There is not one aspect of society that has not been significantly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the hospitality industry has undoubtedly been hit harder than most. When the pandemic reached our shores, thousands avoided travel and local governments instituted regulations at restaurants and other venues to ensure health safety. But slowly, as restrictions ease and the public grows more comfortable venturing out, hospitality will make a comeback, and visual communications—digital signage, wayfinding, video walls—will lead the way towards a safe return.
Here are a few things hospitality professionals should consider when working with technology providers to adopt necessary display solutions.
Display solutions should be multifunctional—As the hospitality industry grapples with how best to welcome customers back to hotels and restaurants, technology manufacturers are creating a new breed of health protocol display solutions for use across many markets. There are now digital wellness kiosks built around LG displays, for example, with integrated thermal scanners to take temperature readings of arriving guests while also communicating important information; occupancy management systems, with sensors for counting and displaying the number of people in a space for social-distancing purposes; and portable, reconfigurable health protocol digital signage displays, for placing and re-placing important messages throughout a facility; and there’s even solutions that are battery powered for areas where there might not be an outlet nearby.
Although these solutions are designed to support health protocol communications, they should also have a useful life beyond the current pandemic. Therefore, it’s important to choose display platforms built on open architectures, which can be integrated with other compatible systems and adapted to future visual communication applications.
Display solutions should be visible from varying distances—Digital signage will be key to visual communication in tomorrow’s hospitality venues, but as long as social distancing is a priority, people will need to get their visual messages from various angles and distances—they may not be gathering around traditional digital signs for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, the economics and performance of micro LED solutions have made LED Signage viable for indoor use in lobbies, sports bars and other hospitality spaces. With costs continuing to fall, if you require a digital signage display larger than 75 inches, LED Signage should be considered. High brightness and high contrast ratios make today’s LED Signage technology versatile, and the increasingly finer pixel pitch means guests can see content from closer up—including in spaces with bright ambient light.
Display solutions should be controllable from as few control points as possible. It goes without saying that commercial displays are no longer dumb screens on walls or in hotel rooms. Hospitality-grade smart displays pair seamlessly with advanced video distribution systems so that, for example, a sports bar can send multiple video sources—in resolutions up to 4K and via standard Cat6 wiring—to multiple screens from a single tablet, panel or mobile device. What was once an efficient way of managing multiple displays still is, but now it’s much more. Today, being able to control dozens of displays and content sources without touching multiple remote controls or other devices is itself a health protocol solution for the hospitality market.
Hotel TVs should be hospitality display solutions. Even before the pandemic, hotel brands were upgrading their in-room TVs to smart displays—effectively two-way application platforms that could feature digital signage content, environmental controls (lights, music, climate settings) and BYOD (bring your own device) entertainment. Now, more hospitality brands are seeking to upgrade the guest TV experience.
During the pandemic, there has been greater interest in extended stay hotels, where guests can make meals without leaving their space, and even motels, where rooms are accessible from outdoors and guests don’t have to enter a lobby or elevator. Whatever the hospitality brand, networked, smart TVs are the future because they help differentiate the in-room experience, meet the media expectations of digital-savvy guests and create a platform for ongoing marketing and communication—including health safety messaging as necessary.
Display solutions should be safe to operate. While we’re talking hotel rooms, despite smarter TVs and BYOD entertainment, the in-room remote control is still central to the guest experience. It should be clean. It should have been before, but these days especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging daily disinfection of remote controls. That’s precisely why Clean Remote, a compatible, non-porous remote control that’s easy to clean, is rising in popularity. It helps eliminate pathogens and works natively with many of the leading entertainment systems, such as LG hospitality TVs.
Hospitality companies will operate differently than they did before the pandemic, and display solutions can help. Hotels and restaurants have been eager adopters of audiovisual technology before COVID-19 and will continue to be after, but it’s important to understand your particular use case and how it supports safer operation. And to the extent that display solutions help professionals open safely today while supporting a rich guest experience tomorrow, so much the better.
Mike Kosla is Vice President of Hospitality, LG Business Solutions USA.