DirecTV is trying to turn up the volume on its tiny share of the hotel market with a new package featuring more than 100 high-definition channels.
But its real weapon against its rivals: an antimicrobial remote control.
The channel package, rolled out last week, features a remote control that the El Segundo satellite TV provider claims can reduce up to 99.9 percent of germs and prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi and mold. The remotes have a special coating, but DirecTV wouldn’t disclose much about it.
Germaphobes have long been wary of hotels’ remote controls, but they may have a legitimate concern. A University of Arizona study of hospital rooms, for example, found 320 bacteria per remote control, more than 3.5 times the average amount found on all other items.
Todd McDougall, chief executive of Germ Free Remotes, an Austin, Texas, company that makes polypropylene remote control covers, pointed out that the devices are often neglected by hotel cleaning staff.
“Imagine all of the people who don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom or people who are sick while traveling,” McDougall said.
Still, is a germ-free remote enough to help DirecTV – which until now had mostly focused on the residential market – raise its hotel market share that one analyst estimated at only 5 percent?
Lynn Mohrfeld, chief executive of the California Hotel and Lodging Association, said the real attraction will be in the 100-plus HD channels.
“There is a big push in the hotel industry to show more HD programming,” he said.
DirecTV estimates only 20 percent of lodgings offer high-definition channels, and it will charge hotel operators $2.95 per room per month for the service.
Victor Sorribes, general manager of downtown L.A.’s boutique O Hotel, said while a microbe-free remote has some promotional value, the real issue in choosing a television service provider is price, the selection of channels and the high-definition offerings.
“The antimicrobial remote would be a relatively minor consideration,” said Sorribes, whose hotel is served by satellite TV provider Dish Network.