- Hilton, the hotel chain whose brands oversee 5,100 properties worldwide, started testing a high-tech "connected room" that lets travelers control the temperature, lighting, window coverings and streaming media from their mobile device. Users of the Hilton Honors app will eventually be able to set their room preferences ahead of time to help customize their stay based on individual preferences, according to a press release.
- Hilton guests will able to use voice commands to control their room, access content and even upload their own artwork and photos to display in the room. The hotel chain is working with streaming media providers to let guests seamlessly access TV programs in the high-tech hotels.
- The connected room is being tested in one hotel, which Hilton didn't disclose, before being added to several more properties. The company plans to roll out more high-tech rooms throughout the U.S. next year, it said in the release.
Hilton has taken many steps to embrace mobile technology as part of its efforts to improve the customer experience, from letting people book rooms and manage their loyalty reward points on a streamlined mobile app to keyless room entry with the quick swipe of a smartphone. The "connected room" concept takes customization to the next level and also helps the company manage its properties more efficiently.
Not only does the technology give Hilton deeper insights into customer preferences for settings like room temperature and other desired amenities, but it also lets hotel operators monitor in real time how their properties are managing energy — a major cost for the lodging industry.
Research shows that many business travelers prefer using self-service technology to manage their travel, while consumers overall are showing growing interest in personalized experiences.
The hotel chain's test of the high-tech rooms follows its rollout earlier this year of its digital key to unlock guests rooms. Hilton planned to offer the feature in half of its hotels by the end of the year to Hilton Honors members who have the loyalty program's app on their smartphones. The Hilton Honors app lets guests book a room, check in, choose their desired room from a digital floor plan set against Google Maps and request additional items to be in their room upon arrival.
Meanwhile, hotels, in general, are trying to woo travelers away from online travel agencies and alternatives like Airbnb and toward individual loyalty programs. Hotels are offering discounted rates and perks like free Wi-Fi or rewards points to entice travelers to stay repeatedly at their properties. The number of U.S. hotel guests who belong to a frequent-stay program jumped from 37% two years ago to 63%, The Washington Post reported, potentially pointing to the success of enhanced digital experiences and tech across the sector.