Posted on May 1st, 2013 No comments
DIRECTV Residential Experience. The name says it all. It’s a simple idea… DIRECTV service in your hotel room. If you liked it at home, you’ll like it on the road. It’s not a simulation of DIRECTV service, it’s actually the same hardware, modified for the hotel. If you know the channel numbers you like at home, you’ll know them on the road too. If you know which buttons to push, they work the same as home. You even get parental controls.
If you’re over 30, you remember when watching TV in a hotel was fun. Hotels actually used to advertise the TV as part of the experience! Look at this classic sign… going to a hotel meant good TV and they wanted you to know it! Color TVs in hotels were popular when people didn’t have them at home, and back in the 1980s kids couldn’t wait to get to a hotel for a taste of HBO.
By the 1990s everyone had dozens of channels and by the 2000s everyone had hundreds. Hotels weren’t keeping up. It got worse when high definition started coming in, because the cost to convert hotel systems to HD can run into the 5 figures, not to mention of course the cost of the TVs. As hotels tend to get renovated every 7-10 years, it’s taken a long time for hotels to catch up to where the rest of us were in 2009.
DIRECTV Residential Experience, or DRE, changes everything. Yes, it does take additional wiring. Yes it does take additional hardware. But, more hotels are seeing the benefit of adding in-room entertainment that’s more modern than just an old 19″ tube TV. Not only that, adding high-quality TV options can actually cut the demand for bandwidth in the hotel; people have gotten accustomed to having poor-quality TV options in the room and more and more they rely on services like Netflix for entertainment. The cost of keeping hundreds of high-bandwidth IPTV streams flowing isn’t exactly peanuts either.
Why is it so hard for hotels?
In order to understand why it’s so hard, you need to understand what hotels do now, in order to get TV to your room. It’s called a MATV (or SMATV if it’s satellite) system. The signal from an antenna comes into a master closet. For every channel you want your guests to see, you need a modulator. This modulator is essentially a TV tuner that stays tuned to one channel all the time, then outputs it so it can share a cable with other channels. That’s right, you need a separate one of these for EVERY channel you want to offer. Want to know why you have 10 channels? Because modulators are expensive.
In fact, HD modulators are ridiculously expensive, because they not only receive the signal, they have to encrypt it again so no one steals it. DIRECTV made waves with its COM1000 system which could take up to 24 channels of HD and send them through a single wire. But still, you need a separate card for each channel. If you were to try to duplicate the whole DIRECTV lineup you’d need 20 or 30 of these without even accounting for DIRECTV Cinema or sports channels.
Not only that, you’re missing the experience. No menus, no guide, no nothing. That’s where the new DIRECTV system comes into play. You get pretty much everything you’d get at home. And now, you can even have a DVR.
What? A DVR?
Yes it’s true. The new DRE 2.0 systems even let the hotel put a DVR in the room. Pause live TV, even record shows so that you can go play in the pool or attend meetings and miss nothing. Search for shows, too… you’ll find them in the same Smart Search screen you see at home. That’s what’s really amazing about this thing. Best part… when you check out the front desk can clear your recordings and get the DVR ready for the next person.
DIRECTV does this by being sneaky. Instead of using a SMATV system, the DRE system is pretty much the same system you get if you have an apartment building wired for DIRECTV, plus some extra computer bits. It’s like the residential experience, because it’s built like a residential system. Pure brilliance and it makes installation and upkeep a lot easier.
Of course, there are some things missing from the experience, because DIRECTV streamlines it for the hotel room. Some of the menus are hidden or just plain missing, so that people can’t mess with things that they shouldn’t. For the moment, there’s no pay-per-view, although that may change. Still, it really is the DIRECTV experience.
A demo of DRE might be even a little boring. If it weren’t for the hotel logo in the menus you’d think you were at home. There are some added functions, like messages that can be sent from the front desk. There’s a remote that’s got an anti-microbial coating (a good thing) that doesn’t work with your home system (so don’t bother stealing it.) But bottom line, it’s DIRECTV. You already know everything you need to know about it.
Posted on May 12th, 2009 101 comments
Marriott Courtyard by Marriott premiered this week its latest television commercial featuring the brand’s popular new lobby concept and design.
Produced by mcgarrybowen of New York, the ad shows elements of the Courtyard lobby literally unfolding as guests interact with the space. The spot will air on ESPN, Comedy Central, The History Channel, CNN, FX, USA, Investigative Discovery, Spike and Bravo.
“I like to call this ad ‘Courtyard Origami,’” said Brian King, vice president, Global Brand Manager, Courtyard by Marriott. “We have nearly 40 hotels in North America that feature the new lobby and expect to reach 100 by year end. The ad illustrates how guests are using the public space for work, relaxation and socializing.”
With this new design, Courtyard is completely redefining the hotel lobby experience. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by bright, vivid colors and a completely new check-in experience. The latest news, local attractions and directions are available through the lobby’s GoBoardTM technology and the standard front desk has been replaced by more intimate welcome pedestals to create more personal and private interactions. The lobby also features enhanced food and beverage service at The Bistro — Eat. Drink. Connect., a 24/7 Market for food, drinks and sundries, a variety of flexible seating options and free WiFi.
“Courtyard has developed a very strong and loyal customer base by listening to travelers and consistently giving them the choices they want,” said Mara Hannula, vice president of marketing strategy, Marriott International, Inc. “The brand is in the midst of a complete redefinition to keep up with the ever-changing needs of travelers and this spot shows guests how Courtyard has evolved to meet those needs.”
LodgeNet Entertainment Corp. (LNET) filed Quarterly Report for the period ended 2009-03-31.
LodgeNet Interactive Corporation is the leading provider of media and connectivity solutions designed to meet the unique needs of hospitality healthcare and other guest-based businesses. The company’s services include: Interactive Television Solutions Broadband Internet Solutions Content Solutions Professional Solutions and Advertising Media Solutions. LodgeNet Interactive Corporation owns and operates businesses under the industry leading brands: LodgeNet LodgeNetRX and The Hotel Networks. LodgeNet Interactive is listed on NASDAQ and trades under the symbol LNET. LodgeNet Entertainment Corp. has a market cap of $105.4 million; its shares were traded at around $4.65 with and P/S ratio of 0.2.
Highlight of Business Operations:
While there have been some signs of stabilization in the travel industry, the current operating environment remains challenging and we will continue to take a very conservative approach to operating expenses and capital expenditures. During the next two quarters, we anticipate we will maintain systems operations and SG&A expenses within the $21.0 to $23.0 million per quarter range, and we will hold our quarterly capital investment program to the $5.0 to $6.0 million level, pending a further rebound in the economy. As a result, we will continue to be in a position to allocate a substantial majority of our cash flow from operations to reducing our debt and debt leverage ratios. We remain committed to reducing debt and will take actions we believe are necessary and reasonable to remain in compliance with our debt leverage covenants throughout 2009.
Hospitality revenue, which includes Guest Entertainment, Hotel Services and System Sales and Related Services, decreased $13.0 million or 9.5%, to $124.0 million for the first quarter of 2009 as compared to $137.0 million for the prior year quarter. As a result of the current state of the economy, hotel occupancy declined by approximately 12.2% during the first quarter 2009 compared to the same period last year. Average monthly Hospitality revenue per room was $22.26 for the first quarter of 2009, a decrease of 9.6% as compared to $24.62 per room in the first quarter of 2008.
Guest Entertainment revenue, which includes on-demand entertainment such as movies, games, music and Internet access through the television, decreased $22.7 million or 22.9%, to $76.5 million in the first quarter of 2009. The decline resulted from a reduction in occupancy rates and a cautious consumer environment. On a per-room basis, monthly Guest Entertainment revenue for the first quarter of 2009 declined 23.0% to $13.73 compared to $17.83 for the first quarter of 2008. Average monthly movie revenue per room was $12.93 for the first quarter of 2009, a 21.7% reduction as compared to $16.51 per room in the prior year quarter. Hotel Services revenue, which includes revenue paid by hotels for television programming and broadband Internet service and support, increased $3.5 million or 11.8%, to $32.9 million during the first quarter of 2009 versus $29.4 million in the first quarter of 2008. On a per-room basis, monthly Hotel Services revenue for the first quarter of 2009 increased 11.5% to $5.90 compared to $5.29 for the first quarter of 2008. Monthly television programming revenue per room increased 12.8% to $5.37 for the first quarter of 2009 as compared to $4.76 for the first quarter of 2008. This increase resulted primarily from the continued installation of high definition television systems and related television programming services. System Sales and Related Services, which includes the sale of broadband Internet equipment, television programming reception equipment, Internet conference services and HDTV installation services to hotels, increased $6.3 million or 74.9%, to $14.7 million during the first quarter of 2009 versus $8.4 million in the first quarter of 2008. During the quarter, we completed a large HDTV equipment conversion contract, which contributed approximately $4.2 million of the increase.
Other Revenue, including the sale of interactive systems and services to Healthcare facilities and revenue from Advertising and Media Services, increased $1.3 million or 45.2%, to $4.1 million during the first quarter of 2009 versus $2.8 million in the first quarter of 2008. For the first quarter of 2009, Healthcare revenue increased by $1.6 million and Advertising and Media revenue decreased by $0.3 million, or 16.1%, versus the prior year quarter.
Total direct costs (exclusive of operating expenses and depreciation and amortization discussed separately below) were $73.1 million in the first quarter of 2009, a decrease of $2.8 million or 3.6%, as compared to $75.9 million in the first quarter of 2008. The decrease in total direct costs was primarily related to decreased hotel commissions and royalties of $8.5 million, which varies with revenue, offset, in part, by increases in the amount paid for television programming of $2.5 million, which varies with the number of rooms served, and incremental equipment and service direct costs of $4.4 million, which varies with revenue. For the first quarter of 2009, total direct costs as a percentage of revenue were 57.1% as compared to 54.3% for the first quarter of 2008. The increase in direct costs as a percentage of revenue was driven by a change in the composition of our revenue, quarter over quarter, by the increased percentage of revenue derived from television programming and system sales, which generally have a lower margin.
System operations expenses and selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses were $20.8 million in the first quarter of 2009 compared to $30.6 million in the prior year quarter. As a percentage of total revenue, system operations expenses were 8.1% this quarter as compared to 11.0% in the first quarter of 2008. Per average installed room, system operations expenses decreased to $1.85 per room per month this quarter as compared to $2.77 in the prior year quarter. As a percentage of total revenue, SG&A expenses were 8.1% in the current quarter compared to 10.9% in the first quarter of 2008. SG&A expenses per average installed room were $1.87 this quarter as compared to $2.74 in the first quarter of 2008. There were no integration costs included within this quarter’s operating expenses, compared to approximately $0.8 million in the prior year quarter. The decreases were the result of achieving the expected synergies related to the consolidation of duplicative general and administrative functions of acquired companies and related operations, as well as our expense reduction initiatives taken during the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.
Gorgeous all-round, that is the only way you can describe the Samsung UN-55B6000 1080p LED LCD HDTV. The UN-55B6000 boasts edge-lit LED technology. While in LCDs and backlit LEDs, the light comes from behind the screen, edge-lit models, like this one, shine from the edges. This creates more precise colors, deeper dark areas, brighter light areas, and as much as 40% less energy consumption.
Now for the high definition images, Samsung LED technology enables a true-to-life range of picture brightness from pure blacks to pristine whites. Features like Enriched Color Expression deliver advanced processing that ensures every image is as vibrant and colorful on screen as it was when it was filmed.
Suited to your high-quality lifestyle, the UN55B6000 comes equipped to impress. Touch of Color (ToC) is a manufacturing process that infuses a rich red hue into the solid bezel during production, eliminating the need for paints or plastic veneers.
With a Touch of Color, this Samsung TV will make a bold design statement hanging on any wall. The B6000 line is also the slimmest panel of any LED in the market measuring only 1.2 inches.
Just in case you spend so much of your time with the UN55B6000 that you forget to spend the appropriate amount of time surfing the web, Samsung has included the InfoLink RSS feature on this TV. You’ll enjoy access to news, weather, sports, and stock information from reputable sources like USA Today and others right on your screen via RSS link. A USB 2.0 input lets you connect to MP3 players, a thumb drive, or a digital camera quickly and easily. And the smart, user-friendly interface allows you to access playlists and pictures via your remote.
Video comes from more than one source these days. Video nowadays come from DVD and Blu-ray, from cable and satellite, from the internet and from your camcorder or digital camera. With so many diverse sources, you need a diverse set of connectivity options. The UN55B6000 delivers four HDMI inputs, provide optimal hi def connectivity, while one component-video input and one S-video input are great for DVD and VHS input.
You can also use the Samsung flat panel as a computer monitor for watching online content with a PC input, and hook up your portable media player, digital camera, or digital camcorder thanks to a Wiselink USB v2.0 port.
Picture is only half of the high definition experience. Sound makes it complete. If you don’t have the full surround sound setup, you can still get a rich sound from the UN55B6000 with its SRS TruSurround XT.
TruSurround is a patented SRS technology that solves the problem of playing 5.1 multichannel content over two speakers. TruSurround delivers a compelling, virtual surround-sound experience through any two-speaker playback system, including internal television speakers and headphones. It is fully compatible with all multichannel formats up to 5.1 channels. Take full advantage of this virtual surround-sound experience with the UN55B6000’s built-in dual 10W speakers and integrated woofer.
Virgin Media is doing its best to keep ahead of the demands of new technology and is testing 200 Mbps broadband in Ashford, Kent.
The company is preparing for an expected demand in the future for streaming TV in HD and 3D formats, and playing 3D computer games – activities that would eat up bandwith.
The super fast 200Mbps cable broadband service is actually beyond the capability of most routers to deliver, and computers would need to be optimised to benefit from the higher speed.
Virgin is carrying out a six month pilot scheme in Ashford, and will test 3D and HD TV services, video conferencing and home video surveillance.
The company currently offers up to 50Mbps broadband to its existing customers.
The 200 Mbps service is believed to be the fastest in the world, followed by 160 Mbps in Japan and 101 Mbps in the US.
Posted on April 24th, 2009 No comments
According to the Retrevo CE Index HDTV prices are on the rise in February. This is the first rise in prices since May 2008. Prices in February were up 10% after dropping approximately a total 35% from May 2008 to January 2009. Demand for HDTVs spiked as you might expect in January due to the holidays and Superbowl. There’s nothing like a big sporting event to get people out and buying TVs.
Holiday and Superbowl sales as well as the closing of Circuit City has held prices down. It makes sense that other retailers would have to keep their prices down as Circuit City liquidated their inventory. Now that all these factors have subsided, the “perfect storm” of HDTV sale prices seems to have passed. If you didn’t get in while you had the chance, you may have to wait a few months or risk paying a few dollars extra. If you come across a good deal, now is definitely not the time to sit on it and see if you can find something else.
We’ve known for some time that display prices have some of the slimmest margins in all of AV so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. As sales decrease because of the economy, manufacturers are looking for ways to keep their bottom line as stable as possible. This means either selling lots of units with low margins are a few units with higher ones. We don’t expect HDTVs without the introduction of some new, hot technology to increase substantially, however. But sales may be harder to find until consumers start buying more. If that means waiting until the holidays, that’s just what the manufacturers are going to do.
Currently, hot products right now based on rising demand are car accessories, including receivers, amplifiers and video players, headsets, multi-function printers, monitors, and GPS receivers.
Posted on April 12th, 2009 No comments
This product is designed to remotely (from the head end located within the hotel) manage the channel lineup. It will eliminate the need for an individual to go to each hotel room and manually configure the channel lineup each time that a change is made. The FMA-100, when used with an LMT-7Z7 (card) allows for all channel lineup changes to be made from the head end in the hotel. One important note, this product DOES NOT work with the HCS1410 cards. It does however require the use of an LMT-7Z7 card in all of the televisions in the hotel. If you need more information let me know, I can send the preliminary spec sheet.