The Hilton hotel chain is investing a massive $550 million on the idea that hotel guests will turn to using smartphones for their day-to-day travel arrangements. For instance, smartphones can be used to choose rooms, check in and unlock doors.
The company is planning to announce new technology that is intended for its 4,200 properties worldwide. The technology is primarily targeted at younger travellers and Hilton is aiming to overtake competitors, which already have rolled out new services such as using mobile phones for room keys.
The company said that guests already can check in and check out with a few taps on a screen, at all of Hilton’s hotels in the U.S. The new technology is rolling out and by the end of summer, travellers should able to see the location and select their own rooms via smartphone at six different brands, from the Hilton Garden Inn to the luxury Waldorf Astoria.
The ability for the guest to unlock their hotel room doors will come next year and will be available at most of the company’s hotels world-wide by the end of 2016. This is to primarily stop waiting on the front desk to pick up a key. Christopher Nassetta, Hilton’s chief executive says, “We are giving customers unprecedented choice and control at scale, and in the palm of their hands.”
Other operators such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Marriott International Inc. are also offering some mobile features at a selection of their properties.
Guy Langford, head of Deloitte LLP’s U.S. hospitality and leisure practice says, “It’s a race for loyalty…there will be a first-mover advantage for the company that provides a seamless technological experience. But these companies have to constantly evolve and understand the millennial’s changing preferences.”
Marriott says that 967 of its hotels offer a mobile check-in and check-out service. By year end more than 4,000 hotels globally will offer those service. Marriott is also testing mobile-phone push notifications, like messaging a guest to inform them of a hotel discount within the hotel, such as a drinks promotion.
Mr. Nassetta also says, “I think over time there is the opportunity to gain efficiencies.” This is in reference to hotel companies allowing guests to use smartphones for multiple functions, which have been customarily performed by front-desk staff.
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