In a first for the hospitality industry, Hilton Worldwide has announced its guests will have unprecedented choice and control over their entire hotel stay with the ability to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans, as well as customize their stay by purchasing upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered to their room, on their mobile devices, tablets and computers.
Guests also will be able to check-out using these personal technology devices and by the end of 2014, digital check-in and room selection will be available at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties across 11 brands in 80-plus countries via members’ Hilton HHonors accounts.
And in a huge move, the company has also announced that guests will be able to use their smartphone as their room key in majority of hotel rooms by 2016.
“For nearly a century, our guests have counted on us to consistently deliver exceptional experiences around the world, and in today’s digitally connected culture, that means providing them with more choice and control over their hotel stay through technology,” said Hilton Worldwide’s President and CEO, Christopher J. Nassetta.
“The tremendous scale of our world-class operating platform enables us to quickly and nimbly introduce exciting enhancements for our guests at all of our hotels worldwide,” he said.
This week’s (July 28) announcement represents the latest industry-first in Hilton’s rich history of innovation. The company piloted an initial version of digital check-in more than five years ago, and in 2012 it launched Conrad Concierge, the first hospitality software application that enables guests to customize their hotel experience through their tablets or smartphones. Going forward, Hilton anticipates delivering further digital advancements to guests every six to eight weeks.
“We analyzed data and feedback from more than 40 million HHonors members, as well as guest surveys, social media posts and review sites, and it’s clear that guests want greater choice and control,” said Hilton Worldwide’s Senior Vice President and Global head of Digital, Geraldine Calpin.
“In fact, in a recent study, 84 percent of business travelers surveyed said they wanted the ability to choose their own room.
“We are giving our guests the ability to do just that by enabling them to select not just their room type, but the exact location in the hotel, all the way down to their room number,” she said.
Once a room is booked, the process for guests to manage their stay is as follows:
-Room selection: At 6 a.m. the day before a booked stay, Hilton HHonors members can sign into their account via their mobile device, tablet or computer to check-in and choose their preferred room through floor plan maps or lists populated from the hotel’s available inventory. Photos of rooms are also available to help with their selection. Hilton’s digital lobby function is updated in real-time, so guests no longer have to wait until they are physically in the hotel lobby to be assigned a room;
-Special requests: After choosing a room, guests can further customize their stay at full-service hotels by purchasing upgrades and requesting specific amenities to be delivered to their room before arrival;
-Room key: Next year, the company will begin to equip its hotel rooms with the technology for doors to be unlocked with guests’ smartphones, enabling them to go straight to their rooms upon arrival. For now, once they arrive on property, guests simply pick up their room key from the front desk, a streamlined process since the guest’s payment information and other details are already verified through their Hilton HHonors account prior to arrival;
-Check-out: Guests can bypass the front desk upon departure as their bill will be automatically sent to their email address.
As part of its digital strategy, Hilton has made a commitment to enable all of its hotel rooms worldwide with technology that will allow guests to use their smartphones as keys.
“Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms,” Nassetta said.
“We have spent the past few years testing a number of different options to make this vision a reality, and we are developing proprietary technology that is safe and reliable for our guests to use, and cost-effective for our hotels to install,” he said.
Hilton is rolling out these digital enhancements globally over the next several months:
-By the end of the Northen summer, Hilton HHonors members can check-in and choose their room from digital floor plan maps online or via the Apple and Android HHonors apps across the following U.S. brands: Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, Conrad Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites;
-The functionality will also be available at DoubleTree by Hilton and Embassy Suites Hotels properties within the U.S. this fall;
-By the end of 2014, room selection, either from digital floor plans or lists, will be available globally for over 650,000 rooms at more than 4,000 hotels across Hilton’s portfolio of 11 brands; and
-Digital check-out, currently available at all U.S. hotels, will be rolled out globally by the end of 2016.
In 2015, Hilton will introduce technology that enables smartphones to be used as room keys, and all U.S. hotels across four of its brands will have this capability by the end of that year.
By the end of 2016, Hilton says the majority of its rooms system-wide will be equipped with this functionality.