To help support the reopening of hotels around the globe, Philips Professional Display Solutions has announced the launch of GuestConnect – a brand-new health and hygiene inspired cloud-based TV remote that allows guests to control their in-room MediaSuite TV with their own mobile device.

According to a study, the TV remote is often found to be the most contaminated item found in a hotel room – containing up to 2,000% more bacteria and yeast than a toilet seat, due to regular use from hundreds if not thousands of different people. 

The new app from Philips PDS, compatible with selected Philips MediaSuite Hospitality TVs, has been designed specifically to help reduce the potential spread and transmission of COVID-19 and other harmful germs and bacteria, replacing the traditional hard to clean remote control (due to raised buttons and gaps) with a digital replica on a guest’s personal mobile or tablet device – without the need to join the hotel’s network.

It is typically recommended TV remotes used at home should be cleaned at least once a month. New government advice for hotel housekeeping recommends a heightened focus on the daily cleaning of all hand contact surfaces in rooms, including, but not limited to, light switches, bedside tables and remote controls – with latest research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showing COVID-19 can survive for four days on plastic surfaces.

Anthony Tizzard, Business Manager EMEA, comments, “TV remote controls are a hotbed for bacteria and, if not regularly cleaned thoroughly, can pose a health risk to guests – particularly if used by someone with COVID-19. While hotels are taking extra precautions around cleaning heavily used items such as remote controls, there will remain a level of uncertainty and concern from some guests. GuestConnect from Philips Professional Display Solutions takes away those concerns putting the guest fully in control.”

Professor Charles Gerba, a Microbiologist at the University of Arizona – dubbed America’s ‘Dr Germ’ – has conducted a number of tests and studies over the years on the cleanliness of TV remotes in hotels.

“Of the objects we studied in hotel rooms, TV remotes had the greatest number of bacteria on them,” says Professor Gerba. “I think they were seldom cleaned and disinfected. Also, because many have push buttons – it makes it difficult to disinfect from the studies we have done with remote controls.”

Discussing the new app, celebrity cleaning expert and former co-host of hit TV show, ‘How Clean is Your House’, Aggie MacKenzie, described TV remote controls as often “neglected festivals of dirt” and should be viewed and prioritised in the same way as a toilet seat when it comes to regular cleaning.

“During the show, remote controls were often swabbed and sent off to labs, usually coming back crawling with e coli, faecal matter and a variety of other things you would knowingly steer well clear of. The problem is, germs, bacteria and the likes are only visible under a microscope. Unlike a loo seat, which you think you absolutely must clean regularly, the remote control is an item that you don’t really think about. The reality is, when you go and have a snack, it’s highly possible you could be passing faecal matter into your mouth and possibly down your throat and end up with a bad stomach or worse.”

MacKenzie, who once gave cleaning advice to Oprah Winfrey, adds, “Now more than ever, housekeepers in hotels are under increasing pressure and scrutiny around cleanliness. Do they have time to spend an additional 10 minutes or more cleaning TV remote controls in every room? I’m not sure they will. The GuestConnect app sounds like a relevant and timely idea, particularly with fears around COVID but also in improving overall hygiene levels.”

Easy to use and completely secure, the GuestConnect app can be added to a personal connected device, without visiting the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, by scanning a unique QR code unique only for that guest’s hotel room TV. QR codes are generated and displayed at reception and can be provided during check-in to the hotel or, alternatively, displayed for the customer to scan and download when they first switch on their in-room TV. 

Once installed, the GuestConnect app, which can be fully managed using the Philips PDS CMND platform, provides guests with the full suite of functionalities found on a modern TV remote control. In addition to standard functions (channel changing, volume, etc.), guests will also have full access and control of other MediaSuite services, including Chromecast built-in, premium content and apps from the Google Play Store.

Access and control to the TV is severed immediately at point of check out, with a new QR code immediately generated for new guests.

Tizzard adds, “At Philips Professional Display Solutions, we understand the challenges being faced by the hospitality industry and the importance, more now so than ever before, in creating the safest and most hygienic environment for hotel guests. Our team will continue to develop the services available on GuestConnect, making life easier for both hoteliers and guests into the long-term.”

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