Hotel Movie Rentals Start to Rise

USA Today: LodgeNet's bid to reverse the recession-era slide in hotel-movie rentals is having some success, LodgeNet CEO Scott Peterson tells Hotel Check-In.

"We're getting more people in our video store," Peterson told me the other day during our phone call. "We're selling more tickets."

Though the gains are not huge, Peterson finds them encouraging.

So what's changing? People are, after all, increasingly bringing their iPads and other mobile devices with them and watching movies on them, vs. clicking on a pay-per-view titles. (As @SitInFirst told me via Twitter, "with iPads, who needs to pay for in-room movies any more?")

The answer: Over the summer, LodgeNet dropped the price of older Hollywood titles to as low as $4.99, though most hover at around $10. The lower price apparently tempts more guests to click on the pay-per-view movie menu.

Want a truly current Hollywood blockbuster, such as The Help, before it hits the DVD shelves? Well, then expect to shell out top dollar, around $15 or even $18 - plus tax (see "Limitless" photo above).

Among the movies available now in hotel rooms served by LodgeNet: Hangover II, Cowboys and Aliens and The Help, which will be released as DVDs in December.

In late June and early July, Peterson says, LodgeNet's revenue from Hollywood titles (as opposed to adult-content titles) rose by roughly 5%, which marked the first increase since the start of the recession. We'll know whether or not the increase continued in August and September in the coming weeks when LodgeNet holds its third-quarter earnings results later this month.

The rentals of XXX-rated movies, by the way, haven't started to rise and pricing remains the same, he says.

LodgeNet provides pay-per-view programming to 1.8 million hotel rooms, many of which are operated by Marriott, Holiday Inn-parent InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton.