SONIFI: Creating a vision for the hotel guests connected stay

SONIFI provide hotel in-room entertainment for 500 million travelers in approximately 1.2 million hotel rooms annually. Their in-room product provides a blend of live and on-demand content — with additional hotel concierge services on top. Together we spent 12 weeks to get quickly get under the skin of their product, create a vision for a future service, and then bring it to life.

As with many of our clients — a fundamental understanding of their business is important to set the project (and product) up for success. SONIFI was founded in 1980 and has an extensive history of product development across three previous brands, and a wealth of industry experience within its 820 employees.

Armed with personas, guides and lots of post-its; a team from W12 headed out to SONIFI HQ in Sioux Falls to conduct two days of workshops, interviews and product demos with ~40 core team members from all corners of the organisation — legal to HR to technology.

The workshops aimed to uncover what the future experience could be for hotel guests, and the hotels themselves (SONIFIs true customer, an important distinction). We asked ourselves why the stay needed to be contained to the hotel room? Why just content? How can we make the interaction between hotel and guest two-directional? These activities are important for two reasons. Firstly it gives the design team the ability to extract as much information as possible. Secondly it ensures that, in a time of change, as much of the core client team is involved as possible.

End of workshop presentation from one of the SONIFI groups

Back in London, armed with all the knowledge and ambition needed to create a great new service, we got to work building out an interaction model and UI that delivered great content in an easy to digest, simple manner along the service journey — from booking to the flight home.

A challenge for the UI was to create an extremely neutral brand which could work well on legacy hardware, whilst also having maximum usability - as users don’t have the time or desire to learn how to use a new system.

The outcome was a simple model with a scalable set of interactions and components that can work across any device from TV to mobile. This lets the UI focus on the service, that is, selling a hotels services rather than just more movies — and integrated progressive new features such as in-room service booking, concierge chat and pre-arrival curation of content.

Our partnership with SONIFI saw a rapid innovation aligned with a move from a legacy technology platform — introducing new features, services and opportunities for conversation with many more hotel chains

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