The ABCs of Chromecast in the hotel industry

Sarah Battoue
Jan 19, 2021 12:08:52 PM
We all know Google Chromecast, which launched in 2013 and is designed to display content from a smartphone on your TV at home. "I joined Google in 2011 to create products that would change the way people use their TVs," says Majd Bakar, Google's first Chromecast engineer. A strategic vision since traditional television, once the indisputable leader in video content, is now neglected in favour of new digital players, Netflix being in the lead with its over 15 million subscribers in the UK in the third quarter of 2020.

More and more customers, or prospects, are contacting us because they want to offer a Chromecast service in their hotel and thus be in tune with the evolution of consumption patterns for video content. How does it work and what are the different ways to adapt this consumer product to the hotel industry? Let us take a look at the Chromecast offer for professionals.

Existing solutions

It is understandable that, at a hotel, it is not enough to connect a Chromecast dongle to the HDMI port of the TV or even use a proxy for the service to function in a secure manner. This is a consumer product that was never intended to operate in a professional environment with collective WiFi. And yet, solutions exist.
  • The "Stream & Cast" solution

This is the Chromecast solution purpose-built for the hospitality market that Wifirst has been using for its clients for 2 years and which has been successful in around a hundred establishments. The offer is of course based on the famous Chromecast and our Room Area Network technology. To put it simply, the operator creates a private WiFi network for each room, pre-configures each Chromecast to connect only to that room, and connects the Chromecast to the TV (with a security box).

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The user experience is very simple: the guest connects their device to the private WiFi in the room, the codes of which are displayed on the TV. They then launch their favourite video app and send the content to the Chromecast connected TV. Exactly like at home ... Once connected to the private WiFi, they can obviously go to the internet and interact with all the objects connected on the same network (including the Chromecast).

And the icing on the cake, when the guest moves around the establishment, they remain connected without disconnecting from their private WiFi (roaming).

This solution works on all TV models (including "not smart" TVs).
 
  • The built-in Chromecast 
Chromecast technology is now integrated into certain new generation professional televisions, like Philips. The promise: to free yourself from Chromecast "hardware" and thus save you money. It is a very attractive option but, however, it presents some limits concerning the route of use, which should be known when making a decision.

Chromecast built-in - TVTo use the Chromecast built-in function to cast content from your smartphone, you must pair the smartphone to the TV (via WiFi Direct). So when the smartphone is paired, it can cast, but it will be connected to a temporary network. Thus, the user will always have to juggle between the hotel's WiFi and the TV's WiFi to alternate the use of Chromecast and the internet.
Finally, connecting these TVs with a sufficient level of security will still require setting up the Room Area Network: the only solution that guarantees a “zero risk” of casting your content on the TV of another room at the hotel.

 

How to make a choice ?

Now we understand that Chromecast has become an essential service for travellers and will requires a certain investment from the hotelier. Whatever solution is chosen, it will have to adapt to the hotel's shared WiFi network, and work with the ergonomics and security issues.

As an operator of "managed" services, Wifirst is able to manage either solution. The advantage of the Stream & Cast solution is its scalability. Developed in-house by Wifirst engineers, it allows, beyond the Chromecast, to secure and equip the room with connected objects secured against inappropriate use, thanks to isolation created by each RAN encrypted in WPA2. Thus, the guest can very simply connect and use all of their personal devices (AppleTV, Playstation, printer, etc.) or use local services, such as AirDrop, on his RAN in the complete safety of their hotel room.

In any case, we see that to innovate in a completely secure way, the first choice to make is to join a solid network infrastructure which will serve as the basis for the connected usage and services of today and tomorrow.
 

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