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Marriott International Inc. plans to rollout over the next three years 32-inch high-definition TVs that guests can connect to electronic devices ranging from laptops to iPods.
The entertainment system, which includes a 25-watt stereo speaker system, is planned for the Marriott, JW Marriott, and Renaissance hotels in North America. The televisions include a digital connectivity panel for plugging in electronic gadgets.
Hotels have been offering a greater variety of amenities as competition for travelers intensifies, and that has extended to electronics as a growing number of travelers, particular younger ones, carry an increasing number of devices for work and play. Rivals hotel chains like Hilton, Hyatt Place, and Sheraton are also following technology strategies.
"Today's hotel guests typically travel with many digital devices, not just a laptop, so providing more than high-speed Internet access and Wi-Fi is a must," Bob McCarthy, president of North American lodging operations and global brand management for Marriott, said in a statement.
The new TVs would make it possible for guest to use the big screens for their laptops, camcorders, digital cameras, and video games, while also listening to their Apple iPods. The HDTVs also have a split-screen function, so a person could watch TV while surfing the Web or writing a sales proposal.
The system also gets as many as 64 stations, which is more than twice the 28 stations accessed by current hotel televisions, Marriott said. New stations would include the NFL Network and The Science Channel.
By the end of the year, Marriott expects to have the new technology installed in a quarter of the rooms in the three brands, which have a total of 40,000 rooms in North America. The company expects to complete the rollout by the end of 2009.
As of this week, all of the guest rooms in the San Francisco Marriott at the Moscone Center have the new technology. By the end of the year, the new systems will be available in high-profile hotels in New York, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Phoenix, New Orleans, and San Antonio.
Marriott's HDTV plans are only the latest high-tech amenity from the hotelier. The company in 2005 deployed what it called "seamless mobility" middleware to solve the problems caused when a person loses the connection while trying to check-in remotely, order room service before arriving, or tapping into special offers through a cellular phone, PDA, or other wireless devices. The middleware holds data a guest enters until the connection is re-established.