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Hilton sees more than one-third of guests use digital check-in

As Hilton Worldwide rolls out its digital check-in function to more than 4,100 of its properties around the globe, more than one-third of guests are embracing the ability to use their mobile device to bypass the front desk.

The digital check-in capability, which enables guests to choose their preferred room from digital floor plans or room lists available on mobile devices and laptops, has already seen wide success from guests that were able to use it at select hotels in 2014. The wider rollout comes months before the hotel brand?s spring 2015 introduction of mobile room keys to its Hilton HHonors rewards program members at its Canopy by Hilton, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts brands.

?Digital check-in with room selection is an industry first,? said a spokeswoman for Hilton Worldwide, McLean, VA. ?Never before have travelers been able to select their exact hotel room from a digital floor plan, using their personal digital devices.

?The tool also allows guests to customize their room by pre-ordering amenities, such as champagne or extra pillows, to be ready in room upon arrival. Delivered to HHonors members at scale across 650,000+ rooms at more than 4,100 properties and 11 brands, room selection offers our HHonors guests a consistent, personalized experience globally.?

Digital hospitality
Mobile-centered hospitality is a sector that will undoubtedly be gaining strength in 2015, as Hilton joins Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International in introducing mobile room keys to its customers.

The technology enables guests to bypass the check-in desk in the lobby and go straight to their hotel rooms, which they will be able to unlock by holding their mobile device in front of a sensor.

Customers seeking more personalization efforts will appreciate the ability to request certain items or amenities ahead of time, which will offer Hilton leverage to create a more emotional connection that may contribute to a long-lasting relationship with the consumer.

?Our guests have enthusiastically embraced digital check-in with room selection,? Hilton?s spokeswoman said. ?Already, one-third of eligible guests have used the function and more than 90 percent were ?satisfied? or ?extremely satisfied? with the experience and said they would use it again.?

Starwood Hotels & Resorts is also ramping up customer loyalty with personalization options found in a new mobile application that showcases specific details about each of its available rooms in 1,200 worldwide properties (see story). Guests can search for specific room amenities, such as fireplaces, balconies or corner rooms, and choose an accommodation best-suited to their needs.

?This will definitely be a big draw for guests, and honestly, I think it?s about time hotels made this available,? said Tim Hajirakar, director of business development at Atimi, Vancouver, Canada. ?This is similar to travelers being able to select their seats before flying.

?The convenience and piece of mind for consumers to book the exact room based on their amenities preference will greatly enhance their experience. Also, for returning guest who prefer a certain room or prefer not to be in a certain room or floor, this added convenience is a huge draw and can help win a guest?s loyalty,? he said.

Strengthening mobile ties
While the mobile room key option will only be available at select brands in Hilton?s repertoire in spring 2015, a rollout is expected to reach its entire global portfolio shortly thereafter.

?Mobile room keys will definitely revolutionize the hotel experience as guests will be able to bypass the long check-in times that can be a nuisance,? Mr. Hajirakar said. ?By combining room pre-selections and mobile room keys hotels you will be able to eliminate check-in times all together.

?This will greatly benefit the guests as they will be able to start their vacations or business trips right away.?

Hilton has also been active on social media, as it recently turned to social networking app and site Facebook to a host a daily opportunity to win prizes in celebration of the hotel brand?s new five-year partnership with Live Nation (see story).

Hilton now receives exclusive access to Live Nation events taking place at its properties and offers ?Where to Stay? booking functions integrated into venue pages.

As mobile becomes more essential to travel brands, marketers should be thinking about how they can best leverage it to offer consumers increased personalization options that help foster long-term relationships and stand out from other brands? strategies. 2015 will undoubtedly be the year to dictate whether mobile room keys are here to stay.

?In 2015, we?ll continue to follow a purposeful innovation strategy ? where we enhance the processes that touch each of our guests, delighting them with technology that is meaningful, simple to use and beautiful to look at,? Hilton?s spokeswoman said. ?By combining our world-class hospitality with digital amenities, we?re able to better connect our guests to our properties and to the world around them, being there for them when, where and how they need us.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York