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Boosting Its App Game, Hilton Gives Travelers Option To Pick Specific Rooms

The hotel chain, through its Hilton HHonors membership program, will make it possible for consumers to choose rooms before they get to the hotel—and, eventually, to use their phones as keys.

Ever wish you could pick your hotel room the way you can choose an airline seat?

Good news—Hilton’s been working on that. The hotel giant this week announced a bold strategy for its Hilton HHonors apps, which will soon make that feature available at all of the company’s 11 brands, including Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, and Hampton Hotels. Now, a day before you reach your room, you can have your pick. Pretty awesome, right?

Beyond that, though, the company says it wants to make your phone an all-around part of your hotel experience, from check-in to checkout. Planned benefits for travelers include the ability to purchase upgrades, to pick amenities before entering a room, and to make special requests. And, oh yeah, you’ll be able to totally skip the front desk because your smartphone will be your room key.

It’s clear that guests want greater choice and control.

What’s the inspiration for the approach? To put it simply, that’s the way the company sees things going these days.

“Everyone will be forced to play this way eventually,” Hilton Worldwide’s Jim Holthouser, executive vice president of global brands, told Skift. “It is just a question of how quickly you get there.”

In a news release, the company noted that 84 percent of  surveyed HHonors members said they wanted to be able to choose their own rooms.

“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,” the company’s senior vice president and global head of digital, Geraldine Calpin, said in a statement.

Hilton isn’t the only player in the smartphones-as-keys game—Starwood Hotels, for example, launched a similar feature for its Aloft chain this year—though, at 4,000 hotels, the company is certainly using it on a wider scale than the competition. Hilton has experimented with forms of digital check-in, most notably its Conrad Concierge check-in app, which services 22 of the company’s hotels.

The technology will be available in stages. Digital check-out is available in all U.S. hotels now and will be possible worldwide by 2016. Smartphone room keys will be ready in some chains by late 2015 and all chains by 2016. But the coolest feature—the ability to pick rooms with an app—will be available at all chains by the end of 2014.

(Handout photo/Hilton Worldwide)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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