When a guest walks into a hotel, they expect an experience. Ultimately, that’s what lobbies are about. These multi-sensory spaces welcome guests into the building and create the unique “mood” that signals to the guests what the rest of their stay will be like. The lobby is where the hotel makes its first physical impression, and as such, an effective lobby space should embody the unique “brand” of the hotel through all elements of the environment, from the architecture to the interior design to the technology. With clear and pleasant music, beautiful and creative lighting, and attractive and informative signage, an integrated technology solution allows hotels to make a great first – and lasting – impression on their guests.
To create these immersive solutions, hotels are using integrated audio, lighting, video and control solutions to provide the sights, sounds and overall experiences they want for their guests, and use of these technologies has dramatically increased over recent years. Of course, the way the technology is implement varies vastly depending on the type of hotel. Let’s look at the four main types of hotels and consider the ways in which audio, video and lighting (or “AVL”) is used in each.
A popular choice for many a vacationer, the Economy Hotel is a small property dedicated to providing families and other travelers with a safe and comfortable place to stay at an affordable price. With a focus on economy and comfort, the needs for AVL haven’t changed very much over the years. Video needs are minimal, with a TV showing the news or other television channel being the most you typically find in these spaces. Lighting-wise, there is rarely a need for architectural lighting in these spaces beyond basic white floods outside the building.
The most common AVL requirement for lobbies in these spaces is basic background music. Budgeting requirements for these installations are restricted, so the technology used is minimal. However, quality bank-for-your-buck mixer amplifiers and speakers are common, and allow economy hotels to add audio from a cable box, MP3 player or other source easily. JBL Commercial makes a number of speaker and mixer amp products for this market, including JBL CSMA Series Commercial Mixer Amplifiers. These mixer amps have built in 70V/100V constant voltage so they can be used with distributed audio or traditional 4Ω/8Ω speakers. With exclusive DriveCore™ technology and manufactured under HARMAN’s GreenEdge™ environmental initiative, JBL CSMA Series mixer amps bring surprising quality for an economical price point, making them ideal for an economy hotel.
Select Service Hotel
A step up from the Economy Hotel, the Select Service Hotel is targeted to the standard business or vacation traveler. These hotels provide a select subset of upscale features, and as many of these hotels are part of large chains, this segment focuses on standardization and scalability across multiple properties. As technology has shifted and more national and global chains have come into prominence, there has been a lot of change in this segment regarding AVL.
Architectural lighting, for example, has seen a big push in Select Service Hotels, with many chains using exterior washes of specific colors to up-light the façade. With bursts of color and unique looks, chains use architectural lighting to set the property apart and identify their brand. As well, when you enter the lobby of Select Service hotels, music really sets the mood. The music playing in these hotels is often more upbeat than was common in the past and it often sits more in the foreground rather than the background. Lighting inside the building is also designed to set the mood, and often has the ability to change throughout the day. Video, as well, is more prevalent, with digital signage much more common in the design of lobby spaces for Select Service Hotels than for an Economy Hotel.
A rising trend in Select Service Hotels is the advent of ad hoc meeting spaces—called “huddle spaces”—within the hotel lobby. Distinct from the reserved meeting rooms that would be scheduled with the hotel staff, these huddle spaces are open for use by hotel guests needing a quick and easy place to sit down and have a collaborative discussion or impromptu meeting. The technology in huddle spaces include a TV that guests can connect to either wirelessly or via an elegantly-designed AV table box. These spaces typically are offered either at an hourly rate, providing additional revenue for the hotel, or else as a perk for rewards program members.
Full-Service Luxury Hotel
These premium hotels are often located in metropolitan areas or exclusive getaway destinations, and are targeted to the high-end vacationer or executive business traveler who expects a high personal touch point from the staff. The focus for the technology in these hotels is on having a true “sense of arrival.” When driving up to the hotel, the beauty of the property needs to shine through, and architectural lighting accomplishes this.
This sense of arrival also carries through to the lobby, with audio, video and lighting coming together to create an immersive sense of arrival and distinctive experience for guests. Architectural lighting and video walls create premium visual experiences, while the music playing from quality sound systems welcomes and moves guests. Given the high expectations of guests of these properties, AVL in Full-Service Luxury Hotels is premium in quality, highly tailorable for maximum customization, and reliable to ensure guests never experience technology that is not functioning correctly.
By their very nature, casinos and resorts are complex spaces to tackle, with a variety of disparate needs. This is true for a number of reasons. First of all, they are large facilities—often with more than 1000 rooms—and they come with many of the technical challenges that other large venues face. Because information and entertainment is expected throughout these vast properties, placing more of the audio, video and control on the network allows hotels to provide the guest experience they want anywhere it is needed without distance being a concern.
These spaces also face challenges because they have a variety of different areas, with casino floors, entertainment spaces, restaurants, retail, spas, meeting spaces and more all requiring different AVL needs (and often all located off the main hotel lobby). Addressing a variety of diverse spaces with diverse requirements often involves a diverse product line. However, these products should also still tie in to the larger AVL system with content able to be accessed anywhere you need it. This is another reason why Networked AV is so important. By providing interconnected products that are tailored to a variety of solutions via the network, hoteliers can provide innovative, customized experiences for guests today and going forward without extensive rewiring. As well, because the systems are on the network, they can also be centrally managed, providing preventative maintenance and proactive fault monitoring.
Finally, these spaces typically invoke a distinct image of luxury or some sort of immersive thematic element that is carried throughout. This presents a variety of creative opportunities—and just as many challenges (as we’ve discussed before regarding theme parks). As such, anything goes regarding the AVL in these spaces. By integrating the audio, video and lighting designs and then connecting them using automation, many unique opportunities arise. For example, LED lighting strips can be tied to content on digital signage video walls for an immersive experience. Hotels can even use information from complex sensor algorithms—such as those available from HARMAN Connected Services—to trigger customer-specific changes to music, video and lighting. The opportunities are endless.
Clearly, there are many ways to use audio, video and lighting (along with control) to create immersive lobby experiences. Every hotel is different, and brings its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. However, with a smart system design and large dose of creativity, hotels can use lobby technology to give guests a lasting impression that defines their entire stay.
Do you have tips on using AVL to create immersive guest experiences in hotels? Share them with us in the comments.