The analyst firm Forrester defines customer experience as, “how customers perceive their interactions with your company”. It’s the word ‘perceives’ that’s the interesting one here. What one customer values, another finds relatively unimportant – and vice versa. This is why personalisation is becoming a key trend for all kinds of businesses, from car manufacturers to soft drink providers.
However, nowhere is personalisation more pertinent today than in broadcasting. Remember when we had to stay in on a Saturday night to watch the final episode of a blockbuster drama? Or had to rush home from work to catch an all-important international football match?
Access to on-demand platforms and over-the-top (OTT) content providers such as Netflix or Amazon Prime means that instead of flicking through our channel guides to see what’s currently on, many of us now prefer to fire up streaming or catch-up TV services to pick up where we left off in our new favourite series.
Not only do these services enable us to watch what we want, when we want, but they increasingly encourage us to ‘log-in’ and provide relevant data so they can personalise the home page interface to make our preferred content more easily and quickly accessible. Personalisation also extends to being able to choose our viewing device – mobile, laptop or smart TV.
If there were any doubt about the popularity of this approach, the viewing figures tell their own story. Recent research from Conviva found that global viewing of streaming OTT content more than doubled to 12.6 billion hours in 2017 compared to 2016, with the number of devices being used to watch going up by 9%, to 2.4 billion devices. This echoes the success experienced by Netflix, who surpassed the $11 billion global revenue mark in 2017 and added 24 million new subscribers over the year.
It’s clear that we’re now very happy with this new way of viewing. However, many enterprises that could benefit from this kind of personalisation have yet to seize the opportunity; organisations such as hospitals, airlines, cruise ships and hotels that have their own content platform.
If hotels, for example, really want to make their guests feel at home, then they need to give them access to an entertainment service that feels innately familiar to them, and catch-up TV and OTT services play a huge part in this. Guests need to be able to pause live TV, go back to where they left off and to replay key moments.
There is also a significant opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors in environments where bandwidth isn’t robust enough for users to access their own OTT and SVOD services, including aeroplanes, trains and hotel rooms. In scenarios such as these, guests would find it incredibly valuable to be able to take advantage of OTT services or applications that offer the same level of personalisation and tailored content that they are used to.
However, hotels and other providers need to know their content has a layer of security, especially if they are showing some of the latest movies. They also need some kind of central monitoring and reporting. Thankfully, there are now highly secure and scalable products on the market that fill this need. These enable mobility, seamlessly adapt to any client infrastructure and support broadcasting standards from any country. Their cloud monitoring capability also means organisations can supervise their usage remotely.
With the hotel industry for one constantly striving to provide comforts and services that are at least equal to – and preferably better than – what guests are accustomed to at home, next-generation personalised OTT services provide a real opportunity to enhance the experience. The technology is available and the demand is there. It’s also a great first step towards becoming an all-encompassing “hotel of the future”, where every service and amenity is personalised to the guests’ needs and preferences, keeping these guests happy and cared for – and rooms full, whatever the season.