Alan Marshall and Andy Truswell at Pure AV offer their thoughts on the importance of providing guests with a complete interactive experience in hospitality venues.
In which parts of the hospitality industry can well-specified, well-installed AV equipment make the biggest contribution to the success of a venue?
The biggest contribution to a hospitality venue’s profitability is undoubtedly well specified and well installed, permanent AV systems in rooms that are available for hire.
The trick is to provide the venue with systems that meet all the diverse requirements (face to face meetings, video meetings, conferences and events) and all the potential users (decision making, information dissemination, collaboration, weddings etc.). This means that screens need to be large enough to be suitable for all uses and sound systems that do not disappoint even a show manager. This will undoubtedly push the budget up, but in the long run, the systems will pay for themselves and provide a very good return on investment. It also means that setup and de-rig times are replaced with a simple training session and if systems are programmed intuitively for the different uses, then familiarisation times are quite short, giving better utilisation of the facility.
Permanent equipment also means less wear and tear on the fabric of the building as kit does not have to be carted in and out and installed to ceilings, carpets etc.
Finally, providing systems that meet all requirements, means that venues get more bookings and a better return on the investment, even though that investment may be greater.
To what extent are hospitality venues having to raise their game, technologically speaking, because of developments in consumer technology?
In functional event spaces as long as the venue offers good quality, flexible systems that do not disappoint, the consumer technology will not be the benchmark, however when it comes to the individual guest and in-room experience there is an expectation that is very much driven by developments in consumer technology.
Any hospitality venue will have to incorporate good internet connections and access to consumer technology of all forms – e.g. televisions, connectivity for mobile devices, in order to provide the guest with a complete interactive experience that connects them through their personal devices to the venue’s facilities.
What do you think is the most exciting area of AV technology in hospitality at the moment?
The demand for increased personalisation of the guest experience is leading to some interesting developments in the application of AV technology in hospitality.
This can be seen in the introduction of increasingly dynamic digital signage solutions used not only to support wayfinding and information transfer but also able to act as an interactive gateway to the access of venue services. This is particularly exciting when looking at the integration of personal devices as a tool to connect the guest to the venue’s facilities whether in-room, in the restaurant, in conference spaces or lobby and communal areas.
What advice would you give to an integrator looking to get into hospitality installations?
Make sure the client has the budget to meet their expectations. The biggest issue in hospitality is the mismatch between expectation and budget and guess who will get the blame when their expectation is not met. It is better to walk away than try to produce a nice fat wow factor on a slender budget.
Always keep in mind the importance of flexibility when designing for hospitality installations. Many spaces you encounter will have multiple uses; what is a meeting room one day might be used for food service or as an event space the next. An audio system used to pull background music from a server might on another occasion need to accommodate a full live band PA. The more flexibility that you can build into the AV set up whilst keeping operation simple, the better the value you are able to deliver to the client.
In hospitality projects, what factors are most commonly overlooked?
The ‘what’ and the ‘who’. Many integrators provide what is asked of them, or what they think the venue wants, without actually investigating who the clientele will be and what they might want. There is also the requirement to satisfy show managers from event companies and although this can be difficult, you can go a long way to achieving this by adding some connectivity that they may require. Talk to the incumbent or usual events company and get their views.
Tell us about a recent installation project that highlights Pure AV's expertise in the hospitality sector.
We have completed a number of hospitality projects in recent months including: a videowall in the reception area at the Brewery in the City; a large new high definition video and audio distribution system in Twickenham’s South Stand Conference Centre; the conference systems and large ballroom’s AV facilities system at the InterContinental Hotel at the O2 Arena; and the signage and display systems at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
The project at Twickenham is a good example of a system designed to offer the client maximum flexibility in the configuration of their hospitality spaces. The high definition video and audio distribution system is built to give the In-house AV team the potential to connect multiple HD source devices and display devices to any number of Cat6 points in multiple rooms throughout the venue. A number of Extron XTP matrices were used to achieve this. The audio systems in all rooms have also been upgraded with Martin Audio loudspeakers to increase room coverage, intelligibility and sound pressure levels to cater for all types of functions and events.
In the large ballroom at the InterContinental Hotel at the O2 Arena, we were able to offer the venue a similar level of flexibility but due to the large scale of the space involved this was achieved with a fibre optic patching system, thus allowing external AV rental companies to traverse the vast expanse of the ballroom with HD Video & Audio signals.