You know those pay-per-view video channels on hotel TVs? Not shockingly, fewer people are using them. “We know that for video-on-demand channels, demand is dropping among guests,” says John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott International. That’s why Marriott Hotels has decided to jump into the 21st century by rigging its TVs up for streaming online content. The company said Wednesday that it has partnered with Netflix to give subscribers access to their accounts during Marriott stays, or to sign up if they don’t already have one.
Currently, Netflix is available at six Marriott locations across the country—including one on New York’s East Side—and coming soon to six others. The chain hopes to bring Netflix capabilities to 100 of its properties by the end of the year, and to nearly all 300 U.S. locations by the end of 2016. To do this, Marriott is basically hooking its existing televisions up to an Apple TV. The specific device isn’t actually an Apple TV, but it’s functionally similar. With Marriott’s, you’ll be able to log on to Netflix as well as Hulu, Pandora, and YouTube. In early trials, Marriott found that 26 percent of guests used the new streaming access, with “a significant majority” choosing Netflix.
Since Marriott isn’t actually offering free Netflix access, this change probably won’t strike many guests as revelatory. Marriott travelers who wanted to watch Netflix (or Hulu, or YouTube) during their stays were presumably already doing that from their phones, tablets, or computers. That said, there is something nice about being able to queue up your content on an actual screen, which is probably why Marriott thinks this new perk has the potential to be a big differentiator for it. “Online video is growing tremendously,” Wolf says. “We knew that we needed to give people access to their content while they’re traveling on the road. We expect that others will probably follow our lead, but we will be the first to have it.”