliers, offering content streaming services has been complicated by issues such as data privacy and security. But thanks to recent advances in casting technology, hoteliers can now adopt hotel guest entertainment options that appeal to modern guests.

“Capabilities like controlling the TV using their own devices and casting the content of their choice are here to stay,” says  .

In our aforementioned 2022 Guestroom Casting Survey, Hotel Internet Services reported the following:

  • 40% of guests would book a hotel that provides casting over one that does not
  • ​57% of hoteliers surveyed said casting is more important to their guests than cable TV service in the guest room
  • 72% of guests said they were interested in accessing their personal streaming accounts through their guest room TV

Additionally, 74% of hotel guest respondents said they prefer to wirelessly cast apps from their personal devices onto the guest room TV over directly entering their personal information into guest room television devices.

As much as guests have expressed an interest in casting their own personal content, current industry adoption rates are failing to keep up with demand. According to hoteliers in the same survey:

  • 84% offer cable or satellite TV
  • 21% offer casting to TV from a personal device
  • 20% offer steaming apps on the TV
  • 16% offer on-demand video

But not all casting devices are created equal. Difficulty pairing devices with the TV, incompatibility with steaming subscriptions, and poor quality video are some of the most common complaints. When opting for a content casting service, hotel operators should look for user-friendly technologies such as scannable QR codes for quick and convenient device pairing.

On-Demand Movies

Pay-per-view, or on-demand, movies have become an increasingly popular in-room entertainment offering by hotels and resorts. Rather than watching content on the schedule of the local network or cable television channels’ schedules, guests can choose from a digital library of content for a fee, which typically varies between $10 and $20 per movie.

While guests enjoy the flexibility and convenience of being able to watch what they want on their own schedule, content libraries may be limited. Not to mention, many guests would prefer not to pay a fee for something they could watch on their own devices, even on a smaller screen.

Gaming Consoles for Hotel Guests

In recent years, gaming has come to represent one of the largest entertainment markets with a current valuation of $282 billion, according to Exploding Topics. It’s estimated there are 3.32 billion active video gamers across the globe, and the figure has risen by over 1 billion over the past eight years.

And it’s not just the younger generation partaking in this pastime—38% of gamers are in the 18–34 years age group, and 52% of gamers fall within the age range of 18 to 44. Given their multigenerational popularity, gaming consoles—from classic favorites like Nintendo Switch to the latest PlayStation and Xbox models—have become an increasingly common hotel guest room entertainment system option for guests of all ages.

DVD/Blu-ray Players

As an alternative to streaming and on-demand movies, some hotel establishments offer DVD and Blu-ray players for guests to watch their own movies or movies selected from a library provided by the hotel. Not surprisingly, as TV and moving streaming has surged in popularity, DVDs and Blu-ray discs have seen a decline in usage—according to a survey by Statista, from 2019 to 2023, the share of respondents who had watched a movie on DVD or Blu-ray fell from 49 percent to 30 percent.

So while providing free DVDs or Blu-ray players may be preferable for guests who would rather not splurge on on-demand movies, trends show modern guests are increasingly opting for the convenience and variety offered by streaming services.

Audio Systems

In addition to visual entertainment, more and more hotels and resorts are offering audio systems with high-quality speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and streaming capabilities so guests can enjoy their own audio content—including music as well as podcasts—with superior sound quality.

According to Pew Research, the share of Americans who listen to podcasts has increased significantly over the past decade. As of 2023, 42% of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast in the past month. Corresponding with this trend, since the end of 2015, the number of music streaming subscribers has 10Xed, rising from 68 million to a staggering 616.2 million. Enabling guests to play their own music or other audio content from their devices is an effective way for hotels to meet this rising demand for personalized audio entertainment.

The Future of In-Room Entertainment

In-room entertainment options play a critical role in shaping the overall experience of hotel and resort guests. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the future of in-room entertainment holds endless possibilities—from augmented reality (AR) to virtual reality (VR) experiences to AI-powered personal assistants and customizable content recommendations.

By staying ahead of the curve and embracing emerging technologies, hotel establishments can differentiate themselves in a competitive market and ensure their guests have a truly unforgettable stay.

Looking to elevate your in-room entertainment experience? Voted the #1 Hotel Casting Solution for 2023, GuestCast Powered by ChromeCast is the premier in-room entertainment solution. Not only does it integrate easily with your free-to-guest system, it offers a seamless user experience that allows hotel guests to effortlessly and instantly watch their favorite content from thousands of popular apps by scanning a QR code. Learn more about GuestCast.

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