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Hilton lets guests control their own experience via mobile

In a continuation of its quest to deliver greater choice and control for guests, Hilton Worldwide has unveiled new mobile advances such as the ability to check-in and choose exact rooms from digital floor plans, make a purchase upgrade and submit special requests for room service.

In response to data and feedback from more than 40 million members, Hilton recognized that guest preferences are changing as choices expand while brand loyalty is becoming more important than ever but harder to win. To meet these challenges, the hotelier is thinking and acting for the long term on all digital fronts, with mobile playing an important role in delivering the kinds of experiences that guests are looking for.

“Hilton built a strong infrastructure that allows us to quickly and efficiently roll out new digital advancements on a broad, global scale,” said Jeff Diskin, executive vice president of commercial services for Hilton Worldwide. “The new digital tools ultimately let guests customize their hotel experience, tailoring their visit to fit their needs.”

Greater expectations
Leading hotel brands are under a lot of pressure to embrace innovation and technology to better meet comfort, loyalty, choice, control and efficiency.

This is easy to understand, as at home consumers can fulfill their exact needs when they desire something. These consumers expect the same during travel, as they seek to maximize personal preferences and personalized services by leveraging mobile and Web tools to save precious time and tap into the latest convenience offerings.

The rise of mobile and connected technology is fundamentally changing the way consumers make choices, purchases and interact with brands. Hilton seems focused on ensuring its mobile experience is not a distinct part of the equation, but flows seamlessly into the live experience in every location.

Moreover, every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire and roughly 10,000 more will reach retirement age each day for the next 19 years, according to Pew research. A younger, hardwired generation is coming of age, entering the workforce, and creating profound social, cultural, and economic shifts.

Generationally, expectations for travel and hospitality are changing. Generation Y, in particular, wants more options and flexibility in the way they travel, be it for work or play is demanded and Hilton is trying to  make sure it is equipped to meet these requests.

Simple and streamlined
Once a room is booked, the process for guests to manage their stay is simple.

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.

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.

Members may also bypass the front desk upon departure with the option to have their bill automatically sent to their email address.

Hilton’s announcement represents the latest industry-first in its rich history of modernization. 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.


Scheduled innovation
Hilton is rolling out further enhancements globally over the next several months.

In 2015, the hotelier 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. This will enable guests 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 payment information and other details are already verified through their Hilton HHonors account prior to arrival.

“Digital is a huge priority for Hilton, it helps us better serve our guests and make their stays with us more enjoyable,” Mr. Diskin said. “ By rolling out this technology at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties across 11 brands in 80-plus countries, guests will have a consistent and streamlined stay at every hotel.”

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York