NevayaOne releases TV’s marketing potential


Six months from the launch of NeyavaOne and Jamie Moore, Enterprise Sales Manager, Nevaya, reports that hotels are seeing the revenue-earning potential of the black box in the corner.


“Historically, the sector has underestimated the power of the TV as a marketing tool. It is seen as essential to a room and certainly being able to add streaming is increasingly viewed as a requisite part of the offering, operationally, but it is only recently that the marketing opportunity has been embraced.


“This is a reflection of hospitality in general, where the focus tends to be out of the room rather than within it. Hotels consider the TV be just a piece of technology, which is only of interest to the guys with the screwdrivers and the fleeces who go and install it.


“It was the luxury sector which first woke up to what else the TV can do, as we have found across Europe, the US, Middle East and Asia Pacific. They realised that, if they were to make a decent ROI on the installation of a new system, they needed the involvement of marketing. As is it, the product is streamed through the cloud, so is easy and cost effective to install, with the minimal amount of hardware and all the benefits in terms of scalability, but they could also see the chance to bring marketing on board and create a new revenue stream.


“With the TV acting as a communications tool, not just entertainment, a hotel can feature advertising, can upsell, cross sell, deliver information, everything you need to generate ancillary revenues. Creating a successful strategy requires the expertise of marketing, not IT, who can deploy their knowledge around fresh and interesting campaigns. You need the buy in of marketing.


“The user interface is key to the success of the project and we have been able to create brand-specific interfaces which have helped marketing to understand what can be done, to really make the TV work for them. It is entirely cloud based so they can manage content from a centralised location at brand, or hotel level.


“It’s true SaaS, which gives marketing the flexibility they need – and crave – to be both responsive and proactive. This product can then become about owning, controlling, enhancing your brand, not just a piece of technology.


“Guests already understand the systems because they are used to interacting with their own TVs at home. Offering streaming means that you are giving the guest what they want in terms of being able to access their own content, but giving them this enhanced product means that they can also communicate with the hotel and order food or book treatments, using the TV as they would do domestically.


“When the TV is just part of the IT budget, it can be harder to sell and an additional cost line for the owners. When it is part of the brand offering and part of telling that brand story, it also comes under the auspices of the wider brand and is then often covered by the brand fee, or the cost is at least spread across departments.


“And of course, if you get it right, it can easily pay for itself.”

As featured on the Hospa website.

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Tapping into technology


The co-founder & CEO, screen-casting tech firm Nevaya, says the possibilities for in-room entertainment are endless in Dubai.

Dubai’s reputation as a global leader in luxury implies that you would expect the in-room technology in its hotels to be exceptional. And this is true, at least in part. Nearly all of the hotel rooms in Dubai have smart hotel TVs because most hotels get their live TV from providers who use fibre, rather than satellite. This has been the case for a number of years and the only way you can access the channels in this native IPTV multicast format is by having a smart TV or set-top box.

The hotels have made the investment in these TVs and in the infrastructure which includes structured data cabling, of which only a small amount of its potential is used. They are left sitting there, delivering dry mastic options, when they could be doing so much more. They are offering yesterday’s TV, with tomorrow’s technology.

The great news is that this infrastructure makes them compatible with a huge number of options, which could turn them from a passive box in the corner of the room to something which can help hotels to build a relationship with their guests, help them drive ancillary revenue, and to create an extensive, memorable in-room experience.

These hotels have already made all the hardware investments that they will need. It’s ready to go, just flick on a switch and the guest what they really want: their own content. The pandemic has changed guests’ definitions of luxury and their expectations of basic standards in hotels. Experience is now the priority, customers expect access to the entertainment they want, when they want.

The days of in-room entertainment being dictated by the hotel itself are long gone – guests know what they like, and they like it as seamless as possible.

Guests should be able to cast their favourite apps to the in-room TV before they even arrive in their room. No more dongle to deal with when you’re unpacking, using the cloud means that connectivity is robust, making the in-room experience truly relaxing. For Dubai, a market where hotels compete to be the best – and where the environment is such that the air-conditioned room is often a more appealing place to be than anywhere else – simple casting should be standard.

Hotels in the emirate are printed to ant to achieve the best, not just with their immediate competition, but around the world. They have been charged with being the next source of income after oil, with the hope that travel and truism will help to bolster the economy in the coming years.

So far, the effort has been successful. A KMPG study last year reported that Duabi’s hospitality industry made a strong post-pandemic rebound, registering the highest-rated hotel occupancy rate in 15 years, with the Emirate’s tourism sector contributing US$29.4bn to the economy in 2022.

Sidharth Mehta, partner & head of real estate, KPMG Lower Gulf, said “Dubai’s hospitality industry has witnessed remarkable growth – driven by the Government’s forward-thinking vision to address the needs of all hospitality stakeholder. Furthermore, the UAE is investing around US$32bn to acquire 48,000 more hotel rooms to bring it to a total of 200,000. These developments place the UAW in an enviable position to navigate travel and hospitality demands in 2023, equally driving ecumenic growth by creating employment opportunities”

The operators surveyed by KPG indicated that digitalisation and sustainability remained priority areas, and 67 percent said the uptake of technology had significantly transformed their business over the last 3 years. With that in mind, why let such valuable real estate in your hotel room go to waste? The luxury sector prides itself on commanding the kind of loyalty that drives repeat visits, and the word of mouth that builds a hotel’s reputation. It’s time to plug in the potential.

As featured in the February edition of Hotelier Middle East.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Goal of IT, Not Its Flashing Lights and Coolness Factor


The Language of IT Often Creates a Chasm Between Management and IT Providers.

The first issue information-technology departments in the hotel sector need to address is understanding that, when it comes to technology, they are never going to innovate.

What happens in every sector, including ours, is that there tends to be a build-up in enthusiasm about technology, which leads to the belief in every IT department that it is going to build a massive infrastructure that it will manage and that it will be able to fix when it breaks.

The reality is that it this vision can quickly become a black hole for cash.

Why? Because often such a task is beyond the talent and needs of a small, or even medium-sized, organization.

You do not look at your gas requirements and start working on how to build a cylinder and a storage facility, so you should not be looking at building your own infrastructure either.

Instead, IT should be focusing on the business objective of the project. What are the key performance indicators you will be fulfilling?

That has nothing to do with technology.

Technology just enables you to do what you need to do within your business.

And that is where hotel operators fail. Often, they never consider why they are doing something.

The initial stage needs to be identifying what the technology will do, not being distracted by the glitter of a demonstration. Is it going to increase revenues? Can it decrease costs? Is it going to increase guest satisfaction? If it cannot do a single one of those things, or you cannot identify which one it fits into, it is probably a bad purchase.

Where I frequently see a disconnect is between the IT department and management. The two seem to talk in two different languages.

IT cannot talk about the impact on key performance indicators from the IT investments they make; they can only talk about the functions. Management, meanwhile, cannot understand how this helps meet the next quarterly objective.

For decades in the hotel sector no one has ever really looked at their actual requirements for acquiring a system. They look at the functionality of the system they’re going to buy. And then they work out how they can fit it around their business. That’s the wrong way. You’ve got to approach it from how you want to operate your business.

Once you have made these decisions, you need to think about whether you need a number of different products or if there is one that can do everything. With the latter, having a closed system does give you limitations in terms of future development, but there are businesses out there that may never change the way they operate their businesses, in which case it isn’t necessarily the wrong thing.

In terms of being more of an agile business, it makes absolute sense to adopt open application programming interface within your technology function, with the idea that you can “interchange” different products as and when the business moves on or changes direction.

You might increase the amount of food and beverage or expand into leisure. In which case, you are going to need to add systems, and having open architecture enables you to do that.

This is where we come back to the function of the IT department. It needs to move away from the “building everything” mentality.

IT teams should be looking at how they enable technology to work, and how it can bring together a multitude of different software and service providers to deliver a consistent service to the business.

The breadth of technology that the hotel industry demands means that very often IT requirements go well beyond what a small team can deliver and keep pace with.

James Richmond is co-founder and CEO at Nevaya.

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Why hotels should be looking to use the TV as a marketing tool


Ben Clifford, co-founder and CTO of streaming solutions firm Nevaya, discusses why technology is as important a brand standard as the neon sign, bed or cookie

Technology is expanding from operations to get more deeply into delivering service, and, as with your team members greeting guests at the front desk, it is a point of connection, the starting point for your hotel’s relationship with the guest. For this reason, it needs to be held to the same brand standards as the rest of the property.

Yet for many hotels, how they present their technology and how it functions is an afterthought, as though it was still invisible in a back room.

Hotels should be looking to use the TV as a marketing tool; it’s the best space that they can have to get in front of the guests. They can try apps, they can try pinging out emails. But in the end, in the room the guests are captive and hotels should be taking advantage of this.

It’s a key place for hotels to really engage with a guest, but the hotel brand is hardly ever reflected in what is offered on the TV. It is often hard to interact with, it looks like Teletext, it’s not attractive and there is no inducement to go through the suffering involved to try and work out what you can do with it.

I have seen hotel televisions in five-star hotels where every detail of the hotel has been through multiple committees, discussed and debated and yet you look at the televisions screen and there is no branding, but a horrible text screen with 40 littles boxes of options.

When you look at the effort hotels go to with their marketing emails, which are hurled out into the ether, frequently unread, missing the opportunity to create something useful, something which helps tells the brand story, just will be 10 feet away from the guest seems more than a little bizarre.

One of the reasons this very obvious method of communication is overlooked is because it is usually left down to someone in marketing as the 10th thing on their list to do that day. Because the fictionality of these products hasn’t been updated for a decade, they often don’t appreciate that there are other, simpler options. They might have to contact an outside vendor to change a screen and that’s neither simple nor responsive. It’s better to make it easy and achievable in house, then it will be used and kept fresh.

Historically these systems have been expensive, which has meant that the brands are reluctant to make them part of the brand standards, when they can’t make a case for the ROI.  Televisions are seen as a point of information and entertainment, not as an opportunity for interaction, to create relationships, drive revenues and create memorable experiences and that potential value is lost.

Hotels are, rightly, looking forward with their technology and we have seen announcements this year from Marriott International, talking about its AI incubator and from other groups looking to drive personalisation and automation. But before you make that leap, don’t overlook the old technology.

Changes which used to represent a large capex investment are now much cheaper. The cloud means that any issues can be resolved remotely, there is no need to have a big room in your hotel devoted to wires and lights and someone who knows how to work them.

Hotels are eager to reinvent the wheel, without realising that the wheel was doing pretty well, actually and that it can take you a long way without much effort at all. It’s important to keep an eye on new developments and see what might work for your hotel in the future, but you can get a lot of momentum out of your TV, with just a little push.

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De Vries joins Nevaya


Nevaya has appointed Marco de Vries as a senior channel manager, joining the group as it enters its next stage of growth.

The company has recently launched NevayaOne, the latest addition to its digital experience platform, which uses the cloud to offer sector-leading connectivity to hotels around the world.

De Vries previously worked for the company for four years, leaving to pursue other roles in the Saas sphere. He has experience across the sector, from working as a Hotel GM to Sales and Business Development for technology groups including Samsung and Quadriga.

James Richmond, co-founder & CEO, Nevaya, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Marco back to Nevaya. His career in the hotel sector, from operations to technology, makes him a valuable member of the team; well versed in how the technology works, but also how it can help hotels to improve guests’ stays.”

De Vries added: “It’s a pleasure to be back at Nevaya as it accelerates its expansion. From the company culture to the people, to the technology, it’s a great company to be involved with. I am looking forward to working closely with our existing and new partners as we expand our global reach.”

“As an ex-hotelier who is passionate about technology, my focus is always on the guest and more specifically the guest experience. I am constantly re-imagining the guest journey from the perspective of the guest as well as the hotel operator and enjoy sharing this passion with our partners and customers.

“While the industry is currently facing many challenges, the last thing an operator needs is a technology that does not work or is difficult to use by the guest. Being able to offer solutions that consistently perform, enhance the guest experience and match the high standards of global brands is exciting with many great opportunities ahead.”

NevayaOne, which removes the need to install in-room hardware or replace smart TVs, allowing for infinite scalability.

NevayaOne gives hotels the ability to enable guests to cast their favourite apps to the in-room TV, as well as offering a fully interactive TV platform, driving brand loyalty and promoting additional services and facilities, all fully customisable to individual hotel brands.

Nevaya works with hotel groups around the world, including Accor, IHG, Ascott and CitizenM.

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Valor Hospitality rolls out NevayaOne to improve guest experience


The integrated in-room streaming service allows guests stream apps to the TV, access additional hotel facilities and services, and more

End-to-end Hospitality services company Valor Hospitality has adopted NevayaOne across its portfolio of hotels, as part of the organisation’s ongoing journey to provide an “industry-leading” guest experience.

NevayaOne gives hotels the ability to enable guests to stream their favourite apps to the in-room TV, as well as offering a fully interactive TV platform, and promoting additional services and facilities, which are fully customisable to individual hotels.

The move to offer an integrated in-room streaming service has been driven by Valor’s continued drive to improve guest experience, providing “unique and personalised ways for a guest to modify their stay”.

NevayaOne also supports Valor’s environmental pledge by promoting power conservation, leading to reduced CO2 emissions, while it removes the need to install in-room hardware or replace smart TVs, allowing for “infinite scalability”.

Valor Hospitality will roll out NevayaOne across 17 of its hotels in the UK initially, before offering the service to the rest of the 37 hotels in its UK portfolio.

Brian McCarthy, president of Valor Hospitality UK and Europe, said: “We’re always looking for ways to create a memorable guest experience, from investing in refurbishments, to adopting the latest technology.

“Along with comforting bed and shower facilities, a cutting-edge streaming solution has become an expectation for hotel guests. We’re looking forward to working with NevayaOne across our portfolio.”

James Richmond, co-founder & CEO of Nevaya, said: “We’re excited to be giving Valor’s guests a robust streaming experience across their incredible estate.

“The launch of NevayaOne has exceeded our wildest expectations. Easy and secure guest content streaming to the hotel TV is now an expectation, and we’re empowering hotels to enable this key travel experience without additional in-room hardware.

“Our dedicated team and supportive clients are helping us to reshape in-room entertainment and delivering unforgettable guest experiences.”

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We'll be at HTNG Connect 2023


We’ll be attending and exhibiting at the American Hotel & Lodging Association HTNG Connect: Asia Pacific in Bangkok 5-7 September with our regional partner McLaren Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd and look forward to networking and knowledge sharing with fellow hospitality technology professionals.

Do get in touch with Tim Dennis, our senior account manager to discuss better content, better connectivity and a better stay for your guests.

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Casting: An Amenity Guests Now Expect to Be Standard


Unlike Wi-Fi, TV on demand has the promise of driving ancillary revenues.

Humanity has certain basic requirements to survive and, it is hoped, thrive. The United Nations has views on this.

Hotel guests take a similarly rigid stance on what they expect out of a hotel stay and this has barely evolved since properties decided that the local stable counted as decent overflow accommodation.

A comfortable bed, a shower and a lockable door is the baseline we all expect in return for our money, across the segments. The shower may be shared but should still be accessible. Even hotels in the higher echelons don’t offer food as a matter of course with the basic room rate, something where they may face strong debate with the UN.

After many happy centuries of our paid-for home-from-home, guests’ basic needs have evolved. The battle for free (and decent) Wi-Fi has spilled over from angry conference debates into angry finger jabbing at hotel reception desks. Hotels felt that, after spending out on expensive networks – often signing themselves into costly agreements for decades – they had the right to charge guests to recoup the cost.

Guests did not share this opinion. Hotels were determined to continue to see Wi-Fi as an object of value and it was used as a lure to build loyalty program membership. The battle then moved to premium Wi-Fi access.

Guests continued to insist that Wi-Fi was a basic requirement of a stay and that, as such, they shouldn’t be paying for it. It was, went the rallying cry, like water. ‘But you pay for Wi-Fi in your houses!’ went the response. ‘And for water!’ Guests were unmoved.

But before hotels could come up with a way to charge for tap water, the battle was lost. Surveys reported that guests would not stay in a hotel which didn’t offer free Wi-Fi and that was that. Even Airbnb made a point of highlighting which properties had exemplary Wi-Fi. One study found that guests favored Wi-Fi over hot water.

Hotels now have to, well, suck the cost of Wi-Fi up. They can no more charge for it than they can charge for heating, cooling or use of carpet. It has become a basic amenity.

Hotels were hoping that was it for the next few centuries, but guests have evolved away from being happy with what they are given and have become more demanding. Part of this is good old consumerism, allowing us to fill our homes with the latest technologies and comforts in a way we just couldn’t before the good old days of the 1950s. When staying away from home we expect the same if not better.

This means that hotels face a new basic amenity in the form of content, a mere few years after swallowing the cost of Wi-Fi. Being able to access your Netflix/Disney+/insert myriad other platforms on the hotel TV is rapidly becoming this season’s must have. TV on demand is the newest guest demand.

Is casting the new water? Rapid adoption across the sector suggests that it is, but before the bottom line starts to take the strain, hotels can console themselves that this need not be a repeat of the water/Wi-Fi debate.

Choosing a casting product which offers a fully-interactive – and brandable – TV platform means that hotels can promote additional services and facilities which can be used to build a relationship with the guest, but also drive ancillary revenues.

A guest which is sitting happily in their room is a guest which is more likely to order room service than stray away from the property and buy their dinner outside the compound. They are also more likely to order more, away from the judgmental voice of the receptionist taking an order for extra chips.

One of the restricting factors for Wi-Fi were those costly contracts, made all the most traumatic because of the banks of computers and routers required to keep networks upright. The cloud means that all of this can be now achieved offsite, so hotels need no longer have a mysterious room full of winking and humming equipment which no one in the building can fix when it goes wrong. And when it does? Issues can quickly be resolved remotely.

All of this leads to an improved guest experience, increasing the chances of that most-wanted of all hotel results: true and lifelong loyalty. It also leads to higher ratings from hotel guests, ratings which will translate directly into higher room rates.

Adding casting need not mean adding cost. At the least, it should be cost neutral. At best, revenue generating.

So, give your guests what they want: turn that water into wine.

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Get your head in the clouds


Kevin Edwards, CCO, Nevaya says that the time for dithering is past: you’re no one if you’re not in the cloud.

“It is time to move on from the debate about whether to be in the cloud and talk about something else. No-one who is really serious about streamlining their operations, about delivering exceptional service, about making a profit, should still have a room full of technology they need to maintain.

“If you have one of these awful rooms – and we have all seen them in hotels – then you need a team to fix it when it goes wrong, and it will go wrong. That means a team which specialises in the technology you have, always on call, always ready to act, whether they are needed or not, remembering that there will be times when everything is working as they should, so these people will be, what? Helping out at reception?

“We don’t have teams to spare at the moment in hospitality and certainly no money to maintain such an expert one. There needs to be a shift in mentality, because all you’re doing really is storing up costs of people that are maintaining equipment.

“I use the analogy of security in IT systems. Look at the government, how they are constantly suffering data breaches. That’s because they’re not information security experts, that’s not what they do. Whereas you go to somebody like Google, they’ve got a team the size of every government in the world combined specialising in security. Cloud services remove the need for the depth of knowledge, you acquire a service that is managed and maintained by experts with the depth of skills to support what is required, what is more, it has infinite scalability.

“It’s about giving yourself access to the right resources, as opposed to trying to be an expert in infrastructure, applications, security. You can’t expect one person to understand all of the different disciplines, but the cloud means it’s out there and it’s available.

“And once you get rid of that room, it changes the billing model. Having everything off site means that you go from a large capital expense to an operational cost. You are acquiring a service, rather than spending huge amounts of capital on IT projects.

“For us, we not only want all equipment out of those backrooms, we want it out of the guest rooms as well. And the reason for this is that we want the operational teams to focus on delivering operations and not having to go into the guest room. The dongles in rooms have, historically, created the most issues around casting and in our new platform the cloud cuts these out, as well as increasing scalability, making it unlimited. This means that as a group, you can continue to grow and you can deliver the same consistent service across your estate.

“And when it’s done well, you can even reduce your on-premise staff down to none. Brands like Numa have perfected it so that all you have is one security person. You take care of the check in, you’re already connected to the wifi, you can get into your room. What else do you really want? It’s meeting a guest need and an investor need. Every cloud really does have a silver lining.”

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Design to fail


Ben Clifford, co-founder and CTO, Nevaya, looks back over his journey to embracing the one true cloud.

‘I was born in a hotel, my grandparents started a hotel in 1960 after putting people up on their farm during the Bath & West show, the Airbnb story. I started helping out as a child, recycling the bottles from being the bar when I was 10, “which clearly wasn’t going to pay as well as a role in tech”, before getting into tech. From around 13 I was working on the PMS and PoS systems and when I was 16 my grandparents bought me a computer in return for running their IT system.

‘When I went to university I wrote an Expedia-type OTA before Expedia as my university dissertation and James [Richmond, Nevaya co-founder & CEO] and I got 60 or 70 properties on it.

‘At that time guests were starting to demand wifi in their rooms and we thought this looked a likely market. We didn’t realise that people were buying in solutions from Cisco, I just wrote one in my bedroom. We built the hardware, we installed it, then we looked after the whole system, almost by accident.

‘It wasn’t until 2008 that a company called Exterity asked us to come up with a way to sell their TV solution over IP. By this point the WiFi network had grown to be the biggest network in the hotel because people wanted it everywhere. Before it was just computers on the front desk and a printer that went off every time someone was watching porn on the TV. Now it was everywhere, so it was a good idea to use it for TV. After about a year or two of this we started making the hardware ourselves as well, because there was nothing decent out there.

‘We didn’t get into the cloud until we won a contract to put WiFi in across the Waterstones network. It’s one thing to put a £2,000 server in a hotel with 200 rooms, but a bookstore can’t afford that. We had to find a way to scale it and that was the cloud.

‘In our industry, people don’t really embrace cloud. They make a lot of noise about it, but they haven’t got a clue. They see it more as being able to access a website from anywhere, we see it as a way to achieve infinite scaleability.

‘We design for things to fail, rather than try and stop them failing. To paraphrase Bill Baker, when we create something, we think of it as cattle, rather than a pet. What do I mean by this? Well, back in the day, we’d get have a server in the Comms Room and someone dusts its little vents and backs it up every night and if it failed, it was as if the world had ended. So it was a pet. If it dies, we’ll be sad. We’ll miss Fido. But we deal with cattle, we design for it to fail.

‘So rather than have one expensive thing with its redundancy and power supplies and all those nice things in the rack, I’m going to throw five cheap ones in there. And those five cost less than that one big one: if one breaks, it doesn’t matter because the others work. I don’t want to care about it, it hasn’t got a name, it’s got a number. And this is the idea of cattle.

‘And when I say design to fail, it’s important to design a system where you have, for example, guest information in multiple places, so you don’t need to worry if it breaks in one place, you’re covered.

‘You can also move things around and take advantage of economies of scale. Servers in Ireland might be 50% of the price of London and if you move everything there for the night, you save 50%. We have automated that and it’s about a 70% saving. For me, that is the true cloud and its true benefit.

‘And while it might be hard to set up the system from scratch, once you have done, there are significant benefits. We run updates every night, because it’s free to us and because we can.

‘And of course there are people muddying the waters, saying that if you can log into websites from anywhere, that’s the cloud, but those things break. But for it, it’s the reason why, for example, casting onto the TV is bulletproof and why we can scale around the world. The one true cloud has taken us, it’s given us the ability to be agile and respond quickly.

‘We want others to be agile, which is one of the reasons why we publish our APIs to partners and let them do what the like with them. We want to be a good partner and be open to it. And people stay because we’re good, not because we’re locking them in.

‘I would like to see this drive personalisation at scale. At the moment too many vendors are trying to hold onto their silos, but what we need to move towards is to stop caring about who owns hotel data and facilitate it. At the moment there is too much focus on asking the question first – like what is the guest’s favourite type of wine – then collecting the data. It should be data first, then using those learnings.’

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