From lighting and temperature controls to streaming entertainment and high-speed internet, guests’ appetite for in-room technology shows no signs of waning. Powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and rapidly evolving technology, guests are expecting more and more out of their hotel rooms.
While great service and top-notch amenities are par for the course in luxury hotels, technology -- and how it’s been integrated -- can add a competitive edge, translating into operational efficiency, cost savings and high guest satisfaction ratings for hoteliers.
For Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort, Oman, it was guest feedback that motivated the upgrade of their in-room technology. Located on Oman’s northern Musandam peninsula, the resort has mountains on one side and a sandy beach on the other. This spectacular setting and the Six Senses brand of barefoot luxury, across the resort and its signature spa, has been attracting both domestic and international tourists. However, guests were also looking for increased convenience and entertainment while relaxing in their villas.
Keeping this in mind, the current infotainment system in each villa was transformed in recent years. As Chakib Dhahri, IT Manager for Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort explained: “We always try to cater to the needs of our guests while keeping up with the times and, in 2012, we decided to refresh our IPTV system to deliver HD quality video and improve the overall guest experience.”
“We started to get more requests from our guests to be able to connect their own devices to the TVs in each villa as well as easier access to their own subscription video (SVoD) services like Netflix,” said Dhahri.
The resort’s IT team tested out Exterity’s new ArtioGuest application, which offered not only a similar user and management interface, but also added capabilities around integration with additional devices such as Google Chromecast and other BYOD options.
Dhahri and his IT team began working with Rashed Al Mazroui for Technology and Information Supplies (RAMCO), a leading system integrator of IT/IP solutions covering a wide range of industry sectors, to find an alternative.
“We spoke to several suppliers and brought a number of products in for testing and it became clear, quite quickly, that the Exterity platform offered us all the features we needed but also proved very easy to use with the flexibility to adapt to future requirements.”
The initial upgrade moved the legacy IPTV platform, delivering 50 satellite channels, over to a new Exterity system that added full HD capability and a more modern integration with the existing Video on Demand service.
In total, the resort upgraded the service received on 140 TVs across the resort through the addition of Exterity AvediaPlayer media players connected over the LAN to AvediaStream TVgateways and controlled by the central AvediaServer for end-to-end system management.
“The original upgrade to the IPTV service proved popular with guests and very reliable with no outages over the 6-year period,” said Dhahri.
However, as Six Senses prides itself on being an innovator in the luxury hospitality space, in 2018, senior management began another review of how they could further improve the in-room guest experience.
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Designed as a seamless extension to the existing Exterity-based infrastructure, the resort updated each of the TV screens in the villas with additional Chromecast capabilities, integrated in a single ArtioGuest interface. The system is also integrated with the Opera Property Management System (PMS) to automatically set up welcome messages and to allow each guest to see current billing information. The IPTV system has also been upgraded with additional HD channels, including options for French, German and Arabic languages.
“One of the best features about the Exterity system is its flexibility,” says Dhahri. As an example, the IT manager highlighted an issue where a particularly popular German TV channel was no longer available on the resort’s subscribed satellite TV service. “To meet our guest needs, we purchased an Apple TV and a site licence for an IP-based stream of the required German TV channel and connected it via the Exterity system to stream it to all of the villas as an additional channel. The quality is perfect and we now have the option of adding additional IP-based TV channels, when and if we require them in the future.”
Programme in practice
“The technology and the Exterity team have never let us down and every request we have had, Exterity has been able to deliver. For the future, we are looking at other options such as music on demand and 4K TV channels when they become available. We know that with Exterity, we will be able to meet all of the needs of our guests,” said Dhahri.
Speaking about future plans, he added “We are also considering adding a HD video camera feed as a special channel, so that guests can watch the sunrise as it appears from the top of a nearby mountain.” With a relationship that has spanned 6 years, Dhahri is all praise for the Exterity system and its technical staff. “The technology and the Exterity team have never let us down and every request we have had, Exterity has been able to deliver. For the future, we are looking at other options such as Music on Demand and 4K TV channels when they become available, and we know that with Exterity, we will be able to meet all of the needs of our guests.”
Walid Tabet, Middle East Regional Sales Team Leader at Exterity said: “Today’s modern travellers long for their chosen accommodation to offer a ‘better than home’ experience in every sense, including in-room entertainment. Six Senses is a great example of how this can be achieved by using a fully customisable portal that seamlessly delivers live TV and VoD services. The fact that Six Senses is looking for more ways to work with Exterity in the future confirms the success of the ArtioGuest deployment and reinforces that tech-savvy hotel guests expect the highest quality in-room entertainment and service experience.”
Since 2001 Exterity has been designing, developing and manufacturing technically innovative products that deliver video over an IP network to some of the leading organisations across the globe. Enabling distribution of HD quality TV, video and digital signage over enterprise IP networks to an unlimited number of end points, Exterity solutions support large volumes of content and receiving devices without compromising system performance or availability.