Hotel group Hilton Worldwide is aiming to personalize its bedrooms for guests using digital technology, before they arrive for their stay.
In a similar way to people being able to remotely control the temperature of their homes using smart technology, Hilton Chief Marketing Officer Geraldine Calpin said that digitization of rooms will be the “next big thing” for the hospitality chain.
“If we know that you like your room at 70 degrees (via) your phone, we will set it for you before you get there. Equally, and very important, the entertainment system in our hotels, (we will be) personalizing that so that if you watch your preferred channels, Empire Media (for example), those will be on your TV when you walk into the room,” Calpin told us.
“So that’s what we believe is coming next, really personalizing it, making it simple, making it easier for our customers,” she added.
Hilton launched its “digital key” to 250 hotels in 2016, allowing HHonors loyalty members to check into their hotel the day before, pick a room via a floor plan, and select favorites. Silver, gold and diamond members will be able to bypass physical check-in and can open their bedroom door with their smartphone. By the end of 2017 it will be rolled out to 2,500 hotels.
Security has been a priority in developing the key, Calpin said, and it has been five years in the making. “We did extensive testing across numerous hotels. And because of the unique systems that we have in our app and inner door locks, we have had no issues with security.”
Hilton has invested more than $150 million in technology to develop the digital key, which also helps it get direct bookings rather than via websites such as Expedia or Opodo, meaning higher margins.
Last year it launched its “Stop clicking around” ad campaign, encouraging people to book direct. “We did it for every one of our brands all over the world. It was a big bet for me as (an) early start as the CMO. But we have seen great success in terms of customers understanding that better value,” Calpin said.